Bioethics in Nobel for Literature

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to British-Japanese novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, one of the few laureates to deal explicitly with bioethical topics. His 2005 dystopian novel about cloning, Never Let Go, won a number of awards and was one of the TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.The 2010 film of the same name was positively received by critics, but at the box office it was a fizzer. Admittedly, it is a sombre novel, though narrated with exquisite skill in gossamer prose – not exactly material for a Hollywood top of the charts.

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Sperm bank to add criminal check and thorough psych assessment to screening process

A leading sperm bank, California Cryobank, has become the first in the industry to add a clinical psychological assessment and criminal background check to a standard donor screening process.

The donor sperm industry has traditionally operated without the use of a formal psychological screening component.

"We believe in robust screening as well as quality informed consent", says Cryobank Medical Director Jaime Shamonki. "Our screening process selects for the most committed, altruistic, and informed donors."

California Cryobank is also one of the first sperm banks to implement criminal background checks as a standard part of the donor screening… click here to read whole article and make comments

Cosmetic surgery clowning to be discouraged

The circus atmosphere of plastic surgeons donning costumes, dancing and juggling breast implants during live surgery videos on social media may soon change.

A first code of ethical behavior for sharing videos of plastic surgery on social media was recently published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal  as the foundation for ethical guidelines.

"This the first step in taking the circus tent down and developing ethical rules for making and sharing plastic surgery videos," said senior author Clark Schierle, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "There is increasingly vulgar content by a growing number of plastic surgeons… click here to read whole article and make comments

Children can write their own advance care directives in Victoria

In a world first, the Australian state of Victoria is allowing children of any age to write their own advance care directive that doctors are obliged to follow. The new ACDs, which come into effect in March next year, will allow a child to decide on their treatment preferences, provided he or she was competent at the time of making the declaration, and the statement was witnessed by a medical practitioner and one other witness.

If a child has made a valid advance directive in which they have included instructions to refuse a particular medical treatment, such as dialysis or… click here to read whole article and make comments

Your genes for sale: shouldn’t you get a return?

Personalised genetic testing has become increasingly popular with companies such as 23andMe offering a variety of tests that analyse a client’s genetic profile. There are, nevertheless, ethical concerns about business practices of several genomics companies.

Many of the genetic tests offered by genomics start-ups offer an assessment of one’s predisposition for age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s disease.

There are, however, laboratories across the country that are promising patients detailed information such as how they will respond to exercise, which foods they should eat, and even which types of wine they might prefer.

Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist… click here to read whole article and make comments

Embryo gene-editing in Canada: Ethicists urge caution

Two Canadian ethicists have defended their country’s moratorium on embryo gene-editing experiments, arguing that it reflects international consensus on the ethics of germline editing.

Writing in Impact Ethics, Francois Baylis of Dalhousie University and Alana Cattapan of the University of Saskatchewan describe current Canadian law -- which prohibits altering “the genome of a cell of a human being or in vitro embryo such that the alteration is capable of being transmitted to descendants” -- as in line with current “international standards”.

“the prohibition on editing the human genome is consistent with international standards...Article 13 of the Oviedo… click here to read whole article and make comments

An AI alternative to organised religion

Tired of organised religion? Maybe you should join a Silicon Valley religious start-up.

Former Uber exec Anthony Levandowski, for example, has registered a non-for-profit religious organisation in California, going by the name of Way of the Future. According to Wired, Way of the Future aims to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society”.

Levandowski’s De ex Machina religion is just one of several quasi-religious organisations now operational in the Californian tech belt.

“The church does a terrible job of… click here to read whole article and make comments

Are drug addicts responsible or helpless victims of an illness?

Who is responsible for drug addiction: your brain or you? This momentous question will be decided in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court soon.

Addict Julie Eldred violated her parole by taking drugs. A judge derided her plea for compassion as “just a bunch of excuses” and sent her off to jail. The same thing happened again three years later when she again took drugs while on parole.

Now, according to a report in the Boston Globe, she is suing the state government, alleging that “the court violated her constitutional rights by ordering her to remain drug free, arguing that her substance… click here to read whole article and make comments

Medical staff punished after privacy breach in Pennsylvania hospital

Respect for patients’ privacy is a work in progress, to judge from an incident in UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital, in Pennsylvania. On December 23 last year surgeons were removing a “foreign body” from the genitals of a female patient. Somehow other staff were notified of this novelty and the operating theatre became so crowded that “it looked like a cheerleader type pyramid,” according one witness quoted in a state government report.

Worse still, operating room staff took pictures with their mobile phones and circulated them to other staff.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health declared that the hospital had violated… click here to read whole article and make comments

Medical aid urgently needed in Myanmar

The persecution of the Rohingya population in Myanmar has a decades long history. Yet alleged ethnic cleansing by military forces in recent weeks has prompted international observers to call for immediate international action and massive humanitarian support.

The notorious Tatmadaw national army has allegedly burnt hundreds of Rohingya villages in the past month, leading more than 500,000 residents of the region (half of them children) to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Those who have crossed the boarder lack basic food and medical aid, and those still in the country face a dire threat from… click here to read whole article and make comments

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