News from Bioethics.com

‘We Have a Job to Do’: Cancer Patients and Their Doctors Carry on with Clinical Trials During Covid-19

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – Around the world, Covid-19 has disrupted all types of clinical trials, decreasing by 74% the number of new patients enrolling. In cancer, the number of new patients entering Phase 2 and 3 cancer trials in the U.S. plummeted by about 46% to 48% in the last two weeks of March, said Margaret Mooney, associate director of the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program in the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute. By the last week of May and first week of June, the cliff wasn’t so steep, moderating to a 25% to 30% decline.

‘We’ve Got to Be Able to Move More Quickly.’ The Pandemic Reality of COVID-19 Clinical Trials

1 month 3 weeks

(Science) – The novel coronavirus has upended the world of clinical research, with scientists under pressure to identify effective treatments for COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent new infections. More than 22,000 papers on the virus have been published this year, and more than 2000 trials are underway. They are testing everything from clot-busting drugs to monoclonal antibodies to convalescent plasma donated by patients who have recovered—not to mention a growing number of vaccines. But with speed borne of desperation comes risk and confusion—of trials too small to yield answers, of treatments overhyped, and of uncertainty about how to design the best studies possible.

Iran Ends Provision by State of Contraceptives and Vasectomies

1 month 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – Iran’s state hospitals and clinics are no longer performing vasectomies or giving out contraceptives in an attempt to revive flagging population growth, a senior health official has told state media. Iranian women were now having 1.7 children on average, well below the 2.2 required to maintain the population, Hamed Barakati, director general of the Ministry of Health’s Office of Population and Family Health, told the Islamic Republic News Agency in an interview on Sunday. On current trends about a third of the country would be over 60 years old by 2050. “Whether we like it or not … we will become an ageing country,” he said.

The Last Anointing

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – The country is facing a deeply personal crisis of spirit, not only of health or economics. A virus has forced a reckoning with the most intimate questions we have, questions not only about how we live, but also about how we die. About what we can control, and what we cannot. About how to name human dignity, despair and hope. And especially about how to make meaning of our final hours on this earth.

In a Landmark Decision, FDA Greenlights a Video Game for Kids with ADHD

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration on Monday for the first time gave a green light to a game-based therapeutic: a video game meant to be prescribed to kids with ADHD. The game, known as EndeavorRx and developed by Boston-based Akili Interactive Labs, can now be marketed as a way to improve attention function in kids with ADHD as measured by computerized testing. Physicians can prescribe it to children between the ages of 8 and 12 who have an ADHD diagnosis and have demonstrated an issue with attention.

Coronavirus Death Rate Is Higher for Those with Chronic Ills

1 month 3 weeks

(Associated Press) – Death rates are 12 times higher for coronavirus patients with chronic illnesses than for others who become infected, a new U.S. government report says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday highlights the dangers posed by heart disease, diabetes and lung ailments. These are the top three health problems found in COVID-19 patients, the report suggests. 

A Hospital’s Secret Coronavirus Policy Separated Native American Mothers from Their Newborns

1 month 3 weeks

(ProPublica) – A prominent women’s hospital here has separated some Native American women from their newly born babies, the result of a practice designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 that clinicians and health care ethicists described as racial profiling. Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque implemented a secretive policy in recent months to conduct special coronavirus screenings for pregnant women, based on whether they appeared to be Native American, even if they had no symptoms or were otherwise at low risk for the disease, according to clinicians.

Abortion in England and Wales Reach Record High

1 month 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – A record number of women in England and Wales had an abortion last year, and numbers rose particularly sharply among women aged 30 and over. A total of 207,384 procedures were carried out, official figures show, the highest number in a year since the historic vote in 1967 to legalise abortion in Britain through the Abortion Act. Pro-choice charities said the trend towards older motherhood, financial problems facing some women and difficulties getting contraception were all factors behind the increase. Anti-abortion groups declared the figures “a national tragedy”.

