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New Peanut Allergy Drug Shows ‘Lifesaving’ Potential

The New York Times

Results from a new study may lead to approval of what could be the first drug that ameliorates potentially deadly reactions in children with severe peanut allergies.


When Hospitals Merge to Save Money, Patients Often Pay More

The New York Times

The mergers have essentially banished competition and raised prices for hospital admissions in most cases, according to an examination of 25 metropolitan areas with the highest rate of consolidation from 2010 through 2013, a peak period for mergers.


What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?

The New York Times

But as ubiquitous as the phenomenon is, and as plentiful the studies that demonstrate it, the placebo effect has yet to become part of the doctor’s standard armamentarium — and not only because it has a reputation as “fake medicine” doled out by the unscrupulous to the credulous. It also has, so far, resisted a full understanding, its mechanisms shrouded in mystery. Without a clear knowledge of how it works, doctors can’t know when to deploy it, or how.


F.D.A. Plans to Seek a Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

The New York Times

In a landmark move bound to further shake the tobacco industry, the Food and Drug Administration plans to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes next week as part of its aggressive campaign against flavored e-cigarettes and some tobacco products, agency officials said.


Genetics research ‘biased towards studying white Europeans’

The Guardian

People from minority ethnic backgrounds are set to lose out on medical benefits of genetics research due to an overwhelming bias towards studying white European populations, a leading scientist has warned.

Prof David Curtis, a geneticist and psychiatrist at University College London, has called on funding bodies to do more to address the emerging issue that genetic tests developed using samples from white Europeans can give meaningless results when applied to other ethnic groups. The problem could intensify as the clinical applications of genetics expand over the next decade.


A systematic literature review of individuals’ perspectives on privacy and genetic information in the United States


The picture of genetic privacy that emerges from this systematic literature review is complex and riddled with gaps. When asked specifically “are you worried about genetic privacy,” the general public, patients, and professionals frequently said yes. In many cases, however, that question was posed poorly or only in the most general terms. While many participants expressed concern that genomic and medical information would be revealed to others, respondents frequently seemed to conflate privacy, confidentiality, control, and security. People varied widely in how much control they wanted over the use of data.


23andMe’s genetic test for how you’ll react to medication is ahead of its time

The Verge

The doctor still isn’t supposed to suggest changing medication until they have you genetically tested again by an independent lab. “It seems to me that if a patient has an interest in their pharmacogenetic profile that could impact medication decisions, they’re probably better off just asking the physician about what testing can be done


Dogs Can Detect Malaria. How Useful Is That?

The New York Times

small pilot study has shown that dogs can accurately identify socks worn overnight by children infected with malaria parasites — even when the children had cases so mild that they were not feverish.


F.D.A. Approves Powerful New Opioid Despite Warnings of Likely Abuse

The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new form of an extremely potent opioid to manage acute pain in adults, weeks after the chairman of the advisory committee that reviewed it asked the agency to reject it on grounds that it would likely be abused.


In Congo’s Ebola Outbreak, Experimental Treatments Are Proving Effective

The New York Times

Effective treatments, combined with a new vaccine, may revolutionize efforts to turn back Ebola, one of the world’s deadliest plagues. The vaccine itself protects health care workers tending to patients, as well as family members and others who have been in contact with them and may be infected.


Was I part British, part Dutch, a little bit Jewish? The oddness of DNA tests.

The Washington Post

Companies such as Ancestry and National Geographic are taking a snapshot of various DNA markers, said Robert Green, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who serves as an adviser for Helix. From that snapshot comes a statistical inference, he said. In other words, “Given this pattern, it’s likely that you came from this region,” Green said. “But it’s not a certainty, and shouldn’t be read as a certainty.”


Apple Heart Study not used to gain FDA clearance for Apple Watch Series 4 ECG

Apple Insider

The Apple Heart Study, conducted in partnership with Stanford Medicine, collected heart rate data from more than 400,000 Apple Watch users in its attempt to determine whether wearable devices can effectively detect irregular heart rhythms. Contrary to previous reports, however, the results were not used to gain clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Apple Watch Series 4’s ECG feature.




