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05/21/2018

Medical Experts Blast U.S.C.’s Silence Over Gynecologist Scandal

The New York Times

For decades, allegations of misconduct dogged the primary gynecologist in the student health center at the University of Southern California. There were reports that he inappropriately touched students during pelvic exams and made sexual comments about their bodies.

Yet even after university officials suspended the doctor, George Tyndall, in 2016 and forced him to step down a year later, they did not report the accusations to the California Medical Board. When their internal investigation was complete, officials said that the findings were a personnel matter and that there was no legal obligation to notify the state oversight board, which investigates doctors accused of misconduct.

05/21/2018

It’s the Guns

The Atlantic

Americans of high-school age are 82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than 15- to 19-year-olds in the rest of the developed world.

05/18/2018

In Germany, controversial law gives Bavarian police new power to use DNA

Science

An estimated 30,000 people demonstrated in Munich, Germany, last week to protest a new Bavarian law giving police new powers.

05/18/2018

Creepy ‘brain in a bucket’ study spurs medical, ethical debates

NBC News

Three weeks ago, a Yale University neuroscientist, Nenad Sestan, explored the ethical implications of experiments using human brain tissue in an essay in the journal Nature. Then last week Sestan’s own brain research was splashed across tabloids under lurid headlines like “Yale experiment to reanimate dead brains promises ‘living hell’ for humans.”

05/17/2018

Why it’s hard to prove gender discrimination in science

Nature

To prove gender discrimination in court, plaintiffs must show that they were denied opportunities or rewards because of their gender. Harassment can also be a sign of discrimination when the people responsible are in positions of power. However, recognizing and remedying these problems in academia is challenging for reasons that are deeply entrenched in the culture of science, and in how institutions have long operated, say legal and social-science scholars.

05/16/2018

Judge tosses California law allowing life-ending drugs

ABC News

A California judge on Tuesday threw out a 2016 state law allowing the terminally ill to end their lives, ruling it was unconstitutionally approved by the Legislature. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia said lawmakers acted illegally in passing the law during a special session devoted to other topics, said lawyers for supporters and opponents. He did not address the legal issue of whether it was proper to allow people to take their own lives, and gave the state attorney general five days to appeal.

05/16/2018

At Google, ‘responsibility’ upstages new technology

Washington Post

In his keynote address on Tuesday, chief executive Sundar Pichai is expected to emphasize the theme of responsibility, the person said. Last year’s keynote was more focused on developments in artificial intelligence. The anticipated shift in tone at the event reflects increased public skepticism and scrutiny of the technology industry as it reckons with the negative consequences of how its products are used by billions of people.

05/16/2018

Is your pharmacist under a ‘gag rule’ about drug prices?

CNN

Independent pharmacist Ira Katz has been serving the eclectic community of Little Five Points in Atlanta for 37 years. But it wasn’t until Georgia passed a law last year banning “gag rules” that Katz could legally tell his patients they might save big bucks on their prescriptions if they paid cash or used a lower-priced generic. The gag rule was a clause in his contract with one of the pharmaceutical benefit managers, also known as PBMs, that manage most of our nation’s prescription drug programs.

05/15/2018

More evidence companies pay some doctors to prescribe opioids

NBC News

Perks such as payments, free meals and speaking fees may be strongly influencing some doctors to prescribe opioids, researchers reported Monday.

05/15/2018

Why Hemophilia Patients Could Pay $1.5 Million For Gene Therapy

Investor's Daily

BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (BMRN), Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) and UniQure(QURE) are racing to be the first to market with a gene therapy that treats hemophilia — a prospect that could offer revenue north of $1.5 million per patient, an analyst said Monday.

05/14/2018

Fewer African-Americans admitted to ICU for heart failure receive cardiologist care

Reuters

African-Americans have a higher risk of heart failure and are more likely to die from heart failure than other races, but they are less likely to receive advanced therapies for heart failure.

05/14/2018

As lab-grown meat advances, U.S. lawmakers call for regulation

Science

Lab-grown chicken, beef, and duck products are edging toward the U.S. market—despite enduring confusion about how they’ll be regulated. But language buried in a draft spending bill released by a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations panel this week suggests some lawmakers are eager to get rules in place. A one-sentence proposal in the bill would put the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in charge of regulating products made from the cells of livestock or poultry, and instructs the agency to issue rules about how it will oversee their manufacture and labeling.

05/11/2018

‘I saved them because I’m a superhero!’: 4-year-old donates bone marrow to his baby brothers

Washington Post

The 4-year-old boy fancied himself a real-life superhero, wearing a blue T-shirt with photographs of his 4-month-old twin brothers, who were born with a rare immunodeficiency disease. Michael’s little brothers —  Santino, “Sonny,” and Giovanni, “Gio” — needed a bone-marrow transplant, and when his parents told him that he was a donor match, Michael told them that he wanted to save his brothers and would give them some of his.

05/10/2018

Salmon spawn fierce debate over protecting endangered species, thanks to a single gene

Science

They concluded that the genetic change that produced spring-run Chinook occurred only once in the species’s history. And new data published on 29 April on bioRxiv show that in rivers where spring runs disappeared decades ago, less than 1% of the remaining fish carry a copy of the early migration version of the gene. The scarcity of that gene makes it very unlikely a spring run will reappear once lost.

05/09/2018

Which Anti-Depressant Is Right for You? Your DNA Can Shed Some Light

Washington Post

Genomics is coming to psychiatry, with some doctors using a gene test to figure out the most effective anti-depressant for a patient.

05/09/2018

In monkeys, researchers find possible biological marker of autism

STAT

Researchers have been left empty-handed so far in their quest to uncover some measurable biological signal that could be used to diagnose autism spectrum disorder, leaving clinicians to identify the condition just based on a child’s behavior. But on Wednesday, scientists reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine that a hormone that regulates blood pressure could be one of those signposts.

