Bioethics News

Subscribe to Bioethics News feed
Your global information source on bioethics news, issues, & events
Updated: 1 hour 44 min ago

An Overlooked Epidemic: Older Americans Taking Too Many Unneeded Drugs

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:12

(Kaiser Health News) – Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic. For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of people ages 65 to 69 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, a figure that jumps to nearly 46 percent for those between 70 and 79. Doctors say it is not uncommon to encounter patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression or insomnia or other disorders.

Blood Transfusions in Leukemia a Deterrent to Hospice Care

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:06

(Medscape) – Patients with late-stage blood cancers use hospice less frequently than patients with solid tumors, and once they do get to hospice, their stay is much shorter, as previously reported by Medscape Medical News. One barrier to hospice use in this population is the need for blood transfusion, according to new findings presented here at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2017 Annual Meeting. Patients with leukemia who were transfusion dependent had a hospice stay that was about half as short as that in patients with leukemia who were not receiving blood transfusions. Those receiving transfusions had a 38% higher risk for receiving hospice care for less than 3 days.

CRISPR Therapeutics Plans Its First Clinical Trial for Genetic Disease

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 14:08

(Wired) – In the end, Crispr’s leading luminaries formed three companies—Caribou Biosciences, Editas Medicine, and Crispr Therapeutics—to take what they had done in their labs and use it to cure human disease. For nearly five years the “big three’ Crispr biotechs have been promising precise gene therapy solutions to inherited genetic conditions. And now, one of them says it’s ready to test the idea on people. Last week, Charpentier’s company, Crispr Therapeutics, announced it has asked regulators in Europe for permission to trial a cure for the disease beta thalassemia.

No, Most People Aren’t in Severe Pain When They Die

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:52

(The Conversation) – Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets. There’s often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths. But an excruciating death is extremely rare. The evidence about palliative care is that pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia and breathing issues, actually improve as people move closer to death. More than 85% of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time they die.

Waiting Too Long to Use Hospice Care Can Make Suffering at End-of-Life Worse

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:50

(Washington Post) – Many people who are near the end of life wait too long to enter hospice care, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In hospice care, attempts to cure a disease are usually replaced with treatments solely for pain and suffering, delivered by a specialized team. It usually includes medical and nursing care, counseling and social services, and it can be given at home, in a nursing home or in a hospital facility.

‘Promise of a Cure’: Gene Therapy for Hemophilia A

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:48

(Medscape) – Patients with hemophilia A who received a single infusion of an investigational gene therapy called valoctocogene roxaparvovec showed substantially increased levels of the essential blood clotting factor VIII. Of the 13 patients who took part in the study, 11 achieved normal or near-normal factor VIII levels.

Lawmaker’s Resignation Raises Questions of ‘Pro-Life Approach’ to IVF, Surrogacy

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:28

(Washington Post) – The explanation that Rep. Trent Franks gave in announcing his resignation this week centered on a House Ethics Committee investigation that he said was prompted by his discussions of surrogacy with two female subordinates. His statement turned a spotlight on the often medically complex world of infertility treatment, which many abortion opponents also consider ethically fraught. And the glare could intensify, with a former staff member alleging that the Arizona Republican offered her $5 million if she would bear his child.

Man Who Helped Mother (99) to Die Should Be Jailed, Says Prosecutor

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:20

(Dutch News) – An elderly man who helped his 99-year-old mother to die seven years ago should be given a three-month suspended jail sentence, the public prosecution department said on Monday. Albert Heringa (75) was earlier cleared on all charges but the Supreme Court in March said there should be a retrial because euthanasia carried out by someone other than a doctor must be subject to ‘very strict rules’.

In a Rare Court Challenge to Its Abortion Ban, Brazil Grapples with Its Own Version of Roe vs. Wade

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:07

(Los Angeles Times) – Debate over abortion is nothing new in Latin America, where laws banning the procedure have driven millions of women to do it themselves or have it performed clandestinely. But for five days last month, the controversy had a face in Brazil: Rebeca Mendes Silva Leite, the first woman in this staunchly Christian nation to fight for her own abortion in court. Six weeks pregnant, the 30-year-old law student didn’t want another child. She already had two small boys, and support from their father barely covered the rent. If she were forced to take time off from school, she would lose her scholarship and have to drop out.

Bioelectronics Herald the Rise of the Cyborg

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:03

(Science) – Lieber’s result, together with other advances on display at the meeting, heralds a new era in bioelectronics, when electronics integrated seamlessly into nervous tissue could lead to innovative treatments in humans for everything from blindness and paralysis to brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For now, the researchers are working mostly in animals, and are primarily just listening to neural activity to understand the brain.

A Breakthrough Study Could Lead to Synthetic DNA Therapies for Incurable Genetic Diseases

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 14:31

(Quartz) – Now, researchers from University College London report they’ve found a way to reverse the effect of this genetic defect—or at least slow it down—through an injection of synthetic DNA. In a small clinical trial of 46 patients, an injection of a synthetic molecule into the spinal cord appeared to stop the mutated huntingtin gene from producing the faulty protein. If it can keep the lethal protein at bay long term, the treatment could effectively cure an otherwise fatal disease.

U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Fetal Tissue Transfers

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:45

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice asked on Thursday for documents related to a Senate committee’s report on the transfer of fetal tissue by abortion provider Planned Parenthood, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The Department of Justice’s investigation will likely revive the controversy over fetal tissue transfers, which was sparked by videos released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress in 2015.

