(The Telegraph) – Court of Appeal judges ruled that the original decision to give custody to the gay couple with limited contact six times a year with the surrogate mother and father was correct. Lord Justice McFarlane said that while surrogacy arrangements had no legal standing, the child’s genetic relationships and welfare were the most important factors for deciding where he or she should live. While the legal mother and father had the right “to change their minds” this did not necessarily mean that they had the right to keep the child, he said.
(New York Times) – The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued new guidelines to speed the introduction of treatments involving human cells and tissues, including gene therapy. But the agency also said it would crack down on rogue clinics offering dangerous or unproven versions of those treatments. The therapies aimed at diseases like leukemia are known as regenerative medicine and have quickly grown into a booming industry worldwide.
(U.S. News & World Report) – An Australian state parliament’s marathon debate on allowing voluntary euthanasia abruptly ended on Friday unresolved after a lawmaker collapsed in his office. Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, is in the final stage of a parliamentary debate that could legalize doctor-assisted suicide 20 years after the country repealed the world’s first mercy killing law.
(BBC) – Uganda’s doctors have gone on strike, fed up with what they say are the lowest wages in Africa and a lack of resources. They are demanding that their salaries, currently starting at just $260 a month for junior doctors, increased 10-fold, as well as benefits like cars and domestic workers. But as the fight between the Uganda Medical Association and the government rumbles on, what does it mean for those Ugandans in desperate need of medical attention?
(ABC News) – For Nevada’s first execution in more than a decade, state officials are turning to a never-before-tried combination of drugs, including a powerful painkiller that is fueling much of the opioid epidemic and a paralyzing drug that could mask any signs of trouble. If the state’s highest court approves the plan and it works without complications, the system could offer an alternative execution method to other states seeking hard-to-obtain drugs for lethal injections. But the drugs also carry serious risks, and their use in an execution could invite new shortages of medication used for surgery and pain relief.
(STAT News) – That impulse — combined with the fact that health problems crop up outside of office hours, or that even daytime problems can present a transportation challenge — drive many older patients to turn to 911 for help. And laws in many places, including Massachusetts, are very clear: A 911 call means a trip to the hospital. But hospitals and insurers have begun trying to change that story by changing how emergency medicine is delivered. The idea is, instead of transporting patients to the hospital, emergency medical technicians respond to their needs in their own home.
(Reuters) – Three cities in Yemen have run out of clean water because a blockade by a Saudi-led coalition has cut imports of fuel needed for pumping and sanitation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday. As a result of the development in Taiz, Saada and Hodeidah close to one million people are now deprived of clean water and sanitation as Yemen emerges from the world’s worst cholera outbreak in modern times, the ICRC said.
(Newsweek) – Whether or not we believe head transplants will “work” or whether or not we want them to happen, the fact is the technology to perform them is being developed in China right now. We have been disappointed by the initial responses from experts weighing in on the matter. So far the general response has been either to mock the character of Sergio Canavero, the neurosurgeon proposing the operations, or ignore the subject in the hope it goes away. But we think these opinions and the reporting on this procedure has missed two critical questions: Why China? Why now?
A Human Being Has Been Injected with Gene-Editing Tools to Cure His Disabling Disease. Here’s What You Need to Know
(Science) – For the first time, researchers have infused a person’s blood with gene-editing tools, aiming to treat his severe inherited disease, The Associated Press (AP) reported today. The 44-year-old patient has a rare metabolic disorder called Hunter syndrome. But how big is the advance—and what does it mean for using hot new technologies such as CRISPR to help people with other genetic diseases?
Internship Opportunity – John J. Lynch MD Center for Ethics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center Graduate Internship
The John J. Lynch MD Center for Ethics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (hereafter referred to as the Center) invites applications for our graduate internship. MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC), is a 900+ bed, Level I trauma center that provides a rich clinical ethics experience for interns at every level of training. Because the Center provides a 24/7, 365 day a year clinical ethics consultation (CEC) service, running approximately 300 CECs yearly, interns are assured a deep clinical ethics experience.
Interns join the professional staff for all activities. Interns attend meetings of our hospital’s ethics committee, its subcommittees of education, consultation, policy and organizational ethics and various other regularly scheduled meetings, such as disaster preparedness. Interns also accompany Center faculty for sundry ad hoc meetings.
Interns are involved in all Center educational activities such as our collaboration with Children’s National Medical Center to create greater District-wide community for clinical ethicists and interested others. Interns attend internal education activities such as noon conferences for residents by Center faculty and moral distress programming for everyone.
