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New Evidence Strengthens Link Between Vitamin E Acetate and Vaping Illness

December 20, 2019

(STAT News) – New evidence strengthens the suspected link between a substance known as vitamin E acetate and the outbreak of serious lung illnesses tied to vaping and e-cigarette use, U.S. health officials said Friday. Researchers tested lung fluid samples from 51 patients with vaping-related illness, dubbed EVALI. They found vitamin E acetate — a sticky substance used as an additive or thickening agent in some vaping products — in 48 of the samples.

Merck Says Ebola Vaccine to Be Available at Lowest Access Price for Poor Nations

December 20, 2019

(Reuters) – Merck & Co said on Friday it expects to make licensed doses of its recently approved Ebola vaccine available in the third quarter of 2020 and price the single-dose injection at the lowest possible access price for poor and middle-income countries. The vaccine, Ervebo, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, a month after Europe gave its nod to the vaccine, a move that has been hailed by the World Health Organization.

New Details on Diplomat’s Mysterious Brain Injury Linked to ‘Sonic Attacks’

December 19, 2019

(CNN) – Doctors shared details Thursday about what happened to the brain of one diplomat who may be a victim of the so-called sonic attacks that have impacted dozens of people in Cuba and China. Researchers revealed the results of an independent brain analysis of Mark Lenzi, a US diplomat who was stationed in Guangzhou, China, in 2017 when he started experiencing unexplained symptoms including headache, difficulty reading, irritability, as well as memory and sleep problems.

Waning Treatment for Immune Deficiency Is a Warning for All ‘One-and-Done’ Therapies

December 19, 2019

(STAT News) – Then, when Ray was around 18, his immunity began to wane. For him, it came in the form of a norovirus he couldn’t shake. For others with the same rare disease, it appears as pneumonia or gastrointestinal trouble or an unexpected T cell decline. Over the last 10 years, the trend has become increasingly clear: The bone marrow transplants that kept certain babies with SCID alive sometimes stop working after years or decades of providing fairly reliable immune defenses. Now, to patient advocates, this has become an urgent lesson in the language people use to talk about treatment — and not just for SCID. They see their community’s experience as a cautionary tale for anyone developing or receiving a therapy that’s marketed as potentially curative.

A Tweet Gave a Journalist a Seizure. His Case Brings New Meaning to the Idea of ‘Online Assault.’

December 17, 2019

(The Washington Post) – The Epilepsy Foundation announced on Monday it lodged a sweeping slate of criminal complaints against a legion of copycats who targeted people with epilepsy and sent them an onslaught of strobe GIFs — a frightening phenomenon that unfolded in a short period of time during the organization’s marking of National Epilepsy Awareness Month in November. With Rivello’s expected guilty plea, the foundation has a legal road map for fighting back.

New Oral Polio Vaccine to Bypass Key Clinical Trials

December 17, 2019

(The Scientist) – To stem a growing polio crisis, health officials are accelerating the development of a new oral vaccine with plans for emergency approval and deployment in regions with active polio transmission as early as June 2020. The new vaccine, called nOPV2, might conclusively end the outbreaks, caused by the live virus in the vaccine reverting to a virulent form. But expedited approval means skipping the real-world testing of large clinical trials. Instead, key questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness will be answered in the field.

Sydney’s Wildfire Smoke Declared a ‘Public Health Emergency’

December 17, 2019

(Bloomberg) – The smoke blanketing Sydney is a “public health emergency,” according to a coalition of Australian doctors and researchers who say climate change has helped fuel the wildfires that have produced unprecedented haze. Air pollution across Australia’s most-populous city and parts of the eastern state of New South Wales have reached levels as much as 11 times higher than the threshold for “hazardous,” the group said. It called on state and Australian government officials to “implement measures to help alleviate the health and climate crisis.”

Apple Is Offering Free Genetic Tests to All Its Silicon Valley Employees

December 16, 2019

(CNBC) – Apple employees in Silicon Valley can now get free genetic screenings for diseases from their on-site health clinics, thanks to a pilot partnership with Color Genomics. Apple, which recently set up dedicated health clinics known as “AC Wellness” for employees and their dependents near its headquarters, has been working with Color for several months, according to several people with direct knowledge of the discussions. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicize the deal on their companies’ behalf.

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