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03/19/2018

AI researchers embrace Bitcoin technology to share medical data

Nature

He and his colleagues are building a system that allows people to share their medical data with researchers easily and securely — and retain control over it. Their method, which is based on the blockchain technology that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, will soon be put to the test. By May, Hadley and his colleagues will launch a study to train their AI algorithm to detect cancer using mammograms that they hope to obtain from between three million and five million US women.

03/16/2018

Theranos chief executive Elizabeth Holmes charged with massive fraud

Washington Post

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive of the blood-testing company Theranos, has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with an “elaborate, years-long fraud” in which she and former company president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani allegedly “deceived investors into believing that its key product — a portable blood analyzer — could conduct comprehensive blood tests from finger drops of blood,” the SEC said.

03/16/2018

Monkeys reveal new clues toward elusive HIV vaccine and cure

Science

Despite enormous efforts over more than 30 years, HIV/AIDS researchers have yet to develop either a vaccine or cure for the disease. But they have made progress in monkey experiments, and two studies reported here this week at the largest annual U.S. HIV/AIDS conference created serious buzz.

03/15/2018

FDA authorizes, with special controls, direct-to-consumer test that reports three mutations in the BRCA breast cancer genes

FDA

Test only reports 3 out of more than 1,000 known BRCA mutations and negative result doesn’t rule out increased cancer risk

03/14/2018

For all their risks, opioids had no pain-relieving advantage in a yearlong clinical trial

The LA Times

For years, doctors turned to opioid painkillers as a first-line treatment for chronic back pain and aches in the joints. Even as the dangers of addiction and overdoses became more clear, the drugs’ pain-relieving benefits were still thought to justify their risks. Now researchers have hard data that challenges this view.

03/13/2018

Ask Your Doctor. Until Then, Here’s a Word From Our Sitcom.

The New York Times

 It’s true that only the United States and New Zealand allow direct advertising of prescription drugs to consumers, while Brazil allows some advertising of nonprescription, over-the-counter medications.

03/12/2018

Fast genome tests are diagnosing some of the sickest babies in time to save them

MIT Technology Review

Genetic diseases are the leading cause of death for infants in North America, affecting an estimated 4 percent of newborns. So while the work at Rady is still in the research stage, costing the hospital about $6,000 per baby, the hope is that it could lead to a standard medical test with the potential to save thousands of lives.

03/09/2018

Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are Legal but Unethical

AMA Journal of Ethics

Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health.

03/08/2018

Like It Or Not, Personal Health Technology Is Getting Smarter

NPR

With a network of smart devices collecting information on sleep, exercise, heart activity, weight and more, a clinical team equipped with powerful AI might be empowered to make more medical decisions remotely, he says, with fewer office visits.

03/07/2018

U.S. Immigration Policy Threatens Shake-Up In Home Health Business

NPR

On a rare rainy night in Albuquerque, two dozen students are learning the proper way to care for older people. Teacher Liliana Reyes is reviewing the systems of the body — circulatory, respiratory and so on — to prepare them for an upcoming exam. These students are seeking to join a workforce of about 3 million people who help older adults remain in their homes. They assist these clients with things like bathing, dressing, and taking medication on time. About a quarter of these workers are immigrants.

03/06/2018

FDA strengthens warning on opioid cold medicine

CNN

The FDA announced Thursday that it’s requiring revisions to the safety labeling on such prescription opioid cough and cold medicines to indicate that the products no longer can be used to treat children — because their risks outweigh their potential benefits — and should be used only for adults 18 and older.

03/05/2018

Genome editor gets more versatile and precise

Science

Harvard University chemist David Liu and colleagues, as they report online in the 28 February issue of Nature, have engineered a new version of Cas9 that has a more commonly found DNA sequence and can land in four times as many places.

03/02/2018

The least and most dangerous countries to be a newborn

CNN

Every year around the world, about 2.6 million babies die within their first month of life — and some countries see more of those tragic deaths than others. A UNICEF report released Tuesday ranks countries by their newborn mortality rates in 2016.

03/01/2018

Sex and drugs and self-control: how the teen brain navigates risk

Nature

It’s not just about rebellion. Neuroscience is revealing adolescents’ rich and nuanced relationship with risky behavior.

02/28/2018

Worms living in your veins? Seventeen volunteers said ‘OK’

Science

A research group in the Netherlands is infecting healthy volunteers with Schistosoma mansoni, one of five tiny waterborne worm species that cause schistosomiasis. They hope to create a human model that could help speed up the development of new drugs and vaccines against the disease, which sickens millions of people and kills thousands each year. The team says the risk to volunteers is very low because the study is designed to prevent the parasites from reproducing. But some scientists argue that it’s not low enough because there is no guarantee that subjects will get rid of their parasites when the study is over.

