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June 28, 2019

Who Owns Your Body Parts? by Kerry Howley


Who Owns Your Body Parts? by Kerry Howley
Organ transplantation as a treatment for severe patients is of great social importance since it can not only prolong life, but also ensure its higher quality. The most common type of human tissues transplantation is removal of organs and (or) tissues from a dead body. However, this type of transplantation also creates the great variety of issues, the most important of which is the appearance of money problem, i.e. the unfair allocation of finances in the donor-intermediary-recipient chain. In 2007, Kerry Howley in her article Who Owns Your Body? presented a comprehensive research on where from and where to the transplantation industry money goes, and what the donors (or their relatives) get from the tissue donation. The results were astonishing the donors in most cases receive nothing. Here, the real problem is that the donors relatives are blinded by their grief and funeral-related problems to such an extent that they forget to pay proper attention to the financial side of the donation, as well as to follow the destination of the tissue.
Howley did a great job studying the economic side of tissue donation. She tells a story of Alistair Cooke body, which was dissected for bones removal for the transplantation purposes. Obviously, bone tissue was removed illegally, without the recipient (his daughter, in this case) permission. The author claims that Cookes case is not nearly unique. The funeral business of removing body tissues and even utilizing the whole bodies has very furcate structure. Michael Mastromarino, who is to be blamed in this case, sold the Cookes bone to biotech industry companies that earn fortunes from every corpse coming into their hands. In fact, Mastomatino played a tiny role in the human tissue market. It is a multibillion industry involving both huge biotechnical companies and laboratories and funeral industries all over the world.
The Cookes story was only a trigger point for an international scandal. The fact the human tissues are used for bioengineering primarily undercover, i.e. without the recipients permission, opened a financial side of the question. Usually, the donor does not know where to his/her tissues are going. Indeed, one will doubt to give an organ to transform it into someones enlarged lips or the piece of synthetic skin for phalloplasty. In addition, the big concern is that the human body will become only the set of spare parts if the recipient will know the price of this or that tissue. That is why modern legislation carefully regulates the matter even changing the economic language of transplantation market. Meanwhile, the market is growing, and profits are rising.
The point raised by Howley is of especial importance nowadays. From the time the article was written, the transplantation market had only grown, and the issue of financial gain from tissue removal became even more acute. Problems of transplantation, as the fight against organized crime, drugs, or terrorism, are beyond one state. Transplantation becomes the sphere of international cooperation and is of interest for international organizations. It is true especially concerning the issue of dead body usage for bioengineering purposes. The main problem here is that the relatives are not even informed that some tissues are removed from their family member's body. However, in someone's nursing home essay I have seen this information.
Perhaps, what really surprises is the answer of authorities. The first rule of the tissue market is don't talk about the tissue market. In other words, they do not want to face the fact that tissue market exists beyond the desired boundaries and prefer to change names than really regulate it. Obviously, changing names in the tissue industry does partly help the relatives to overcome the grief and console themselves after the loss. On the other side, renaming does not change the essence of the matter. Using human tissues for marketing does exist, and some steps should be taken towards its regulation. It is obvious that existing legislation is not able to cope with expanding financial empire of human tissue use for bioengineering.
The other side of this coin is that knowing the prices and destinations may lead to uncontrolled consequences. For example, Howley claims, many bioethicists worry that payment will create a two-tiered system, in which the bodies of the poor are repurposed to serve the rich, and she is right. Knowing the price for the body parts may become the only way for the poor to earn money. It is much easier to sell a kidney (knowing that a person can live with one) or skin for a huge sum of money than to work hard and earn scantily. Knowing that the majority of tissues turn into cosmetics and other commercialized spheres and being familiar with the prices, the sold tissues by poor people would become the raw material or spare parts for the rich.
In conclusion, speaking about the whole industry of tissue transplantation it is clear that the purpose of its creation was positive and no one can deny that tissue donation has saved and is saving many lives and served as research material, helping scientists to make steps towards the treatment of complex diseases. On the other side, as many things in the modern world, the initial useful purpose turned into an instrument to earn money. Hiding behind the noble purpose of tissue donation, they make money on dead people and their relatives, infringing their rights and limiting their freedom of choice. Kerry Howley exemplified only one case of illegal tissue usage. However, the schemes employed in tissue market are far more complicated and, unfortunately, involve great variety of people that are related to the medicine in this or that way.
Posted by      Lilia R. at 5:30 AM MDT
Tags: research
displaying most recent comments (1 ommitted) | Comments (4)
  Hayat Abeer  says:
There are 8 organs that can be given: the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, pancreas and small digestive tract. Your tissues can likewise improve the Dubai experts plumber personal satisfaction for some evil individuals; the tissues you can give are your skin, corneas, bone tissue including ligaments and ligament, heart valves and veins.
Posted on Sun, 7 Jul 2019 2:47 AM MDT by Hayat A.
  Anthony Anson  says:
I got very useful information about the Living-Donor Donation when I asked to write my assignment by AssignmentAce for the biology topic. One single organ can save or improve more than eight lives. Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of medical history, race or age. He or she may be at least of 18 years and have a blood type compatible with the receiverÔ??s blood type.
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December 5, 2011

What will they think of next?


