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April 23, 2014

Protein that Shrinks Depressed Brains Identified

(New Scientist) – Could preventing the brain shrinkage associated with depression be as simple as blocking a protein? Post-mortem analysis of brain tissue has shown that the dendrites that relay messages between neurons are more shrivelled in people with severe depression than in people without the condition. This atrophy could be behind some of the symptoms of depression, such as the inability to feel pleasure. As a result, drugs that help repair the neuronal connections, like ketamine, are under investigation.

Ebola Outbreak: Death Toll Rises to Over 140 in Liberia, Guinea

(CNN) – A total of 142 deaths have been reported from the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Liberia, the World Health Organization said. The virus is still limited to the two nations, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, despite rumors of it spreading to other countries. Nineteen suspected cases reported in Sierra Leone tested negative for the virus, it said.

Almost Blind Michigan Man ‘Seeing Something New Every Day’ Thanks to New Retina Procedure

(Associated Press) – A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a “bionic eye,” he’s regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

FDA Discourages Use of Tissue-Shredding Tool

(Nature) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested that surgeons refrain from using tissue-grinding tools to remove uteruses or uterine growths because they increase the risk of spreading undetected cancer. It has also instructed manufacturers to review the labelling of the devices, known as morcellators, and is considering requiring a ‘black box’ warning, the strongest warning it can mandate.

HIV Turns 30 Today

(ABC News) – It’s been 30 years since scientists announced the cause of AIDS: a shifty retrovirus that would come to be known as HIV. More than 1,750 Americans had already died from the rare infections and cancers caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, health officials said at the time, and another 2,300 people were living with AIDS.

Fighting Words Are Rarer among British Doctors

(New York Times) – People working in health care there have been discussing military imagery for a decade, said Elena Semino, head of linguistics at the university. “There’s a lot of awareness that battle metaphors can be very harmful to patients,” she told me. “Professionals are conscious of the problems, and they’re advised not to use them.” Instead, British public health leaders and medical practitioners are more apt to talk about the end of life as a “journey” instead of a war, with “pathways” and “steps” instead of fights and weapons.

Senate Passes End-of-Life Planning Bill

(Yale Daily News) – The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Thursday that, with House approval, would create a system for terminally ill people to declare their wishes for end-of-life care. The Medical Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment (MOLST) bill, which passed the Senate with a unanimous vote, would create a two year pilot program in two different locations in the state for people with terminal illnesses to discuss with healthcare providers how much treatment they want, from limited care to life-support treatment.

Reprogrammed Cells Kept Bug-Free by SIRT1

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Regenerative medicine—the promise of rejuvenating or replacing damaged or diseased tissues—will most likely rely on the use of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are obtained when adult cells are essentially thrown into evolutionary reverse. This abrupt change can be hard on cells, which may suffer chromosomal abnormalities and DNA damage. And so the bright vistas of regenerative medicine are shadowed by a stubborn cloud—the uncertainty thatstem cells that are derived from adult cells are really safe.

Let’s Get a Medical Tourism Certificate! Is It Worth the Paper It’s Printed On?

(IMTJ) – A new industry is developing around the business of medical tourism. It’s the certification business. You need an impressive sounding name, a web site, a decent laser printer (and a good relationship with a certificate framing service!). There’s a plethora of “get rich quick” certifications which are appearing around medical tourism. They are quick and easy to obtain.

New Patenting Guidelines Are Needed for Biotechnology

( – Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Published in the current issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine, the paper is based on the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) v. Myriad Genetics that naturally occurring genes are unpatentable. The court case and rulings garnered discussion in the public about patenting biological materials.

More than One-Quarter of Morning-after Pills in Peru Don’t Work

(Washington Post) – A study has found that more than a quarter of emergency contraception pills sold in Peru do not work. Some of the pills were defective while others were just plain fake. Women rely on emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex, or when other birth control methods fail, such as when a condom breaks during sex.

Non-Enzyme Nanotechnology Sensor to Detect Blood Sugar

(Nanowerk News) – Researchers at University of Tehran produced a very highly sensitive sensor to measure the amount of blood sugar (“Highly Stable and Selective Non-Enzymatic Glucose Biosensor Using Carbon Nanotubes Decorated by Fe3O4 Nanoparticles”).  The newly-invented sensor has applications in foodstuff and medical industries to measure the concentration of glucose in samples.

