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April 17, 2014

Artificial Eyes, Plastic Skulls: 3-D Printing the Human Body

(CNN) – The 21st century has seen the growth of 3-D printing, with well-known applications in architecture, manufacturing, engineering, and now increasingly in medicine. The birth of 3-D scanning technologies combined with organic inks and thermoplastics has enabled the “bioprinting” of a range of human body parts to accommodate a wide range of medical conditions. Let’s start form the top.

April 16, 2014

Researchers Transplant Regenerated Oesophagus

(Medical News Today) – The new method has been developed by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, within an international collaboration lead by Professor Paolo Macchiarini. The technique to grow human tissues and organs, so called tissue engineering, has been employed so far to produce urinary bladder, trachea and blood vessels, which have also been used clinically. However, despite several attempts, it has been proven difficult to grow tissue to replace a damaged oesophagus.

April 11, 2014

A New Edition of Health Education Research is Available

Health Education Research (Volume 29, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Barriers and facilitators in health education for adults with intellectual disabilities—a qualitative study” by H. Bergström, L. S. Elinder, and U. Wihlman
  • “Using the Precaution Adoption Process model to describe a disaster preparedness intervention among low-income Latinos” by Deborah C. Glik, et al.
  • “A televised entertainment-education drama to promote positive discussion about organ donation” by Georges E. Khalil and Lance S. Rintamaki
  • “School-based HIV/AIDS education is associated with reduced risky sexual behaviors and better grades with gender and race/ethnicity differences” by Zhen-qiang Ma, Monica A. Fisher, and Lewis H. Kuller
  • “Including a client sexual health pathway in a national youth mental health early intervention service—project rationale and implementation strategy” by C. A. Edwards, et al.

Medical First as Noses Are ‘Regrown’

(The Telegraph) – Surgeons have rebuilt the noses of five skin cancer patients by growing the nasal tissue. They successfully rebuilt their nostrils with a revolutionary technique in which cells were taken from their nasal septum, the cartilage partition which runs down the middle of the nose. A year afterwards, all recipients were satisfied with their ability to breathe as well as the cosmetic appearance, and did not report any side effects.

April 10, 2014

Scientists Try 3-D Printer to Build Human Heart

(Associated Press) – It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer. Ultimately, the goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted. It is an ambitious project to first, make a heart and then get it to work in a patient, and it could be years – perhaps decades – before a 3-D printed heart would ever be put in a person. The technology, though, is not all that futuristic: Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.

April 8, 2014

UK Scientists Make Body Parts in Lab

(Associated Press) – In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes – researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.

April 3, 2014

The Next Frontier in 3-D Printing: Human Organs

(CNN) – The emerging process of 3-D printing, which uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects, has produced everything from toys to jewelry to food. Soon, however, 3-D printers may be spitting out something far more complex, and controversial: human organs. For years now, medical researchers have been reproducing human cells in laboratories by hand to create blood vessels, urine tubes, skin tissue and other living body parts. But engineering full organs, with their complicated cell structures, is much more difficult.

March 28, 2014

Effect of Distance from Transplant Center on Outcomes

(Science Codex) – Among veterans meeting eligibility for liver transplantation, greater distance from a Veterans Affairs transplant center or any transplant center was associated with lower likelihood of being put on a waitlist or receiving a transplant, and a greater likelihood of death, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

March 27, 2014

Leading Surgeons Warn against Media Hype about Tracheal Regeneration

(Medical News Today) – Reports of the two earliest tissue-engineered whole organ transplants using a windpipe, or trachea, created using the patient’s own stem cells, were hailed as a breakthrough for regenerative medicine and widely publicized in the press. However, two leading transplant surgeons in Belgium warn of the dangers of media attention, and urge that tracheal bioengineering be demonstrated as both effective and safe before further transplants take place.

March 19, 2014

Mexican Cartel Member Investigated over Organ-harvesting Claims

(The Guardian) – Mexican authorities have captured an alleged drug trafficker from the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) cartel who officials say is being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering children in order to harvest their organs for sale. The security secretary for Michoacán state, Carlos Castellanos, said Manuel Plancarte Gaspar was arrested last week in possession of a stolen vehicle and drugs, and was suspected of involvement in a network that killed children in order to extract and sell their organs.

March 17, 2014

Five Arrested in Spanish Organ Trafficking Ring

(UPI) – Police in Spain said they have arrested five people, including a wealthy Lebanese man, in connection with an illegal human organ trafficking ring. Officials said the investigation, which is the country’s first probe into a human organ trafficking ring, was opened when the leader of a charity that works with immigrants discovered via the Internet that the illicit company was seeking to convince impoverished immigrants to sell their organs or parts of organs, ThinkSpain reported Friday.

March 13, 2014

Lebanese mayor arrested in Spain, accused of attempted organ trafficking

(CNN) – A wealthy mayor from Lebanon has been arrested in Spain for allegedly offering to pay $55,000 to poor people to obtain liver tissue for his liver transplant, police and a government official announced Wednesday. It’s the first time that potential human organ trafficking, a worrisome international crime, has been detected in Spain, authorities said.

March 12, 2014

New organ transplant strategy aims to better prevent rejection

(Medical Xpress) – Organ-transplant recipients often reject donated organs, but a new, two-pronged strategy developed by UC San Francisco researchers to specifically weaken immune responses that target transplanted tissue has shown promise in controlled experiments on mice. The hope is that using this novel treatment strategy at the time of transplantation surgery could spare patients from lifelong immunosuppressive treatments and their side effects. The approach might also be used to treat autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, the researchers said. The study is published and commented upon in a recent issue of American Journal of Transplantation.