Medical Workers Resort to Parking-lot Deals and DIY Projects to Get Safety Gear

1 month 3 weeks

(The Guardian) – Medical shortages in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, have left many healthcare workers in a desperate hunt for medical supplies. Community clinics, nursing homes and independent doctors, in particular, find themselves on the fringe of the supply chain for masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators. Desperate administrators wire money to offshore banks to acquire supplies.

Mutation Allows Coronavirus to Infect More Cells, Study Finds. Scientists Urge Caution.

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – For months, scientists have debated why one genetic variation of the coronavirus became dominant in many parts of the world. Many scientists argue that the variation spread widely by chance, multiplying outward from explosive outbreaks in Europe. Others have proposed the possibility that a mutation gave it some kind of biological edge and have been urgently investigating the effect of that mutation. Now, scientists have shown — at least in the tightly controlled environment of a laboratory cell culture — that viruses carrying that particular mutation infect more cells and are more resilient than those without it.

Moderna to Start Final Testing Stage of Coronavirus Vaccine in July

1 month 3 weeks

(Reuters) – Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) on Thursday confirmed it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine in July as the company enters the final stage of testing. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech said the primary goal of the study would be to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The key secondary goal would be prevention of severe disease, as defined by keeping people out of the hospital.

Balls of Cells Mimic Unseen Stage of Human Embryo Development

1 month 3 weeks

(Science) – After a human sperm and egg unite, a new embryo spends its first few weeks looking blobby. There’s no obvious top or bottom, and it is unclear which cells will give rise to which body parts. After about 14 days, the embryo elongates and forms layers, revealing a rough plan for the body. But this dramatic transformation, called gastrulation, has never been directly observed in human embryos: Growing them to this stage in a lab is technically difficult and ethically fraught. Now, researchers have made structures from human stem cells that mimic some features of embryos after gastrulation, an advance that could reveal how genetic mutations and chemical exposures can lead to miscarriages and birth defects.

1st Known U.S. Lung Transplant for COVID-19 Patient Performed in Chicago

1 month 3 weeks

(NPR) – Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago announced Thursday they’ve performed the first successful double-lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient in the United States. The woman in her 20s was otherwise healthy but developed a severe case of COVID-19 that resulted in hospitalization, says Dr. Ankit Bharat, Northwestern’s chief of thoracic surgery. For two months, she was in the intensive care unit on a ventilator and another machine, known as ECMO, that pumps and oxygenates blood outside of the body. Although she eventually cleared the coronavirus from her body, she remained in severe condition.

Health System Changes Spurred by COVID May Be Here to Stay

1 month 3 weeks

(Medscape) – The U.S. health care system is famously resistant to government-imposed change. It took decades to create Medicare and Medicaid, mostly due to opposition from the medical-industrial complex. Then it was nearly another half-century before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. But the COVID-19 pandemic has done what no president or social movement or venture capitalist could have dreamed of: It forced sudden major changes to the nation’s health care system that are unlikely to be reversed.

Big Tech Companies Back Away from Selling Facial Recognition to Police. That’s Progress.

1 month 3 weeks

(Vox) – Microsoft President Brad Smith announced on Thursday that his company did not sell facial recognition to the police, and would not until the government passes federal legislation regulating the technology. His statement follows a Wednesday announcement from Amazon explaining that the company would institute a one-year moratorium on police use of Rekognition, the company’s facial recognition software. 

Ukraine’s Backlog of Babies Born to Surrogates Begins to Ease

1 month 3 weeks

(New York Times) – For weeks, more than 100 foreign genetic parents of babies born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine have been waiting nervously, prevented by Ukraine’s rigid coronavirus restrictions from entering the country to pick up their newborns. But the government has been granting some exemptions, and on Wednesday, having gone through a mandatory quarantine, 11 couples from Argentina and Spain were joyously united with their newest family members. It was a first step in whittling down a backlog of babies born into Ukraine’s surrogate motherhood industry during the pandemic that some officials have said could swell to as many as 1,000.

