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Are Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Living Up to Their Promises?

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:14

(Medical News Today) – The allure of regenerative medicine promises to redefine medical treatment, putting stem cells and biocompatible materials center stage in this revolution. Many breakthroughs have been reported and hailed in scientific journals and the media over the years. However, the number of regenerative medicine treatments in medical use today is disappointingly low, and a panel of commissioners criticizes this lack of progress in a report published last week in The Lancet.

The Rise and Fall and Rise again of 23andMe

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:02

(Nature) – 23andme has always been the most visible face of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, and it is more formidable now than ever before. In September, the company announced that it had raised US$250 million: more than the total amount of capital raised by the company since its inception. Investors estimate that it is worth more than $1 billion, making it a ‘unicorn’ in Silicon Valley parlance — a rare and valuable thing to behold. But for scientists, 23andme’s real worth is in its data. With more than 2 million customers, the company hosts by far the largest collection of gene-linked health data anywhere. It has racked up 80 publications, signed more than 20 partnerships with pharmaceutical firms and started a therapeutics division of its own.

Cancer-Genome Study Challenges Mouse ‘Avatars’

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:58

(Nature) – An analysis of more than 1,000 mouse models of cancer has challenged their ability to predict patients’ response to therapy. The study, published today in Nature Genetics catalogues the genetic changes that occur in human tumours after they have been grafted into mouse hosts. Such models, called patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), are used in basic research and as ‘avatars’ for individual patients. Researchers use these avatar mice to test a bevy of chemotherapies against a person’s tumour, in the hope of tailoring a treatment plan for the patient’s specific cancer.

Gene Expression Study Raises Thorny Ethical Issues

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:53

(Nature) – Ronald’s myriad tissues, and those of almost 1,000 other anonymous deceased donors, are now the basis of a first-of-its-kind database. Supported by the US National Institutes of Health, the US$150-million Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project is amassing data about gene sequences and activity, and other information, across 44 types of tissue, from blood vessels to 10 different brain regions.  “It’s creating a ‘Google Maps’ of the body,” says Kristin Ardlie, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is part of the project’s data-analysis team. It routinely releases new data, which are freely available to qualified researchers.

Most Versatile Stem Cell Ever May Help Us Understand Miscarriage

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:40

(New Scientist) – The most versatile stem cells ever created could enable researchers to better understand the biological mechanisms behind many failed early pregnancies. Pentao Liu of the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK, and his team developed the stem cells from cells taken from very young mouse embryos. They gave these cells a cocktail of chemicals to prevent them from maturing, trapping them in a very young, primordial state.

Should You Be Allowed to Sell Your Kidney?

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:16

(Gizmodo) – But there are rare, new alternatives of doctors incentivizing altruistic donations. One such promising idea is UCLA’s new “take-a-kidney-leave-a-kidney” voucher program. It solves the problem of what doctors are calling “chronological incompatibility”—friends and family who would be willing to provide kidneys to relatives who might not need one until after the donor is dead or available to donate. Now they can pay their kidney forward and get a voucher for their recipient, who will be able to move up the transplant list. So far, the program has spurred at least 25 donations. Yet, 25 donations pales when you consider that 13 Americans died today, and every day, waiting for a kidney, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

A New Edition of Hastings Center Report Is Now Available

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

Hastings Center Report (vol. 47, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Defending Opioid Treatment Agreements: Disclosure, Not Promises” by Joshua B. Rager and Peter H. Schwartz
  • “Closed Financial Loops: When They Happen in Government, They’re Called Corruption; in Medicine, They’re Just a Footnote” by Kevin De Jesus-Morales and Vinay Prasad
  • “Crowdsourcing the Moral Limits of Human Gene Editing?” by Eric T. Juengst

A New Edition of Bioethics Is Now Available

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

Bioethics (vol. 31, no. 5, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Can Neuroscience Contribute to Practical Ethics? A Critical Review and Discussion of the Methodological and Translational Challenges of the Neuroscience of Ethics” by Eric Racine et al.
  • “Moral Enhancement Meets Normative and Empirical Reality: Assessing the Practical Feasibility of Moral Enhancement Neurotechnologies” by Veljko Dubljevi? and Eric Racine
  • “The Voluntary Nature of Decision-Making in Addiction: Static Metaphysical Views Versus Epistemologically Dynamic Views” by Eric Racine and Simon Rousseau-Lesage
  • “Respect for Autonomy in Light of Neuropsychiatry” by Sabine Müller
  • “The Mitochondrial Replacement ‘Therapy’ Myth” by Tina Rulli
  • “Human Dignity and Human Enhancement: A Multidimensional Approach” by David G. Kirchhoffer
  • “The Place of Crowdfunding in the Discovery of Scientific and Social Value of Medical Research” by Lorenzo del Savio
  • “In Defense of Artificial Replacement” by Derek Shiller
  • “Objection to Conscience: An Argument Against Conscience Exemptions in Healthcare” by Alberto Giubilini
  • “Ways Out of the Patenting Prohibition? Human Parthenogenetic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells” by Hannah Schickl, Matthias Braun, and Peter Dabrock

 

A New Edition of The American Journal of Bioethics Is Now Available

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

The American Journal of Bioethics (vol. 17, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Bringing Transparency to Medicine: Exploring Physicians’ Views and Experiences of the Sunshine Act” by Susan Chimonas, Nicholas J. DeVito, and David J. Rothman
  • “When Respecting Autonomy Is Harmful: A Clinically Useful Approach to the Nocebo Effect” by John T. Fortunato, Jason Adam Wasserman, and Daniel Londyn Menkes

