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Bioethics news.

F.D.A. Panel Splits on Whether to Approve New Diabetes Drug
An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration split evenly on Thursday over whether the agency should approve the first oral medication to treat Type 1 diabetes. The committee voted 8-8, leaving it up to the agency to decide by the end of March whether the drug, sotagliflozin, should reach the market.
Twins get some ‘mystifying’ results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test
One set of identical twins, two different ancestry profiles. At least that’s the suggestion from one of the world’s largest ancestry DNA testing companies. Last spring, Marketplace host Charlsie Agro and her twin sister, Carly, bought home kits from AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA, and mailed samples of their DNA to each company for analysis. Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins...
North Korea’s Less-Known Military Threat: Biological Weapons
WASHINGTON — Pound for pound, the deadliest arms of all time are not nuclear but biological. A single gallon of anthrax, if suitably distributed, could end human life on Earth. Even so, the Trump administration has given scant attention to North Korea’s pursuit of living weapons — a threat that analysts describe as more...
How Chummy Are Junk Food Giants and China’s Health Officials? They Share Offices.
Happy 10 Minutes, a Chinese government campaign that encouraged schoolchildren to exercise for 10 minutes a day, would seem a laudable step toward improving public health in a nation struggling with alarming rates of childhood obesity. But the initiative and other official Chinese efforts that emphasized exercise as the best way to lose weight were notable...
The Flu Is Widespread in the U.S., and It’s Not Too Late to Get Vaccinated
The flu season is going strong. About six million to seven million people in the United States have come down with the illness so far, with half of them sick enough to have seen doctors, according to estimates released on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 69,000 to 84,000 ended up...
Facing Legal Action, Insurer Now Will Cover People Taking Truvada, an H.I.V.-Prevention Drug
Settling allegations of discrimination filed by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, Mutual of Omaha has agreed not to deny insurance to people who use medications to prevent H.I.V. infection. The insurer also has settled a lawsuit brought by an unidentified gay man in Massachusetts who was turned down for long-term-care insurance after acknowledging that he took...
Shutdown Means E.P.A. Pollution Inspectors Aren’t on the Job
The two-week-old shutdown has halted one of the federal government’s most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations. The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of its roughly 600 pollution inspectors and other workers who monitor compliance with...
Medical Marketing in the United States, 1997-2016
From 1997 through 2016, medical marketing expanded substantially, and spending increased from $17.7 to $29.9 billion, with direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and health services accounting for the most rapid growth, and pharmaceutical marketing to health professionals accounting for most promotional spending.
James Watson: Scientist loses titles after claims over race
Nobel Prize-winning American scientist James Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles after repeating comments about race and intelligence. In a TV programme, the pioneer in DNA studies made a reference to a view that genes cause a difference on average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said the 90-year-old scientist’s remarks were “unsubstantiated...
For drug companies, making shareholders happy is more important than treating the sick
Hypothetically speaking, if a drug company is sitting on a huge pile of cash, can it justify steadily hiking the price of a well-established medicine used by millions of people? Actually, it’s not a hypothetical question at all.
Killer nabbed by chewed gum and a water bottle apologizes for murdering a teacher as he heads to prison for life
Christy Mirack’s brother had one critical question left this week for his sister’s killer. Since 1992, when the elementary school teacher was found murdered in her home in East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, Vince Mirack had pushed for answers. He often struggled to keep the case going and maintain the public’s interest. He put...
AP-NORC Poll: Edit Baby Genes for Health, Not Smarts
Most Americans say it would be OK to use gene-editing technology to create babies protected against a variety of diseases — but a new poll finds they’d draw the line at changing DNA so children are born smarter, faster or taller. A month after startling claims of the births of the world’s first gene-edited babies in...
Emergency Medical Responders Confront Racial Bias
A recent study out of Oregon suggests emergency medical responders — EMTs and paramedics — may be treating minority patients differently from the way they treat white patients. Specifically, the scientists found that black patients in their study were 40 percent less likely to get pain medication than their white peers. Jamie Kennel, head of emergency medical services programs at Oregon...
In Screening for Suicide Risk, Facebook Takes On Tricky Public Health Role
Police stations from Massachusetts to Mumbai have received similar alerts from Facebook over the last 18 months as part of what is most likely the world’s largest suicide threat screening and alert program. The social network ramped up the effort after several people live-streamed their suicides on Facebook Live in early 2017. It...
