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May 30, 2008

New Article from The New England Journal of Medicine

“Exploiting a Research Underclass in Phase 1 Clinical Trials” by Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D., and Roberto Abadie, Ph.D.

Abstract:

In November 1996, the Wall Street Journal reported that Eli Lilly was paying homeless alcoholics from a local shelter to participate in safety testing of new drugs at its trial site in Indianapolis. “These individuals want to help society,” asserted Lilly’s director of clinical pharmacology. The subjects, however, said they took part for easy money and free room and board. Although Lilly reportedly offered the lowest per diem in the business, it managed to attract poor subjects from all over the country. The medical director of the local Homeless Initiative Program said Lilly had created a “shadow economy” of paid human subjects. . . .

Synthetic Copycat Of Living Cell Underway: Life, But Not As We Know It?

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have taken some important first steps to creating a synthetic copycat of a living cell, a leading science journal reports. (ScienceDaily)

Top Geneticist Plans To Leave Job at NIH

Francis S. Collins, who for more than a decade has overseen virtually every major federal research initiative in the fast-paced field of genetic science, will step down as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, effective Aug. 1. (Washington Post)

Number of uninsured U.S. young adults grows

Based on census data, 13.7 million people aged 19 to 29 had no health insurance, either public or private, in 2006, up from 13.3 million in 2005, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that researches health policy. (Reuters)

Four Japanese gang figures got liver transplants at UCLA

The recipients included one of Japan’s most powerful crime bosses. Some in the medical community worry the revelation will have a chilling effect on organ donations. (Los Angeles Times)

In New York City, Two Versions of End-of-Life Care

The study does not address the question of whether longer stays and more intervention prolong patients’ lives, and the Dartmouth researchers argue, in general, that less-aggressive treatment does not change the outcome, but spares patients the agony of unnecessary tests and reduces the risk of hospital-borne infections. (New York Times)

Therapeutic cloning: what next for WA scientists?

Western Australia may be the only state in Australia to have crushed the chances of scientists here using therapeutic cloning to cure hitherto incurable diseases but could the decision prove a global turning point? (ScienceAlert)

May 29, 2008

Californians Against Assisted Suicide – Controversial Bill, AB 2747 Narrowly Passes Assembly

This bill would mandate that physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants give a patient, while being diagnosed with a terminal illness or with a prognosis of one year to live, information about pain management options that are fitting only for persons who are imminently dying. (Earthtimes)

Brazil court rules in favor of stem cell research

Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that scientists can conduct embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise of curing Parkinson’s disease and diabetes but raises ethical concerns about the limits on human life. (USA Today)

How Fairness Is Wired In The Brain

researchers at the California Institute of Technology have discovered that reason struggles with emotion to find equitable solutions, and have pinpointed the region of the brain where this takes place. The concept of fairness, they found, is processed in the insular cortex, or insula, which is also the seat of emotional reactions. (ScienceDaily)

Researchers develop human stem cell line containing sickle cell anemia mutation

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have established a human cell-based system for studying sickle cell anemia by reprogramming somatic cells to an embryonic stem cell like state. (PhysOrg)

Child health care varies widely among states

These measures of children’s health are part of a report out today by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that studies health issues and supports efforts to cover more people. The report found that top-performing states tend to have lower rates of uninsured children than those ranked at the bottom but also have higher health costs. (USATODAY)

Q&A: The Man Behind Embryonic Stem Cells

Ten years ago in a small, closet-like laboratory, James “Jamie” Thomson, an embryologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, changed the world by creating the first human embryonic stem cells. Few research experiments have generated as much hype or controversy. More recently, he played a key role in creating induced pluripotent stem cells, which might someday provide the benefits of embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos. (Forbes)

May 28, 2008

Robo-monkeys use brain power to grab a bite

Most people who become paralysed or lose limbs retain the mental dexterity to perform physical actions. And by tapping into a region of the brain responsible for movement – the motor cortex – researchers can decode a person’s intentions and translate them into action with a prosthetic. (New Scientist)

Hospitals, patients clash on privacy rights

When patients check into hospitals or doctor offices, they presume their information will be kept in strictest confidence, but often, amid the pile of papers, they overlook fine print describing how their personal information can be farmed out for fundraising. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Brazil court to decide on embryonic cell research

Brazil’s Supreme Court is expected to decide on Wednesday whether to uphold legislation that allows research on embryonic stem cells in the world’s largest Roman Catholic country. (Reuters)

Court rejects HIV asylum seeker

An HIV-positive Ugandan woman’s claim to stay in the UK has been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights. (BBC)

Outcry at stem-cell ‘cure’ for paralysed rugby player Perry Cross

Scientists in Britain have voiced concern and scepticism over claims that a man who is paralysed from the neck down has recovered the ability to breathe unaided after a controversial embryonic stem-cell treatment. (Times Online)

Op-Ed: Connecting slippery dots

Science may yet come to the rescue of democratic capitalism — or make things worse. (United Press International)

May 27, 2008

Op-Ed: A disturbing gap between theory and practice

With the help of her husband, Dennis, she founded a placebo company, and, without a hint of irony, named it Efficacy Brands. Its chewable, cherry-flavored dextrose tablets, Obecalp, for placebo spelled backward, goes on sale on June 1 at the Efficacy Brands Web site. Bottles of 50 tablets will sell for $5.95. The Buettners have plans for a liquid version, too. (Kansas City Star)

Prozac Over the Counter?

With the help of her husband, Dennis, she founded a placebo company, and, without a hint of irony, named it Efficacy Brands. Its chewable, cherry-flavored dextrose tablets, Obecalp, for placebo spelled backward, goes on sale on June 1 at the Efficacy Brands Web site. Bottles of 50 tablets will sell for $5.95. The Buettners have plans for a liquid version, too. (TIME)

 

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