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September 28, 2012

Filial responsibility: does it matter for care-giving behaviours?

This paper examines the relationship between attitudes of filial responsibility and five different types of care-giving behaviours to parents among three cultural groups. It does so within an assessment of the relative importance of cultural versus structural factors for care-giving behaviours. However, cultural group per se is a strong predictor of care-giving behaviours as are: parental ill health, living arrangements, and relationship quality. This study suggests gerontological assumptions about the role of societal norms and personal attitudes in parental care-giving should be questioned. It also suggests the need for further inquiry into unpacking those aspects of ‘cultural group’ that are related to behavioural differences, and the importance of examining multiple types of care-giving behaviours and of distinguishing task-oriented helping behaviour from other types of assistance. (Ageing & Society abstract online)

Study discovers first real indicator of longivity in mammals

A team of researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), headed by CNIO Director Maria Blasco, has demonstrated in a pioneering study on mammals that longevity is defined at a molecular level by the length of telomeres. (Medical Xpress)

Cyborg surgeon: Hand and technology combine in new surgical tool that enables superhuman precision

Even the most skilled and steady surgeons experience minute, almost imperceptible hand tremors when performing delicate tasks. Normally, these tiny motions are inconsequential, but for doctors specializing in fine-scale surgery, such as operating inside the human eye or repairing microscopic nerve fibers, freehand tremors can pose a serious risk for patients. (Science Daily)

NJ could become 3rd state to legalize right to die

New Jersey may become the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide after a state lawmaker proposed a bill to grant doctors the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. (Fox News)

Contraception increases financial stability and educational opportunity, women say

Contraception has shaped American women’s lives since they gained access to The Pill in the early 1960s. One benefit, however, seems to have received less recognition than the rest: Yes, contraception allows women to enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy and to decide when and how many times they got pregnant. But it also offers women financial freedom. (Huffington Post)

Study: Half of intellectual disability caused by random, not inherited, genetic mutations

More than half the cases of severe intellectual disability caused by genetic defects are the result of random mutations, not inherited mutations passed down from parents, a new study suggests. (CBS News)

Common cancer treatments may create cancer stem cells

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy aimed at killing cancer cells may have the undesirable effect of helping to create cancer stem cells, which are thought to be particularly adept at generating new tumors and are especially resistant to treatment, researchers say. (Fox News)

September 27, 2012

Clinton, others announce contraception deal

Prices for long-acting contraception will be halved for 27 million women in the developing world through a new partnership, former President Bill Clinton and other world leaders announced Wednesday. (ABC News)

Are celebrity endorsements of health causes a good idea?

Celebrities often endorse health causes — think Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s disease, Montel Williams and multiple sclerosis, Rosie O’Donnell and desmoid tumors. Then think Jenny McCarthy and autism — and her conviction that it is caused by childhood vaccines. Clearly, celebrity endorsements are a double-edged sword. (L.A. Times)

Swiss Parliment rejects tighter controls on assisted suicide

Switzerland’s parliament voted against a bid to toughen controls on assisted suicide on Wednesday, rejecting concerns about foreigners travelling to the country to die. (Chicago Tribune)

Number of assisted suicide cases reported by Dutch doctors rose in 2011

The number of doctor-assisted suicide cases reported in the Netherlands grew by 559 between the years of 2010 and 2011, a commission says. (Washington Post)

Jump-starting cheaper cancer vaccines

Dendritic cells (DCs) – workhorses of the immune system – derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) may provide an economical way of generating off-the-shelf therapeutic vaccines against cancers, according to research led by Jieming Zeng and Shu Wang from the A*STAR institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore. (Medical Xpress)

Bizarre tumor case may lead to custom cancer care

The discovery allows doctors to grow “mini tumors” from each patient’s cancer in a lab dish, then test various drugs or combinations on them to see which works best. It takes only a few cells from a biopsy and less than two weeks to do, with materials and methods common in most hospitals. (U.S.A. Today)

September 26, 2012

Robin Roberts’ illness raises questions about extent of coverage

“Good Morning America” cameras were there last week when co-host Robin Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant. So were her colleagues Diane Sawyer and Sam Champion, wearing surgical masks and singing songs of encouragement. All of it was on the next day’s show, along with a detailed interview with Roberts’ doctor. (Washington Post)

Russian surrogate moms attract foreigners

Maria is one of a growing number of Russian surrogate mothers. She was paid to carry and give birth to the twins by a Finnish couple who were their biological parents. (The Moscow Times)

A kinase inhibitor screen identifies small-molecule enhancers of reprogramming and iPS cell generation

Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to form embryonic stem cell-like induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), but the process suffers from low efficiency and the underlying molecular mechanisms that control reprogramming remain poorly understood. Here we perform an inhibitor screen to identify kinases that enhance, or present a barrier to, reprogramming. (Nature Communications)

UN turns spotlight on Syria, sexual violence

Sexual violence in Syria and women’s global access to justice are expected to take highest priority as women’s advocates gather for the U.N. General Assembly. Also on the agenda: the unmet development goals for maternal health. (UPI)

Uruguay lawmakers vote to legalize abortion

Legislators have voted in Uruguay by a razor-thin margin to legalize abortion. In Latin America, where the majority of people are Catholic, no country except Cuba has made abortions accessible to all women during the first trimester of pregnancy. (Associated Press)

ACLU asks Supreme Court to reconsider gene patenting case

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked for a second time that the Supreme Court invalidate Myriad Genetics Inc’s patents on two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, the latest salvo in a case with broad consequences for the future of gene-based medicine. (Reuters)

Comprehensive molecular portraits of human breast tumors

We analysed primary breast cancers by genomic DNA copy number arrays, DNA methylation, exome sequencing, messenger RNA arrays, microRNA sequencing and reverse-phase protein arrays. Our ability to integrate information across platforms provided key insights into previously defined gene expression subtypes and demonstrated the existence of four main breast cancer classes… (Nature)

AHA urges more education and support for ICD patients

Despite, and perhaps sometimes because of, their life-saving benefits, ICDs are associated with a host of complex psychosocial problems, but clinicians and caregivers receive little training to deal with these problems. In response to these concerns, the American Heart Association (AHA) has published a scientific statement in Circulation to provide a “comprehensive review of what is and is not known about psychological responses and psychosocial care” for ICD patients and their families. (Forbes)

 

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