Here’s the thing: Even if the Apple Watch excels at detecting undiagnosed AF (a big if), using it to screen large numbers of asymptomatic people isn’t necessarily a good idea.


Aging can be hard for those in the trans community

The Washington Post

“We were both aware that in the LGBTQ world, there’s a fair amount of ageism and lack of awareness about aging, and in the aging world there’s a fair amount of homophobia and transphobia and lack of awareness of LGBTQ issues, especially trans identities.”


How discovery of insulin may have been delayed at least a decade

The Washington Post

“Discoveries are delicate things,” Friedman writes, and the tale he tells is just as intricate, weaving together Kleiner’s lost story with that of Frederick Banting and John MacLeod, the better-known scientists whose eventual discovery of insulin earned them a Nobel Prize.


FDA set to approve potent opioid for market despite adviser’s objections

The Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration is poised to approve a new form of a powerful opioid for use in hospitals and emergency rooms despite opposition from the head of the committee that reviewed the drug.


Amgen Slashes the Price of a Promising Cholesterol Drug

New York Times

Insurers have been reluctant to broadly cover the drugs, instead requiring patients and their doctors to demonstrate why the patients could not instead take the cheaper alternative — statins. The drug companies have fought back, enlisting the help of patient advocacy groups that receive donations from the manufacturers to make the point that the insurers’ restrictions are unfair.


Altria to Stop Selling Some E-Cigarette Brands That Appeal to Youths

New York Times

Under pressure to curb vaping among young people, the tobacco giant Altria announced on Thursday that it would discontinue most of its flavored e-cigarettes and stop selling some brands altogether.


Drugmakers may have to disclose prices of medicine in television ads

The Washington Post

The nation’s top health official proposed on Monday that pharmaceutical companies be required to include the list price of medicines in television advertisements to consumers.


Scientists argue heart stem cell trial should be paused

The Washington Post

Sick people should not be subjected to the risks of an experiment whose underlying science has been called into question.


The Results of Your Genetic Test Are Reassuring. But That Can Change.

The New York Times

Laboratories frequently “reclassify” genetic mutations. But there is no reliable system for telling patients or doctors that the results of their genetic tests are no longer valid.


Why White Supremacists Are Chugging Milk (and Why Geneticists Are Alarmed)

The New York Times

Worry about how new tools are allowing us to home in on the genetic basis of hot-button traits like intelligence will be misconstrued to fit racist ideologies.


Elizabeth Warren and the Folly of Genetic Ancestry Tests

The New York Times

Identity is socially, politically and legally determined, even if shaped by genetics. Yet, genetic ancestry testing does not offer insights about these dynamics. So we can’t look to DNA to settle debates about identity.


The culprit’s name remains unknown. But he licked a stamp, and now his DNA stands indicted.

The Washington Post

There was just enough spit on the back of the 9-cent stamp to piece together the identity of the person who licked it. Everything except for his name.


Why I Wanted to Learn to Perform Abortions

The New York Times

These personal and medical decisions are difficult enough. Now the specter of legislation is creeping into doctors’ offices and labor and delivery suites. Conversations we should never entertain — ones that start with, “Is she sick enough yet?” — are becoming more common.


Social regulation of a rudimentary organ generates complex worker-caste systems in ants


The origin of complex worker-caste systems in ants perplexed Darwin and has remained an enduring problem for evolutionary and developmental biology.


When ICU Delirium Leads To Symptoms Of Dementia After Discharge


Doctors have gradually come to realize that people who survive a serious brush with death in the intensive care unit are likely to develop potentially serious problems with their memory and thinking processes.


The Big Number: 23 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer with low-dose aspirin

The Washington Post

Now, researchers have found that women who regularly took a low-dose aspirin — generally 81 milligrams — were 23 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than were women who did not take this type of aspirin.


Healthy mice from same-sex parents have their own pups

Advance reveals genetic factors that require mammals to reproduce using two sexes.


The approach to predictive medicine that is taking genomics research by storm

Polygenic risk scores represent a giant leap for gene-based diagnostic tests. Here’s why they’re still so controversial.