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The Looming Public Health Crisis Threatening to Take Down China’s Health Care System

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 15:27

(Quartz) – In the 1980s diabetes was a rarity affecting just one percent of China’s population. Now, due to rapid economic development, and the subsequent growth in availability of high-calorie diets, cars and sedentary lifestyles, China has the highest number of diabetics in the world, totaling 109 million people in 2015—roughly 11 percent of the population. That makes China home to a third of the world’s diabetic population. The scale of this public health problem is huge, particularly because it comes at a time when the country’s health system as a whole is under reform, moving from a rudimentary socialist system to one that is open to private investment and ownership.

Heartwarming Story: Developing a Better Way to Preserve Organs

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 15:23

(Newsweek) – Storing an organ on ice causes injury to it over time. “The longer an organ spends in that environment, the worse it becomes,” Hassanein says. The OCS—used thus far for heart, lungs and liver—flips cold, static storage on its head. Instead of chilling an organ and racing against the clock as it begins to decay, the system keeps it warm (roughly at body temperature), perfused with oxygenated blood and functioning as it would inside the body. In other words, a heart beats, lungs expand and contract with air, and a liver creates bile en route to transplant. Theoretically, there is no limit to how long an organ could spend in the OCS.

Study: Addiction Risk Low in Seniors Taking Postoperative Opioids

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 15:20

(Managed Care Magazine) – With the abuse of opioid painkillers a major public health threat in the United States, many worry that postsurgical use might trigger addiction. But a new study suggests that painkiller abuse is a problem in only a small fraction—less than one-half of one percent—of patients 66 years of age or older, according to a research letter published in JAMA Surgery.

CRISPR-Generated Neuronal Cells May Serve as Brain Disease Models

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 15:06

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Now the Duke team has developed a strategy that avoids the need for the extra gene copies. Instead, a modification of the CRISPR genetic engineering technique is used to directly turn on the natural copies already present in the genome. These early results indicate that the newly converted neuronal cells show a more complete and persistent conversion than the method where new genes are permanently added to the genome. These cells could be used for modeling neurological disorders, discovering new therapeutics, developing personalized medicines, and, perhaps in the future, implementing cell therapy.

Hospitals Are Throwing Out Organs and Denying Transplants to Meet Federal Standards

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 14:24

(STAT News) – Hospitals across the United States are throwing away less-than-perfect organs and denying the sickest people lifesaving transplants out of fear that poor surgical outcomes will result in a federal crackdown. As a result, thousands of patients are losing the chance at surgeries that could significantly prolong their lives, and the altruism of organ donation is being wasted.

Athletes Are Keeping Their Distance from a Genetic Test for Concussion Risks

Bioethics News - Mon, 08/15/2016 - 14:21

(STAT News) – Not many athletes are interested in getting tested. Insurers won’t pay. And now, even some proponents of the tests are backing away. They’re expressing qualms about giving athletes, and their parents, unsettling news about the risks lurking in their genes — including the possibility that the children most at risk of problems after a concussion may also have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease later in life.