 

A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine Is Now Available

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 09:00

The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 376, no. 21, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Accelerated Approval and Expensive Drugs — A Challenging Combination” by W.F. Gellad and A.S. Kesselheim
  • “Sharing Clinical and Genomic Data on Cancer — The Need for Global Solutions” by The Clinical Cancer Genome Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health

 

Doctors Get Their Own Second Opinions

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:22

(The Atlantic) – Human Dx might help doctors confirm their suspected diagnoses or think of things to rule out. At Mary’s Center, one man came in complaining of headaches and nausea, and the Human Dx physicians suggested a blood test called an ESR. Another time, Nundy used it to confirm a suspected case of rheumatoid arthritis before putting a low-income patient on a heavy-duty course of medications. Experienced doctors use Human Dx for their most difficult cases, and newer providers use it to hone their skills. Johns Hopkins Hospital and other teaching hospitals are now using it to train medical residents.

Doctors May Fear Losing Their License for Seeking Mental Health Care

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:06

(Reuters) – Nearly 40 percent of U.S. physicians are reluctant to seek mental health care out of fear that it might imperil their medical license, a recent study suggests. The reluctance was more pronounced in states where licensing applications questioned doctors about mental health conditions going back more than a year. Physicians in those states were at least 20 percent more likely to report they would be reluctant to seek psychological treatment than doctors in states that asked only about current impairment.

Fertility MOT Tests ‘A Waste of Money’

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:00

(BBC) – Fertility tests marketed at women worried they have left it too late to have a baby, can be a “waste of money”.  Ovarian reserve tests, which can cost £100 or more, measure hormones in blood to give an idea of how many eggs a woman has. Latest research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the tests did not predict a woman’s chance of conceiving, however. Women must be told this, experts say. The tests were originally developed by IVF clinics to predict how a woman having fertility treatment might respond to the drugs used to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs.  But some companies have been marketing them to women as a fertility MOT.

“Runnin”: A Preview of a New Documentary from STAT

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 15:56

(STAT News) – Almost a year ago I began thinking about how to tell the story of what happened to my circle of friends. I hoped that by examining how the drugs took hold in my hometown, I could illustrate how the same thing can and does happen everywhere. The new STAT documentary, “Runnin’,” includes candid and thoughtful interviews with friends who lost family members and others who abused opioids themselves.

Researcher Looks at Racial Differences in End-of-Life Care

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 15:50

(UPI) – Researchers at the University of Washington analyzed survey data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study for racial disparities in end-of-life care, reporting no significant differences in the quality of end-of-life-care among patients. Analysis of the survey, which included more than 1,700 interviews of Medicare enrollees age 65 and older as part of the National Health and Aging Trends Study from 2011 to 2015, showed no significant racial differences in the quality of end-of-life care among patients.

Anti-Doping Agency to Ban All Gene Editing in Sport from 2018

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 15:40

(New Scientist) – The battle between sports cheats and testers is poised to enter a whole new arena. The World Anti-Doping Agency has extended its 2003 ban on “gene doping” to include all forms of gene editing – but it is not clear the agency has the means to enforce this ban. WADA already bans the use of genetically modified cells and gene therapy if they have “the potential to enhance sport performance”. From 2018, the list will also include “gene editing agents designed to alter genome sequences and/or the transcriptional or epigenetic regulation of gene expression”.

Seeing Hope: FDA Panel Considers Gene Therapy for Blindness

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 15:26

(ABC News) – On Thursday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers will consider whether to recommend approval of a gene therapy that improved vision for these three youths and some others with hereditary blindness. It would be the first gene therapy in the U.S. for an inherited disease, and the first in which a corrective gene is given directly to a patient. Only one gene therapy is sold in the U.S. now, a cancer treatment approved in August that engineers patients’ blood cells in the lab.

Technology Speeds Access to Patients’ End-of-Life Wishes

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 15:21

(CNN) -POLST forms, formally known as Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, have become a staple in care for the fragile or seriously ill. They document in detail what kind of medical treatments patients want — or don’t want — at the end of life. Nearly every state in the U.S. has a program; dozens are established or developing. But in Oregon, where the documents were developed in the early 1990s, organizers have taken a step to ensure that final medical wishes are honored. Officials at OHSU have partnered with a California technology firm, Vynca, to allow health care providers to electronically find any of the 172,000 active forms in Oregon’s POLST registry with a single click, no matter where they were filed.

More than 2,000 Canadians Have Died with Medical Assistance Since Legalization

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 15:45

(CBC News) – More than 2,000 Canadians have ended their lives legally with the help of a doctor, and most of them were suffering from terminal cancer. According to the latest report from Health Canada, there were 1,982 medically assisted deaths in the one-year period after it became legal in June 2016. There have been another 167 in Quebec since it was legalized in that province in December 2015, the report said. The total has been rising faster, with 803 assisted deaths in the first six months after it became legal nationally and 1,179 in the following six months from January to June 2017.

Nigeria Already Has So Many Children But Fixing Infertility Is a Fast-Growing Business

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 15:25

(Quartz) – Nigeria’s population of over 190 million, the highest on the African continent, is projected to hit 397 million by 2050, making it the world’s third most populous country after China and India. But there are still thousands of Nigerian couples, like Adamu and Fibi, unable to conceive naturally and for a long time they suffered in silence. Infertility is not an openly-discussed topic in modern Nigerian cultures. It is rare to find couples willing to acknowledge their struggle to conceive. There is often a lot of pressure to have children from society and extended family. And in many of Nigeria’s mostly patriarchal cultures a lot of that pressure falls on the woman.

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