05/08/2018

Ebola outbreak declared in Democratic Republic of Congo

CNN

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, a rare and deadly disease, on Tuesday, the World Health Organization reported. The declaration came after laboratory results confirmed two cases of the disease in the province of Bikoro in the northwestern part of the country.

05/08/2018

How Orphan Drugs Became a Highly Profitable Industry

The Scientist

Government incentives, advances in technology, and an army of patient advocates have spun a successful market—but abuses of the system and exorbitant prices could cause a backlash.

05/07/2018

Families of Children with Rare Diseases Fuel Gene Therapy Research

The Scientist

It’s a compelling narrative: A parent learns that his or her child has a fatal disease with no cure, and, though not a scientist, embarks on a quest to find some treatment. Such stories have played out in the plotlines of films such as Lorenzo’s Oil and Extraordinary Measures, on national morning shows and local news segments, and on crowdfunding pages to drum up support for the cause.

05/04/2018

Up to 270 women may have died after England breast cancer screening failures

CNN

As many as 270 women in England may have died because they were not called for a final breast cancer screening, the British government disclosed on Wednesday. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced an independent inquiry into the failings, attributed to a computer algorithm error. An estimated 450,000 women failed to get a letter inviting them to their final screening, he said.

05/04/2018

Genome writing project aims to rally scientists around virus-proofing cells

Science

Launched in 2016 with the sprawling ambition to build large genomes, the synthetic biology initiative known as Genome Project–write (GP-write) is now, slowly, getting down to specifics. Ahead of a meeting today in Boston, GP-write’s leadership announced a plan to organize its international group of collaborators around a “community-wide project”: engineering cells to resist viral infection.

05/03/2018

Iowa lawmakers pass the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban — as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected

CNN

The Republican-led legislature in Iowa has passed a bill that, if signed into law, will become the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban: It forbids doctors from performing the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In many cases, that can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they’re expecting.

05/02/2018

The CEO Who Injected Himself With An Experimental Herpes Therapy Was Found Dead In A Sensory Deprivation Tank

Buzzfeed

Traywick, 28, was found in a spa in Northwest DC, according to police. Staff discovered him in a sensory deprivation flotation tank, according to his colleague Tristan Roberts.

His body was taken for an autopsy, and his cause of death was not immediately known. Their investigation is still ongoing, but the police say they don’t suspect foul play.

Traywick was the CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, a tiny, controversial biotech startup on a mission to speed up the process of getting potentially life-saving treatments to patients.

At a biohacker conference in Austin in early February, Traywick made himself a guinea pig, injecting his leg with a never-before-tested, non-FDA-approved, gene-altering herpes treatment made by the company.

05/02/2018

NIH seeks health data of 1 million people, with genetic privacy suddenly an issue

Washington Post

The National Institutes of Health on Tuesday announced the launch of its attempt to enroll 1 million people in a landmark research effort aimed at developing “personalized” methods of prevention, treatment and care for a wide variety of diseases. The “All of Us” recruitment effort begins Sunday with community events in seven sites around the country, where people will be encouraged to sign up for the mammoth research project.

05/01/2018

Federal appeals court hears CRISPR patent dispute

Science

Here’s a double-negative brain twister with potentially huge financial ramifications and a Nobel Prize resting on the answer: For an invention to be “nonobvious”—and therefore patentable in the United States—should there be no guarantee of success when researchers embark on experiments that lead to the invention? That mind-bending question was the centerpiece of a case heard today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., over the lucrative patent portfolio surrounding the revolutionary genome editor commonly known as CRISPR.

04/30/2018

Took an ancestry DNA test? You might be a ‘genetic informant’ unleashing secrets about your relatives

USA Today

You just wanted to find out if you were Portuguese or Spanish, but instead you found out you were related to a mass murderer. This is a reality in a world where the alleged Golden State Killer, now known as Joseph James DeAngelo, was arrested after DNA found at one of the killer’s crime scenes was checked against genetic profiles from genealogical websites that collect DNA samples.

04/27/2018

Flu virus finally sequenced in its native form

Nature

The genome of the flu virus has been fully sequenced in its native RNA form for the first time. Previously, all influenza genomes — as well as those of other viruses that store their genetic material as RNA — had been determined by copying the molecule into DNA. The native flu genome was generated using ‘nanopore’ sequencing technology, which reads RNA strands as they stream through a tiny molecular channel.

04/26/2018

Man’s second face transplant is a world first

CNN
Lantieri and his colleagues began Hamon’s second face transplantation on a Tuesday afternoon in January, and the surgery ended in the early morning of the following day. “I’m 43 years old, the donor was 22 years old, so I was 22 years old,” Hamon humorously told BFMTV of his procedure. Hamon underwent immunological therapy to lower the risk of rejecting the second transplant. He also received psychological support and speech therapy, which will continue for many months.

04/25/2018

British toddler Alfie Evans not allowed to leave country, UK court says

CNN

Alfie, admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in December 2016, was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease associated with severe epilepsy and has been in a semivegetative state for more than a year. During that time, he has been kept alive by artificial ventilation in the critical care unit.

04/25/2018

FDA investigating unauthorized herpes vaccine research

CNN
Since 1995, Halford had been conducting and publishing research on the herpes simplex virus, for which he had received small grants from the National Institutes of Health. But the biology professor at Southern Illinois University had run out of time. Diagnosed in 2011 with sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, Halford knew that he might not be able to complete development of his vaccine and gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration before his life ended. In fact, when Halford died of cancer in June at the age of 48, his vaccine had not cleared all the regulatory hurdles necessary for a medical product to be approved for use in the US. Now, the FDA has launched a criminal investigation into Halford’s research practices, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.