Tag: Zika

Bioethics Blogs

Individually-randomized controlled trials of vaccines against the next outbreak

Guest Post: Nir Eyal, Marc Lipsitch

Paper: Vaccine testing for emerging infections: the case for individual randomisation 

The humbling experience of international response to Ebola taught the world a thing or two on preparing for Zika and for other emerging infections.

Some of those lessons pertain to vaccine development against emerging infections. One lesson was that vigorous vaccine development should start long in advance of outbreaks. CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, was recently launched with an initial investment of half a billion US dollars from the Gates Foundation, Britain’s Wellcome Trust and the governments of Japan, Norway and Germany. There is also growing recognition that best practices on vaccine testing should be developed prior to outbreaks, from a study methodology viewpoint.

By contrast, in Zika, ethical guidelines on response in general and on an aspect of vaccine testing were created only once the pandemic erupted. Shouldn’t ethical disputes, e.g. on trial design for vaccine candidates, be ironed out in advance of emerging infections?

One persistent ethical question in vaccine testing pertains to individually-randomized control in efficacy trials. At the height of the 2014-5 Ebola outbreak, individually-randomized controlled trials were much maligned. Our paper at the Journal of Medical Ethics sets out to defend that approach for vaccine efficacy testing in emerging infections, including highly fatal and untreatable ones in developing countries.

Nearly everyone agrees that scientifically, individually-randomized controlled trials are the gold standard of clinical research. But during the Ebola outbreak, ethicists, leaders, and humanitarian workers opposed them. For testing vaccine against a highly fatal infection without approved drugs or vaccines, they deemed these designs unethical.

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

Jeff Kahn on WYPR Midday

 

Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH,  Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, appears regularly on WYPR’s Midday show with Tom Hall to discuss pressing ethics issues related to current scientific and technological advances.

 

His next appearance will be Wednesday, April 5th at noon. (Listen live online) Prof. Kahn and Tom Hall will discuss the case of Henrietta Lacks, the poor black tobacco farmer who died of cancer in 1951, and whose cancer cells were taken for research without her or her family’s permission – Ms. Lacks is also the subject of a new film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, debuting on HBO Saturday, April 22nd at 8pm

 

Here is an archive of Prof. Kahn’s appearances on Midday with Tom Hall:

 


New Report Sets Guidelines for Genome Editing

February 15, 2017

Genome editing, that is the ability to make additions, deletions, and alterations to the genome of a human or animal, is not a new. Scientists have been experimenting with it in labs for a while to better understand the way some diseases and disabilities work. But now a new report released yesterday from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine sets international guidelines for genome editing. New editing tools like CRISPR have opened up the doors for more lab and clinical research projects. The scientists behind the report hope their guidelines will serve as a roadmap to help other scientists avoid the ethical concerns associated with gene editing.

 

Bioethics With Dr.

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

Why Didn’t Zika Cause A Surge In Microcephaly In 2016?

Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil’s summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases. But that never happened

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

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

The Game-Changing Technique That Cracked the Zika-Mosquito Genome

“Hi-C” will make it much easier and cheaper to assemble all of an organism’s genetic material from scratch

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

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

Living With Zika In Puerto Rico Means Watching, Waiting And Fearing Judgment

Micaela Delgado is a beautiful dark-eyed baby girl with a ready smile. She’s eight months old. She’s one of more than 1,000 babies already born in Puerto Rico to mothers with Zika

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

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

The First Cut is the Deepest

March 23, 2017

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Chair, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University & Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The First Cut is the Deepest

Last week, President Trump publicly unveiled his 2018 budget proposal. If left unchanged, that financial blueprint would increase US federal defense spending by more than $50 billion, while also appropriating billions more to bolster immigration enforcement and build a 2,000 mile-long wall along the US border with Mexico. A self-proclaimed deficit hawk, the President would offset those increased expenditures will sharp cuts to the US Departments of State, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In sharp contrast to campaign trail promises to boost the economy, create jobs, and protect Americans at home and abroad, however, Trump’s 2018 budget is likely to do the exact opposite. Consider, for example, the proposal to cut nearly $6 billion from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Made up of 27 different institutions and centers, the NIH is the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world. Through the NIH or other funding agencies, the federal government supports almost half of all the biomedical research in the US. Private businesses support another quarter, and the remainder of biomedical research support comes from state governments and nonprofit organizations.

With an annual operating budget of $30 billion, the NIH provides training and support to thousands of scientists at its main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Moreover, through a system of extramural grants and cooperative agreements, the NIH provides financial support for research-related programs to over 2,600 institutions around the country, creating more than 300,000 full- and part-time jobs.

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

In Pausing Human Research On Zika, Medical Ethicists Acknowledge A Dark Past

This was the proposal: Deliberately infect a small group of consenting adults with the Zika virus to learn about the disease and speed up the search for a vaccine. The need is clear. Zika is an emerging global threat to public health. The disease can be devastating, especially for the babies of mothers who catch it while pregnant

Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

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

Five Ring Circus

In a mere 65 days, almost 10,000 athletes from 204 countries will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the start of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. An additional 500,000 spectators are expected to file into Rio’s athletic venues, walk its crowded streets, tour its famous monuments and seamy favelas, and frolic on its fabled beaches. Over a hundred thousand more – athletes, staff and tourists – will visit Rio the following month for the 2016 Paralympic Games. At the same time, we have the spread of a disease that remains unchecked, a mosquito-borne virus that is now epidemic in Brazil. Should current rates of transmission remain unchanged, we can predict that thousands of Olympic athletes and spectators will be infected with Zika. Given that it’s not a question of if but when Zika becomes a global crisis, will the World Health Organization (WHO) act responsibly and respond to protect the public health?

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Source: The Bioethics Program Blog, by Union Graduate College & The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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

Placenta More Vulnerable to Zika in Early Pregnancy

March 14, 2017

(SciDevNet) – The placenta — an organ responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the foetus — is much more vulnerable to Zika infection in the first trimester of pregnancy, and this explains why the congenital damage caused by the virus is more serious in the early stages of a child’s prenatal development, according to a study. The researchers, who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (February 13), used reprogrammed embryonic stem cells to reproduce cells of the human placenta in the first trimester of gestation.

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

Doctors Tie Zika Virus to Heart Problems in Some Adults

March 9, 2017

(ABC News) – For the first time, doctors have tied infection with the Zika virus to possible new heart problems in adults. The evidence so far is only in eight people in Venezuela, and is not enough to prove a link. It’s also too soon to know how often this might be happening. The biggest trouble the mosquito-borne virus has been causing is for pregnant women and their fetuses.

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.