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July 31, 2012

Physician quality: What’s age got to do with it?

Slowly, but surely, Norman Dunitz, MD, discovered the limitations that age placed on his ability to safely practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Tulsa, Okla. As he neared 70, he took fewer cases as a lead surgeon and started assisting on more procedures led by his colleagues. (American Medical News)

Surgeons balk at withdrawing life support after medical errors

Nearly two-thirds of surgeons are unwilling to honor a patient’s request to end life support after operating on that patient, and they are less willing to do so when a surgical error occurs, said a study in Annals of Surgery in July. (American Medical News)

Spinal-Cord Injury Therapy OK’d by FDA Could Lead to Cures

Marc Buoniconti has been paralyzed from the neck down for 27 years after a college football injury at South Carolina’s The Citadel. (ABC News)

Unnatural Selection: Muscles, Genes and Genetic Cheats

Take a close look at the athletes competing in this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London—their musculature will tell you a lot about how they achieved their elite status. (Scientific American)

‘Spray-patch’ could mend hearts

A 10,000 volt 3D electric sprayer, which fires out a stream of heart cells, could be the latest tool in mending broken hearts. (BBC News)

Judge: Ariz.’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks can take effect; groups give notice of appeal

Arizona’s ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is poised to take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional. (Washington Post)

July 30, 2012

Genetic testing company 23andMe seeks credibility boost with FDA application

Genetic test maker 23andMe is asking the Food and Drug Administration to approve its personalized DNA test in a move that, if successful, could boost acceptance of technology that is viewed skeptically by leading scientists who question its usefulness. (Washington Post)

2 UC Davis Surgeons Banned From Conducting Human Research

Two University of California at Davis surgeons have been banned from doing human research after they injected bacteria into the head wounds of consenting terminally ill patients without university authorization, according to a letter sent from the school to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (ABC News)

FDA’s claims over stem cells upheld

A court decision on 23 July could help to tame the largely unregulated field of adult stem-cell treatments. The US District Court in Washington DC affirmed the right of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate therapies made from a patient’s own processed stem cells. The case hinged on whether the court agreed with the FDA that such stem cells are drugs. (Nature News)

Olympic Games and the tricky science of telling men from women

Of all the obstacles athletes have had to overcome to compete in the Olympics, perhaps the most controversial has been the gender test. (LA Times)

Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law

In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now. (NY Times)

Reports of Forced Abortions Fuel Push to End Chinese Law

Pan Chunyan was grabbed from her grocery store when she was almost eight months pregnant with her third child. Men working for a local official locked her up with two other women, and four days later brought her to a hospital and forced her to put her thumbprint on a document saying she had agreed to an abortion. A nurse injected her with a drug. (NY Times)

July 27, 2012

75 percent of U.S. HIV patients lack effective care

Only a quarter of Americans infected with the AIDS virus are getting effective treatment, according to a U.S. government report released Friday – and the youngest patients are the worst off.  The numbers could worsen if states don’t broaden health care as called for under the 2010 health reform law, scientists worry. (NBC News)

Could Gene Doping Be Part of Future Olympics?

Despite all the training, sweat, dedication and sacrifice that goes into becoming an Olympic competitor, these elite athletes also tend to have an advantage that average sports lovers lack: superior DNA. Just like eye color or a keen intellect, a constellation of the “right” genes can grace certain athletes with world-class speed, strength and endurance. (U.S. World & News Report)

Write to Me Only With Thine Eyes

People “locked in” by paralyzing disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease have long relied on blinks or facial twitches to build sentences one letter at a time. (ScienceNow)

July 26, 2012

Is personalized medicine a myth?

Your cell phone rings, and your brow furrows as you glance down at the caller ID. (CNN)

Ruling frees FDA to crack down on stem cell clinics

It’s official: stem cells are drugs. At least, that’s the opinion of the US district court in Washington DC, which has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate clinics offering controversial stem cell therapies. (New Scientist)

Petition Combating Opioid Addiction Could Hurt Patients

Thirty-seven health care workers signed and submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday, urging officials to change labels on prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, morphine or Vicodin, all part of an effort to curb prescription drug abuse. (ABC News)

Stunning Recovery for First Child to Get Stem Cell Trachea

The first child in history to receive a trachea fashioned by his own stem cells has shown remarkable progress since the initial transplant two years ago, marking a new record for the novel procedure. (ABC News)

Body donation: Learning from the dead

Each year hundreds of people in England sign on to body donor registers. (BBC News)

July 25, 2012

Is the FDA to blame for drug shortages?

Renee Mosier was one of an estimated half-million patients in the United States who were unable to get the drugs they needed because of shortages. (CNN)


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

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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

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