Who knew? In the 1960's up until the 1970's ablative stereotactic surgery was used to treat neurologic disorders and neuropsychiatric illness. This treatment was largely abandoned after the 70's due to the development of highly effective drugs to treat these problems, for example, "Levodopa" to combat Parkinson's disorder. Today there seems to be a virtual renaissance of similar techniques used to help those suffering.

The technique being employed uses high-frequency electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) on specific targets to negate some disorders. Compared to the traditional ablative stereotactic surgery, which consists of lesions and very invasive brain surgery (irreversible), DBS is much less invasive in some respects. By applying high-frequency electrical stimulation to specific brain structures a similar (but different) effect of a lesion is essentially observed. Ever since this technique's rise in popularity (starting in the 1990's) people have the option of a "less permanent". These electrical pulses are delivered by electrodes chronically implanted into a persons brain at specific regions. The exact mechanism of action for DBS still isn't fully understood and clear, but the affects and benefits to patients are both lasting and clear.

Some of the diseases mentioned in the article include Parkinson's, Tourettes syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. Patients receiving DBS to treat Tourettes syndrome had a >70% decrease of vocal or motor tics with disappearance of sensory urges. 35-70% of patients receiving DBS to treat OCD were benefitted by a significant reduction in obsessive and compulsive thoughts.

In my opinion, and it seems to be the case with most neurosurgical operations, DBS is the latest and greatest treatment available. Anytime patients can avoid a permanent/irreversible effect such as a lesion the better. My reasoning behind is vast. For example if a patient is suffering from body dissociation disorder and doesn't identify with their right arm and right leg and wants to have these two limbs removed. This persons could amputate these limbs without fully understanding the long term consequences involved or even without any benefit mentally. Or perhaps, the doctor could try a different technique, such as lesioning a brain region located using fMRI thought to be triggering body dissociation disorder. There is a chance the lesion might not properly treat the disorder or not treat it at all. Also the lesion may impair the individual in a more negative way in the long run, and since lesions are practically irreversible, the person is worse off. If DBS was used (tmi could be used as a pre-emptive mapping tool) the patient could be treated for their disorder in a non permanent way and avoid negative, unforeseen, long term issues.

I'm not entirely sure how invasive DBS is but the article made it out to be much less invasive as previous surgeries. Which to me makes sense since over time medical practices should become more and more efficient. Something haunts me about the fact little is truly known and fully understood about DBS and TMI. Little red flags go up in my head every time that fact is mentioned. Whether or not it is effective and beneficial I would prefer to know exactly why it is effective and beneficial before doctors implanted electrodes in my brain to deliver pulses of high-frequency electricity. This honestly sounds like something out of a science fiction story but the real freaky part is it seems to actually work. The big question is: Would you ever have DBS performed on yourself? My answer is yes.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089662730600729X
Posted by      Dylan R. at 5:42 PM MST
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Optimism: Is too much a bad thing?