Interns will join unit work rounds with members of the Center group, including in our nine (9) intensive care units, our high risk OB program and our heart transplant program. Interns do independent capstone presentations to the hospital’s ethics committee and/or other body that can be mentored by Center faculty into a publishable piece of writing.Application Requirements
Applicants should have course work or related experience in bioethics, with particular interest in clinical ethics. Also, applicants must have strong writing, communication and interpersonal skills.
Applicants must submit a letter of intent outlining his/her interest in the field of clinical ethics, a writing sample such as a paper written for a course, a letter of recommendation from a former professor/mentor, and a current transcript.
Inquiries and completed applications should be sent via email to Kahlia Keita, MA, JD, Kahlia.T.Keita@medstar.net, John J. Lynch MD Center for Ethics, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 110 Irving Street NW, EB-310, Washington, DC 20010.
(UPI) – For the first time, research has confirmed that scientists successfully detected chronic traumatic encephalopathy — known commonly as CTE — in a living former professional football player. Scientists detected signs of the dementia-like disease in former player Fred McNeill four years ago, but it’s not possible to confirm CTE until after a patient’s death. McNeill died in 2015, and confirmation he had the disease was made last week in the journal Neurosurgery, scientists said Wednesday.
(Reuters) – Battle lines are being drawn as the first gene therapy for an inherited condition nears the U.S. market, offering hope for people with a rare form of blindness and creating a cost dilemma for healthcare providers. Spark Therapeutics, whose Luxturna treatment has been recommended for U.S. approval, told investors last week there was a case for valuing it at more than $1 million per patient, although it has yet to set an actual price.
(ABC News) – U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received little oversight. The Food and Drug Administration laid out a strategy for regulating cell-based medicine, including hundreds of private clinics that have opened across the nation in the last decade. Many of the businesses promote stem cell injections for dozens of diseases including arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even Alzheimer’s. They can cost $5,000 to $50,000, but there’s little research that such procedures are safe or effective.
(Medical Xpress) – Conducting a sweeping analysis of everything from enzymes to lipids to immune-system-associated molecules, the team—which includes researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of Tokyo and the University of Sierra Leone—found 11 biomarkers that distinguish fatal infections from nonfatal ones and two that, when screened for early symptom onset, accurately predict which patients are likely to die. With these results, says senior author Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virology professor at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, clinicians can prioritize the scarce treatment resources available and provide care to the sickest patients.
(Pew Research Center) – Americans’ concerns about prescription drug abuse have risen over the past four years, with some of largest increases coming among well-educated adults. Today, 76% of the public says that prescription drug abuse is an extremely or very serious public health problem in America, compared with 63% who said the same in 2013. Just 22% regard prescription drug abuse as a somewhat serious or less serious problem, down from 34% in 2013.
(Medscape) – The first step in that scenario, human germline editing, is already a reality. Germline editing refers to genetically engineering a genome in ways that are heritable—as in, editing reproductive cells or embryos. And while gene therapy for ill, consenting adults is both promising and widely accepted as safe and ethical, in part because it involves nonheritable changes in somatic cell lines, editing the genes of embryos to create genetically modified human beings has raised significant concerns.
As Technology Gets Better, Ethical Prohibitions on Genetically Modifying Human Embryos Are Getting Weaker
(Pacific Standard) – By that point, advances in the technology will have almost certainly outpaced any ethical debate over how to use it. Questions about what kinds of genetic edits should be allowed, whether it’s even right to make a genetically modified child who had no say in the matter, and who gets access to this technology will give in to the relentless pressure of technological progress. Even if certain types of germline edits wind up banned in the U.S., they will certainly be available elsewhere in the world.
(NPR) – The U.S. military’s restrictions on covering abortions can create logistical, emotional, career and health challenges for service members who become pregnant, according to a newly released study. Previous research shows that women serving in the military have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy than civilian women do. But their access to abortion can be limited by Department of Defense policies, which prohibit military facilities from providing and military insurance from covering abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life.
(Nature) – Africa’s academy of science has announced that it will launch an open-access publishing platform early next year — the first of its kind aimed exclusively at scientists on the continent. The platform, called AAS Open Research and announced by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in Nairobi on 15 November, is being created with the London-based open-access publisher F1000, adopting the model of its F1000Research publishing platform. AAS Open Research will publish articles, research protocols, data sets and code, usually within days of submission and before peer review.
(Vox) – For the first time, a new study in The Lancet, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), compared the effectiveness of naltrexone with buprenorphine in the US. The results were both promising and disappointing. While naltrexone is as effective as buprenorphine once treatment begins, it is also significantly more difficult to actually start naltrexone because it requires an extensive detox period — which can span more than a week — that buprenorphine does not.