Researcher Involved in Retracted Lancet Study Has Faculty Appointment Terminated, as Details in Scandal Emerge

1 month 3 weeks

(STAT News) – The University of Utah has “mutually agreed” to terminate the faculty appointment of Amit Patel, who was among the authors of two retracted papers on Covid-19 and who appears to have played a key role in involving a little-known company that has ignited a firestorm of controversy. “The terminated position was an unpaid adjunct appointment with the Department of Biomedical Engineering,” a university spokesperson told STAT. Patel had listed the affiliation on both papers, published in the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. The spokesperson  declined to comment on whether the decision was related to the retractions.

For Experts Who Study Coronaviruses, a Grim Vindication

1 month 3 weeks

(Undark) – The now prophetic words could be found buried at the end of a research paper published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews in October of 2007: “The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic animals in southern China, is a time bomb.” The warning — made nearly 13 years ago and more than four years after a worrying first wave of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, killed nearly 800 people globally — was among the earliest to predict the emergence of something like SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the current pandemic of Covid-19. Many other warnings would follow.

Scientists Create Embryo-Like Research Model from Human Stem Cells

1 month 3 weeks

(Reuters) – Scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to create an embryo-like research model to help them study some of the earliest stages of human development. The model overcomes some of the ethical restrictions on using human embryos for research and will allow scientists to study a period of human development known as the “black box” period, which they say has never been directly observed before. 

Human Trials Are Beginning Early for One Possible Coronavirus Vaccine, Here’s Where the Others Stand

1 month 3 weeks

(Newsweek) – Human trials for one potential novel coronavirus vaccine will begin two months earlier than anticipated, Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday. The vaccine the company is creating through Janssen Pharmaceuticals, its drug development arm, joins 10 others that have already entered the clinical stage of development, which means they have received necessary approvals to begin testing on human subjects.

Exclusive: Lilly COVID-19 Treatment Could Be Authorized for Use as Soon as September–Chief Scientist

1 month 3 weeks

(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co could have a drug specifically designed to treat COVID-19 authorized for use as early as September if all goes well with either of two antibody therapies it is testing, its chief scientist told Reuters on Wednesday. Lilly is also doing preclinical studies of a third antibody treatment for the illness caused by the new coronavirus that could enter human clinical trials in the coming weeks, Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky said in an interview.

Nigerian Minister Calls for Action on ‘Alarming’ Increase in Rapes During Coronavirus Lockdown

1 month 3 weeks

(Reuters) – Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen called on law enforcement to expedite rape cases as they spiked during lockdowns aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus. Her call followed protests (here) earlier this week over sexual violence in West Africa’s most populous nation and a series of high-profile rapes. 

Mini-Organs Push Along Covid-19 and Other Virus Research

1 month 3 weeks

(Knowable Magazine) – In the case of Covid-19, scientists already have used organoids and related systems to confirm that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, infects gut tissues. They have also been able to test and identify promising medications. They’ve even built organoids based on the tissues of bats, the likely source of the virus, in order to study other coronaviruses that have the potential to cross over into people.

Who’s to Blame? These Three Scientists Are at the Heart of the Surgisphere COVID-19 Scandal

1 month 3 weeks

(Science) – Three unlikely collaborators are at the heart of the fast-moving COVID-19 research scandal, which led to retractions last week by The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and the withdrawal of an online preprint, after the trove of patient data they all relied on was challenged. The three physician-scientists never were at the same institution nor had they ever before written together, but they are the only authors in common on the disputed papers, and the other co-authors all have ties to at least one of them. Their partnership, which seized a high-impact role during a global public health crisis, has now ended disastrously.

Social Distancing and Shutdowns Have Been Astonishingly Effective at Blunting the Pandemic

1 month 4 weeks

(Vox) – Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, closed schools, and canceled public events prevented millions of Covid-19 coronavirus cases and deaths, according to two new peer-reviewed studies in the journal Nature. One of the studies estimated the number of Covid-19 cases with and without these tough interventions. They found that in six countries, including China and the US, pandemic control policies had a huge effect. In the United States alone, the measures stopped 4.8 million more confirmed cases of Covid-19 and up to 60 million infections in total. In China, they prevented 285 million infections. In the second study, researchers looked at the number of deaths from Covid-19 in 11 countries in Europe. They found that 3.1 million deaths in these countries were avoided with pandemic control measures.  

Pages