We've all been told at one point or another in our lives to look on the brighter side of a given situation. Most of the time we do because the brighter side brings some sort of happiness and therefore when look on the brighter side of a situation, it helps us by easing the negative feeling we have towards that situation. And so by looking on the brighter side, we keep ourselves positive and our stress levels down a bit. But how can you still be optimistic even though there is information that goes against what you believe? As I go through the article, How unrealistic optimism is maintained in the face of reality, I will hopefully answer this question.
In this article, Sharot et. al. tries to explain why it is that some of us are so optimistic and could it be a bad thing? The article focuses on the events in which people do not take the necessary precaution they need to in order to protect themselves, that being the underestimation of future negative events, and why they were adamant about not changing (Sharot et. al.). So the way the experiment was conducted was Sharot et. al. took participants and told them to estimate the probability that an event would happen to them and then measured their brain activity. There was a total of eighty events that were "tested" all of which were adverse life events such as house hold accident, adultery, owing a large amount of debt, etc. They then combined a learning task with fMRI. This allowed Sharot et. al. to identify how blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals track estimation error in response to whether the information given lead to optimism or pessimism (Sharot et. al). To determine estimation error, they used the equation: estimation error = estimation - probability presented. They also used questionnaires to see if people changed their beliefs of an event based off of some kind of emotional arousal, how bad an event is, if they were familiar with the event, or if they have encountered such an event before.
Their results were that there was this region of the brain, right inferior frontal gyrus, in which showed a reduction for neural coding of undesirable error regarding the future for people who were optimistic. They also found that the reason there was this asymmetry in people changing their beliefs was due to a reduced expression of an error signal in the region implicated in processing undesirable error regarding the future (Sharot et. al.). The questionnaire that was administered showed that people didn't change their beliefs due to the severity of the event, if it is familiar or not, or if they have encountered it or not. The BOLD signal tracking showed that people with the largest optimistic update bias failed to show any undesirable error meaning the relationship between undesirable error and BOLD signaling was close to zero, where as people who did not show a selective updating in belief showed a strong relationship between undesirable error and BOLD signaling.
So it didn't matter whether how bad the future event was going to be, whether it was familiar or not, or if it has been encountered before but due a lack of not being able to code and process this undesirable error regarding the future. So really being optimistic or being optimistic even after information has disproved your belief isn't in your absolute control because if your brain fails to code and process it you can't really do much about it. Though you possibly could in theory but that raises questions for another time.

Sharot, Tali, Christoph W. Korn, and Raymond J. Dolan. "How Unrealistic Optimism Is Maintained in the Face of Reality." Nature Neuroscience. Nature America, Inc., 9 Oct. 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2011. .
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Why Keep A Promise?


It is interesting to see the importance humans place on a promise. A promise is not visible or tangible yet it still seems to have a strong, compulsory quality to it. Why is that? The truth of the matter is humans have the exceptional capacity to establish social norms and create understood cooperation among each other that is not seen elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Before society's infrastructure of rules and laws existed, promises were still made as a way to ensure trust, teamwork and partnership. Furthermore and perhaps the most intriguing aspect of a promise is that it is a verbal, nonbinding agreement. Yet despite the lack of concrete liability we still make promises every day.

Some research looking into the systems of the brain involved in nonbinding agreements has been done but there are still more questions than answers regarding of this topic. Using promises as a premise for research opens a unique door because promises can either be kept or broken. They can be made for many reasons but there are two justifications for keeping a promise. The first is to ensure future trust and cooperation and is referred to as an instrumental reason. The second rational is because it is the right thing to do and is called the intrinsic reason. The study in this paper focuses on the latter of these two explanations.

Each trial of the experiment had two subjects, a trustee and an investor. The trustee's brain activity was measured. First the trustee promises the investor to always, mostly, sometimes, or never keep their promise. In this study to be trustworthy means sharing the money made equally. The investor could choose to invest or not and then the trustee could choose to keep or break their promise to share the money. The trustee could choose both the strength of their promise and whether or not to keep their promise. These freedoms of choice led to two main groups of trustee subjects: both groups almost unanimously promised to "always" keep their promise but when it came to keeping the promise the subjects split into either the group who honored their promise or who was dishonest.

This study was the first to create a design looking at three different processes that play a role in promises. The first stage is the promise stage where the promise is made, then there is what is called the anticipation stage while they wait for the commitment of the investor, and finally the decision stage where the promise is either kept or broken. Researchers could differentiate subjects who will keep their promise and who will break it by brain activity during the promise stage, when the deceitful act is already planned.

This study found that all stages of the paradigm revealed different, highly specific activation patterns in the brain. The promise stage is where the dishonest act may be already planned but not yet implemented and researchers hypothesize if the subject already plans to break a promise, this misleading gesture will induce an emotional conflict. This emotional clash shows activity in parts of brain involved in conflict and negative emotional process such as the anterior cingulated cortex or amygdala. The anticipation stage showed parallels in brain activity to personality traits such as depression and neuroticism, both of which are associated with negative expectations of the future. When the subject had to decide to keep or break the promise, breaking the promise showed similar brain activity to the emotional process of telling a lie and the guilt that that involves. This study showed plausible evidence tying nonbinding agreements to emotional and logical processes of the brain. This evidence is critical in explaining why humans value and venerate the simple idea of a promise.



Baumgartner, Thomas, Urs Fischbacher, Anja Feierabend, Kai Lutz, and Ernsty Fehr. "Broken Promises." Neuron 64.5 (2009): 756+. Science Direct. Elsevier Inc, 10 Dec. 2009. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. .
Posted by      Bethany B. at 10:48 AM MST
  Sarah Bennet  says:
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Posted on Wed, 3 Jul 2019 3:34 AM MDT by Sarah B.

