(Medical News Today) – Faulty genes are major triggers and drivers of cancer, and the more knowledge we have about them individually, the better we can predict, track, and treat the disease in a way that is specific to individual patients’ particular genetic promoters. To do this, researchers need models that are as realistic as possible. Cell and animal models help, but they do not meet the need at the tissue level. Now, using tissue engineering techniques, researchers have created a human colon model that allows them to identify and track the genes that drive colorectal cancer from initial abnormal mass to invasive tumor.
(New York Times) – Before they see a doctor, most patients turn to websites and smartphone apps. Caution is advised. Research shows they aren’t very good. A few years ago, doctors from the Mayo Clinic tested the wisdom of online health advice. Their conclusion: It’s risky. According to their study, going online for health advice is more likely to result in getting no advice or incomplete advice than the right advice.
(The Washington Post) – Over the last few years, Gilead Sciences has grown into one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, fueled by the sales of expensive specialty treatments for hepatitis C. The company’s revenue has tripled since 2012, to $32.6 billion last year. According to a report to be released Wednesday, Gilead has also developed another specialty: Avoiding billions in taxes.
(UPI) – Researchers have found a human protein that can help grow large numbers of stem cells, which may reduce the time and cost required to produce the billions of cells needed for use in disease treatment. The protein inter-alpha inhibitor, derived from human blood, eliminated the need for highly prepared cultures generally used to produce pluripotent stem cells, according to a study conducted Uppsala University and the University of Nottingham.
(ABC News) – The risk of Zika virus transmission during the upcoming Olympic games in Rio will be low due to colder weather, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. In a new risk-assessment report, the CDC found that since the games are occurring during winter in Brazil, the cooler, drier weather will reduce mosquito populations, thus lowering the chance of Zika transmission to visiting athletes and spectators. Additionally, the agency found that even though there will be increased travel to the area for the Olympics, the overall risk of the virus being transmitted to new areas due to Olympics-related travel is low.
(University of Texas) – Character traits, such as grit or desire to learn, have a heavy hand in academic success and are partially rooted in genetics, according to a psychology study at The University of Texas at Austin. Though academic achievement is dependent on cognitive abilities, such as logic and reasoning, researchers believe certain personality and character traits can motivate and drive learning.
(Managed Care Magazine) – In hospitals nationwide, workarounds to compensate for medication shortages are daily routines for treating patients––and health experts say it’s not about to change any time soon, according to a report from WNPR News. Acute-care drugs in short supply nationally include antibiotics, antipsychotics, intravenous saline, and morphine. In Connecticut, hospital officials say they are turning to alternative drugs, rationing supplies, or seeking new suppliers to work around the shortages.
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – The advance of human civilization has been driven by game-changing technologies that give us new capabilities to improve the fundamental aspects of our lives. Examples of such technologies include autonomous vehicles and 3D printing. One game-changing technology of the future—with as much disruptive potential as both 3D printing and autonomous vehicles—is synthetic biology. What grounds are there for taking this view?
(JAMA) – Effective antiretroviral therapy has dramatically changed the health outcomes of people living with HIV. Although many HIV-positive patients now enjoy life expectancies similar to those of the general population, certain chronic diseases are more prevalent, and when present, these conditions appear to progress more rapidly. For example, co-infection with hepatitis C can result in liver failure, which is a major cause of death among people with HIV. Kidney disease is also common, with HIV-associated nephropathy being a leading cause of renal failure.
(The Guardian) – The US is facing what many are describing as an opioid crisis, with growing numbers of deaths associated both with opioid medications and overdoses on heroin – 19,000 in 2014 linked to opioids alone. But in the swirl of debate over the subject, there’s one group of Americans we aren’t hearing from: chronic pain patients, many of whom need to use opioids on a long-term basis to control their pain effectively.
(Medscape) – When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched its Open Payments program to reveal online what drug and device makers gave physicians and hospitals, the agency thought transparency could “deter inappropriate financial relationships,” as it said in a regulatory document. Whether or not professional conflicts of interest have lessened since the program debuted in 2013, the volume of money flowing from industry to clinicians has not. CMS published Open Payments data yesterday for 2015, showing that drug and device makers gave $7.52 billion in cash, food, and ownership and investment interests to physicians and teaching hospitals. That figure represents a 0.4% increase over the $7.49 billion reported for 2014.
(UPI) – A series of experimental surgeries suggests applying a patch to fetuses with spina bifida could prevent them from being born with the condition and allow for normal development. Researchers at the University of Texas found a donated patch from cryopreserved human umbilical cord could treat spina bifida and allow children to avoid the developmental problems it causes.
(Reuters) – The biggest barrier to high-quality end-of-life care for patients with blood cancers may be unrealistic expectations, a new survey found. For patients with solid-tumor cancers, standards for quality end-of-life care include not receiving chemotherapy in the last two weeks before death, and not being intubated in the final month. Doctors caring for patients with blood cancers like lymphoma or leukemia believe the same standards can apply to them, too.
(Fox News) – Australia declared on Monday the AIDS epidemic is no longer a public health issue there, a month after the United Nations adopted an ambitious target to eliminate the threat globally by 2030. The government-backed Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and top scientists said the number of people being diagnosed with AIDS in Australia was now so small it was no longer reported.
(Managed Care Magazine) – Writing on the TheMighty.com, a website where people with chronic and mental illness post firsthand accounts, Jessica Hawk-Tillman, a young woman with RA, described vividly the risk–benefit dilemma posed by biologic medications like the ones Frey used: “Without biologic drugs, many people with these diseases cannot perform daily tasks or even get out of bed. With them, our immune systems are suppressed, so we are at a greater risk of developing other illnesses.” Moreover, wrote Hawk-Tillman, biologics often provide just partial relief—and even that modest goal may require enduring the ups and downs of trial and error.
(The Korea Times) – Korea has approved CHA University’s embryonic stem cell research seven years after it submitted the plan, on condition that it abides by high ethical standards, the government said Monday. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it allowed the research team led by Prof. Lee Dong-ryul to use 600 egg cells in the next five years for the purpose of developing rare disease treatments.
(New Scientist) – Following these setbacks, the International AIDS Society has now released a new road map, outlining more realistic plans for fighting HIV. Before there can be hope of a cure, researchers need to tackle important gaps in knowledge, including where and how the virus hides, and how to detect the dormant virus. “The challenges remain substantial,” it concludes. But while a cure remains a long way off, Lewin says there are better prospects for achieving long periods of remission.
(The Guardian) – Britain’s vote to leave the EU has unleashed a wave of discrimination against UK researchers, with elite universities in the country coming under pressure to abandon collaborations with European partners. In a confidential survey of the UK’s Russell Group universities, the Guardian found cases of British academics being asked to leave EU-funded projects or to step down from leadership roles because they are considered a financial liability.
(Scientific American) – Researchers at Stanford University have coaxed brain cells involved in vision to regrow and make functional connections—helping to upend the conventional dogma that mammalian brain cells, once damaged, can never be restored. The work was carried out in visually impaired mice but suggests that human maladies including glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injuries might be more repairable than has long been believed.
(The Washington Post) – Irving Gottesman, a psychologist whose groundbreaking studies of twins in the 1960s helped reveal a genetic link to schizophrenia, a finding that upended the prevailing but deeply flawed view of the disorder as a consequence of bad parenting, died June 29 at his home in Edina, Minn. He was 85. His death was announced by the University of Minnesota, where Dr. Gottesman founded a center for the study of behavioral genetics in 1966. The cause was an apparent stroke, said his wife, Carol Gottesman.