(Reuters) – Zambian troops entered a slum in Lusaka on Friday to restore order after residents rioted over a curfew and ban on street vending imposed to control a cholera outbreak, state radio said. The riots in the densely populated Kanyama township were sparked after police sealed off a market where trading had been banned on Sunday, when the curfew was declared.
(Sci Dev Net) – Pakistan, a country with a high rate of marriages among close relatives, has taken a step towards dealing with inherited disorders by establishing a genetic mutation database, or mutome, that the developers say will help provide genetic counselling and screening, and aid in personalised healthcare. The Pakistan Genetic Mutation Database (PGMD), which already covers 1,000 mutations implicated in 120 types of syndromic and non-syndromic disorders, was built using the PubMed database of references and abstracts as well as consultations with the country’s leading genetic scientists.
(Vox) – Ruhm claimed that, more than the economy, the bigger driver of overdose deaths was “the broader drug environment” — meaning the expanded supply of opioid painkillers, heroin, and illicit fentanyl over the past decade and a half, which has made these drugs much more available and, therefore, easier to misuse and overdose on. To analyze this, Ruhm’s study makes an assumption: If economic (or social) factors were behind the rise in drug overdose deaths, then the availability of certain drugs would only change which drugs are linked to overdoses rather than who is overdosing.
(Medscape) – Frozen embryo transfer showed no clear benefit over fresh embryo transfer among infertile women who do not have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to two studies published online January 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the first study, Yuhua Shi, MD, PhD, from the Center for Reproductive Medicine, Shandong Provincial Hospital–Shandong University, China, and colleagues randomly assigned 2157 women across 19 sites to receive either a fresh-embryo transfer or a frozen-embryo transfer during their first cycle of in vitro fertilization.
(New York Daily News) – An influential state advisory panel has recommended that New York do away with its decades-old ban on women serving as paid childbirth surrogates, the Daily News has learned. The recommendation issued quietly last month by the Health Department’s Task Force on Life and the Laws is being hailed as a watershed development by advocates for gay couples and others struggling with infertility who have been pushing for years to change the law.
(TIME) – Last year, organs were recovered from 10,281 deceased donors—more than a 3% increase from 2016 and a 27% increase over the last 10 years. Those organs contributed to the 34,768 transplants performed in 2017 using organs from both deceased and living donors—a new record for organ transplants in the United States. The reasons why are both hopeful and concerning.
(Undark) – If Marcus is right, it could upend not just medicine, but whole strata of legal, regulatory, and even ethical bedrock. Could insurers refuse coverage to the great-grandchildren of people exposed to a chemical toxin? Where would liabilities end? What are the real-world implications of personal health problems linked not to some chemical exposure that unfolded in our lifetimes, but at some distant point in our past lineage?
(BBC) – Ghanaian schoolgirls have been banned from crossing a river while they are menstruating – and on Tuesdays. The ban, apparently given by a local river god, has outraged children’s activists, especially as girls must cross the river to reach school. It means girls in the Upper Denkyira East district, in the Central Region, could miss out on their education. Sub-Saharan Africa is already struggling to keep girls in school during their periods.
(ABC News) – Connecticut’s highest court has ruled on an issue that most people may think is already settled, saying doctors have a duty to keep patients’ medical records confidential and can be sued if they don’t. The Supreme Court’s 6-0 decision Thursday overturned a lower court judge who said Connecticut had yet to recognize doctor-patient confidentiality.
(The Phnom Penh Post) – Malis* sits under her home in a remote village with her legs folded under her swelling belly. She’s six months pregnant, expecting a baby girl, and knows nothing about the child’s parents except that they are Chinese. She also is unaware that, as of yesterday, she could find herself facing serious jail time for her role in an illegal surrogacy operation. Though the “rent-a-womb” practice was outlawed in a snap edict in October 2016, the Interior Ministry named January 8 the deadline for a “surrogacy amnesty”.
