(New Scientist) – Experimental implants manufactured at University College London were sent abroad and used on patients despite not having approval for human use, an inquiry has found. The implants included an artificial windpipe, a synthetic tear duct and an arterial graft. The inquiry, led by Stephen Wigmore of the University of Edinburgh at the request of UCL, was triggered by the university’s relationship with Paolo Macchiarini, a surgeon at the centre of a scandal in which six of eight patients who received synthetic windpipes died.
(Boston Globe) – Eldred now alleges that the court violated her constitutional rights by ordering her to remain drug free, arguing that her substance use disorder makes it virtually impossible for her to control her drug use through sheer will. Early next month, her case will come before the state’s highest court, an unusual challenge that could force major changes in how the probation department treats addiction in criminal defendants amid an opioid crisis that has claimed thousands of lives and shows little sign of abating.
(Undark Magazine) – While not completely discounting the thought experiments that accompanied the CHOP announcement (and which have followed analogous efforts elsewhere), a variety of scientists and medical practitioners suggest that the challenges and limits of technology are too often being overlooked. For anyone agonizing over (or hoping for) an imminent “Brave New World,” the scientific realities are likely to prove eye opening.
(Montreal Gazette) – In the first study of its kind in Canada, an overwhelming majority of Quebec caregivers say they’re in favour of extending medical assistance in dying to those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The survey by Université de Sherbrooke epidemiologist Gina Bravo found that 91 per cent of respondents support the idea of assisted dying for individuals suffering from dementia who are at the terminal state of their illness, showing signs of distress and who have an advance written directive. What’s more, 72 per cent said they were for assisted dying even for Alzheimer’s patients who did not sign a written directive before their illness.
(Washington Post) – Today, bed nets and insecticides help control the mosquito-borne disease transmission, and drugs prevent infection or blunt malaria’s symptoms. But the disease continues to take its toll. In 2015, there were roughly 212 million cases of malaria and 429,000 deaths. And the disease has become increasing resistant to drugs. In recent years, one new tool — genetic modification — has appeared especially promising. Two studies published Thursday in the journal Science illustrate the potential of genetic engineering for fighting the disease. Both studies were conducted at Johns Hopkins University’s Malaria Research Institute.
(The Guardian) – Researchers in China have used a procedure described as “chemical surgery” to mend harmful mutations in human embryos for the first time. The scientists found that it was possible to repair a faulty gene that gives rise to a serious blood disorder called beta thalassemia which can be caused by one misspelling in the DNA code. None of the embryos treated in the experiments were used to produce babies, and doing so would be illegal in the UK and many other countries. But the work proves that the method, known in genetics as “base editing”, could be an effective way to prevent inherited diseases.
(CNBC) – The outcomes for Kaitlyn and Justin are part of the mysteries of medicine: why a cutting-edge therapy works for years for one person, and just months for another. Notably, this situation has been worked into Kymriah’s pricing. If the treatment is controlling patients’ cancer after a month, its price tag is $475,000. “The CAR-T therapy is administered to all patients who need it,” Novartis’ Bradner explained. “If the medicine is working at a fixed period of time, then Novartis is compensated. And if it doesn’t, then we feel good at having provided this chance for that patient.”
(New York Times) – It has been four years since the federal government lifted the age limit for the morning-after pill, but college students across the country say gaining access to it remains fraught with confusion and difficulty. Now some colleges think they have found a solution: vending machines stocked with the morning-after pill. Stanford University unveiled one this month, following in the footsteps of several other colleges, including the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of California, Davis, which made headlines after it installed a “wellness” machine this year that sells the generic version of Plan B, as well as pregnancy tests, feminine hygiene products, Advil, Claritin and other items.
(The Guardian) – Anthony Levandowski, who is at the center of a legal battle between Uber and Google’s Waymo, has established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future, according to state filings first uncovered by Wired’s Backchannel. Way of the Future’s startling mission: “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”
(Quartz) – For more than a century, alchemists tried to graft the attributes of gold—yellow, fusible, inert, malleable—onto a single substance. Modern AI advocates are doing just the same, taking the attributes of “intelligence”—raw computational power, recognizing faces, mapping spaces, processing language, spotting patterns—and hoping that if we smush them together in a very powerful computer, somehow it will magically add up to what we call “intelligence.” But you can’t make gold from lead. And you can’t make intelligence from code.
(NBC News) – The ceramide nanoliposome is infused into the body. Because of the tiny size and structure, the nanoparticles travel easily through the body and can slip into tumors, killing the deadly cells and leaving healthy cells intact. James Adair formed a separate company, Keystone Nano, to continue the research, especially for cancers that have few other effective treatments, like liver cancer.