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Ebola Vaccine Approved as Second Jab Trialled

November 13, 2019

(BBC) – A second Ebola vaccine is to be offered to around 50,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of a major clinical trial. The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine will be used alongside a vaccine made by Merck, which has already been given to around 250,000 people. Merck’s jab has now been approved by the World Health Organization. More than 2,100 people have died in DR Congo, in the second largest Ebola outbreak on record.

Valued for Their Tech, Silicon Valley Digital Health Companies Rely Heavily on Armies of Faraway Coaches

November 13, 2019

(STAT News) – Digital health companies like Omada are now booming businesses. Although their models vary, they all monitor and educate people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression — and make money by charging their employers or health plans, with the promise of ultimately lowering medical costs. In just the past few months, leading companies in the sector have gone public, been acquired by Google (GOOGL), and raised tens of millions of dollars of venture capital funding. Relatively underlooked, however, is just how reliant the sector is on human labor — namely, armies of health coaches like Moberly working from home offices hundreds or thousands of miles from corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley.

More Trial Results Are Being Posted to Public Databases, But Quality Is Lacking, Report Finds

November 13, 2019

(STAT News) – A new report examining the first decade of study results being reported on ClinicalTrials[dot]gov finds that there has been slow progress among drug companies and academic research centers in reporting the results of human studies, but the quality of the data may still present a larger problem.

First, Take No Stand

November 13, 2019

(The New Atlantis) – The narrative Dr. Shavelson offers, however — of benighted doctors led into the light of assisted suicide by education and patient demand — ignores the larger story. A closer look at the recent rash of legalization of assisted suicide in several states and countries shows that doctors’ own medical associations actively helped to pave the way, all while ducking behind a disingenuous guise of merely staying neutral. The story is a growing scandal to the profession of medicine. But it is not too late to undo.

A New Study Found Marijuana Legalization Leads to More Problematic Use

November 13, 2019

(Vox) – A new study suggests that marijuana legalization leads to more cannabis use and perhaps addiction, particularly among adults 26 and older — highlighting a public health downside to a policy change that now 11 states and Washington, DC, have adopted and several others are considering. The consequences could be serious.

More Adolescents Seek Medical Care for Mental Health Issues

November 12, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – The spike in youth mental health visits corresponds with a recent survey that found that members of “Generation Z” — defined in the survey as people born since 1997 — are more likely than other generations to report their mental health as fair or poor. The 2018 polling, done on behalf of the American Psychological Association, also found that members of Generation Z, along with millennials, are more likely to report receiving treatment for mental health issues.

Google Reportedly Amassed Private Health Data on Millions of People Without Their Knowledge

November 12, 2019

(Gizmodo) – Google has tapped a partnership with a prominent healthcare services company to advance its healthcare software services offerings. But a new report alleges the data being used for the project comes from the health records of tens of millions of people who have no idea their data is being used by Google for this purpose.

‘Make Ebola a Thing of the Past’: First Vaccine Against Deadly Virus Approved

November 12, 2019

(Nature) – The world finally has an Ebola vaccine. On 11 November, European regulators approved a vaccine that has already helped to control deadly outbreaks of the virus — the first time any immunization against Ebola has passed this hurdle. The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to allow US pharmaceutical company Merck to market its vaccine means that the product can now be stockpiled and, potentially, distributed more widely, in particular in Africa.

Google’s Secret ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans

November 11, 2019

(The Wall Street Journal) – Google is engaged in a secret project with one of the country’s largest health-care systems to collect and crunch the detailed personal health information of millions of Americans across 21 states, according to people familiar with the matter and internal documents. The initiative, code-named “Project Nightingale,” appears to be the largest in a series of efforts by Silicon Valley giants to gain access to personal health data and establish a toehold in the massive health-care industry. 

The World’s First Gattaca Baby Tests Are Finally Here

November 11, 2019

(MIT Technology Review) – Anxious couples are approaching fertility doctors in the US with requests for a hotly debated new genetic test being called “23andMe, but on embryos.” The baby-picking test is being offered by a New Jersey startup company, Genomic Prediction, whose plans we first reported on two years ago. The company says it can use DNA measurements to predict which embryos from an IVF procedure are least likely to end up with any of 11 different common diseases. In the next few weeks it’s set to release case studies on its first clients. 

Ignored, Threatened, Berated: After Difficult Childbirth Experiences, New Parents Seek Healing by Speaking Up

November 11, 2019

(STAT News) – That feeling isn’t rare. A 2019 study of more than 2,100 U.S. mothers found that 1 in 6 reported “mistreatment” during childbirth, including being ignored, threatened or berated, or losing their autonomy. Women of color were even more likely to report such experiences. It can be hard for parents to speak up after a difficult childbirth. But a small number of health care providers and others are beginning to encourage them to speak up — and to provide feedback about their experiences. In some cases, the process is helping give parents closure, and may even bring about change. In other cases, looking forward may prove better than looking back.