(New York Times) – Bioethics is a broad, interdisciplinary field. Its subject matter encompasses many of the most controversial and weighty matters facing contemporary society, including aid in dying or assisted suicide, human cloning, abortion, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, organ transplantation, medical marijuana and health care rationing. In this first part of a two-part series, we use resources in The Times to help students explore difficult ethical questions related to patient autonomy, physician autonomy and scarce resources
(Science) – Of course no such proposal ever went to bioethicists at the University of Ingolstadt, where the fictional Frankenstein created his monster. In 1790, even a real Frankenstein would have faced no ethical reviews. But the proposal does exist in a 2014 paper, which speculates about whether the Frankenstein story would have had a happier ending if 21st century safeguards had existed 2 centuries ago. It is one of many riffs on the novel to be found in biomedical literature. In conceiving her story, Mary Shelley was influenced by the nascent medical science of the day and by early experiments on electricity. In return, Frankenstein has haunted science ever since.
(STAT News) – In nearly each case, major vaccine producers have risen to the challenge, setting aside their day-to-day profit-making activities to try to meet a pressing societal need. With each successive crisis, they have done so despite mounting concerns that the threat will dissipate and with it the demand for the vaccine they are racing to develop. Now, manufacturers are expressing concern about their ability to afford these costly disruptions to their profit-seeking operations. As a result, when the bat-signal next flares against the night sky, there may not be anyone to respond.
(STAT News) – The reporting of clinical trial results to a public database — mandated by a 10-year-old federal law — has improved sharply in the last two years, with universities and other nonprofit research centers leading the way, according to a new STAT analysis of government data. Overall, trial sponsors had disclosed 72 percent of required results to the federal ClinicalTrials.gov database as of September 2017. That compares with 58 percent just two years earlier.
(New York Times) – In what has become an increasingly common business arrangement, owners of nursing homes outsource a wide variety of goods and services to companies in which they have a financial interest or that they control. Nearly three-quarters of nursing homes in the United States — more than 11,000 — have such business dealings, known as related party transactions, according to an analysis of nursing home financial records by Kaiser Health News. Some homes even contract out basic functions like management or rent their own building from a sister corporation, saying it is an efficient way of running their businesses and can help minimize taxes.
(Scientific American) – More worrisome is the utter lack of evidence on the impact of freezing time on safety. We might never know the risk of freezing an embryo for 24 years. Tina Gibson said she wasn’t told by her doctors until she was pregnant how long the embryo had been frozen. The ethical question is how much do professionals say—particularly when there is much we do not know.
(Scientific American) – Infertility treatment is an emotional and financial rollercoaster. For couples trying to conceive (“TTC” in the many on-line support forums), repeated failure of implantation, defined as three or more failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles where no clear cause can be identified, is a frequent, heartbreaking end point when the emotional, physical or financial burden of treatment becomes too high to keep looking for an answer. By some estimates, up to two thirds of patients experience failed cycles. That means there’s a lot of opportunity to improve in a field where every small advance in technology represents a chance to make a family. A new infertility-related artificial intelligence (AI) startup thinks it can do just that—and some of the biggest players in computing are betting big that they are right.
(Wired) – This pig doesn’t necessarily need a robot tugging on its esophagus, but children born with a section of theirs missing, a disorder known as esophageal atresia, may in the near future. What researchers detail today in the journal Science Robotics is how their robot could not only help treat this disorder, but also short bowel syndrome, in which a child loses large portions of the intestines to infection. Implantable robots, then, may help extend organs in the human body—though weirdly not by stretching, like you might assume is going on here.
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Oklahoma has dealt a blow to a Cherokee Nation lawsuit seeking to stop the flow of addictive opioid painkillers in its territory by issuing a preliminary injunction to prevent the case from being heard in tribal court. In a decision late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled the tribal court lacked jurisdiction because the lawsuit involving six wholesale drug distributors and pharmacy operators does not directly concern tribal self-government.
(Washington Post) – The dispute is one of a number of embryo-custody battles that have landed in the courts over the past quarter-century, resolved by different judges in different states with no consistent pattern. Rulings sometimes have awarded the frozen contents to the parent who wanted to use them, while other times determining that they could be discarded. On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Rookses’ case. Although several other cases have made their way to states’ high courts, legal experts say the issues here are different.