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April 16, 2014

Digital Mirror Reveals What Lies Under Your Skin

(New Scientist) – Maître and his collaborators built the digital mirror to explore philosophical questions about how we relate to our body. But in the future, they say they could imagine doctors using a similar system to help people explore a particular part of their body or prepare for an upcoming operation. Other researchers have already started exploring how augmented reality can help medicine.

A Patient’s Bizarre Hallucination Points to How the Brain Identifies Places

(Wired) – In the new study, Mégevand and colleagues report what happened when they stimulated a brain region thought to be important for the perception of places — the so-called parahippocampal place area — in one particular patient. “At first we were really stunned. It was the first time in 70 patients that someone gave such a detailed, specific report,” said Mégevand, a post-doctoral research fellow at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York.

Biologist Defiant over Stem-Cell Method

(Nature) – The lead author of two hotly debated stem-cell papers made a tearful plea for forgiveness last week after her employer found her guilty of misconduct. Haruko Obokata, a researcher at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, struggled to answer questions about errors in the papers, which described how simple stressors such as acid or pressure could reprogram mature cells into an embryonic-like state. But that did not stop her from insisting that the reports were not fraudulent and that the phenomenon described in them is real.

New Video Highlights the Need for a Plan When It Comes to Incidental Findings

(Bioethics.gov) – The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has posted its latest video, in which Commission Members discuss their report Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings in the Clinical, Research, and Direct-to-Consumer Contexts. In the three minute piece, Members highlight the essential message of the report on the ethical management of incidental findings across contexts: the importance of practitioners—including clinicians, researchers, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies—having a plan to anticipate and manage incidental findings.

April 15, 2014

Sperm RNA Carries Marks of Trauma

(Nature) – Trauma is insidious. It not only increases a person’s risk for psychiatric disorders, but can also spill over into the next generation. People who were traumatized during the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia tended to have children with depression and anxiety, for example, and children of Australian veterans of the Vietnam War have higher rates of suicide than the general population.

April 14, 2014

Former NIH Stem-Cell Chief Joins New York Foundation

(Nature) – Stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, who resigned last week as director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new job. On 9 April, he was appointed vice-president for regenerative medicine at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that funds embryonic stem-cell research.

Harvard Investigation Leads to ‘Expression of Concern’ on Brigham-Led Stem Cell Research

(Boston.com) – Two days after a heart research paper was retracted, questions have been raised about a stem cell study overseen by the same prominent Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiovascular researcher. In an “expression of concern” posted online Thursday night, editors of the British medical journal The Lancet said Harvard Medical School had notified them of an ongoing investigation examining the “integrity of certain data” used in two sets of images of cells in a 2011 paper overseen by Dr. Piero Anversa at the Brigham.

April 11, 2014

A New Edition of Developing World Bioethics is Available

Developing World Bioethics (Volume 14, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Bioethics and Forensic Psychiatry” by Debora Diniz
  • “Impact of Three Years Training on Operations Capacities of Research Ethics Committees in Nigeria” by Morenike Oluwatoyin Folayan, et al.
  • “On Abortion: Exploring Psychological Meaning and Attitudes in a Sample of Mexican Gynecologists” by Ma. Luisa Marván, Asunción Álvarez del Río and Zaira Campos
  • “Ethical Issues in Field Trials of Genetically Modified Disease-Resistant Mosquitoes” by David B. Resnik
  • “The Ethics of Engaged Presence: A Framework for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Development Work” by Matthew R. Hunt, et al.

European Union Debates Initiative on Embryo Protection

(New York Times) – A packed hearing on a petition calling for the protection of human embryos led to a rare outbreak of raucous exchanges in the European Parliament on Thursday — a sign that the battles over abortion and stem cell research that divide nations like Spain and the United States are making a serious incursion into European Union affairs.

A New Edition of Clinical Ethics is Available

Clinical Ethics (Volume 9, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Can informed consent apply to information disclosure? Moral and practical implications” by Jacques Tamin
  • “A principlist approach to presumed consent for organ donation” by Hannah Welbourn
  • “Imperfect informed consent for prenatal screening: Lessons from the Quad screen” by ML Constantine, et al.
  • “Informal ethics consultations in academic health care settings: A quantitative description and a qualitative analysis with a focus on patient participation” by Abraham Rudnick, et al.
  • “The impact of an ethics training programme on the success of clinical ethics services” Andrea Dörries, et al.
  • “Staffs’ perceptions of the ethical landscape in psychiatric inpatient care: A qualitative content analysis of ethical diaries” by Veikko Pelto-Piri, Karin Engström, and Ingemar Engström
  • “The medical record as legal document: When can the patient dictate the content? An ethics case from the Department of Neurology” by Robert Accordino, et al.
  • “Longing to a fetal patient” Tutku Ozdogan, et al.

