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Cases of Mysterious Paralyzing Condition Continue to Increase, CDC Says

November 14, 2018

(NPR) – The number of children being stricken by a mysterious paralyzing condition continues to increase, federal officials say. At least 252 cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year from 27 states, including 90 that have been confirmed through Nov. 9, the CDC reported Tuesday. Most of the cases have occurred among children between the ages of 2 and 8.

Solving Lymphoma’s Stem-Cell Problem

November 14, 2018

(Nature) – Up to half of allogeneic transplant recipients experience acute GvHD. This is a severe immune reaction that occurs in the first 100 days after the procedure and can rapidly become life-threatening. Then there is the long-term immune assault of chronic GvHD. Chronic GvHD affects up to around 40% of transplant recipients, and the incidence has been slowly rising in recent years. This is partly due to the increased use of peripheral-blood stem-cell donations, which bring increased survival but at the expense of a higher chance of long-term GvHD. There is also a greater willingness to attempt potentially curative but less damaging ‘mini-transplants’ for older patients, even though they are more likely to develop GvHD.

World Set to Miss Contraception Goal Leaving Millions of Women Behind

November 14, 2018

(Reuters) – An ambitious goal to boost the number of women using modern contraception by tens of millions by 2020 is falling far behind, said experts on Monday who say family planning helps prevent unsafe abortions and maternal deaths.  The number of women in poor countries using modern birth control rose by 46 million over the last six years to 317 million, according to a report released at a meeting of family planning experts held in Rwanda.

Kyoto University Performs World’s First iPS Cell Transplant for Parkinson’s

November 14, 2018

(The Japan Times) – Kyoto University said Friday it has conducted the world’s first transplant of induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Parkinson’s disease. Nerve cells created from the artificially derived stem cells, known as iPS cells, were transplanted into the brain of a patient in his 50s in October in a treatment researchers hope to develop into a method that can be covered under Japan’s health insurance system.

US Has Highest Rate of Drug Overdoses Study Says

November 13, 2018

(CNN) – The United States has more than double the rate of premature overdose deaths of at least 12 other countries, according to a new study. The research, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, says that there were an estimated 63,632 drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the US.

Smoke from California’s Fires Is Harming the State’s Most Vulnerable

November 13, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The deadliest fire in California’s history continues to burn, and San Francisco is filled with smoke and ash. On Tuesday, for the fifth day in a row, air throughout Northern California contained high amounts of fine-particulate-matter pollution, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned that the air was unhealthy for everyone. “The public should limit outdoor activity as much as possible,” the agency said Monday, urging residents to stay inside with their windows and doors closed. But for San Francisco’s thousands of homeless people, this warning is impossible to follow.

Could Your Race Determine Your Wait Time for a Donor Heart?

November 13, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – The wait for a heart transplant varies widely based on factors such as availability of donor hearts and blood type, but little is known about differences in wait times based on race and ethnicity. Now, preliminary research suggests African-American patients may experience longer wait times than other racial and ethnic groups. Who gets a donor heart each time one becomes available is based on objective criteria such as blood type, body size and how urgently a patient needs a transplant. Wait times, which are partially driven by the geographic availability of donor organs, are generally months long.

How Facebook and Twitter Could Be the Next Disruptive Force in Clinical Trials

November 13, 2018

(Nature) – But Amber’s experience also shows how trial participants are disrupting the usual flow of information in clinical studies. As participants become more empowered, the natural tensions between their goals and those of the researchers become more pronounced. Online discussions threaten to compromise trial integrity when participants join forces to work out who is receiving a placebo. Discussing potential side effects can also influence results, particularly when the symptoms are subjective. Drug companies have yet to report any cases of such actions causing irrevocable damage to a trial, but some researchers worry that information-sharing by participants could sink trials or weaken their findings.

As Social Media ‘Influencers,’ Patients Are Getting a Voice. And Pharma Is Ready to Pay Up

November 13, 2018

(STAT News) – An entire industry has cropped up to link drug makers with the industry’s own version of an influencer — people, usually patients, who have small but devoted followings and who might be willing to promote their products or share valuable insights about the patient community. Ciccarella, for example, is one of nearly 100,000 such influencers on the rosters of Wego Health, one of a handful of companies that essentially act a patient influencer talent agency. It’s a lucrative new frontier for drug advertising — and for patients, too, who benefit from close contact with the drug maker and, often, a fee. But it is also an increasingly regulated frontier, and one with ethical quandaries that some experts say the drug industry hasn’t fully considered.

An Underused Strategy for Surge in STDs: Treat Patients’ Partners Without a Doctor’s Visit

November 13, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – Federal health officials have recommended this practice, known as expedited partner therapy, for chlamydia and gonorrhea since 2006. It allows doctors to prescribe medication to their patients’ partners without examining them. The idea is to prevent the kind of reinfections described by Bowe — and stop the transmission of STDs to others. However, many physicians aren’t taking the federal government’s advice because of entrenched ethical and legal concerns.

