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A New Edition of JAMA Is Now Available

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 09:00

JAMA (vol. 317, no. 17, 2017) is available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Types and Distribution of Payments From Industry to Physicians in 2015” by Kathryn R. Tringale et al.
  • Association Between Academic Medical Center Pharmaceutical Detailing Policies and Physician Prescribing” by Ian Larkin et al.


Better Drugs, Faster: The Potential of AI-Powered Humans

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:50

(BBC) – Scientists working in tandem with artificial intelligence (AI) could slash the time it takes to develop new drugs – and, crucially, the cost – say tech companies. Developing pharmaceutical drugs is a very expensive and time-consuming business. And as AstraZeneca found out last week, disappointing drug trials can knock millions off your stock market value in a flash. So the faster we can identify promising molecules that could be turned into viable drugs, the better. This is why pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Merck, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson, are now turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help them.

Super-Intelligence and Eternal Life: Transhumanism’s Faithful Follow It Blindly into a Future for the Elite

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:26

(The Conversation) – But there is a darker side to the naive faith that Pearce and other proponents have in transhumanism – one that is decidedly dystopian. There is unlikely to be a clear moment when we emerge as transhuman. Rather technologies will become more intrusive and integrate seamlessly with the human body. Technology has long been thought of as an extension of the self. Many aspects of our social world, not least our financial systems, are already largely machine-based. There is much to learn from these evolving human/machine hybrid systems.

Will Healthcare Inequality Cause Genetic Diseases to Disproportionately Impact the Poor?

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:20

(Gizmodo) – Prenatal testing is a miraculous technology that has drastically altered the course of a woman’s pregnancy since it was first developed in the 1960s. The more recent advent of noninvasive prenatal tests made the procedure even less risky and more widely available. Today, most women are offered screenings for diseases like Down syndrome that result from an abnormal presence of chromosomes, and targeted testing of the parents can hunt for inherited disease traits like Huntington’s at risk of being passed on to a child, as well. But there is a dark side to this miracle of modern medicine, which is that choice is exclusive to those who can afford and access it.

Study: Stem Cells May Help Aid Corneal Wound Healing

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:12

(UPI) – A new study has found the use and transplantation of stem cells in corneal wound healing to improve the healing process and benefit patients, researchers report. Researchers at Cedars Sinai Medical Center found that by using corneal stem cells they could more effectively treat corneal injuries from burns, abrasions, contact lens problems, insufficient tear production, infections and other conditions.

A Surprising Amount of Medical Research Isn’t Made Public. That’s Dangerous.

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:51

(Vox) – When the results of clinical trials aren’t made public, the consequences can be dangerous — and potentially deadly. Consider the case of the anti-depressant Paxil, produced by the drug company SmithKline Beecham (now part of GlaxoSmithKline). GSK got approval from the FDA in 1999 for treatment of depression in adults, but not in teenagers. That meant that while doctors could prescribe the drug to adolescents — a so-called “off label” prescription — GSK could not promote the drug to doctors for that purpose.

Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward.

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:52

(New York Times) – Artificial Intelligence is colossally hyped these days, but the dirty little secret is that it still has a long, long way to go. Sure, A.I. systems have mastered an array of games, from chess and Go to “Jeopardy” and poker, but the technology continues to struggle in the real world. Robots fall over while opening doors, prototype driverless cars frequently need human intervention, and nobody has yet designed a machine that can read reliably at the level of a sixth grader, let alone a college student. Computers that can educate themselves — a mark of true intelligence — remain a dream.

Scientists CRISPR the First Human Embryos in the US (Maybe)

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:37

(Wired) – Big if true, as the saying goes. Mitalipov’s group never intended to implant the eggs into a womb, but the embryos were “clinical quality” and probably could have survived implantation. That makes this only the second time scientists anywhere have edited viable embryos—if that’s indeed what Mitalipov did. Maybe this news is important enough to make it to the popular press without a peer-reviewed, published paper, but without one it’s impossible to be definitive on what Mitalipov actually did versus what he’s claiming to have done.

Judge Pulls Controversial Order of Reduced Sentences for Inmates Who Undergo Birth Control Procedures

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 14:16

(CBS News) – A judge in Tennessee has rescinded a controversial order that offered reduced sentences for inmates who underwent a birth control procedure and completed an educational course about addiction in newborns. Judge Sam Benningfield in White County, Tennessee, initiated the program to combat the rise in infants born addicted to opioids, he told “CBS This Morning” last week. Benningfield said 80 to 90 percent of cases he encounters involve drug or alcohol abuse. The number of babies born with symptoms of withdrawal has increased 10-fold since the early 2000s.