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June 30, 2011

Clinical drug trials enter electronic world

Pfizer is conducting what it calls the first-ever all-electronic drug trial, in which patients at home will report outcomes to the company through the Internet. (American Medical News)

DARPA to Offer $30 Million to Jump-Start Cellular Factories

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department’s high-risk granting body, is about to jump into synthetic biology in a big way. One of the latest research buzzwords, synthetic biology means different things to many. But for a new DARPA program, it represents modifying the metabolic and genetic machinery of cells to produce useful products. (Science)

Ethics left behind in race for drug trials in the South

The number of clinical trials in developing countries has surged in recent years but the legal and ethical frameworks to make them fair are often not in place, the 7th World Conference of Science Journalists, in Qatar (27–29 June), heard today. (Science and Development Network)

Teen Drug Use Number One Health Problem: Study

Matt Helmer was the teen who begged his parents to give each homeless person $20 on the street. He was the guy who worked at the bagel shop and brought the day-old breads to the local food pantry instead of throwing them out. He was the 20-something who always stopped for a broken down car on the side of the road. (ABC News)

Dozens of IVF babies aborted ‘after women change their minds about becoming a mother’

Dozens of women are aborting babies conceived by IVF because they have changed their minds about motherhood, figures suggest. Many are in their teens, twenties and early thirties, implying that numerous abortions were carried out for social reasons, rather than on health grounds. (Daily Mail)

New Issue of Health Economics, Policy and Law is Now Available

Health Economics, Policy and Law (Volume 6, Issue 3, July 2011) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Two Faces of Patient Safety and Care Quality: A Franco-American Comparison” by Laurent Degos & Victor G. Rodwin, 287-294.
  • “Getting out What We put in: Productivity of the English National Health Service” by Adriana Castelli, Mauro Laudicella, Andrew Street, Padraic Ward, 313-335.

June 29, 2011

Drug Given To Moms After Childbirth Sparks Controversy

Health experts say the drug misoprostol is saving women’s lives around the world. It’s also controversial. Originally developed to prevent gastric ulcers, it’s also been shown to prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth. That’s the leading cause of maternal death in the developing world. It’s estimated that one woman dies from postpartum hemorrhage every seven minutes. (NPR)

Chronic Pain: 1/3 of Americans Live With It, According to IOM Report

For a decade after a 1982 ballet injury, Cynthia Toussaint was confined to her bed, writhing in pain from muscle spasms, unable to walk or to live a meaningful life. Crippled by an array of illnesses, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, the North Hollywood, Calif., singer and dancer was eventually diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS. (ABC News)

Stem-cell scientists grapple with clinics

When stem-cell clinics are asked for documentation about the treatments they offer, some are quick to produce letters from lawyers instead. In the face of legal threats from clinics, the Inter­national Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has suspended a service intended to help patients wade through claims about therapies. It is now pondering its next move. (Nature News)

North Carolina Mulls Compensating Victims of Forced Sterilization

Having a baby is a widely anticipated milestone for many adults, so it’s easy to imagine the shock endured by thousands of people who were forcibly sterilized by the government beginning before World War II. Now, North Carolina has become the first state to consider compensating the victims. (TIME)

Engineers create human blood vessels from skin cells

If you are on dialysis like approximately 400,000 other Americans, then your life could change for the better in the next couple of years thanks to some new biomedical engineering. (CNN)

Cut-and-paste therapy fixes mouse haemophilia

Scientists have developed a gene-repair kit that treats the blood-clotting disorder haemophilia in mice. The technique replaces genes in targeted organs without removing cells from the body, simultaneously correcting multiple mutations. It broadens the range of diseases that can be treated with gene therapy. (Nature News)

New Issue of International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare is Now Available

International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare (Volume 9, Issue 2, June 2011) is now available by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Periodontal treatment during pregnancy and birth outcomes: A Meta-analysis of Randomised Trials” by Ajesh George, Simin Shamim, Maree Johnson, Shilpi Ajwani, Sameer Bhole, Anthony Blinkhorn, Sharon Ellis and Karen Andrews, 122-147.
  • “Factors Affecting Effective Communication between Registered Nurses and Adult Cancer Patients in an Inpatient Setting: A Systematic Review” by Li Hui Tay, Desley Hegney and Emily Ang, 151–164.

June 28, 2011

Hands-on courses prepare students for careers in nanotechnology

Two million workers are projected to be needed in nanotechnology-based businesses by 2020 in the United States alone. Today, demand far outstrips the availability of trained personnel and the College of Engineering and Applied Science is seeking to meet this need with courses developed and implemented in conjunction with University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Nanoworld Laboratory.  (Nano Werk)

Perdue vetoes abortion limits bill

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a bill Monday that would have imposed a waiting period and other restrictions on women seeking abortions, stopping in Greensboro to reject the measure in front of a small audience.  (News & Record)

Law Requires Ultrasound Before Abortion

Starting this Friday, women in Florida will be required to have an ultrasound done by a doctor before having an abortion, a bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law last Friday.  (News 4)

S.D. law brings crisis pregnancy centers

The small sign outside the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls lists a roster of available services: “Free pregnancy tests, abortion information, STD testing.’’  (

Midterm abortion ban in six US states

DOZENS of new restrictions passed by US states this year have chipped away at the right to abortion by requiring women to view ultrasounds, imposing waiting periods or cutting funds for clinics. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Doctors at two area hospitals stop performing abortions

A law stripping funding from Planned Parenthood is having unintended consequences. Doctors with Indiana University and Wishard Hospital have stopped performing abortions, even on women whose lives may be in jeopardy.  (Fox 59)

Oregon on the euthanasia slippery slope

Americans love conversation and public disputation about contested moral and ethical issues. Given the Australian Greens’ continuing fascination with euthanasia, I decided to visit Oregon which has had a physician assisted suicide law in place since 1997.  (Eureka Street)

Euthanasia debate

The charge of murder laid against respected South African professor Sean Davidson after helping his terminally ill 85-year-old mother to die in New Zealand at the end of last year has put the question of euthanasia in the spotlight. In the United Kingdom a TV documentary by Terry Pratchett on the subject caused a respected author and philosopher to pose the questions: Does public prejudice condemn many to unnecessarily prolonged and painful death; and can death be a good thing?  (Leadership)


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

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Gene Therapy
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"Therapeutic" Cloning
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