A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available

The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 370, No. 6, April 17, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “The Calculus of Cures” by R. Kocher and B. Roberts
  • “Using a Drug-Safety Tool to Prevent Competition” by A. Sarpatwari, J. Avorn, and A.S. Kesselheim
  • “Comparative Effectiveness Questions in Oncology” by S. Mailankody and V. Prasad

A New Edition of Nursing for Women’s Health is Available

Nursing for Women’s Health (Volume 18, No. 2, April/May 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Donor Motivations, Associated Risks and Ethical Considerations of Oocyte Donation” by Amy L. Boutelle
  • “Fertility Preservation Options for Women Treated for Cancer” by Kelsea Lucas and Desiree Hensel
  • “The Increasing Role of Genetics and Genomics in Women’s Health” by Elisabeth (Lisa) Z. Klein

A New Edition of Journal of Internal Medicine is Available

Journal of Internal Medicine (Volume 275, No. 5, May 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Combined efforts in immunology and vaccinology will lead to effective vaccines against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria” by F. Chiodi and S. H. E. Kaufmann
  • “The path of malaria vaccine development: challenges and perspectives” by C. Arama and M. Troye-Blomberg
  • “The importance of validating proposed genetic profiles in IBD” by I. C. Lawrance
  • “Assessment of the validity of a multigene analysis in the diagnostics of inflammatory bowel disease” by J. T. Bjerrum, et al.

A New Edition of JAMA Internal Medicine is Available

JAMA Internal Medicine (Volume 174, No. 4, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “23andMe, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Future of Genetic Testing” by Patricia J. Zettler, Jacob S. Sherkow, and Henry T. Greely
  • “National Hospice Survey Results:  For-Profit Status, Community Engagement, and Service” by Melissa D. Aldridge, et al.
  • “The Changing Face of the Hospice Industry:  What Really Matters?” by Kimberly S. Johnson
  • “The Importance of Influenza Vaccination” by Hilary M. Babcock, John A. Jernigan, and David A. Relman
  • “The Importance of Influenza Vaccination—Reply” by Peter Doshi

April 22, 2014

A New Edition of International Journal for Quality in Health Care is Available

International Journal for Quality in Health Care (Volume 26, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Standardization in patient safety: the WHO High 5s project” by Agnès Leotsakos, et al.
  • “Physician communication behaviors from the perspective of adult HIV patients in Kenya” by Juddy Wachira, et al.
  • “Improving mental health outcomes: achieving equity through quality improvement” by Alan J. Poots, et al.

A New Edition of Genetics in Medicine is Available

Genetics in Medicine (Volume 16, No. 4, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Noninvasive prenatal testing: limitations and unanswered questions” by Monica A. Lutgendorf, et al.
  • “Communication of genetic test results to family and health-care providers following disclosure of research results” by Kristi D. Graves, et al.
  • “Processes and factors involved in decisions regarding return of incidental genomic findings in research” by Robert Klitzman, et al.

A New Edition of Public Health Nursing is Available

Public Health Nursing (Volume 31, No. 3, May/June 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Gender Differences in Immediate Hypersensitivity Reactions to Vaccines: A Review of the Literature” by Mari Griffioen and Neal Halsey
  • “Intimate Partner Violence and the CDC’s Best-Evidence HIV Risk Reduction Interventions” by Kayleigh M. Prowse, et al.
  • “Risk of Very Low Birth Weight Based on Perinatal Periods of Risk” by Christine M. Demont-Heinrich, et al.
  • “A Rural African American Faith Community’s Solutions to Depression Disparities” by Keneshia Bryant, et al.
  • “Policy Considerations for Improving Influenza Vaccination Rates among Pregnant Women” by Elizabeth K. Mollard, et al.

A New Edition of Ethical Theory and Moral Practice is Available

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (Volume 17, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Life in Overabundance: Agar on Life-Extension and the Fear of Death” by Aveek Bhattacharya & Robert Mark Simpson
  • “Seeking a Variable Standard of Individual Moral Responsibility in Organizations” by Michael Skerker

A New Edition of Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy is Available

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (Volume 17, No. 2, May 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Neither property right nor heroic gift, neither sacrifice nor aporia: the benefit of the theoretical lens of sharing in donation ethics” by Kristin Zeiler
  • “The relevance of the philosophical ‘mind–body problem’ for the status of psychosomatic medicine: a conceptual analysis of the biopsychosocial model” by Lukas Van Oudenhove & Stefaan Cuypers
  • “Written institutional ethics policies on euthanasia: an empirical-based organizational-ethical framework” by Joke Lemiengre, et al.
  • “Diagnosing mental disorders and saving the normal” by Fredrik Svenaeus
  • “Empathy’s blind spot” by Jan Slaby
  • “Empathy as a necessary condition of phronesis: a line of thought for medical ethics” by Fredrik Svenaeu


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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