March 6, 2014

Artificial organs may finally get a blood supply

(MIT Technology Review) – In what may be a critical breakthrough for creating artificial organs, Harvard researchers say they have created tissue interlaced with blood vessels. Using a custom-built four-head 3-D printer and a “disappearing” ink, materials scientist Jennifer Lewis and her team created a patch of tissue containing skin cells and biological structural material interwoven with blood-vessel-like structures. Reported by the team in Advanced Materials, the tissue is the first made through 3-D printing to include potentially functional blood vessels embedded among multiple, patterned cell types.

February 26, 2014

Centers used solely for recovering organs from deceased donors may improve efficiency

(Science Codex) – Free-standing organ recovery centers could markedly improve efficiency and reduce costs associated with deceased organ donation, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Transplantation. The study’s findings have major implications for cost containment and national policies related to organ transplantation.

February 25, 2014

A New Edition of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics is Available

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Volume 95, No. 3, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Progress in Pharmacogenomics: Bridging the Gap From Research to Practice” by I. Cascorbi and R. Tyndale
  • “Warfarin Pharmacogenetics: An Illustration of the Importance of Studies in Minority Populations” by M. A. Perera, et al.
  • “Is There a Need to Teach Pharmacogenetics?” by A. K. Daly
  • “Next-Generation Medicines: Past Regulatory Experience and Considerations for the Future” by M. A. Pacanowski, et al.
  • “Practicability of Pharmacogenetics in Transplantation Medicine” by T. van Gelder, et al.
  • “Strategies for Postmarketing Surveillance of Drugs for Rare Diseases” by A. S. Kesselheim and J. J. Gagne
  • “Cardiovascular Pharmacogenomics: Expectations and Practical Benefits” by R. M. Turner and M. Pirmohamed

A New Edition of Bioethics is Available

Bioethics (Volume 28, No. 3, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “2014 International Bioethics Forum Between UK and China and the Professional Development of Bioethics in China” by Li EN-Chang, et al.
  • “Living Organ Procurement from the Mentally Incompetent: The Need for More Appropriate Guidelines” by Kristof Van Assche, et al.
  • “Are Bans on Kidney Sales Unjustifiably Paternalistic?” by Erik Malmqvist
  • “Equity Under the Knife: Justice and Evidence in Surgery” by Wendy Rogers, et al.
  • “A Costly Separation Between Withdrawing and Withholding Treatment in Intensive Care” by Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu
  • “Are Phase 1 Trials Therapeutic? Risk, Ethics, and Division of Labor” by James A. Anderson and Jonathan Kimmelman
  • “The Nocebo Effect of Informed Consent” by Shlomo Cohen

February 24, 2014

Scientists transform skin cells into functioning liver cells

(Nanowerk) – The power of regenerative medicine now allows scientists to transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble heart cells, pancreas cells and even neurons. However, a method to generate cells that are fully mature—a crucial prerequisite for life-saving therapies—has proven far more difficult. But now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have made an important breakthrough: they have discovered a way to transform skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells that flourish on their own, even after being transplanted into laboratory animals modified to mimic liver failure.

February 21, 2014

Ending organ pillaging/trafficking in China

(The Epoch Times) – Text of David Kilgour’s speech to the Knesset of Israel: When human dignity is denied in a major way in China, it can threaten us all, so I hope the legislators and peoples in both our countries will do what is correct without misplaced fear. All of us in the international coalition to end organ pillaging/trafficking in China can be pleased that you’re holding this important hearing. Time is urgent; I am certain that men and women convicted of nothing are currently being killed in China so that their vital organs can be sold.

February 20, 2014

A New Edition of Journal of Medical Ethics is Available

Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume 40, No. 3, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Responding to complexity” by Kenneth Boyd
  • “Imposing options on people in poverty: the harm of a live donor organ market” by Simon Rippon
  • “Organ sales and paternalism” by Gerald Dworkin
  • “Live liver donation, ethics and practitioners: ‘I am between the two and if I do not feel comfortable about this situation, I cannot proceed’” by Elin H Thomas, et al.
  • “What ethical and legal principles should guide the genotyping of children as part of a personalised screening programme for common cancer?” by Alison Elizabeth Hall, et al.
  • “Disclosure ‘downunder’: misadventures in Australian genetic privacy law” by Wendy Bonython and Bruce Arnold
  • “Attitudes towards euthanasia in Iran: the role of altruism” by Naser Aghababaei
  • “Discovering misattributed paternity in genetic counselling: different ethical perspectives in two countries” by Pamela Tozzo, et al.
  • “In need of remedy: US policy for compensating injured research participants” by Elizabeth R Pike
  • “The acceptability among young Hindus and Muslims of actively ending the lives of newborns with genetic defects” by Shanmukh Kamble, et al.
  • “Cultural explanations and clinical ethics: active euthanasia in neonatology” by Ayesha Ahmad
  • “The best interests of persistently vegetative patients: to die rather that to live?” by Tak Kwong Chan and George Lim Tipoe

February 18, 2014

Human lungs successfully grown in a lab for the first time

(Medical News Today) – Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have succeeded in growing human lungs in the laboratory, using components from the lungs of deceased children. Stem cell specialists have been working on growing lung tissue for some years, but the lung is a complex organ, which presents more problems than regenerating other organ tissue, such as human skin.


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

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Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

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