December 4, 2011

Neuropsychiatric Disorder Models: Improvement Needed!


Neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder are serious health problems. They have substantial negative affects on a significant subset of the population and are still largely not understood. While the molecular targets of many psychotherapeutic drugs have been successfully reverse engineered, this was done in the 1960's. Despite ongoing efforts to further understand these disorders, little progress has been made since then. This raises the question: why? Two scientists, Eric J Nestler and Steven E Hyman have published an article in the journal Nature Neuroscience seeking to find a solution to this. In their paper, Animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders, they claim that the primary thing holding back research in the field is the difficulty of creating animal models of human psychiatric diagnoses. The authors then seek to contribute to the field by doing an analysis of the currently used models and discussing which ones are most likely to be valid and productive.

It can be very difficult to translate between animal and human thoughts and feelings. Whenever one does so they risk unfairly anthropomorphizing. Since animals are incapable of reporting their feelings researchers need to find round-about ways to determine what is actually going on within an animal's head. The typical methodology then used to study animal behavior and use it as a proxy for mental activity. However for most of the neuropsychiatric disorders that are professionally addressed what constitutes a legitimate disorder is not clearly separated from what constitutes normal variation. Furthermore, the same neuropsychiatric diagnose can be proscribed to two completely different sets of symptoms. This leaves researchers in a position where they must decide for themselves what constitutes a legitimate disorder, how to define it, and the subsequently how it can be represented in behavioral models.

In order to usefully discuss the efficacy of studies relating to these neuropsychiatric disorders, the authors of the article referred to a framework for validating studies with the components construct, face and predictive validity. Construct validity is a measure of how well a model's construction is relevant to a disease. Face validity is a measure of how well a model reiterates the physical and behavioral features of a human disease. Predictive validity is a measure of how well a model's response to treatments compares to patients actual responses to these same treatments.

The article then discusses different things that can be modeled in schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder and the validities of potential models. For schizophrenia, it is stated that blunted affect, asocial behavior, diminished motivation and deficits in working memory and/or conscious control of behavior are all symptoms that a behavioral model should seek to measure. The article claims that a good way to creat constructively valid models is to use genetic animal models with highly penetrant human mutations, although it doesn't consider these models to be perfect. It also states that a good (but not sufficient on its own) measure of face validity is a deficit in prepulse inhibition (PPI) of a phenomenon where weak starting stimuli reduce a startle response produced by a following more intense stimulus.

For depression it's stated that neurovegetative symptoms such as abnormalities in sleep, appetite, weight and energy along with psychomotor agitation or retardation are all potential indicators. With the caveat that no abnormality has proven sufficiently robust or consistent enough to validate an animal model the paper claims that chornic social defeat stresses along with chronic mild and chronic unpredictable stress are all capable of inducing states of depression which have some face value. These methodologies are criticized however as potentially setting off an anxiety disorder with similar symptoms instead of modeling depression. The authors suggest that measures of other homeostatic symptoms such as alterations in sleep, circadian rhythms and feeding with attendant metabolic parameters would strengthen claims of depression in animal models.

For bipolar disorder it's stated that the diagnosis comes from periods of mania with or without depression. The article states that transgenic mice have exhibited manic-like behavior when they were programmed to over express glycogen synthase kinase-3beta. These mutants are assesd to meet partial criteria for face validity along with predictive validity. However they failed to meet requirements for contruct validity. The article suggests that mania investigative studies use a broad range of behavioral tests and interpret their data cautiously.

Finally, the article listed some generalized recommendations towards researchers. These recommendations included listing the specific aspects of the illness meant to be model and stating the types of validators applied to the model. The researcher also noted that construct validity is most compelling of the different validities and that it's best to use a broad range of behavioral assays.

It's clear that research into these neuropsychiatric disorders still faces a great deal of hurdles, especially when it comes to assessing bipolar disorder. However, as this paper shows, there is constructive focus being brought to the forefront of this area. With genetic and technological advances combined applied to models with clearly stated rationales and sober discussion of validity significant progress can potentially be made in the field.
Posted by      Michael A. at 11:54 PM MST
  Michael Asnes  says:
Nestler, Eric J., and Steven E. Hyman. "Animal Models of Neuropsychiatric Disorders." Nature Neuroscience 13.10 (2010): 1161-169. Print.
Posted on Sun, 4 Dec 2011 11:54 PM MST by Michael A.




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