Hot Topics: Science
by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
Researchers at Yale University recently reported an experiment in which they used an experimental chemical solution to create electrical activity in the cells of pig brains, brains obtained from a slaughterhouse four hours after the death of the animals from decapitation (NY Times ‘Partly Alive’: Scientists Revive Cells in Brains From Dead Pigs, 4/17,19). …Full Article
In his 2018 book, the philosopher of science, Jacob Stegenga defends the view “that we should have little confidence in the effectiveness of medical interventions.” (Stegenga 2018) On the face of it, he acknowledges, this position seems unreasonable: most of us can think of myriad ways in which modern medicine has improved – perhaps saved […]Full Article
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
In my critical studies of bioethics undergraduate capstone class, the very last lecture examines the question of whether a person must be ethical to be an ethicist.…Full Article
by Florence Ashley B.C.L., LL.B
Hormonal interventions for trans youth are subject to controversy in the media and certain clinical circles.…Full Article
Updated November 28 at 8:30am EST
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
The film GATTACA turned 20 years old this year. The premise of that film is a society where DNA is viewed as predictive of everything: Your intelligence, physical abilities, your health, even how long you will live.…Full Article
Climate Change Ethics Death toll rises to 56 in California wildfires “The death toll from the wildfires burning in Northern and Southern California has risen to 56 people, authorities announced, making it the deadliest wildfire in a century. An additional 287 people have been assigned to comb through the rubble for bodies, authorities told […]Full Article
The following post can also be found in the October 2018
issue of the American Journal of Bioethics.
by Ariadne Nichol and David Magnus, Ph.D.…Full Article
The Porosity of Autonomy: Social and Biological Constitution of the Patient in Biomedicine
Ideology and Microbiology: Ebola, Science, and Deliberative Democracy
If I Could Just Stop Loving You: Anti-Love Biotechnology and the Ethics of a Chemical Breakup
The Difficult Case of Voluntariness as Autonomy in Anti-Love Biotechnology
Genetic and molecular analysis of 109 volunteers turned up hidden health problems in about half of them. Critics say the approach amounted to ‘carpet-bombing’ the body.Full Article
Scientists are reporting that they have developed a virtual prosthetic voice, a system that decodes the brain’s vocal intentions and translates them into mostly understandable speech, with no need to move a muscle, even those in the mouth.Full Article
A new experiment has raised medical and ethical questions as serious as those surrounding human gene editing: A support system delivering artificial blood to pig brains prevented degradation of important neural functions, Yale researchers discovered.
Scientists in southern China report that they’ve tried to narrow the evolutionary gap, creating several transgenic macaque monkeys with extra copies of a human gene suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence.Full Article
We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.
By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.Full Article
An influential committee of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that it would be “irresponsible” to try to create babies from gene-edited human embryos. The panel called for an international registry to track all research into editing the human genome.Full Article
Doctors welcomed federal approval this week of a new, fast-acting nasal spray for depression. But also they expressed concerns about its cost and long-term effects, as well as the logistics of administering it in accordance with safety requirements.
The new drug, esketamine, made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, won approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday for people who have received little or no relief from other antidepressants. The F.D.A.’s decision followed months of anticipation; esketamine, which will be marketed under the name Spravato, is the first prescription for depression derived from ketamine, an old and widely used anesthetic.Full Article
It’s only a matter of time until the first million-dollar drug arrives in a deeply dysfunctional health-care system. With the new drugs come painful questions: Who is stuck with the bill, do they have the cash to pay it and how can they avoid the obligation?Full Article
There’s a new war raging in health care, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and thousands of lives in the balance. The battle, pitting drug companies against doctors and patient advocates, is being fought over the unlikeliest of substances: human excrement.
The clash is over the future of fecal microbiota transplants, or F.M.T., a revolutionary treatment that has proved remarkably effective in treating Clostridioides difficile, a debilitating bacterial infection that strikes 500,000 Americans a year and kills 30,000.
The therapy transfers fecal matter from healthy donors into the bowels of ailing patients, restoring the beneficial works of the community of gut microbes that have been decimated by antibiotics. Scientists see potential for using these organisms to treat diseasesfrom diabetes to cancer.
At the heart of the controversy is a question of classification: Are the fecal microbiota that cure C. diff a drug, or are they more akin to organs, tissues and blood products that are transferred from the healthy to treat the sick? The answer will determine how the Food and Drug Administration regulates the procedure, how much it costs and who gets to profit.Full Article