Hot Topics: Science
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
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
“Exploring ethical issues in TV medical dramas”
Jump to The Resident (Season 2; Episode 3): Saline shortage, pressure to bill; Jump to The Good Doctor (Season 2; Episode 3): Structural discrimination against women; surrogate decision-making; Jump to Chicago Med (Season 4; Episode 3): Best interest of a child; faith versus science; Jump to Grey’s Anatomy (Season 15; Episode 4): Fraud, assault, lies, and the ethics police
Medical dramas this week seemed to focus on two themes: 1.…Full Article
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
My father tells the story of how when he was a child, shoe stores had boxes into which you could slide your feet, shod in potential new shoes.…Full Article
by Katrina A. Bramstedt, PhD
The 2015 headline was startling: “[US] Taxpayers spend $140 billion funding science each year — but can’t access many of the results.” In fact, gaining access to research results is costing universities and government organizations in the US $10 billion per year.…Full Article
Bioethics/Medical Ethics Jahi McMath, Teen At Center Of Medical And Religious Debate On Brain Death, Has Died Jahi McMath, a brain-dead patient who had been on life support since 2013, died on June 22, 2018 because of liver failure. McMath’s situation sparked a debate over whether brain-dead patients are considered physically dead. Though McMath is […]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
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
One night in November 1999, a 26-year-old woman was raped in a parking lot in Grand Rapids, Mich. Police officers managed to get the perpetrator’s DNA from a semen sample, but it matched no one in their databases.
Detectives found no fingerprints at the scene and located no witnesses. The woman, who had been attacked from behind, could not offer a description. It looked like the rapist would never be found.
Five years later, there was a break in the case. A man serving time for another sexual offense submitted a DNA sample with his parole application. The sample matched DNA from the rape scene.
There was just one catch: The parolee had an identical twin, and standard DNA tests can’t distinguish between identical twins. Prosecutors had no additional evidence to rule out one or the other. Because they couldn’t press charges against either of the men, the case remains open nearly 20 years later.Full Article
OF ALL THE big, world-remaking bets on the genome-editing tool known as Crispr, perhaps none is more tantalizing than its potential to edit some of humanity’s worst diseases right out of the history books. Just this week, Crispr Therapeutics announcedit had begun treating patients with an inherited blood disorder called beta thalassemia, in the Western drug industry’s first test of the technology for genetic disease. But despite the progress, there remain a host of unknowns standing in the way of Crispr-based medicines going mainstream, chief among them safety.
That’s because the classic, most widely used version of Crisprworks by slicing open a strand of DNA in a specific spot in the genome and letting the cell stitch it back together. The major concern is that an army of DNA-breaking enzymes might sometimes wander astray and cause unintended mutations in places it shouldn’t.Full Article
The World Health Organization established a new committee to set guidelines for scientists editing human DNA, just months after the controversial births of the world’s first gene-edited babies in China.Full Article
New research suggests that a controversial gene-editing experiment to make children resistant to HIV may also have enhanced their ability to learn and form memories.Full Article
The Food and Drug Administration, drug companies and doctors mishandled distribution of a powerful fentanyl painkiller, allowing widespread prescribing to ineligible patients despite special measures designed to safeguard its use, according to a report released Tuesday.Full Article
Officials at Stanford University have opened an investigation into what several high-profile faculty members knew about a Chinese effort to create gene-edited babies led by a onetime researcher at the California school, He Jiankui.
The investigation, according to people familiar with it, aims to understand what liabilities or risks Stanford may have in connection with the controversial medical experiment, which led last year to the birth of two girls whose genomes had been altered with a molecular tool called CRISPR to render them immune to HIV.Full Article