US jails: doctors should support compassionate release, say ethicists

Compassion release of prisoners who are suffering from terminal illnesses or dementia is a controversial topic in the United States. Voters worry about the crimes prisoners might commit; victims seethe at the thought of a guilty man walking the streets.

The current issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics contains several features about healthcare during incarceration – an important issue for a country with 2.1 million prisoners. One of the articles contends that “given the importance in medical ethics of upholding dignity, physicians should advocate for the appropriate application and use of compassionate release”.

In fact, compassionate release is… click here to read whole article and make comments

Survey: most Americans support editing the human genome

In early August 2017, an international team of scientists announced they had successfully edited the DNA of human embryos. A survey published in the journal Science found that about two-thirds of American respondents expressed at least some support for therapeutic editing, but only one-third using the technology for enhancement.

The authors looked into public attitudes about gene editing on specific cell types -- somatic or germline -- either for therapy or enhancement. Somatic cells are non-reproductive, so edits made in those cells do not affect future generations. Germline cells, however, are heritable, and changes made in these cells would… click here to read whole article and make comments

Assisted suicide push fails in New York

A New York Court has rejected a petition by three terminally ill patients to be allowed access to assisted suicide drugs.

The Court of Appeals made its ruling on Thursday after a protracted legal battle during which two of the plaintiffs passed away.

“The [New York] assisted suicide statutes apply to anyone who assists an attempted or completed suicide,” the court wrote in its unanimous decision. “There are no exceptions.”

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are currently illegal in New York, but the plaintiffs had argued that the law should not apply to those seeking merciful ends to incurable illnesses.

click here to read whole article and make comments

Is Jahi McMath alive?

A legal battle over an allegedly brain-dead American teenager is set to continue, with a Californian judge ruling that girl may in fact be alive.

Alameda County Judge Stephen Pulido ruled Tuesday that it's up to a jury to determine whether Jahi McMath is still living. The judge had heard evidence from medical experts and viewed video footage that suggested that girl was still minimally conscious, despite adamant testimony from other specialists who say she meets all the relevant criteria of brain death.

In December 2013 13-year-old McMath suffered massive blood loss, cardiac arrest and severe oxygen deprivation… click here to read whole article and make comments

First anti-ageing drugs ready for trial

Scientists may soon trial a new class of drugs that specifically aim to delay or treat ageing.

Writing in the Journal of American Geriatrics this week, doctors from the Mayo Clinic and Scripps Research Institute outline a set of new clinical trial paradigms that could be used to test the efficacy and safety of “Senolytics”, a new class of drugs that target mechanisms in the ageing process.

Senolytics target a process known as “cell senescence”, in which moribund cells begin to accumulate in different parts of the body and (in some cases) disrupt the functioning of healthy cells.… click here to read whole article and make comments

Compromise on APA torture paper

A controversial paper on the American Psychological Association’s involvement in post-9/11 torture has been republished in the journal Teaching of Psychology – just one month after it was retracted by the journal’s editors.

The paper, written by University of Colorado Denver psychologist Mitchell M. Handelsman, summarises the findings of the 2015 Hoffman Report – an independent review that found that the APA had tacitly endorsed the involvement of military psychologists in Guantanamo Bay torture – and offers suggestions on how the APA torture scandal can be used to teach ethics to psychology students.

The paper considers how… click here to read whole article and make comments

Landmark stem cell paper questioned

Oh no! Not again! Such must be the sentiments of stem cell scientists after a paper to be published in Nature cast cold water on landmark research about editing the genome of a human embryo.

On August 2, a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health and Science University, announced in Nature that they had successfully deleted a disease-causing faulty gene and replaced it with a healthy copy using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Their innovative experiment introduced the CRISPR machinery earlier. When they examined the embryos, they found that they did not contain the faulty sequence.

This discovery was… click here to read whole article and make comments

Nurse may have killed at least 90 in German nursing homes

Niels Högel / EuroNews  

A male nurse may have killed scores of patients in nursing homes in northern Germany. Niels Högel was given a life sentence in 2015 after he confessed to the murders of about 30 people at two clinics. Even at the time police suspected that he was responsible for more deaths.

Evidence for these has emerged now after they exhumed and examined 134 bodies. It appears that Högel had given a number of them a lethal injection. Although the total will never be known, as a number of patients were cremated, it appears… click here to read whole article and make comments

If this is fatherhood, well, I’m a Dutchman

Ed Houben with relationships / RTL News  

The 18th Century adventurer Giacomo Casanova measured his virility by the number of women he had seduced. After the reproductive revolution, his epigones benchmark theirs by the number of offspring produced from their sperm. In the headlines in the week before Father’s Day are two Dutchmen who have sired over 100 children.

One anonymous man who donated to 11 IVF clinics in the Netherlands is responsible for 102 children – even though Dutch law bans donation at more than one clinic and limits the number of children to… click here to read whole article and make comments

HMS Bioethics Journal launched

Harvard Medical School has published the inaugural issue of a bioethics journal, called – wait for it! --- Bioethics Journal. The editorial team explains:

Our goals in publishing the Bioethics Journal are to recognize and anticipate the ethical aspects of new bioscientific knowledge; to report bioethics research, as well as what is empirically known about ethical problems and alternatives for addressing them; to offer ethical analyses and recommendations; and, most importantly, to provide an open and free forum for professional and public discussion about the ethical challenges of our time.

The official name of the journal is Harvard Medical School… click here to read whole article and make comments

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