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)
Diseases: Study neuron networks to tackle Alzheimer’s
Researchers have generally looked for signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the whole brain or at the single-gene level. The biggest clues will come from monitoring collections of neurons, says Kenneth S. Kosik. (Nature)
November 6, 2013
Pathogen-research laws queried
Leading virologists have written to the president of the European Commission to urge him to clarify how laws designed to curb the proliferation of biological weapons apply to the publication of research on dangerous pathogens. The move by the European Society for Virology (ESV) comes after a Dutch court in September upheld a government order that scientists who engineered forms of H5N1 avian influenza to make them transmissible between mammals needed to seek an export permit before publishing such work. (Nature)
November 5, 2013
Diversity correlates with success: Gender and synthetic biology
In iGEM, human practices are about thinking outside the technical aspects of a scientific question and including social, economic, and communication aspects to solve scientific issues. When we talked to experts to learn more about those aspects in TB, we discovered that there was a gender bias in TB epidemiology, that has biological and social causes. This lead us to reflect on gender bias in our own community. (Scientific American)
November 1, 2013
Judge invalidates patent for a Down syndrome test
A federal judge has invalidated the central patent underlying a noninvasive method of detecting Down syndrome in fetuses without the risk of inducing a miscarriage. The ruling is a blow to Sequenom, a California company that introduced the first such noninvasive test in 2011 and has been trying to lock out competitors in a fast-growing market by claiming they infringe on the patent. (New York Times)
Grant-giving freeze lifted at Texas cancer institute
Texas’s beleaguered cancer institute got some good news on 30 October when state politicians lifted a moratorium imposed on grants in December 2012. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institution of Texas (CPRIT) in Austin was created in 2007 when Texans voted in favour of a US$3-billion cancer initiative to fund scientific research, promote cancer prevention and foster commercialization. In the United States, only the National Institutes of Health, based in Bethesda, Maryland, has more funds earmarked for cancer research. But the Texas agency has been dogged by accusations of favouritism, conflicts of interest and botched management. (Nature)
October 31, 2013
‘Bubble kid’ success puts gene therapy back on track
Preliminary results for the first two children to receive the improved SCID gene therapy – 18 months ago – were presented at the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy conference in Madrid, Spain, last week. The children’s immune systems have continued to improve since receiving the treatment, says Bobby Gaspar of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, who led the trial. (New Scientist)
October 30, 2013
Synthetic biology’s malaria promises could backfire
Claims about the benefits of a biotech project to make artemisinin are overblown, says Claire Marris. In April, a consortium led by the global health NGO PATH — and comprising the University of California, Berkeley, synthetic biology company Amyris and pharmaceutical firm Sanofi — announced the first industrial production of ‘semi-synthetic artemisinin’. (Sci Dev Net)
October 29, 2013
A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available
The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 369, No. 17, October 24, 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Dead Man Walking” by M. Stillman and M. Tailor
- “Access to Patient-Level Trial Data — A Boon to Drug Developers” by H.-G. Eichler, et al.
- “The Randomized Registry Trial — The Next Disruptive Technology in Clinical Research?” by M.S. Lauer and R.B. D’Agostino
- “Smoothing the Way to High Quality, Safety, and Economy” by E. Litvak and H.V. Fineberg
- “The Debt of Life — Thai Lessons on a Process-Oriented Ethical Logic” by S.D. Stonington
- “Preparing for Responsible Sharing of Clinical Trial Data” by M.M. Mello, et al.
A New Edition of Bioethics is Available
Bioethics (Volume 27, No. 9, November 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Brain, Mind and Machine: What Are the Implications of Deep Brain Stimulation for Perceptions of Personal Identity, Agency, and Free Will?” by Nir Lipsman and Walter Glannon
- “Existence: Who Needs It? The Non-Identity Problem and Merely Possible People” by Rivka Weinberg
- “Adequate Trust Avails, Mistaken Trust Matters: On the Moral Responsibility of Doctors as Proxies for Patients’ Trust in Biobank Research” by Linus Johnsson, et al.
- “What Does Respect for the Patients Autonomy Require?” Kam-Yuen Cheng
- “Misconceptions about Coercion and Undue Influence: Reflections on the View of IRB Members” by Emily Largent
- “Ethicovigilance in Clinical Trials” by David Shaw and Alex McMahon
October 22, 2013
A tale of two drugs
But a closer look at the rollouts of Kalydeco and Zaltrap reveals startling differences in how companies value a drug and justify its price. It also provides a preview of a likely future in which extremely costly drugs are common. (MIT Technology Review)
October 18, 2013
Decades later, condemnation for a skid row cancer study
A medical researcher from Columbia University, Dr. Perry Hudson, made the skid row alcoholics in Lower Manhattan an offer: If they agreed to surgical biopsies of their prostates, they would get a clean bed and three square meals for a few days, plus free medical care and treatment if they had prostate cancer. (New York Times)
Neuroscience wrongs will make a right
When fMRI brain scanners were invented in the early 1990s, scientists and the general public were seduced by the idea of watching the brain at work. It seems we got carried away. The field is plagued by false positives and other problems. It is now clear that the majority – perhaps the vast majority – of neuroscience findings are as spurious as brain waves in a dead fish. (New Scientist)
HIV vaccine raised infection risk
Biological and lifestyle differences cannot fully explain infection spike among trial participants. Evidence is mounting that an experimental vaccine to protect people against HIV increases the risk of infection, according to results presented on 10 October at the AIDS Vaccine 2013 conference in Barcelona, Spain. (Nature)
More young women serving as egg donors, report says
More young women than ever are donating their eggs to help other people become parents, according to a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. From 2000 to 2010, the number of donor eggs used for in vitro fertilization, or IVF, increased about 70 percent, from 10,801 to 18,306. The increase in egg donation is more likely due to advances in assisted reproductive technology, and more acceptance of the idea culturally, Dr. Jennifer Kawwass of Emory University, who led the study. (NBC News)
October 15, 2013
A New Edition of The Journal of Medical Ethics is Available
The Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume 39, No. 11, November 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The making of medical ethics” by Kenneth Boyd
- “Framing patient consent for student involvement in pelvic examination: a dual model of autonomy” by Andrew Carson-Stevens, et al.
- “Evaluation of clinical ethics support services and its normativity” by Jan Schildmann, et al.
- “Medical confidentiality and the competent patient” by Gerard Niveau, et al.
- “Moral responsibility for (un)healthy behaviour” by Rebecca C H Brown
- “Aiming at a moving target: research ethics in the context of evolving standards of care and prevention” by Seema Shah and Reidar K Lie
- “We must not create beings with moral standing superior to our own” by Nicholas Agar
- “Attitudes toward euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a study of the multivariate effects of healthcare training, patient characteristics, religion and locus of control” by Carrie-Anne Marie Hains and Nicholas J Hulbert-Williams
October 10, 2013
A New Edition of Science, Technology and Society is Available
Science, Technology and Society (Volume 18, No. 3, November 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Blastocysts and Family Planning: IVF and Tracking a Developmental Context for Biomedical Research in Singapore (1966–1994)” by John DiMoia
- “Governing International Biobank Collaboration: A Case Study of China Kadoorie Biobank” by Haidan Chen
- “Regulating Respect for the Embryo: Social Mindscapes and Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Japan” by Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner
- “Engineering Biology and Society: Reflections on Synthetic Biology” by Jane Calvert