The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."[more inside]
"Especially with the country in great need of donation, science should speak louder than stigma in determining who can help."
Tainted: Why Gay Men Still Can't Donate Blood - "Since 1983, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines have disqualified men who have ever had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood... Uneven application of exclusion to at-risk individuals suggests that risk aversion disproportionately impacts MSMs. For example, a non-MSM individual who has had sexual contact with a commercial sex worker or HIV-positive partner is deferred for only twelve months... The fact that the U.S. upholds a lifetime ban on MSM donation while Australian policy allows MSM individuals to donate a year or less after contact reveals a glaring discrepancy. Both ethics and science point to a flaw in FDA policy. That I could have had sex with 365 partners this year and be a perfectly fine candidate for donating blood, while the MSM next to me wouldn't qualify, betrays a faulty line of logic." [more inside]
Provoking pro-choice advocates, Oklahoma passed two highly restrictive abortion laws on Tuesday. One (rtf file) requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics — even if the patient was impregnated through rape or incest. The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects. A third requires clinics to post signs telling patients they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The first law prompted an immediate lawsuit from Tulsa's only abortion clinic. [more inside]
The Stupidity of Dignity: Conservative bioethics' latest, most dangerous ploy. Steven Pinker reviews Human Dignity and Bioethics, the latest report from the President's Council on Bioethics. [more inside]
The Checklist - "If a new drug were as effective at saving lives as Peter Pronovost’s checklist, there would be a nationwide marketing campaign urging doctors to use it" [single page]
"The Conscientious Objector Policy Act" just passed the Michigan Assembly, and awaits voting in the state Senate. The bill legalizes the right for a doctor, or any health provider, to deny treatment based on "ethical, moral, or religious grounds." In addition to the obvious notion of restricting abortion, in the most extreme example the bill technically allows doctors to deny treatment to gays simply for believing that homosexuality is immoral.
Organ donation has become a hot topic on Me Fi lately. Unfortunately, this thread has not spawned the best discussion. But the ethics of organ tansplantation can become difficult. Do donors have the right to specify who gets their organs? If they do, what does that imply for living donors; in other words, are you really volunteering to donate that kidney to your brother? And should we have an opt-in or opt-out system? Most religions approve of organ donation; even Jehovah's Witnesses that do not accept blood transfusions. And of course, the US government is involved, for better or worse. Not everyone thinks organ donation is good. More links here and here.
Convict Heart Transplant A 31 year old 2 time felon just got a heart transplant, costing tax payers close to $1 million dollars. With an annual additional cost of $15,000. Right? Wrong? I'm not so sure.