Tag: insulin

Bioethics News

Book Review: Cells Are The New Cure (BenBella Books, Inc., 2017). ISBN 9781944648800.

$26.95. Reviewed by Michael S. Dauber, MA

 

Cells Are The New Cure, written by Robin Smith, MD, and Max Gomez, PhD, is a book about the history of medical research on cells, both human and non-human, and recent developments in these techniques that have made cellular medicine one of the most promising fields for therapeutic exploration. While the book’s title suggests an exclusive focus on the healing aspects of genetic modification and human stem cell therapy, the text is much more than that: it is a roadmap for understanding the origins of such techniques, the current state of affairs in cellular and genetic therapies, the administrative landscape investigators must traverse in conducting research, and the areas in which we still need to make progress.

Smith and Gomez make an argument that is structurally simple yet gripping: they suggest that targeted therapies involving stem cells and genetic modifications are the future of medicine by pointing to the immense amount of studies in those fields that have yielded beneficial results. While many readers might acknowledge this fact even before reading the book, many may not be aware of the full extent of the knowledge we have gained from research on cells and genetics, or the myriad ways this knowledge has been applied. Of course, Smith and Gomez cover the big diseases that most people think of when imagining medical research: cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative conditions, etc. However, the book also contains detailed information about how we age, what may cause certain allergies, how the body repairs itself, and the ways stem cell therapies, genetic editing techniques, and other complex medicines that build on these methods can be used to treat these conditions.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Ethics of Transparent Pharmaceutical Pricing Laws: The Harms Do Not Outweigh the Risks

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Despite campaign promises that drug prices would be lowered, the current administration and Congress seem on target for giving pharmaceutical companies more power over pricing, over keeping out competition and over expanding their monopolies. The President’s “Drug Pricing Innovation Working Group” is staffed by many current and former industry lobbyists. While the federal government is deliberating, some states are already acting.

Last week, Nevada passed a law that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose the prices, profits, and discounts of insulin.…

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

New advances and challenges in the production of human-animal chimeras

They had overcome the obstacle of using human embryonic stem cells, but that even so, a ethical difficulty remained with the producing organs formed almost entirely of human cells in experimental animals.

It seems a little excessive that, in less than two months, we have dedicated three reports to the latest studies by Juan Carlos Izpisúa and his group. Nonetheless, we believe that the importance of his work merits this level of interest.

In our first report, we referred to a study published in Nature, which describes — among other breakthroughs — the production of human-animal chimeras in order to generate quasi-human organs for use in transplantation. In the report, we mentioned the ethical difficulties evident in the study as a result of the use of human embryonic stem cells.

In the second, we discussed the new steps taken in the production of human organs in animals, in connection with an interview by Izpisúa published in Investigación y Ciencia (the Spanish version of Scientific American). In the interview, Izpisúa particularly stressed that, from an ethical point of view, they had overcome the obstacle of using human embryonic stem cells, but that even so, a potential ethical difficulty remained with the possibility of producing organs formed almost entirely of human cells in experimental animals.

Now, we evaluate these experiments by analysing the latest findings published in an article in scientific journal Cell (see HERE).  We also discuss another paper by a different research group, in which the authors also describe the production of human-animal chimeras, likewise with the intention of producing organs for transplantation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Lawsuit Accuses Drug Makers of Conspiring to Hike Insulin Prices

Between 2002 and 2013, the price of insulin more than tripled, to more than $700 per patient. A federal lawsuit accuses the three insulin manufacturers of conspiring to raise their prices. The drug makers deny the allegations

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Drug Makers Accused of Fixing Prices on Insulin

February 3, 2017

(New York Times) – A lawsuit filed Monday accused three makers of insulin of conspiring to drive up the prices of their lifesaving drugs, harming patients who were being asked to pay for a growing share of their drug bills. The price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, with the three manufacturers — Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly — raising the list prices of their products in near lock step, prompting outcry from patient groups and doctors who have pointed out that the rising prices appear to have little to do with increased production costs.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Study Finds Wearable Sensors Can Tell When You’re Getting Sick

January 16, 2017

(Managed Care Magazine) – Wearable sensors that monitor heart rate, activity, skin temperature, and other variables can reveal a lot about what is going on inside a person––including the onset of infection, inflammation, and even insulin resistance, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Ethics and law of stem cell treatment of diabetes

Many people support in various ways medical research, which they perceive as urgent in view of the needs of various patient groups. But patients typically won’t benefit from research unless the results are translated into development of medical products.

