Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (30)

September 18, 2014

“Financial Toxicity”

Reflecting on cases from her own practice, a practicing oncologist recently suggested this in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:  consider high price a “toxicity,” or adverse side effect, of an expensive drug for cancer, just like nausea, infections, or having one’s hair fall out are toxicities.  Cancer doctors, especially in clinical trials, assess the severity of drug toxicities using an internationally-accepted, periodically-updated scale developed by... // Read More »
September 14, 2014

“Enhancement” and Moral Development

Oxford ethicist Julian Sevulescu and Swedish philosopher Ingmar Persson argue in their book Unfit for the Future: The Urgent Need for Moral Enhancement that now is the time to introduce neurological and genetic changes in people so they are willing to go along with various agendas.  They note that climate change is a big issue, but when a number of people are apathetic about the... // Read More »
September 11, 2014

Keeping up with Clinical Research with Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Unless one works daily in a specific area of biomedical research, it can be next to impossible to keep up with developments.  I have trouble keeping up with a reasonable amount of the progress in research for some cancers.  Trying to track stem cell research requires more bandwidth than I have.  Still, from time to time I do try to do at least a little... // Read More »
September 9, 2014

What Should We Forget?

In January MIT announced a research study published in the journal Cell that reported a way to erase traumatic memories in lab mice using a drug that makes the brain “more plastic, more capable of forming very strong new memories that will override the old fearful memories.” MIT opened its story by referring to “nearly 8 million Americans [who] suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),”... // Read More »
September 4, 2014

Is an RCT of an Ebola drug ethical?

The title question here is of course over-simplified.  The development of an experimental drug to treat a devastating disease, during an outbreak of that disease, raises many ethical concerns.  Perhaps the most urgent of these is how to make the drug available to as many people with the disease as possible, because the risk of the disease itself makes the risks of the drug more... // Read More »
September 2, 2014

Big Data Peeps At Your Medical Records To Find Drug Problems

[NPR] No one likes it when a new drug in people’s medicine cabinets turns out to have problems — just remember the Vioxx debacle a decade ago, when the painkiller was removed from the market over concerns that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. To do a better job of spotting unforeseen risks […]
August 27, 2014

Direct cell reprogramming to grow a new organ and the ice bucket challenge

A recent article in The Guardian reports on an interview with Clare Blackburn of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh where they have recently been able to induce a direct transformation of mouse skin fibroblasts into thymic epithelial cells. When these induced thymic epithelial cells were mixed with other thymus cell types and transplanted into mice they grew... // Read More »
August 23, 2014

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides…

I just finished reading a very dry book on organizational theory as applied to reproductive medicine. The book was a Swedish observational study evaluating the sociomaterial aspects of that subspecialty, particularly Swedish IVF clinics. While the book did not directly address ethical issues in reproductive medicine, it did note some of them in passing. One that caught my eye was issue of the choice of... // Read More »
August 7, 2014

More on Allocation vs Rationing

A comment to my post from last week started with the statement, “The whole discussion [of whether discussions of value are just Trojan Horses for unjust rationing] would be less strained if money wasn’t so scarce in health care.”  If by this is meant, conversations about medical expenses would be easier if the prices weren’t so high—well, sure.  If what is meant is more like,... // Read More »
August 5, 2014

Attending to Attention

It’s hard not to notice that the idea of “attention” is on a lot of people’s minds. In just one week my desk received a copy of The Hedgehog Review,, the monthly Turning Points Magazine & Devotional, and an e-mail message from a parent all dealing with this subject. Since the advent of a DSM diagnoses involving deficits of attention (initially linked to hyperactivity), the... // Read More »

View More Blog Entries

Published Articles (5)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 1 - Jan 2011

?Doctor, Would You Prescribe a Pill to Help Me ? ?? A National Survey of Physicians on Using Medicine for Human Enhancement

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Review of C. B. Mitchell, E. D. Pellegrino, J. B. Elshtain, J. F. Kilner, and S. B. Rae. Biotechnology and the Human Good

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on Justifying a Presumption of Restraint in Animal Biotechnology Research

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Justifying a Presumption of Restraint in Animal Biotechnology Research

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 7 Issue 10 - Oct 2007

Biotechnology and the New Right: Neoconservatism's Red Menace

News (3)

September 10, 2013 4:20 pm

Programmable DNA 'Glue' Self-Assembles Cells

Scientists interested in engineering tissue would like to find a way to get cells and other biological components to organize and assemble into an organ similar to the way they do naturally.

November 13, 2012 5:29 pm

Injectable Sponge Delivers Drugs, Cells, and Structure (R&D)

Bioengineers at Harvard have developed a gel-based sponge that can be molded to any shape, loaded with drugs or stem cells, compressed to a fraction of its size, and delivered via injection. Once inside the body, it pops back to its original shape and gradually releases its cargo, before safely degrading.

July 3, 2012 5:13 pm

A Surgical Implant for Seeing Colors Through Sound (The New York Times)

In his discussions with the hospital bioethics committee, Mr. Harbisson argued that this surgical technique could be used on other people. He said in particular that more sophisticated versions of the sensor could be used for reading, perhaps reducing the need for Braille.