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Afghanistan’s Lone Psychiatric Hospital Reveals Mental Health Crisis Fueled by War

February 16, 2018

(NPR) – Nearly 40 years of violent conflict is driving a growing mental health crisis in Afghanistan. While accurate data on mental health issues are not available in Afghanistan, the World Health Organization estimates more than a million Afghans suffer from depressive disorders and over 1.2 million suffer from anxiety disorders. The WHO says the actual numbers are likely much higher. The mental health toll signifies a hidden consequence of war that is often overshadowed by bombed-out buildings and loss of life.

With New CRISPR Inventions, Its Pioneers Say, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

February 16, 2018

(STAT News) – No one would be surprised if scientists announced tomorrow that CRISPR had leapt tall test tubes in a single bound, but until that happens, fans of the superhero genome-editing system will have to be content with a trio of almost-as-flashy (but potentially more useful) new tricks, all unveiled on Thursday. Some of the world’s leading CRISPR labs have, independently, tweaked CRISPR — adding bursts of light here and rings of DNA there — in ways that could make it even more of a research powerhouse and, possibly, a valuable medical sleuth, able to detect Zika, Ebola, and cancer-causing viruses, or a cell’s history of, say, exposure to toxins.

Index Adopted to Track NTD Treatment in Africa

February 16, 2018

(Sci Dev Net) – African leaders have adopted a new index that helps track progress in mass treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Five NTDs — lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma — were added to African heads of states’ annual scorecard or index on disease progress last month (28 January), during the 30th African Union summit in Ethiopia. The scorecard is reviewed by African heads of state every year, and the move puts NTDs alongside malaria and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.

In-Person License Renewal May Reduce Crashes Involving People with Dementia

February 16, 2018

(Reuters) – Older adults with dementia may be less likely to get in car crashes when they’re required to renew their driver’s licenses in person, a U.S. study suggests. Laws requiring doctors to report dementia patients and get their licenses revoked didn’t appear to influence the proportion of crash hospitalizations involving people with dementia, however, researchers report in the journal Neurology.

Scientists Discover Adult Endothelial Stem Cells Capable of Generating Fully Functional Blood Vessels

February 16, 2018

(News-Medical) – The proper function of blood vessels is essential to life: blood vessels are responsible for transporting oxygen-rich red blood cells, nutrients, and immune cells throughout the body, to name just a few functions. Defects in blood vessels can correspondingly lead to a variety of life-threatening diseases. Stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells that can generate new tissues, have significant potential in regenerative medicine and treating various disorders. In blood vessels, the existence of tissue-resident stem cells has been intensely debated. A research team centered at Osaka University may now have discovered the elusive stem cell, providing evidence for adult vascular endothelial stem cells (VESCs) capable of generating fully functional blood vessels.

One Space Entrepreneur’s $250 Million Mission to Stop Aging

February 16, 2018

(Inc.) – Diamandis’s newest startup, Celularity, is emerging from stealth mode Thursday. The company is working on finding a remedy to many of the world’s worst illnesses within an unlikely source: human placentas. The entrepreneur claims that by extracting stem cells from those placentas, Celularity will be able to fight disease as well as slow down the aging process, thus extending the human life span. It’s already begun FDA-approved clinical trials on humans and is aiming to go to market with some of its therapies as soon as this year.

Evidence from the Field: Fractional Doses of Yellow Fever Vaccine Provided Protection, Study Finds

February 15, 2018

(STAT News) – A 2016 emergency yellow fever vaccination campaign that had to resort to using smaller than standard doses because of a global vaccine shortage appears to have protected the people who were vaccinated, a new study suggests. People who received a fractional dose — one-fifth the standard size — showed strong immune responses a month after they received the single dose of vaccine, the authors reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One in Six Children ‘Affected by Conflict’–Save the Children

February 15, 2018

(BBC) – One in every six children are now living in a global conflict zone, a new report by Save the Children claims. Children are at more risk from armed conflict now than at any other time in the last 20 years, the charity says. Its new analysis found more than 357 million children were living in a conflict zone – an increase of 75% from the 200 million of 1995. Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were ranked as the most dangerous places for children.

Patricia Frustaci, a Southern California Woman Who Made National Headlines in 1985 When She Gave Birth to Seven Children, Has Died

February 15, 2018

(Associated Press) – Patricia Frustaci, who made national headlines in 1985 when she gave birth to seven children but struggled with the financial and publicity fallout and with the heartache of seeing four babies perish, has died. She was 63. Frustaci, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died Saturday at a San Diego hospital, her eldest son, Joseph Frustaci of San Diego, said Wednesday.

Why American Doctors Keep Doing Expensive Procedures That Don’t Work

February 15, 2018

(Vox) – But in fact, American doctors routinely prescribe medical treatments that are not based on sound science. The stent controversy serves as a reminder that the United States struggles when it comes to winnowing evidence-based treatments from the ineffective chaff. As surgeon and health care researcher Atul Gawande observes, “Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren’t helping them, operations that aren’t going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm.”