WHO Official Predicts 6 More Months Battling Ebola in Congo

November 13, 2018

(ABC News) – The emergencies chief for the World Health Organization predicted Tuesday that Congo’s Ebola outbreak will last at least another six months, saying that informal health facilities have become “major drivers” of the current, deadly transmission. Dr. Peter Salama said that makeshift “tradi-modern” health centers — offering both traditional and modern treatment — were believed to be linked to more than half of cases in Beni, the largest city affected by the current outbreak that has taken more than 200 lives.

More US Kids Get Paralyzing Illness, Cause Is Still Unknown

November 13, 2018

(Medical Xpress) – More children have been diagnosed with a mysterious paralyzing illness in recent weeks, and U.S. health officials said Tuesday that they still aren’t sure what’s causing it. This year’s count could surpass the numbers seen in similar outbreaks in 2014 and 2016, officials said. Fortunately, the disease remains rare: This year, there have been 90 cases spread among 27 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. It’s not clear what’s causing some children to lose the ability to move their face, neck, back, arms or legs. The symptoms tend to occur about a week after the children had a fever and respiratory illness.

Private IVF Clinics Urged to Stop Charging for Expensive Add-Ons

November 13, 2018

(The Guardian) – IVF clinics have been putting profits before patient care by charging clients for expensive treatment add-ons that have no proven effectiveness, according to a draft statement by fertility experts, practitioners and the sector’s regulator. The consensus statement agreed by 11 organisations, including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), expresses concerns about how frequently patients are being charged for optional extras that do not increase the chances of pregnancy.

Pregnant Women Among 15 Arrested for Alleged Surrogacy in Cambodia

November 13, 2018

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Fifteen people have been arrested in Cambodia for allegedly taking part in illegal surrogacy, the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking authority says. According to Cambodia’s National Police website, 11 of those arrested are pregnant surrogates, along with two men and two other women working as cooks. Chou Bun Eng, from the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, confirmed the arrests were made on November 8.

Eugenic Sterilization in Japan: ‘We All Have the Right to Live’

November 12, 2018

(Al Jazeera) – Japan has more than seven million disabled people. This year, the government increased employment quotas for disabled people. Employees with a disability must now make up 2.5 percent of the public sector workforce and 2.2 percent in the private sector. But Japan’s own government has not always adhered to these quotas.
In August 2018, authorities were forced to admit they had given false information and inflated the number of disabled people employed in 27 government ministries and agencies.

20 Million Girls in Developing World Lack Access to Contraception

November 12, 2018

(Reuters) – Six million unwanted pregnancies and two million unsafe abortions could be avoided each year by helping teenage girls in developing countries to get reliable contraception, researchers said on Friday. More action is needed to help girls plan their families said researchers from the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S.-based organization focused on sexual health and reproductive rights.

Doctor to Face Dutch Prosecution for Breach of Euthanasia Law

November 12, 2018

(The Guardian) – A doctor who slipped a sedative into a 74-year-old woman’s coffee before administering a lethal drug as members of her family held her down is to be the first medic to be prosecuted for breaching Dutch euthanasia laws. A public prosecutor in The Hague said in a statement that the doctor could not have unambiguously come to the conclusion that the patient wanted to die. It is the first prosecution since Dutch laws on euthanasia were drawn up in 2002 to allow a doctor to euthanise a patient if it could be shown they were experiencing unbearable suffering and making an informed choice to die.

Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated as a Public Health Crisis?

November 12, 2018

(NPR) – When public health officials get wind of an outbreak of Hepatitis A or influenza, they spring into action with public awareness campaigns, monitoring and outreach. But should they be acting with equal urgency when it comes to childhood trauma? A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests the answer should be yes. It shows how the effects of childhood trauma persist and are linked to mental illness and addiction in adulthood. And, researchers say, it suggests that it might be more effective to approach trauma as a public health crisis than to limit treatment to individuals.

Bystanders Less Likely to Give CPR to Women

November 12, 2018

(UPI) – Some bystanders may avoid performing CPR on women because they fear hurting them, or even being accused of sexual assault, preliminary research suggests. In two new studies, researchers tried to dig deeper into a puzzling pattern that has been seen in past research: Women are less likely than men to receive bystander CPR if they go into cardiac arrest in a public place.

Scientists Grow Beating Human Heart Tissue from Stem Cells

November 12, 2018

(Newsweek) – Scientists have grown beating human heart tissue in a laboratory using stem cells. The engineered tissue could be used as a model of a human atrium (upper chamber), allowing researchers to test out new drugs as part of preclinical screening. This could lead to a faster, more efficient method of developing new treatments for heart conditions like atrial fibrillation—where a person has an irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke and heart failure.

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