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The Cost of Not Knowing a Huntington’s Diagnosis

March 19, 2019

(The Atlantic) – When Jennifer Leyton was going through IVF, her doctors would tell her very little. They turned off the ultrasound screen facing her so she could not count the number of eggs retrieved. They kept secret the number of fertilized embryos. They did not even say how many they transferred to her womb. This secrecy might have been maddening for many IVF patients, but for Leyton, it was her choice. She chose secrecy because she wanted to avoid finding out whether she had inherited a mutation for Huntington’s.

Cyclone Idai: “The Scale of Devastation Is Enormous”

March 19, 2019

(Vox) – Many of the affected areas have been cut off from communications. The charity Save the Children reports that 100,000 people still need to be rescued near Beria. People are waiting on rooftops to be rescued. There are reports that flying sheet metal roofs decapitated people during the storm, which made landfall with winds in excess of 100 mph, perhaps as high as 124 mph.

WHO Panel Calls for Registry of All Human Gene Editing Research

March 19, 2019

(Reuters) – It would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency, World Health Organization experts said on Tuesday. After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene editing experts – which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies – said it had agreed a framework for setting future standards.

Censorship or Social Responsibility? Amazon Removes Some Books Peddling Vaccine Misinformation

March 19, 2019

(The Washington Post) – Amazon has now joined other companies navigating the line between doing business and censoring it, in an age when, experts say, misleading claims about health and science have a real impact on public health. NBC Nightly News reported that Amazon was pulling books touting false information about autism “cures” and vaccines. The e-commerce giant confirmed Monday to The Washington Post that several books are no longer available, but it would not release more specific information

An AIDS Therapy Involving Parasite Injections Was Discredited. China Is Reviving It–for Cancer

March 19, 2019

(STAT News) – American surgeon Henry Heimlich is best known for inventing a way to rescue choking victims, but a quarter-century ago, he was vilified for promoting a fringe treatment for AIDS and Lyme disease. Called malarial therapy, it involved injecting patients with the malaria-causing parasite, supposedly to stimulate their immune systems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report saying the procedure “cannot be justified,” and another critic compared its use to the discredited practice of bleeding patients with leeches. Despite the criticism, Heimlich launched trials of the therapy in HIV patients in Mexico and China in the 1990s. Now, the scientist who led the Chinese study is using malarial therapy again — this time to treat cancer patients.

Landmark Ruling Sets Precedent for Parity Coverage of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

March 19, 2019

(STAT News) – For far too long, health insurers have been treating people with mental health and substance use disorders like second-class citizens. A federal court recently ruled that this must stop. Employers and regulators, take note. The ruling came in the case of Wit v. United Behavioral Health (UBH). A federal court in Northern California found that UBH, which manages behavioral health services for UnitedHealthcare and other health insurers, rejected the insurance claims of tens of thousands of people seeking mental health and substance use disorder treatment based on defective medical review criteria.

Online Abortion Pill Provider Ordered to Cease Delivery by FDA

March 19, 2019

(CNN) – A European organization that provides doctor-prescribed abortion pills by mail is under order by the US Food and Drug Administration to stop deliveries. The federal agency sent a warning letter to Aid Access this month requesting that it “immediately cease causing the introduction of these violative drugs into U.S. Commerce.” “The sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products,” the letter says. “Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated; counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether.”

New Genetic Analysis May Have Finally Revealed Identity of Jack the Ripper

March 19, 2019

(Tech Times) – A new study suggests that Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who terrorized London more than 130 years ago, may finally be identified through DNA testing. However, some experts doubt that the evidence is strong enough to provide a definitive answer.

More U.S. Youth Seeking Help During Psychiatric Emergencies

March 18, 2019

(Reuters) – The number of young people visiting U.S. emergency rooms with psychiatric problems is rising, driven largely by a surge in teens and minority youth seeking urgent help for mental illnesses, a new study suggests. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 28 percent increase in psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits among young people ages 6 to 24, the study found. Visits spiked 54 percent for teens, 53 percent for African-American youth, and 91 percent for young Hispanic patients.

A Fertility App Bills Itself as Contraception, Raising Questions About Marketing and Efficacy

March 18, 2019

(STAT News) – A new fertility tracking app, Dot, is billing itself as form of contraception — and touting the results of a new efficacy study that shows the app may be up to 99 percent effective as a form of birth control. With statistics like that, Dot — part of a surge in fertility and contraception apps — would appear to be one of the most effective birth control tools available. But there’s also significant debate over how to measure the effectiveness of these tools, as well as questions about which apps should be available in the first place.

Can You Murder a Robot?

