355 research outputs found

    Ethics in genetic counselling

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    Difficult ethical issues arise for patients and professionals in medical genetics, and often relate to the patient’s family or their social context. Tackling these issues requires sensitivity to nuances of communication and a commitment to clarity and consistency. It also benefits from an awareness of different approaches to ethical theory. Many of the ethical problems encountered in genetics relate to tensions between the wishes or interests of different people, sometimes even people who do not (yet) exist or exist as embryos, either in an established pregnancy or in vitro. Concern for the long-term welfare of a child or young person, or possible future children, or for other members of the family, may lead to tensions felt by the patient (client) in genetic counselling. Differences in perspective may also arise between the patient and professional when the latter recommends disclosure of information to relatives and the patient finds that too difficult, or when the professional considers the genetic testing of a child, sought by parents, to be inappropriate. The expectations of a patient’s community may also lead to the differences in perspective between patient and counsellor. Recent developments of genetic technology permit genome-wide investigations. These have generated additional and more complex data that amplify and exacerbate some pre-existing ethical problems, including those presented by incidental (additional sought and secondary) findings and the recognition of variants currently of uncertain significance, so that reports of genomic investigations may often be provisional rather than definitive. Experience is being gained with these problems but substantial challenges are likely to persist in the long term.Peer reviewe

    For your interest?:The ethical acceptability of using non-invasive prenatal testing to test 'purely for information'

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    Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is an emerging form of prenatal genetic testing that provides information about the genetic constitution of a foetus without the risk of pregnancy loss as a direct result of the test procedure. As with other prenatal tests, NIPT can help to make a decision about termination of pregnancy, plan contingencies for birth or prepare to raise a child with a genetic condition. NIPT can also be used by women and couples to test purely ‘for information’. Here, no particular action is envisaged following the test; it is instead entirely motivated by an interest in the result. The fact that NIPT can be performed without posing a risk to the pregnancy could give rise to an increase in such requests. In this paper, we examine the ethical aspects of using NIPT ‘purely for information,’ including the competing interests of the prospective parents and the future child, and the acceptability of testing for ‘frivolous’ reasons. Drawing on several clinical scenarios, we claim that arguments about testing children for genetic conditions are relevant to this debate. In addition, we raise ethical concerns over the potential for objectification of the child. We conclude that, in most cases, using NIPT to test for adult-onset conditions, carrier status or non-serious traits presenting in childhood would be unacceptable

    The generation of an induced pluripotent stem cell line (DCGi001-A) from an individual with FOXG1 syndrome carrying the c.460dupG (p.Glu154fs) variation in the FOXG1 gene

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    FOXG1 syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in the FOXG1 gene. Here, an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line was generated from human dermal fibroblasts of an individual with the c.490dupG (p.Glu154fs) mutation in the FOXG1 gene. Fibroblasts were reprogrammed using non-integrating episomal plasmids and pluripotency marker expression was confirmed by both immunocytochemistry and quantitative PCR in the resultant iPSC line. There were no karyotypic abnormalities and the cell line successfully differentiated into all three germ layers. This cell line may prove useful in the study of the pathogenic mechanisms that underpin FOXG1 syndrome

    Between responsibility and desire: Accounts of reproductive decisions from those at risk for or affected by late-onset neurological diseases

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    This paper explores ways in which genetic risk foregrounds forms of responsibility while dealing with reproduction. We analyzed individual and family semi-structured interviews (n = 35) with people at-risk for or affected by transthyretin-related familial amyloid polyneuropathy (TTR-FAP) and Machado-Joseph disease (MJD), which are late-onset neurological diseases. Although generally considered as rare diseases, some areas in Portugal present the world's highest frequency for MJD and TTR-FAP. Thematic analysis of the data revealed that participants drew on various – sometimes ambivalent and competing – understandings of their genetic risk and their wish to have children. Some participants perceived the avoidance of genetic risk to be responsible behavior, while, for others, responsibility entailed accepting risks because they prioritized values such as parenthood, family relationships and the value of life, above any question of genetic disease. Some participants shared accounts that were fraught with ambivalence, repentance and guilt, especially when children were born before participants knew of their own or their partner's risk. Participants’ accounts also showed they make continued efforts to see themselves as responsible persons and to appear responsible in the eyes of others. We discuss findings in the context of participants’ negotiation between genetic risk and their sense of responsibility toward themselves and others; we conclude that “genetic responsibility” is present not only in accounts of those who chose not to have children but also in those who make an informed decision to have at-risk children

