December 5, 2013
Overhaul recommended for gene-therapy review
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) should refocus its oversight of gene-transfer research, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) says in a report released today. The analysis concludes that the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, or RAC, should no longer review most gene-therapy research. But there are some areas that it says the RAC should still oversee — such as studies that involve new gene-transfer vectors or that pose particular safety worries. The panel adds that the NIH should also give the committee a broader remit to review any kind of emerging research in humans that deserves special scrutiny because it raises safety or ethical issues. (Nature)
December 4, 2013
Half of US clinical trials go unpublished
US law requires the results of medical research for drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to be submitted to a database called ClinicalTrials.gov. Results, including adverse effects, have been made public there since 2008. Researchers who do not post results within a year of trial completion risk losing grants and can be fined as much as US$10,000 per day. But the database was never meant to replace journal publications, which often contain longer descriptions of methods and results and are the basis for big reviews of research on a given drug. (Nature)
December 3, 2013
A New Edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association is Available
The Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 310, No. 20, November 27, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Helsinki: Progress but Many Remaining Challenges” by Joseph Millum, et al.
- “The Declaration of Helsinki, 50 Years Later” by Paul Ndebele
- “EBM’s Six Dangerous Words” by R. Scott Braithwaite
- “World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects” by the World Medical Association
- “Health Care Cost Control and Views of Physicians” by Janet Weiner
- “Health Care Cost Control and Views of Physicians—Reply” by Jon C. Tilburt, et al.
Event: Research Ethics: Harmonising Global Principles with Asia Pacific Practices
3rd Asia Pacific Research Ethics Conference
Research Ethics: Harmonising Global Principles with Asia Pacific Practices
March 26-28, 2014
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
See here for more information.
November 29, 2013
Research ethics: 3 ways to blow the whistle
Are more people doing wrong or are more people speaking up? Retractions of scientific papers have increased about tenfold during the past decade, with many studies crumbling in cases of high-profile research misconduct that ranges from plagiarism to image manipulation to outright data fabrication. When worries about somebody’s work reach a critical point, it falls to a peer, supervisor, junior partner or uninvolved bystander to decide whether to keep mum or step up and blow the whistle. Doing the latter comes at significant risk, and the path is rarely simple. (Nature)
November 26, 2013
Psychologists strike a blow for reproducibility
A large international group set up to test the reliability of psychology experiments has successfully reproduced the results of 10 out of 13 past experiments. The consortium also found that two effects could not be reproduced. Psychology has been buffeted in recent years by mounting concern over the reliability of its results, after repeated failures to replicate classic studies. A failure to replicate could mean that the original study was flawed, the new experiment was poorly done or the effect under scrutiny varies between settings or groups of people. (Nature)
A New Edition of Developing World Bioethics is Available
Developing World Bioethics (Volume 13, No. 3, December 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “On the Ethics of Using Non-Certified Health ‘Remedies’ in Resource Poor Contexts” by Udo Schüklenk
- “Off-Shoring Clinical Research: Exploitation and the Reciprocity Constraint” by Agomoni Ganguli Mitra
- “Embryo Donation in Iran: An Ethical Review” by Leila Afshar and Alireza Bagheri
- “Research Integrity in Greater China: Surveying Regulations, Perceptions and Knowledge of Research Integrity from a Hong Kong Perspective” by Sara R. Jordan and Phillip W. Gray
- “Prevalence of Scientific Misconduct Among a Group of Researchers in Nigeria” by Patrick Okonta and Theresa Rossouw
A New Edition of The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy is Available
The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy (Volume 38, No. 6, December 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “What Are Our Moral Duties? Critical Reflections on Clinical Equipoise and Publication Ethics, Clinical Choices, and Moral Theory” by Mark J. Cherry
- “The Ethics of Limiting Informed Debate: Censorship of Select Medical Publications in the Interest of Organ Transplantation” by Michael Potts, et al.
- “Reproductive Autonomy as Self-Making: Procreative Liberty and the Practice of Ethical Subjectivity” by Catherine Mills
- “Artifacts, Intentions, and Contraceptives: The Problem with Having a Plan B for Plan B” by Philip A. Reed
- “Rethinking Voluntary Euthanasia” by Byron J. Stoyles and Sorin Costreie
- “Comparable Placebo Treatment” and the Ethics of Deception” by Shlomo Cohen and Haim Shapiro
- “Paternalism in the Name of Autonomy” by Manne Sjöstrand, et al.
- “Pragmatism, Metaphysics, and Bioethics: Beyond a Theory of Moral Deliberation” by Matthew Pamental
- “The Journal Loses Its Founding Editor” by H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.