Meet the Sacklers: The Family Feuding over Blame for the Opioid Crisis

February 15, 2018

(The Guardian) – The Sackler family, a sprawling and now feuding transatlantic dynasty, is famous in cultural and academic circles for decades of generous philanthropy towards some of the world’s leading institutions, from Yale University to the Guggenheim Museum in the US and the Serpentine Gallery to the Royal Academy in Britain. But what’s less well known, though increasingly being exposed, is that much of their wealth comes from one product – OxyContin, the blockbuster prescription painkiller first launched in 1996.

Give Women More Time to Give Birth, Make Choices: WHO

February 15, 2018

(Reuters) – Women in labor should be given more time to give birth and have fewer medical interventions, while participating more in decision-making, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Among 26 new recommendations, it rejected a traditional benchmark in labor wards worldwide for the dilation of a woman’s cervix at the rate of 1 centimeter per hour, saying it was “unrealistic” and often led to excessive caesarean sections.

The ACLU Has Filed a Constitutional Challenge to Ohio’s Law Prohibiting Doctors from Performing Abortions Based on a Diagnosis of Down Syndrome

February 15, 2018

(Associated Press) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, saying claims it is an anti-discrimination effort are a masquerade. The suit against the state Health Department, state medical board and county prosecutors charged with carrying out the 2017 law was filed in federal court in Cincinnati on behalf of Preterm in Cleveland, Planned Parenthood and other Ohio abortion providers.

El Salvador Baby Death: Teodora Vasquez Freed after 9 Years

February 15, 2018

(BBC) – A woman jailed for murder under El Salvador’s strict abortion laws has had her 30-year sentence commuted. Teodora Vásquez, 35, spent 10 years in jail after her baby was found dead and she was sentenced for murder. Her release came as a surprise as her appeal against her sentence was rejected in December. El Salvador’s Supreme Court said there were “powerful reasons of justice and fairness which warranted granting her the grace of commuting her sentence”.

The Dubious Science of Genetics-Based Dating

February 15, 2018

(Smithsonian Magazine) -But what if there was a way to analyze your DNA and match you to your ideal genetic partner—allowing you to cut the line of endless left-swipes and awkward first dates? That’s the promise of Pheramor, a Houston-based startup founded by three scientists that aims to disrupt dating by using your biology. The app, which launches later this month, gives users a simple DNA test in order to match them to genetically compatible mates.

Biohacker Fights for ‘Cyborg Rights’ after Implanted Travel Card Cancelled

February 15, 2018

(The Guardian) – A body-hacking scientist has said he plans to launch legal action against the New South Wales government after it cancelled a travel card he had surgically implanted in his hand. Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow – his legal name – cut out the chip of the card, had it encased in biocompatible plastic, then had a piercing expert implant it just under the skin on his left hand.

Syria War: First Aid Delivery in Months Reaches Eastern Ghouta

February 14, 2018

(BBC) – The rebel-held Syrian region of the Eastern Ghouta has received its first aid delivery in almost three months. It comes after weeks of appeals from the United Nations to allow aid deliveries and the evacuation of hundreds of critically ill people. About 400,000 people live in the besieged enclave, east of Damascus, under frequent artillery bombardment. Hundreds have been killed in recent weeks after government forces stepped up attempts to seize the area.

A Surge in Infants Born in the U.S. with Withdrawal Symptoms from Their Mothers’ Opioid Use Has Outpaced Science on How Best to Treat Them

February 14, 2018

(Associated Press) – Once the umbilical cord is cut, babies born to opioid users are at risk for developing withdrawal symptoms. By some estimates, one infant is born with the condition in the U.S. every 25 minutes. The numbers have tripled since 2008 at a rate that has solid medical research comparing treatments and outcomes struggling to keep pace.

Doping Is Rampant at the Olympics. Here’s Why.

February 14, 2018

(Vox) – There’s a common misconception that athletes dope to move faster or become stronger. “Sure, there’s some of that,” said Herman Pontzer, an associate professor at Hunter College who studies energetics. “But what athletes really go for, and what they usually get banned for, are drugs that fool their bodies to keep them from shutting down in the face of over-training.” After a certain amount of exertion, our brains send our tired arms and legs signals that cause them to exert less or switch off.

First Blood Test to Help Diagnose Brain Injuries Gets US OK

February 14, 2018

(ABC News) – The first blood test to help doctors diagnose traumatic brain injuries has won U.S. government approval. The move means Banyan Biomarkers can commercialize its test, giving the company an early lead in the biotech industry’s race to find a way to diagnose concussions. The test doesn’t detect concussions and the approval won’t immediately change how patients with suspected concussions or other brain trauma are treated.

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