Ebola Vaccine Approved in Europe in Landmark Moment in Fight Against a Deadly Disease

November 11, 2019

(STAT News) – After more than two decades of research, the world finally has an approved Ebola vaccine. The European Commission granted marketing authorization to Merck’s vaccine, known as Ervebo, on Monday, less than a month after the European Medicines Agency recommended it be licensed. Previously, the vaccine has been used only in clinical trials.

This Booth Can Virtually Connect Patients with Clinicians and Dispense Medications. Will Patients Use It?

November 8, 2019

(STAT News) – The pod — it looks something like an oversized phone booth — is a free-standing telehealth clinic, stocked with all the instruments a virtual practitioner might need to diagnose run-of-the-mill illnesses or dole out common prescriptions. On the wall, there’s a roughly 3-foot-tall video screen where a nurse practitioner can pop up for a chat. There’s a high-resolution camera on a cord, waiting to drop down from the ceiling if a provider needs to see a problem up close. And there’s even a hidden little robotic pharmacy — the highly secured vault — stocked with basic prescription medicines, plus a credit card reader that lets patients pay for them.

Feds Say Self-Driving Uber SUV Did Not Recognize Jaywalking Pedestrian in Fatal Crash

November 8, 2019

(NPR) – The self-driving Uber SUV involved in a crash that killed a Tempe, Ariz., woman last year did not recognize her as a jaywalking pedestrian and its braking system was not designed to avoid an imminent collision, according to a federal report released this week. The conclusions by the National Transportation Safety Board were published ahead of a Nov. 19 meeting in Washington, D.C., called to discuss the cause of the crash and safety recommendations. The self-driving vehicle struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on March 18, 2018, as she was walking across the street with her bicycle outside of a crosswalk.

Who Owns H.I.V.-Prevention Drugs? The Taxpayers, U.S. Says

November 8, 2019

(New York Times) – After years of prodding by patient advocates, federal officials on Wednesday sued the drug maker Gilead Sciences, charging that it had infringed government patents on the idea of preventing H.I.V. with a daily pill. The suit, by the Department of Health and Human Services, came as a pleasant shock to many critics of the company, including Democratic members of Congress who had pressed the administration to act. It is very rare for the government to take on a drug maker over patents. 

CRISPR Approach to Fighting Cancer Called ‘Promising’ in 1st Safety Test

November 8, 2019

(NPR) – The powerful gene-editing technique known as CRISPR has raised a lot of hope in recent years for its potential to offer new ways to treat many diseases, including cancer. But until now, scientists have released very little information about results of tests in patients. On Wednesday, researchers revealed data from the first study involving U.S. cancer patients who received cells genetically modified with CRISPR. The highly anticipated results, while quite preliminary, seem to be encouraging, scientists say.

How Unproven Stem Cell Therapies Are Costing Desperate Patients

November 8, 2019

(Texas Monthly) – On a Wednesday afternoon in September 2018, Dilley and her mother arrived at the Houston clinic and, while in the waiting room, chatted with the other patients. They learned that a few others were also from Brazoria County and had read about stem cells in “Conversations With Gin.” They’d come seeking relief from neck pain, back pain, and arthritis. One by one, they were called back to an area where they sat in recliners and were handed frozen vials, about the size of a paper clip, which they were instructed to warm in their fists. The contents were then transferred to a syringe and injected.

‘Crimes Against Humanity’: Is China Killing Political Prisoners for Their Organs?

November 8, 2019

(Sydney Morning Herald) – In the years following, he often thought back on the X-rays and blood tests. He thought about when the prisoners were instructed by the guards not to injure his organs. Though he had heard whispers of prisoners being killed for their organs, he had always found it hard to believe. Then he remembered one particular day, in 2007. He had been in his cell when a senior guard, named Li Wei, came to see him privately. “He bent down so we were almost face to face, and said, ‘Nothing is impossible!’?” In December 2018, Tony gave evidence via phone to the China Tribunal, an independent inquiry held in London into the murder in China of prisoners of conscience for their organs.

A New Type of Genetic Profiling Promises Cleverer, Better-Looking Children.

November 7, 2019

(The Economist) – There is, however, a third way that the genetic dice which are thrown at the beginning of human life might be loaded—and it does not involve any risky tinkering. It is a twist on the well-established procedure of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The twist would be to decide, on the basis of their DNA, which of a group of available embryos should be implanted and brought to term. The result would be a child optimised with the best-available genetic profile for a long and healthy life. And this is not science fiction.

Sequencing the Genome of Every UK Baby Would Be an Ethical Minefield

November 7, 2019

(New Scientist) – Plans for the National Health Service to sequence the DNA of every baby born in the UK, starting with a pilot scheme of 20,000 children, were announced by health minister Matt Hancock this week. It sounds like the UK is leading the way in high-tech healthcare – but doctors are saying the idea is ethically questionable. Babies are already tested for certain health conditions soon after birth, so it may seem as though sequencing their genome, their entire set of genes, is a simple upgrade of this routine screening, but that isn’t the case.

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