(UPI) – Researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have found ways to reprogram scar tissue cells into healthy heart muscle cells. A major challenge for doctors is that the heart is unable to regenerate healthy cells, known as cardiomyocytes, after a heart attack, so muscles damaged after heart attacks stay damaged. UNC School of Medicine researchers compared two leading reprogramming techniques, finding that one method leads to the creation of cardiomyocytes with genetic signatures that mimic those found in healthy adult heart muscle cells.
(News-Medical) – New research conducted at the stem cell center, DanStem, at the University of Copenhagen shows that insulin is a key determinant of embryonic stem cell potency in mammals. When large amounts of Insulin are around, stem cells retain their ability to make all the cell types in the body. However, too little insulin leads to embryonic stem cells being transformed into a new type of stem cell, one that can make tissues that support the fetal development and helps make the different internal organs. As embryonic stem cells come from embryos around the time they implant into the mother, this study suggests that maternal insulin and diet maybe be important for the earliest stages of pregnancy. This study also points to new ways that stem cells can be made and differentiated to help treat degenerative diseases.
(The Wall Street Journal) – When Zika swept through the Americas and thousands of infants were born with horrifying birth defects, many scientists and health experts wondered if a virus once thought to be benign had mutated to become more dangerous. Now, some say it did. In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at several Chinese institutions identified a genetic mutation they say gave Zika the ability to disrupt brain development, leading to a congenital condition called microcephaly in which a baby’s brain and head are abnormally small.
Qualitative Health Research (Vol. 27, No. 7, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Navigating the Decision Space: Shared Medical Decision Making as Distributed Cognition” by Katherine D. Lippa, Markus A. Feufel, F. Eric Robinson, and Valerie L. Shalin
- “Case Study Observational Research: A Framework for Conducting Case Study Research Where Observation Data Are the Focus” by Sonya J. Morgan et al.
Ethics and Information Technology (vol. 19, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Post-Mortem Privacy and Informational Self-Determination” by J. C. Buitelaar
JAMA (vol. 317, no. 19, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Replacing the Affordable Care Act: Lessons From Behavioral Economics by Jonathan S. Skinner amd Kevin G. Volpp
International Journal of Computer-Human Interaction has new articles available online by subscription only.
- “Acceptance of Health-Related ICT among Elderly People Living in the Community: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Evidence” by Lars Tore Vassli and Babak Farshchian
New Genetics and Society has new articles available online by subscription only.
- “‘Participating Means Accepting’: Debating and Contesting Synthetic Biology” by Morgan Meyer
(STAT News) – A new blood test can cheaply and quickly distinguish between the mosquito-borne Zika and dengue viruses, researchers reported Wednesday, giving public health officials a valuable tool to track the spread of outbreaks and prepare for the possible consequences of the different infections. The test, which was described in the journal Science Translational Medicine, relies on a simple paper strip, and researchers hope it can eventually be purchased for less than $1. The scientists who developed the test are at work to commercialize it and production would need to be scaled up before it could be deployed widely.
(Eurekalert) – What should doctors do when parents request treatments for their children that are less effective than those recommended? In the Journal of Medical Ethics today, leading experts explore the boundaries of parental choice and identify thresholds of acceptable levels of harm and cost. There has been research into the ethics of parental refusal of treatment, for example, Jehovah’s Witness parents who refuse a blood transfusion for their children. In cases where the life of the child is at risk, it is widely accepted that doctors should over-ride parents’ wishes. But the question of what doctors should do when parents are not refusing treatment, rather requesting a substitute ‘second best’ treatment, has attracted less attention.
(The Conversation) – Today, a primary goal of both movements aimed at care of the dying – palliative care and euthanasia – is to eliminate suffering. These are underpinned by the idea that a good death is a painless death. But it wasn’t always so. The term “euthanasia” is derived from the Greek for good death, but it only began to be used in a modern and familiar way in the late 19th century. For centuries in Western societies, “euthanasia” referred to a pious death blessed by God.