    Healthcare leadership with political astuteness (HeLPA): a qualitative study of how service leaders understand and mediate the informal ‘power and politics’ of major health system change

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    Background: The implementation of strategic health system change is often complicated by the informal politics and power of health systems, such as competing interests and resistant groups. Evidence from other industries shows that strategic leaders need to be aware of and manage such ‘organisational politics’ when implementing change, which involves developing and using forms of political ‘skill’, ‘savvy’ or ‘astuteness’. The purpose of this study is to investigate the acquisition, use and contribution of political ‘astuteness’ in the implementation of strategic health system change. Methods: The qualitative study comprises four linked work packages. First, we will complete a systematic ‘review of reviews’ on the topic of political skill and astuteness, and related social science concepts, which will be used to then review the existing health services research literature to identify exemplars of political astuteness in health care systems. Second, we will carry out semi-structured biographical interviews with regional and national service leaders, and recent recipients of leadership training, to understand their acquisition and use of political astuteness. Third, we will carry out in-depth ethnographic research looking at the utilisation and contribution of political astuteness in three contemporary examples of strategic health system change. Finally, we will explore and discuss the study findings through a series of co-production workshops to inform the development and testing of new learning resources and materials for future NHS leaders. Discussion: The research will produce evidence about the relatively under-researched contribution that political skill and astuteness makes in the implementation of strategic health system change. It intends to offer new understanding of these skills and capabilities that takes greater account of the wider social, cultural organisational landscape, and offers tangible lessons and case examples for service leaders. The study will inform future learning materials and processes, and create spaces for future leaders to reflect upon their political astuteness in a constructive and development way

    Effect in supralethally irradiated rats of granulocyte colony- stimulating factor and lisofylline on hematopoietic reconstitution by syngeneic bone marrow or whole organ passenger leukocytes

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    We have previously shown the existence of migratory hematopoietic stem cells in adult solid organs. This study demonstrates that granulocyte colony- stimulating factor (G-CSF) and lisofylline, a phosphatidic acid inhibitor that suppresses hematopoiesis-inhibiting cytokines, can enhance the engraftment of organ-based hematopoietic stem cells. When syngeneic heart grafts or liver nonparenchymal cells were transplanted into lethally irradiated (9.5 Gy) Lewis rats, complete hematopoietic reconstitution and animal survival were significantly improved by treating the recipient with G- CSF or, to a lesser extent, with lisofylline. Pretreatment of hepatic nonparenchymal cell donors with G-CSF, but not lisofylline, also resulted in striking improvement of recipient survival which was associated with an augmented subpopulation of donor stem cells. The results suggest that these drugs can be used to enhance the chimerism that we postulate to be the basis of organ allograft acceptance

    Recontacting in clinical practice: an investigation of the views of healthcare professionals and clinical scientists in the United Kingdom

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    This article explores the views and experiences of healthcare professionals and clinical scientists in genetics about the existence of a duty and/or responsibility to recontact former patients when the genetic information relevant to their health, or that of family members, changes in a potentially important manner. It is based on N=30 semi-structured interviews guided by vignettes of recontacting scenarios. The sample included healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom from different medical specialties (clinical genetics, other ‘mainstream’ specialties now offering genetic testing), and scientists from regional genetics laboratories. While viewing recontacting as desirable under certain circumstances, most respondents expressed concerns about its feasibility within the current constraints of the National Health Service (NHS). The main barriers identified were insufficient resources (time, staff, and suitable IT infrastructures) and lack of clarity about role boundaries and responsibilities. All of these are further complicated by genetic testing being increasingly offered by mainstream specialties. Reaching a consensus about roles and responsibilities of clinical specialties with regard to recontacting former patients in the light of evolving genetic information, and about what resources and infrastructures would be needed, was generally seen as a pre-requisite to developing guidelines about recontact

