Archive for May 5th, 2009

It ain’t ova ’till it’s ova II

May 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Source: Nature, Washington Post

Just weeks after scientists blew up the dogma that new heart muscle cells can’t be generated after birth, other investigators have followed suit for the eggs of mammalian females.

IneedtomatenowA familiar tenet of reproductive medicine held that women were on a biological clock: they were born with a full complement of eggs that were gradually used up during reproductive years.

These losses, combined with alterations in hormone production, led to the loss of childbearing capacity by the late 50s.

Not so, say Ji Wu and colleagues from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, who have shown that adult female mice harbor stem cell-like cells in their ovaries that can be coaxed to become fully functional eggs.

“If you are looking to disprove that females cannot make new eggs, this paper proves it. This is the smoking gun,” Jonathan Tilly, a Harvard-based OB/GYN professor told the Washington Post.

The scientists removed ovaries from mice and isolated from them some cells that appeared to be germline stem cells.

They stimulated the cells to differentiate in petri dishes, labeled them with a fluorescent protein and injected them into the ovaries of mice that had been rendered infertile using chemotherapy drugs.

eggsthatglowinthedarkThese mice soon became proud mothers to offspring that glowed in the dark proving they had been conceived from the fluorescent labeled eggs.

The offspring were normal in every way, reported the authors in Nature.

The findings raise hope for women who need to delay childbearing or who are facing possible sterilization secondary to surgery or chemotherapy.

Yet some researchers remained cautious, “The aging process of the human egg differs fundamentally from that of the mouse egg,” said David Keefe, an OB/GYN professor at the University of South Florida.

“Except at Disney World, humans are not large mice,” he reminded the Post.

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Middle School Strip Search Case

May 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Source: Washington Post

Six years after Savana Redding was strip-searched by school officials in a frutiless hunt for Motrin (yes, Motrin), her case is going to the Supreme Court. Savana was 13 years old back then, an honor roll student with a spotless discipline record.

couldgoeitherwaySafford Middle School officials claim they had to take seriously all allegations of prescription drug misuse at the time, because in the previous school year a student almost died after ingesting such medication.

They also claim that on the day Redding was searched, another student was discovered to be in possession of prescription drugs that she claimed to have obtained from Redding.

Redding denies this.

Neither side disputes that Redding was strip searched. After a male Vice Principal searched Redding’s backpack, he instructed the girl to go to the nurse’s office with 2 female employees. These people told her to take off her shoes, socks, pants and T-shirt.

Then they asked her to move her bra around in a way that exposed her breasts, and pull upward on her underwear. The search turned up nothing.

She never returned to Safford Middle School — “I just couldn’t go back,” she told the Washington Post.

Earlier court rulings on the case have split down the middle. The first judge sided with the school, saying the search was justified in light of the accusations that had been made against Savana.  That finding was upheld by a divided 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit of the US Court of Appeals.

But these decisions were subsequently overruled by the full bench of the 9th Circuit, which found that the search violated the girl’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected later this spring.

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Pulling the Plug on Sprint Fidelis

May 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Source: NY Times

Eight months after an astute cardiologist discovered a potentially life-threatening problem involving cables that connected Medtronic’s Sprint Fidelis defibrillator to the heart, the medical device giant pulled the product off the market.

damnedcablewiresBy that time, five people had died and the toxic asset had been deposited into the bodies of 250,000 patients where they remain to this day.

Physicians are left to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to ride out the storm or risk a dangerous procedure to remove the cables.

The cables tend to crack causing the charge-box to either deliver shocks at inopportune times or fail to discharge at the moment of truth. Medtronic estimates a 5% cable failure rate at 45 months after implantation.

Cable extraction is dangerous because they end up becoming encased by fibrous overgrowth in the veins draining directly into the heart. The tricky dissection has already been associated with 4 deaths due to hemorrhage.

“We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Ohio State University cardiologist Charles Love told the New York Times.

The procedure is best performed by cardiologists skilled in such removals, but such experts are harder to find than a PCP in Boston.

Medtronic has so far been protected from lawsuits by a Supreme Court decision involving another device in which it was decided that device makers can’t be held liable for products that have been approved by the FDA, a decision that seems inconsistent with its findings in Wyeth v. Levine

Medtronic’s position is that the cables should be replaced only as a last resort. It covers the costs of replacement cables, but not the procedure which typically runs a cool 15 grand.

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