02/27/2018

Opioid makers gave $10 million to drug advocacy groups amid epidemic

NBC News

Companies selling some of the most lucrative prescription painkillers funneled millions of dollars to advocacy groups that in turn promoted the medications’ use, according to a report released this past week by a U.S. senator.

02/26/2018

World’s first human-sheep hybrids pave way for diabetes cure and mass organ transplants

The Telegraph

The next step is to implant human stem cells into sheep embryos which have been genetically modified so they cannot grow a pancreas, in the hope that human DNA will fill in the missing code. If successful a human pancreas should appear inside the animal’s body. The team is about to apply for permission from regulators to lengthen their experiment to 70 days to see if the human cells really can create an organ.

02/23/2018

Nursing homes sedate residents with dementia by misusing antipsychotic drugs, report finds

CNN

Former administrators admitted doling out drugs without having appropriate diagnoses, securing informed consent or divulging risks.

02/22/2018

Intergenerational care: Where kids help the elderly live longer

CNN
“The children work with and play with the residents every single day,” said Ali Somers, co-founder of Apples and Honey Nightingale, who also heads evaluation and impact for this program. The premise is intergenerational care, providing wisdom to the young and relationships — and, in turn, longevity — to the old.

02/21/2018

Find drugs that delay many diseases of old age

Nature

A class of drugs called geroprotectors might be able to delay the onset of concurrent age-related diseases (multimorbidity) and boost resilience. In various animal models, these drugs can ward off problems of the heart, muscles, immune system and more.

02/20/2018

Genome editor CRISPR’s latest trick? Offering a sharper snapshot of activity inside the cell

Science

Airplane flight recorders and body cameras help investigators make sense of complicated events. Biologists studying cells have tried to build their own data recorders, for example by linking the activity of a gene of interest to one making a fluorescent protein. Their goal is to clarify processes such as the emergence of cancer, aging, environmental impacts, and embryonic development.

02/19/2018

Spot Shortages Of Antiviral Drugs Seen As Flu Season Drags On

NPR

The strain of flu known as H3N2 remains the dominant form circulating in the United States. It’s a particularly severe strain that isn’t easily stopped by the current vaccine.

02/16/2018

Why science blogging still matters

Nature

Science blogs have been around since the early 2000s, and in recent years the ‘microblogging’ platform Twitter and other social-media channels, which require less time to maintain than does a full blog, threatened to make them obsolete. But some scientists are keeping the practice alive, and it continues to play a major part in sparking collaborations, conveying crucial information and strengthening scientific communities.

02/15/2018

Gene therapy field hit by fresh safety concern

Science

A virus that buoyed the gene therapy field when it led to dramatic benefits in babies born with a fatal neuromuscular condition is under scrutiny. A small animal study suggests that high doses of the virus, called adeno-associated virus 9, can cause severe liver and neuron damage in young monkeys and pigs. The results drew attention in part because they come from the lab of James Wilson at the University of Pennsylvania, who led a 1999 trial in which a teenager died from an immune reaction to a different gene therapy vector.

02/14/2018

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Bucket List

The New York Times

A bucket list is an itemized list of goals people want to accomplish before they “kick the bucket” — or die. Making a bucket list allows us to reflect on our values and goals and identify important milestones and experiences that we want to have in our lifetime.

02/14/2018

How drug company money turned patient groups into ‘cheerleaders for opioids’

USA Today

The five biggest opioid manufacturers shelled out more than $10 million to patient advocacy groups, professional medical societies and affiliated individuals — who then “echoed and amplified” messages that encouraged use of those highly addictive drugs and set the stage for the current opioid epidemic.

02/13/2018

OxyContin maker Purdue to stop promoting opioids in light of epidemic

NBC News

Purdue Pharma, the company best known for selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin, announced on Saturday that they would stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors. The move comes amid a series of state and municipal lawsuits that blame the company for contributing to the opioid epidemic.

02/12/2018

Brain Transcriptome Distinctions, Overlaps Characterized in Neuropsychiatric Conditions

GenomeWeb

New research is defining the similarities and differences between brain gene expression profiles involved in neuropsychiatric conditions.

02/09/2018

Student dies of flu after NHS warning over A&E visits

The Guardian

A young engineering student reportedly died of flu after her family followed NHS warnings over Christmas not to attend A&E unless it was an emergency.

02/08/2018

OHSU apologizes for ‘archaic’ policy, reverses course after denying undocumented woman liver transplant

The Oregonian

Hours after learning that an undocumented women who has lived in Portland for 30 years had been denied a liver transplant because of her immigration status, Oregon Health & Science University officials terminated the policy that caused the denial and apologized.