Type 1 diabetes is an incurable disease that requires daily life-sustaining treatment and strict dietary rules. Disease onset usually occurs at an early age.

In Sweden, about 50 000 people have this form of diabetes and of these around 8 000 are children. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells. Without insulin the body cells cannot use glucose for energy, and the sugar level in the blood rises. Energy is recovered instead from fat and protein, which causes waste products that can cause diabetic coma and attacks on vital organs.

Today, diabetes is treated with daily insulin injections, or by using an insulin pump. This requires continuous measurement of blood sugar levels, as incorrect doses of insulin entails risks and can be life-threatening. It is not easy to live with diabetes.

An alternative treatment, which is still at the research stage, is to generate new insulin-producing cells using human embryonic stem cells. The insulin-producing cells detect blood sugar levels and regulate the secretion of insulin. In order not to be attacked by the immune system, the transplanted cells are encapsulated in a protective material. It may become easier to live with diabetes.

But research alone doesn’t treat diabetes. Encapsulated insulin-producing cells need to be produced and made available also to patients; not only to research participants.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Mitochondrial replacement. New findings on mitochondrial DNA call into question further advances

On 6th July this year, investigators at the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid published an article in Nature (read HERE), in which they showed that mice bred so that their nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) derive from different strains tend to age with better health than mice whose nuclear and mtDNA correspond ancestrally.

Besides knowing that mtDNA is involved in obtaining cell energy, very little is known about the effect that it might have on the characteristics of organisms. This lack of knowledge has been used to claim that mtDNA has no function but this, an argument exploited to support the advance of mitochondrial replacement techniques, despite the ethical concerns that they raise.

This study shows that the mtDNA variant in the individual has a great effect on its interaction with the nuclear DNA, which in turn affects the synthesis, functionality and half-life of the mitochondrial proteins, oxidative stress, insulin signalling, obesity and the parameters of aging (including telomere shortening and mitochondrial dysfunction), resulting in profound differences in longevity.

Bioethical valuation

Therefore, it does not seem prudent to continue moving forward in the application of mitochondrial replacement techniques in humans when there is still so much to discover about mtDNA, and more so when the intention is not to treat sick people, but to produce new individuals in vitro.

La entrada Mitochondrial replacement. New findings on mitochondrial DNA call into question further advances aparece primero en Observatorio de Bioética, UCV.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Creative Minds: The Worm Tissue-ome Teaches Developmental Biology for Us All

Caption: An adult Caenorhabditis elegans, 5 days
Credit: Coleen Murphy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

In the nearly 40 years since Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sydney Brenner proposed using a tiny, transparent soil worm called Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for biomedical research, C. elegans has become one of the most-studied organisms on the planet. Researchers have determined that C. elegans has exactly 959 cells, 302 of which are neurons. They have sequenced and annotated its genome, developed an impressive array of tools to study its DNA, and characterized the development of many of its tissues.

But what researchers still don’t know is exactly how all of these parts work together to coordinate this little worm’s response to changes in nutrition, environment, health status, and even the aging process. To learn more, 2015 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award winner Coleen Murphy of Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, has set out to analyze which genes are active, or transcribed, in each of the major tissues of adult C. elegans, building the framework for what’s been dubbed the C. elegans “tissue-ome.”

Although C. elegans and humans diverged from a common ancestor more than 300 million years ago, they share about 40 percent of their protein-coding DNA in common. These genetic similarities, along with the ease of manipulating the C. elegans genome and its relatively short life span, has made it a great system for unraveling the molecular mechanisms that underlie development, behavior, and aging in a multi-cellular organism.

However, researchers have run into difficulties when they’ve attempted to conduct cell-specific analyses of gene transcription in various types of C.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.