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Bioethics 101

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March 30, 2012

Geneticists debate what to tell patients about clinical genome sequences

Should patients undergoing genome sequencing be screened for a minimum set of disease-causing mutations, and should adults and children receive different types of genetic results? (Nature News)

U.S. Reviews Research Risks Amid Bird-Flu Debate

The Obama administration is ordering a government-wide review of scientific research that could raise biosecurity concerns in the wake of fierce controversy over some man-made strains of the deadly bird flu. (ABC News)

Consumer Reports Warns of Lax Testing for Medical Devices

Consumer Reports advises patients to do their homework before having medical devices implanted in their bodies.  Companies that sell defibrillators, stents or other such products can get approval from the Food and Drug Administration without their undergoing rigorous testing, Consumer Reports warned in a new report. (ABC News)

UK biobank opens to researchers

The UK Biobank, the most comprehensive health study in the UK, is opening its doors to researchers. (BBC News)

PepsiCo denies accusations on link to aborted fetal cells

So far, researchers using aborted fetal cell lines haven’t been able to cure paralysis or reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease, but they may be able to make diet sodas taste better. (Washington Times)

March 29, 2012

A Struggle To Define ‘Death’ For Organ Donors

A new method of obtaining organs for transplantation is raising a host of ethical questions, including whether the donors are technically “dead.” (NPR)

British doctors pre-sign abortion forms

The former medical director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said doctors routinely signed off on abortions for women they never met. (UPI)

HEALTHBEAT: Helping doctors keep human touch amid distraction of laptops, smartphones in exams

Medical student Gregory Shumer studied the electronic health record and scooted his laptop closer to the diabetic grandfather sitting on his exam table. “You can see,” he pointed at the screen — weight, blood sugar and cholesterol are too high and rising. (Chicago Tribune)

Autism in US more common than previously thought; wider screening, better diagnosis cited

Autism cases are on the rise again, largely due to wider screening and better diagnosis, federal health officials said Thursday. (Washington Post)

Rethinking how we confront cancer: Bad science and risk reduction

Two thought provoking and disturbing studies out Wednesday raise major questions about conduct of the “War on Cancer.” One examines  the quality of basic research and the other concludes that half of current cancer deaths could be prevented. (MSNBC)

March 28, 2012

Stem cells from fat win favor with heart researcher

Stem cells derived from a patient’s bone marrow can help treat severe heart failure, but the results are even better when they are taken from fat, a leading researcher said, citing his experience in a number of studies. (Chicago Tribune)

Justices Spar Over Health Law

The Supreme Court’s liberal justices went head to head with their conservative counterparts Wednesday morning in an effort to protect the Obama administration’s health law, suggesting that most of the measure should be kept even if the requirement to carry health insurance or pay a penalty is struck down. (Wall Street Journal)

Mother Country

When fortysomething Chicago native Ellie Lavi became a mother two years ago, she was a poster girl for creative baby-making. Lavi, a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, visited an Israeli clinic that helped her conceive twins from anonymously donated eggs and sperm. Since she lived in Israel, she gave birth there. (Slate)

Many young cancer patients don’t discuss fertility

Young women with cancer often aren’t counseled about the risk of losing their fertility due to treatment or their options for saving their eggs, a new study from California suggests. (Fox News)

The strange new craft of making life from scratch

Enter a set of labs at Imperial College in London and at first sight there is nothing exceptional: pale grey work surfaces, collections of bottles, racks of test-tubes. (BBC News)

March 27, 2012

Dukan Diet Founder to Face Ethics Hearing

Should teens get extra points for being thin? Dr. Pierre Dukan, the French founder of the controversial Dukan Diet, thinks so. The diet guru is now facing an ethics hearing for suggesting that high school students in France be rewarded for not being overweight. (TIME)

Heart Failure Patients Seek ‘Cheney Pump’

The pump that kept Dick Cheney’s blood flowing while he waited for a heart transplant has seen a surge in popularity, a trend credited in part to the 71-year-old’s successful 20-month stretch with the device. (ABC News)

Virginia Man Gets A New Face

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center performed the most extensive full face transplant to date, replacing everything from the hairline to the collar bone of a 37-year-old man, including the upper and lower jaw bones, teeth, and a portion of the tongue. (ABC News)

Vatican calls off stem-cell conference

The Vatican has abruptly cancelled a controversial stem-cell conference that was set to be attended by the Pope next month. (Nature News)

Justices Send Back Gene Case

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered an appeals court to reconsider its decision to uphold patents held by Myriad Genetics on two genes associated with a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. (NY Times)

March 26, 2012

Pharmacies deter teens from Plan B, study shows

Even though it’s legal for 17-year-olds to get the so-called morning-after pill, a new study shows that pharmacy employees often dole out the wrong information, telling the teens they’re not allowed to have the drug. (MSNBC)


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

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

View results

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