A New Edition of Public Health Ethics is Available

Public Health Ethics (Volume 7, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Do Social Networking Sites Enhance the Attractiveness of Risky Health Behavior? Impression Management in Adolescents’ Communication on Facebook and its Ethical Implications” by Julika Loss, Verena Lindacher, and Janina Curbach
  • “Parents’ and Children’s Perceptions of the Ethics of Marketing Energy-Dense Nutrient-Poor Foods on the Internet: Implications for Policy to Restrict Children’s Exposure” by K. P. Mehta, et al.
  • “Using Social Networking Sites for Communicable Disease Control: Innovative Contact Tracing or Breach of Confidentiality?” by Kate L. Mandeville, et al.
  • “Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Contact Tracing: Urge for Ethical Framework for Normative Guidance” by Mart L. Stein, et al.
  • “Beyond Individual Responsibility for Lifestyle: Granting a Fresh and Fair Start to the Regretful” by Sarah Vansteenkiste, Kurt Devooght, and Erik Schokkaert
  • “Recruiting and Educating Participants for Enrollment in HIV-Vaccine Research: Ethical Implications of the Results of an Empirical Investigation” by Sibusiso Sifunda, et al.
  • “Ethical Challenges in Implementation Research” by Ruth Macklin

April 10, 2014

Tamiflu: Millions Wasted on Flu Drug, Claims Major Report

(BBC) – Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said. The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics. The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

Scientists Disagree on Responsible Research

(Nanotechnology Now) – Responsible research has been put firmly on the political agenda with, for instance, EU’s Horizon 2020 programme in which all research projects must show how they contribute responsibly to society. New research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that the scientists themselves place great emphasis on behaving responsibly; they just disagree on what social responsibility in science entails. Responsibility is, in other words, a matter of perspective.

April 9, 2014

Acid-Bath Stem Cell Scientist Apologizes and Appeals

(Nature) – Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work. Kicking off a press conference in Osaka amid a storm of snapping cameras and flanked by two lawyers, Obokata blamed her immaturity and her lack of awareness of research protocols for the errors that were found in her two high-profile papers on the studies, published in Nature in January (Note: Nature’s news and comment teams are editorially independent of its research editorial team). These included the use of a duplicated image.

Pro-Life Citizen’s Initiative Worries E.U. Scientists

(Science) – A group of European pro-life organizations is mobilizing against embryonic stem cell research in a way that the European Commission cannot ignore. One of Us, a so-called European citizens’ initiative, has collected 1.7 million signatures from all 28 E.U. member states for a proposal that would block funding for research in which embryos are destroyed; under E.U. rules, the European Commission must now consider turning the proposal into legislation.

April 8, 2014

NIH Stem-Cell Programme Closes

(Nature) – Stem-cell researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been left frustrated and confused following the demise of the agency’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM). The intramural programme’s director, stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, left the NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland, on 28 March, and the centre’s website was taken down on 4 April. Although no official announcement had been made at the time Nature went to press, NIH officials say that they are rethinking how they will conduct in-house stem-cell research.

Obsession with Health and Safety Is Killing Science, Claims James Lovelock

(The Telegraph) – The ‘religious’ obsession with health and safety is putting off a generation of children from science because they are banned from taking part in experiments, one of Britain’s leading scientists has claimed. James Lovelock, 94, who first detected CFCs in the atmosphere and proposed the Gaia hypotheses, which suggests the Earth is a self-regulating system, claims education has become a ‘tick box’ exercise which is doing nothing to inspire youngsters.

April 7, 2014

Video: Is Peer Review Broken?

(Biome)  To coincide with this year’s Experimental Biology conference, BioMed Central and BMC Biologyorganised a panel discussion to explore the increasing frustration with the peer-review process from the scientific community.

‘Hackathons’ Aim to Solve Health Care’s Ills

(The Wall Street Journal) – Hackathons, the high-octane, all-night problem-solving sessions popularized by the software-coding community, are making their way into the more traditional world of health care. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a recent event called Hacking Medicine’s Grand Hackfest attracted more than 450 people to work for one weekend on possible solutions to problems involving diabetes, rare diseases, global health and information technology used at hospitals.

April 4, 2014

Scientist Quit Effort to Live Blog STAP Cell Regulation

(Science) – A scientist who has been trying to reproduce STAP cells–a new type of stem cells–and regularly blogging about his progress has given up.  “I don’t think STAP cells exist and it will be a waste of manpower and research funding to carry on with this experiment any further,” Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, an embryologist and stem cell researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote on his ResearchGate page yesterday. Though he is giving up, he hopes others will continue to investigate whether the new approach – which has dogged by controversy and claims of research misconduct — can really lead to stem cells.

European Parliament Approves Bill to Increase Clinical Trial Transparency

(Science) – Researchers who do clinical trials in the European Union will have to make the results public under a bill approved by the European Parliament yesterday. In a sweeping vote held here yesterday, 594 members of the Parliament voted in favor of the plan, while only 17 voted against and 13 abstained. The vote, which confirms an informal deal reached in December between Parliament and the European Union’s 28 member states, is a victory for activist groups who want trials data out in the open.

 

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