March 18, 2019

(BBC) – Back in 2015, a hitchhiker was murdered on the streets of Philadelphia. It was no ordinary crime. The hitchhiker in question was a little robot called Hitchbot. The “death” raised an interesting question about human-robot relationship – not so much whether we can trust robots but whether the robots can trust us. The answer, it seems, was no. Hitchbot has now been rebuilt, at Ryerson University, in Toronto, where it was conceived.

‘Pill Mill’ Doctor Among First Released Under Law for Dying Prisoners

March 18, 2019

(Houston Chronicle) – But on Thursday, Evans got out roughly two years earlier than expected. He became one of the first prisoners to benefit from a compassionate release provision of the federal First Step Act, shepherded through Congress late last year by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. To Evans’ legal team, his release represents an early victory for the new law, but to advocates and policy wonks it’s a small step for a new measure that’s already running into unexpected roadblocks.

Genetic Testing of Pancreatic Cancer Tumors May Improve Treatment

March 18, 2019

(UPI) – It’s one of the toughest cancers to beat. But new research suggests that identifying the genetics of pancreatic cancer in individual patients could boost survival for some. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is less than 9 percent. One reason this cancer is so deadly is that many patients are diagnosed at a late stage and often with inoperable tumors.

Adult Stem Cells

March 18, 2019

(American Heart Association) – Adult stem cells are the successful standard for stem cells. Although in the past their regenerative/reparative capacity was ignored, misunderstood, or even maligned, a rapidly growing host of clinical applications are being developed, and the clinical utility of adult stem cells is increasingly validated in the literature.

For Single Mothers and Lesbians in China, Accessing Fertility Treatment Is a Nightmare

March 18, 2019

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – Xiao Chen became pregnant via in vitro fertilisation and gave birth to the twins overseas.In China, non-married women face tight restrictions when accessing artificial reproductive procedures. IVF in China requires a marriage certificate, an ID card, and permission from the local Family Planning department. Complicating things further is that the twin’s biological mother is not Xiao Chen, but her wife, Winky. Their anonymous sperm donor is from the US.

The Fertility Doctor’s Secret

March 18, 2019

(The Atlantic) – In the time since Woock’s half siblings got in touch with her, they have broken the news dozens more times. The children Cline fathered with his patients now number at least 48, confirmed by DNA tests from 23andMe or Ancestry.com. (Several have a twin or other siblings who likely share the same biological father but haven’t been tested.) They keep in touch through a Facebook group. New siblings pop up in waves, timed perversely after holidays like Christmas or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, when DNA tests are given as well-intentioned gifts.

3 Ways AI Is Already Changing Medicine

March 18, 2019

(Vox) – All in all, Topol discovered that most of the companies currently marketing personalized diets can’t actually deliver. It’s just one of the great insights in his new book about artificial intelligence, Deep Medicine. AI for diet is one of the most hyped applications of the technology. But in the book Topol uncovers more promising opportunities for artificial intelligence to improve health — some of which surprised me.

“Medieval” Diseases Flare as Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate

March 15, 2019

(Scientific American) – The diseases have flared as the nation’s homeless population has grown in the past two years: About 553,000 people were homeless at the end of 2018, and nearly one-quarter of homeless people live in California. The diseases spread quickly and widely among people living outside or in shelters, fueled by sidewalks contaminated with human feces, crowded living conditions, weakened immune systems and limited access to health care.

Abortions by Mail: The FDA Is Going After Online Pill Providers

March 15, 2019

(Vox) – Legal versions of mifepristone and misoprostol have been available to patients in the US since 2000 — but patients can’t just get them at any pharmacy. The drugs are only given out by certified health care providers in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. The providers need to sign a waiver that they’ll ensure patients have access to a surgical abortion or emergency care if anything goes wrong — part of an FDA risk mitigation program called REMS, which is common to higher-risk medications. When retailers sell unapproved versions of drugs outside of the REMS program — which the FDA says Aid Access and Rablon have — “FDA is well within its regulatory authority to take action,” said Tim Mackey, a UC San Diego School of Medicine expert on counterfeit drugs. (In the case of Aid Access, the pills are imported from India.)

‘Definitely Not an Anti-Vaxxer’: Some Parents Push Back Against Recommended Vaccine Schedule

March 15, 2019

(CNN) – The squabble is often painted as two-sided: In one camp, the medical establishment, backed by science, strongly promoting the vaccination of children against 14 childhood diseases by age 2. In the other, a small but vocal minority — the so-called anti-vaxers — shunning the shots, believing the risks of vaccines outweigh the dangers of the diseases.
The notion that there are two opposing sides obscures a large middle ground occupied by up to one-quarter of parents, who believe in vaccinating their children but, like the Imamuras, choose to do so more gradually. They worry about the health impact of so many shots in so short a period, and in some cases they forgo certain vaccines entirely.

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