Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Week in Review

Embryo adoption reopens controversy. Back to the question of when does human life begin, and so what are our responsibilities toward all those frozen embryos out there.

Sports gene test available for little kids. So little Johnny has the genes to be a sprinter, push him in that direction (whether he enjoys it or not)? One can also think of more disturbing uses, like using such a test for embryo election (excuse me, I’ve been in a reproductive rights course this semester, so these issues are top of mind!).

Overseas clinical trials under the microscope—concern whether medical and ethical practices are being adhered to in developing countries. Out of sight, out of mind?

Studies show arrogance and abusive behavior by doctors contributes to
medical mistakes, preventable complications, and even death.

More fallout from the economic crisis—rising stress levels, linked to increases in vulnerability to a long list of illnesses and viruses.

Acupuncture beats aspirin for chronic headache. OK, ancient biotech in
this one!

Computer technology can cut into personalized patient care. Need to enter that data before giving that injection! Admittedly, tech can bring efficiencies, but during an actual patient visit, the tech can interfere in a range of ways. Some inconvenient, yet somewhat comical, like the doctor and nurse huddled over the PC trying to find the code for FluMist before giving it to me. Some rather dehumanizing, like the doctor using up half the precious visit time staring at the computer screen and reading aloud the prior entries before even casting an eye or ear in my direction for the day’s visit.

U.S. study weighs lifetime cancer risks from CT scans.

Fibroid growth differs by race and age.

Gene silencing drug shown to block heart failure in mice (targets a
particular strand of RNA).

British team leads stem cell heart surgery that could end need for
transplants. Patch and rebuild that heart!

Stem cells injected into the brain help stroke patient. Incredible.

Bipartisan report finds U.S. vulnerable to bioterrorism attack. Scary stuff.

FDA sets “safe” levels for melamine in baby formula, despite not being able to say what level is really safe. Does that sentence disturb you as much as it does me? Hey, the levels are significantly lower than the Chinese formula, so that is something.

FDA staff says Solvay’s enzyme pill carries pig virus risks. Comforting.

The more incompetent your boss, the greater your risk for heart attack. Probably not a big surprise, but here you go, study results to back up that gut feeling!

And on a positive note, study shows that happiness is contagious! Spread the joy!

[Thank you to Lisa von Biela, JD candidate, 2009, UMN, Editor of the BioBlurb, from which this content is partially taken and edited. BioBlurb is a weekly electronic publication of the American Bar Association's Committee on Biotechnology, Section of Science & Technology Law. Archived issues of the BioBlurb, as well as further information about the Committee on Biotechnology, are available here.]

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