Imagine Giving Birth in Space
The moment has arrived at last. A woman in a hospital gown steels herself, ready to push. A nearby monitor displays her baby’s heart rate in big, neon numbers. A nurse in crisp scrubs coos in her ear, offering words of encouragement, advice. The scene would resemble any other delivery room if it weren’t for the view outside...
A safe prenatal genetic test is gaining popularity with young moms-to-be and their doctors
NIPT’s entry into the mainstream has raised some questions as busy health-care providers scramble to figure out how to offer it en masse to a public with varying understanding of genetic testing and little access to genetic counselors.
Scientists Have Been Studying Cancers in a Very Strange Way for Decades
Instead of using generic “culture media” like EMEM (or its more concentrated variant, Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium, known as DMEM), it might be better to start creating concoctions that more accurately reflect the chemical profiles of our bodies. That’s what Saverio Tardito did in 2012, when he joined the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in...
New treatments for peanut allergies sound promising, but questions remain
Brisbane, Calif.-based Aimmune Therapeutics recently sparked optimistic headlines after releasing clinical trial results that its allergy product, AR101, would reduce the risks linked to an accidental exposure to peanuts.
In a vegetative state for years, she gave birth. Now families wonder if there are other victims.
A near-drowning had left the woman in a persistent vegetative state for nearly a decade. So when she went into labor a few days after Christmas, her caretakers were flummoxed. On Dec. 29, with help from one of the facility’s nurses, the patient gave birth to a healthy baby boy, KPHO reported. The birth — and the sexual...
Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Loses Track of Patients, Alarming Technology’s Inventors
Chinese scientists have raced ahead in experimenting with gene-editing on humans in the last few years, using a powerful new tool called Crispr-Cas9 to edit the DNA of dozens of cancer patients. Information gathered by The Wall Street Journal shows one such trial has lost touch with patients whose DNA was altered, alarming some Western scientists who say subjects should...
Suicide prediction technology is revolutionary. It badly needs oversight.
Last year, more than 1 million Americans attempted suicide, and 47,000 succeeded. While some people display warning signs, many others do not, which makes suicide difficult to predict and leaves family members shocked — and anguished that they couldn’t do something. Medical providers and tech companies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and Facebook, are increasingly applying...
One Giant Step for a Chess-Playing Machine
The algorithm started with no knowledge of the games beyond their basic rules. It then played against itself millions of times and learned from its mistakes. In a matter of hours, the algorithm became the best player, human or computer, the world has ever seen.
Long-Acting Contraceptives Gaining Acceptance Among U.S. Women
Almost two-thirds of women of childbearing age in the United States use contraceptives, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost all American women turn to contraception at some point in their lives. But at any given time, many may not be using it for various reasons: because they are...
Trek into Congo Forest Reveals an Ebola Crisis Fueled by Violence
Congolese health officials and their international partners expect the fight against Ebola to drag on well into next year. The biggest worry is that, unchecked, the epidemic could reach Goma, the regional capital. “If it hits Goma, we’re done for,” said Dr. Jean-Christophe Shako, the director of a local Ebola response team whose tasks require negotiating...
Marburg Virus, Related to Ebola, Is Found in Bats in West Africa
The Marburg virus, a deadly cousin of Ebola, has been isolated in fruit bats in Sierra Leone, marking the first time it has been found in West Africa. Five bats caught in three health districts tested positive for the virus, according to two teams of scientists. One was led by the Centers for Disease Control and...
This Type of Illiteracy Could Hurt You
More than half of older Americans lack the skills to gather and understand medical information. Providers must simplify, researchers say.
12 People Hospitalized With Infections From Stem Cell Shots
Twelve patients became seriously ill after receiving injections that supposedly contained stem cells from umbilical cord blood, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which issued a warning to the California company, Genetech, that made the blood product they were given. (The company has no connection with Genentech, the biotechnology corporation.) The 
Should you send your kid’s DNA to 23andMe?
These commercials are cute and make DNA testing look fun. And they’re clearly working. Clever marketing combined with holiday deals means parents are buying their kids DNA tests from companies 23andMe, AncestryDNA and MyHeritage. But these tests might not be appropriate for all kids, and experts say there are many reasons parents should think carefully before sending their...
The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies
Ever since scientists created the powerful gene-editing technique CRISPR, they have braced for the day when it would be used to produce a genetically altered human being. Now, the moment they feared may have come. What’s likely to happen next?
Hackers want your medical records. Here’s how to keep your info from them.
Theft of your personal medical information is on the rise, despite stringent privacy laws intended to safeguard it, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The breaches of electronic health records can include a vast array of personal information, including your Social Security number and medical history. The theft is the latest...