    A case-note review of continued pregnancies found to be at a high risk of Huntington's disease: considerations for clinical practice

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    Huntington’s disease (HD) is a severe neurodegenerative condition that impacts the whole family. Prenatal diagnosis by direct or exclusion testing is available for couples at risk of transmitting HD to their children. An ethical problem can arise after prenatal diagnosis for HD if a known ‘high risk’ pregnancy is continued to term: international guidelines emphasise that this situation should be avoided where possible, as it removes the resulting child’s future right to make an informed, autonomous decision about predictive testing. The UK Huntington’s Disease Predictive Testing Consortium recorded 21 pregnancies that were tested, identified as high-risk and then continued. In this qualitative study, health professionals reviewed the case notes of 15 of these pregnancies. This analysis generated guidelines for clinical practice. It is recommended that practitioners: (i) remind couples of the long-term consequences of continuing a high risk pregnancy, (ii) ensure couples understand the information provided, (iii) collaborate closely with other professionals involved in the couple’s prenatal care, (iv) prepare couples for the procedural aspects of prenatal diagnosis and a possible termination of pregnancy, (v) allow time for in-depth pre-test counselling, (vi) explain the rationale for only making prenatal diagnosis available subject to conditions, whilst allowing for human ambivalence and acknowledging that these ‘conditions' cannot be enforced, (vii) monitor the whole clinical process to ensure that it works ‘smoothly', (viii) recommend couples do not disclose the result of the prenatal test to protect the confidentiality and autonomy of the future ‘high-risk' child, and (ix) offer on-going contact and support

    “Attending to History” in Major System Change in Healthcare in England: Specialist Cancer Surgery Service Reconfiguration

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    BACKGROUND: The reconfiguration of specialist hospital services, with service provision concentrated in a reduced number of sites, is one example of major system change (MSC) for which there is evidence of improved patient outcomes. This paper explores the reconfiguration of specialist oesophago-gastric (OG) cancer surgery services in a large urban area of England (Greater Manchester, GM), with a focus on the role of history in this change process and how reconfiguration was achieved after previous failed attempts. METHODS: This study draws on qualitative research from a mixed-methods evaluation of the reconfiguration of specialist cancer surgery services in GM. Forty-six interviews with relevant stakeholders were carried out, along with ~160 hours of observations at meetings and the acquisition of ~300 pertinent documents. Thematic analysis using deductive and inductive approaches was undertaken, guided by a framework of 'simple rules' for MSC. RESULTS: Through an awareness of, and attention to, history, leaders developed a change process which took into account previous unsuccessful reconfiguration attempts, enabling them to reduce the impact of potentially challenging issues. Interviewees described attending to issues involving competition between provider sites, change leadership, engagement with stakeholders, and the need for a process of change resilient to challenge. CONCLUSION: Recognition of, and response to, history, using a range of perspectives, enabled this reconfiguration. Particularly important was the way in which history influenced and informed other aspects of the change process and the influence of stakeholder power. This study provides further learning about MSC and the need for a range of perspectives to enable understanding. It shows how learning from history can be used to enable successful change

    'Sifting the significance from the data' - the impact of high-throughput genomic technologies on human genetics and health care.

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    This report is of a round-table discussion held in Cardiff in September 2009 for Cesagen, a research centre within the Genomics Network of the UK's Economic and Social Research Council. The meeting was arranged to explore ideas as to the likely future course of human genomics. The achievements of genomics research were reviewed, and the likely constraints on the pace of future progress were explored. New knowledge is transforming biology and our understanding of evolution and human disease. The difficulties we face now concern the interpretation rather than the generation of new sequence data. Our understanding of gene-environment interaction is held back by our current primitive tools for measuring environmental factors, and in addition, there may be fundamental constraints on what can be known about these complex interactions.RIGHTS : This article is licensed under the BioMed Central licence at http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/license which is similar to the 'Creative Commons Attribution Licence'. In brief you may : copy, distribute, and display the work; make derivative works; or make commercial use of the work - under the following conditions: the original author must be given credit; for any reuse or distribution, it must be made clear to others what the license terms of this work are