Philippines to Seek Refund of $59 Million from Sanofi Amid Vaccine Risk

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:38

(Reuters) – The Philippines will seek the return of 3 billion pesos ($59 million) it paid French drugmaker Sanofi for a dengue vaccine used to immunize hundreds of thousands of children that Sanofi has said could worsen the disease in some cases.  “We will demand the refund of the 3 billion (pesos) paid for the Dengvaxia and (demand) that Sanofi set up an indemnification fund to cover the hospitalization and medical treatment of all children who might have severe dengue,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters on Friday.

Venezuela’s Chronic Shortages Give Rise to ‘Medical Flea Markets’

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:26

(Reuters) – Venezuela’s critical medicine shortage has spurred “medical flea markets,” where peddlers offer everything from antibiotics to contraceptives laid out among the traditional fruits and vegetables.  The crisis-wrought Latin American nation is heaving under worsening scarcity of drugs, as well as basic foods, due to tanking national production and strict currency controls that crimp imports. The local pharmaceutical association estimates at any given time, there is a shortage of around 85 percent of drugs.

Gene Therapy Shows Promise against Blood-Clotting Disease

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:48

(ABC News) – Gene therapy has freed 10 men from nearly all symptoms of hemophilia for a year so far, in a study that fuels hopes that a one-time treatment can give long-lasting help and perhaps even cure the blood disease. Hemophilia almost always strikes males and is caused by lack of a gene that makes a protein needed for blood to clot. Small cuts or bruises can be life-threatening, and many people need treatments once or more a week to prevent serious bleeding. The therapy supplies the missing gene, using a virus that’s been modified so it won’t cause illness but ferries the DNA instructions to liver cells, which use them to make the clotting factor.

DNA Has Gone Digital–What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:45

(The Conversation) – The ease of accessing genetic information online has democratized science, enabling amateur scientists in community laboratories to tackle challenges like developing affordable insulin. But the line between physical DNA sequences and their digital representation is becoming increasingly blurry. Digital information, including malware, can now be stored and transmitted via DNA. The J. Craig Venter Institute even created an entire synthetic genome watermarked with encoded links and hidden messages.

AI Is Now So Complex Its Creators Can’t Trust Why It Makes Decisions

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:42

(Quartz) – Artificial intelligence is seeping into every nook and cranny of modern life. AI might tag your friends in photos on Facebook or choose what you see on Instagram, but materials scientists and NASA researchers are also beginning to use the technology for scientific discovery and space exploration. But there’s a core problem with this technology, whether it’s being used in social media or for the Mars rover: The programmers that built it don’t know why AI makes one decision over another.

A New Edition of Nursing Ethics Is Now Available

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 09:00

Nursing Ethics (vol. 24, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Effects of Ethics Education on Moral Sensitivity of Nursing Students” by Hye-A Yeom, Sung-Hee Ahn, and Su-Jeong Kim
  • “Religion, Judaism, and the Challenge of Maintaining an Adequately Immunized Population” by Chaya Greenberger
  • ‘Relationship-Based Nursing Care and Destructive Demands by Margareth Kristoffersen and Febe Friberg
  • Professional Values, Job Satisfaction, Career Development, and Intent to Stay” by Susan Yarbrough, Pam Martin, Danita Alfred, and Charleen McNeill
  • Ethical Issues in Action-Oriented Research in Indonesia” by Rini Rachmawaty
  • ‘Against Dichotomies” by Inge van Nistelrooij and Carlo Leget
  • “Violence Against New Graduated Nurses in Clinical Settings” by Hossein Ebrahimi et al.
  • “Personal and Professional Values Held by Baccalaureate Nursing Students” by Hülya Kaya, Burçin I?ik, Emine ?enyuva, and Nurten Kaya
  • “Evaluating the Effect of Three Teaching Strategies on Student Nurses’ Moral Sensitivity” by Hsiao Lu Lee, Shu-He Huang, and Chiu-Mieh Huang
  • “Dignity in Long-Term Care” by Jennifer Kane and Kay de Vries
  • “Ethical and Cultural Striving” by Veslemøy Egede-Nissen, Gerd Sylvi Sellevold, Rita Jakobsen, and Venke Sørlie


A New Edition of Ethics, Medicine, and Public Health Is Now Available

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 09:00

Ethics, Medicine, and Public Health (vol. 3, no. 3, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Clinical bioethics and core competencies of attributes, attitudes, and behaviors: Foundations in philosophy and literature” by J. Flynn
  • “Sedation or the limits of palliative care – ethical questions” by V. Gamblin et al.
  • “One corpse, two perceptions: Confrontation of sub-Saharan Africa versus French medical students’ attitudes toward autopsy related belief” by P. Charlier et al.
  • “Kant, autonomy and bioethics” by L. Campbell


A New Edition of Nursing Philosophy Is Now Available

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 09:00

Nursing Philosophy (vol. 18, no. 4, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Can Nursing Epistemology Embrace p-Values?” by Christine H. K. Ou, Wendy A. Hall, and Sally E. Thorne
  • “Person-Centred Care Dialectics—Inquired in the Context of Palliative Care” by Joakim Öhlén et al.
  • “Jürgen Habermas and the Dilemmas of Experience of Disability” by Krzysztof Pezdek and Wojciech Doli?ski
  • “Rhetoric Versus Reality: The Role of Research in Deconstructing Concepts of Caring” by Dawn Freshwater et al.
  • “Reconciling Conceptualisations of the Body and Person-Centred Care of the Older Person with Cognitive Impairment in the Acute Care Setting” by Carole Rushton and David Edvardsson