November 25, 2013
Neuroscientist’s research leads to unique discovery: He’s a psychopath
A well-respected neuroscientist whose research into the biological underpinnings of psychopaths fatefully revealed — of all things – that he is one. Neuroscientist James Fallon recounts in his new book, “The Psychopath Inside,” the story of how the University of California, Irvine researcher and faculty member came to the startling conclusion in 2005 while reviewing PET scans of murderers, schizophrenics, depressives, along with other, normal brains. (Fox News)
Sugary drinks linked to increased endometrial cancer risk
Sugar-sweetened beverages have long been associated with a number of health risks – including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And now, a new study reveals that sugary drinks may also be associated with a significantly increased risk of a common type of endometrial cancer. In a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers analyzed data collected from 23,039 postmenopausal women as part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study. The data included information on the women’s dietary intake and medical history. (Fox News)
Investments in aging biology research will pay longevity dividend, scientists say
Finding a way to slow the biological processes of aging will do more to extend the period of healthy life in humans than attacking individual diseases alone, according to some of the nation’s top gerontologists writing in the latest issue of Public Policy & Aging Report (PP&AR), titled “The Longevity Dividend: Geroscience Meets Geropolitics.” The authors showcase work in the emerging interdisciplinary field of geroscience, which is based on the knowledge that aging itself is the major risk factor for most chronic diseases prevalent in the older population. (Phys.org)
November 21, 2013
HPV: Sex, cancer and a virus
The medical community is struggling to come to grips with the implications. There is currently no good screening method for HPV-caused cancer in the head and neck, and commercially available HPV vaccines are still prescribed only to people under the age of 26, despite evidence that they could prevent head and neck cancer in all adults. Plus, if HPV can get into the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, where does it stop? There are hints that HPV is a risk factor for other, even more common, types of cancer, including lung cancer. (Nature)
November 20, 2013
Reproducibility: The risks of the replication drive
The push to replicate findings could shelve promising research and unfairly damage the reputations of careful, meticulous scientists, says Mina Bissell. Every once in a while, one of my postdocs or students asks, in a grave voice, to speak to me privately. With terror in their eyes, they tell me that they have been unable to replicate one of my laboratory’s previous experiments, no matter how hard they try. Replication is always a concern when dealing with systems as complex as the three-dimensional cell cultures routinely used in my lab. But with time and careful consideration of experimental conditions, they, and others, have always managed to replicate our previous data. (Nature)
The engineer who fixed his own heart and others too
The process took a growing team three years to perfect. The result would be a personalised sleeve that is stitched snugly around the enlarged vessel, providing structural support and preventing it from growing any bigger. The sleeve is made of a medical-grade mesh, using material that has been used to suture wounds for many years. (BBC)
November 19, 2013
Do-it-yourself biologists doing no harm, survey finds
There’s little to fear from the existing Do-It-Yourself Biology (DIYbio) movement, concludes a report released today by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. “There’s been a lot of debate in the biosecurity community about what DIYers may or may not be doing, from making narcotics to pandemics to viruses that kill heads of state (I’m not joking),” writes Wilson fellow and report co-author Daniel Grushkin in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. He hopes the report will “dispel a lot of these myths, so that the discussion can move beyond suspicion and risks, and start focusing on opportunities.” (Science)
November 15, 2013
Preventing malaria by protecting mosquitoes
Mosquitoes suck. And malaria sucks even more. The disease—caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted by mosquitoes—infects more than 300 million people and kills 1.2 million annually. One way to protect humans, though, is to protect the mosquitoes: If they’re not sick, you won’t be either. Researchers are working on two ways to get this done, both using bacteria. (Wired)
November 14, 2013
American Thyroid Association develops ethics guidelines for thyroidology
In this changing era of health care delivery, physician guidelines on ethics are more important than ever. As each specialty area faces its own issues and dilemmas regarding patient care, scarcity of resources, and conflicts of interest, the American Thyroid Association has developed ethics guidelines specific to the field of thyroidology. These key guidelines are published in Thyroid, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers and the official journal of the American Thyroid Association (ATA), and are available free on the Thyroid website. (News-Medical)
November 8, 2013
Tony Dorsett struggles with memory loss, personality changes
The only way to definitely diagnose CTE is after death, by analyzing brain tissue and finding microscopic clumps of an abnormal protein called tau, which has been found in the brains of dozens of former NFL players. However, a pilot study at UCLA may have found tau in the brains of living retired players. Some scientists say finding the disease in the brains of living players is the “holy grail” of CTE research, providing a means to diagnose and treat it, and the UCLA study may be an important first step. (CNN)
A New Edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association is Available
The Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 310, No. 17, November 6, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Improving the Quality of Cancer Care in an Aging Population: Recommendations From an IOM Report” by Arti Hurria, et al.
- “Managing the Human Toll Caused by Seasonal Influenza: New York State’s Mandate to Vaccinate or Mask” by Arthur Caplan and Nirav R. Shah
- “The Peer Review Congresses: Improving Peer Review and Biomedical Publication” by Robert Steinbrook
- “My Best Work” by Susan L. Norris
- “Surgeons, Sleep, and Patient Safety” by Michael J. Zinner and Julie Ann Fresichlag
- “Striving for a More Perfect Peer Review: Editors Confront Strengths, Flaws of Biomedical Literature” by Bridget M. Kuehn
- “FDA Lays Out Rules for Regulating Mobile Medical Apps” by Mike Mitka
November 7, 2013
New ligament discovered in knee, Belgian surgeons say
Two knee surgeons in Belgium say they have identified a previously unfamiliar ligament in the human knee. Writing in the Journal of Anatomy, they suggest the fibrous band could play a part in one of the most common sports injuries worldwide. (BBC)
U.K. researchers launch open-access genomic project
Efforts to put individual genome sequences and accompanying personal health information online in a freely accessible database just got a boost in the United Kingdom. On 6 November, Stephan Beck from University College London and his colleagues announced the establishment of a British Personal Genome Project (PGP-UK), which will recruit volunteers to provide DNA and health data with no restrictions on their use. (Science)