(The Guardian) – The beauty of immunotherapy is that some patients experience an impressive, even a lasting response. For the doctor and patient exhausted by the search for options, the sight of melting tumors can feel almost ecclesiastical. Immunotherapy provides good reason for optimism and even awe, but what it is not is a panacea. Unfortunately, it does not work in the majority of patients. Studies show a response rate of roughly 20%, with a variable survival benefit. Some patients get to live long and productive lives but many don’t. Frustratingly, immunotherapy works well in some cancers and not at all for others and we are still finding ways to distinguish the two.
(TIME) – Over 100 CEOs of artificial intelligence and robotics firms recently signed an open letter warning that their work could be repurposed to build lethal autonomous weapons — “killer robots.” They argued that to build such weapons would be to open a “Pandora’s Box.” This could forever alter war. Over 30 countries have or are developing armed drones, and with each successive generation, drones have more autonomy. Automation has long been used in weapons to help identify targets and maneuver missiles. But to date, humans have remained in control of deciding whether to use lethal force.
(The Atlantic) – Ziegert’s case is already being touted as an example of the power of new DNA technologies to solve crimes. In many ways, it’s the perfect example to take to the media: a young female victim, an infamous murder, a 25-year-old case. It’s unclear exactly how pivotal the DNA evidence was—the district attorney said “a number of factors” contributed to narrowing down the suspects—but there will almost certainly be more cases like this involving DNA. With the cost of sequencing rapidly falling, forensics labs have been looking for new ways to generate leads out of DNA.
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 376, no. 18, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Scientific Drought, Golden Eggs, and Global Leadership — Why Trump’s NIH Funding Cuts Would Be a Disaster” by I.T. Katz and A.A. Wright
- “Resident Duty Hours and Medical Education Policy — Raising the Evidence Bar” by D.A. Asch, K.Y. Bilimoria, and S.V. Desai
- “The Failure of Solanezumab — How the FDA Saved Taxpayers Billions” by C.A. Sacks, J. Avorn, and A.S. Kesselheim
- “The Changing Face of Clinical Trials: Academic, Foundation, and Industry Collaboration in Finding New Therapies” by B.W. Ramsey, G.T. Nepom, and S. Lonial
BMC Medical Ethics has new articles available online.
- “On Classifying the Field of Medical Ethics” by Kristine Bærøe, Jonathan Ives, Martine de Vries, and Jan Schildmann
- “Core Information Sets for Informed Consent to Surgical Interventions: Baseline Information of Importance to Patients and Clinicians” by Barry G. Main et al.
International Journal of Computer-Human Interaction (vol. 33, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Human Robot Engagement and Acceptability in Residential Aged Care” by Rajiv Khosla, Khanh Nguyen, and Mei-Tai Chu
Zygon Journal of Religion and Science (vol. 52, no. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Furnishing The Skill Which Can Save The Child: Diphtheria, Germ Theory, and Theodicy” by Kristin Johnson
- “Holistic Biology: What It Is And Why It Matters” by Fraser Watts and Michael J. Reiss
- “The Christian’s Dilemma: Organicism or Mechanism?” by Michael Ruse
- “Epigenetics, Representation, And Society” by Ilya Gadjev
International Journal for Quality in Health Care (Volume 29, No. 2, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Examining the Nature of Interprofessional Interventions Designed to Promote Patient Safety: A Narrative Review” by Scott Reeves et al.
- “Assessing Patient Safety Culture in Tunisian Operating Rooms: A Multicenter Study” by Manel Mallouli et al.
- “Pay-for-Performance Reduces Healthcare Spending and Improves Quality of Care: Analysis of Target and Non-Target Obstetrics and Gynecology Surgeries” by Seung Ju Kim, Kyu-Tae Han, Sun Jung Kim, and Eun-Cheol Park
(NPR) – Under the current system, the nation is divided into 11 regions, and the sickest patient on the waiting list in each region gets the next compatible liver that becomes available in that region. In some regions, patients have to wait until they’re facing a 93 percent risk of dying within the next three months. In other regions, patients get transplants when their risk is only 13 percent, according to UNOS. One big reason for that is that more organs become available in some places than others. And that’s partly because of the way people die — there are more deaths in ways that leave the victims eligible to be organ donors, such as car accidents and strokes.