(NPR) – Patients who suffer injuries, infections or mistakes during medical care rarely get an acknowledgment or apology, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine report. Their study was based on responses of 236 patients who completed ProPublica’s Patient Harm Questionnaire during the one-year period ending in May 2013 and who agreed to share their data.
(Wired) – Scientists make this season’s flu vaccine based on the strains of the virus that circulated during the last flu season. It’s a flawed approach, but it’s the best they can do given that it takes months to make the vaccine, and there’s no way—at least not yet—to predict how the virus might evolve in the interim. But a new computer modeling study suggests the human immune system has a better memory than scientists had thought for strains of the flu it’s encountered in the past. In the future, the researchers say, it might be possible to exploit this to design better vaccines.
(Washington Post) – U.S. officials are scrambling to resolve a key logistical hurdle in fighting the fast-moving Ebola epidemic in Liberia: the ability to transport blood samples from remote areas of the country for laboratory testing. In recent weeks, the outbreak in Liberia has changed. Aid workers are responding to Ebola “brush fires” that pop up daily, often in hard-to-reach spots. Teams often travel hours, even days, on foot or in canoes to reach suspected Ebola patients in villages and towns.
(Washington Post) – Being chosen in the monthly lottery can be life-changing for those who are poor and without health insurance in Arlington, one of the nation’s wealthiest counties. Each month, about 100 people line up for the chance, a multilingual mix of hope, desperation and determination.
(New York Times) – The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a powerful long-acting opioid painkiller, alarming some addiction experts who fear that its widespread use may contribute to the rising tide of prescription drug overdoses. The new drug, Hysingla, and another drug approved earlier this year, Zohydro, contain pure hydrocodone, a narcotic, without the acetaminophen used in other opioids. But Hysingla is to be made available as an “abuse-deterrent” tablet that cannot easily be broken or crushed by addicts looking to snort or inject it.
(Medical Xpress) – The portion of the adult brain responsible for complex thought, known as the cerebral cortex, lacks the ability to replace neurons that die as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other devastating diseases. A study in the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s journal Stem Cell Reports, published by Cell Press on November 20 shows that a Sox2 protein, alone or in combination with another protein, Ascl1, can cause nonneuronal cells, called NG2 glia, to turn into neurons in the injured cerebral cortex of adult mice. The findings reveal that NG2 glia represent a promising target for neuronal cell replacement strategies to treat traumatic brain injury.
The Cellular Origin of Fibrosis: Team Identifies Rare Stem Cells That Give Rise of Chronic Tissue Scarring
(Medical Xpress) – Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found the cellular origin of the tissue scarring caused by organ damage associated with diabetes, lung disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and other conditions. The buildup of scar tissue is known as fibrosis…The researchers, led by Benjamin Humphreys, MD, PhD, found that a rare population of stem cells located outside of blood vessels in mice become myofibroblast cells that secrete proteins that cause scar tissue.
(Medical Xpress) – Mouse cells and tissues created through nuclear transfer can be rejected by the body because of a previously unknown immune response to the cell’s mitochondria, according to a study in mice by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and colleagues in Germany, England and at MIT. The findings reveal a likely, but surmountable, hurdle if such therapies are ever used in humans, the researchers said.
(Managed Care Magazine) – Until now, no predictive tool existed for a risk-based customization of the immunosuppression therapy. That may now change. A group from the University of Pittsburgh, one of the pioneer transplant sites, has come up with an FDA-approved predictive test that has been shown to help with this decision making. The test, called Pleximmune, is available from a small corporation called Plexision, also located in Pittsburgh. Pleximmune is an aid in the evaluation of the risk of acute cellular rejection and must be used in conjunction with biopsy, standard clinical assessment, and other laboratory information.
(Times of India) – In a unique technique that could boost the success of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, a fertility centre in the city helped Divya deliver a pair of twins after testing the embryo for genetic defects before implanting it in her uterus. The process involved taking a single cell from the embryo and testing it to rule out defects.
(Eurekalert) – In the study, Mount Sinai researchers administered stem cell factor (SCF) by gene transfer shortly after inducing heart attacks in pre-clinical models directly into damaged heart tissue to test its regenerative repair response. A novel SCF gene transfer delivery system induced the recruitment and expansion of adult c-Kit positive (cKit+) cardiac stem cells to injury sites that reversed heart attack damage. In addition, the gene therapy improved cardiac function, decreased heart muscle cell death, increased regeneration of heart tissue blood vessels, and reduced the formation of heart tissue scarring.
(New York Times) – In many ways, Duff’s is like our health care system. Someone else appears to be paying for it, so who cares how much it costs? To fight this, insurers continue to raise co-payments and deductibles, making us pay more in an attempt to reduce inefficient spending. But health care costs continue to rise. Recently, the agency that runs Medicare said that health spending would increase by 5.6 percent in 2014, 2 percentage points more than last year. Health care prices in the United States dwarf those of all other industrialized countries.
(World Health Organization) – As of today, Mali has officially reported a cumulative total of 6 cases of Ebola virus disease, with 5 deaths. Of the 6 cases, 5 are laboratory confirmed and one remains probable as no samples were available for testing. These numbers include the 2-year-old girl who initially imported the virus into Mali and died of the disease on 24 October.
(The Telegraph) – A company which prints robotic limbs is offering hope to children who have lost arms and legs. Open Bionics is the first company to use a 3D printing and scanning technique to create affordable working prosthetics which can be changed frequently as a child grows.
(Wired) – Priori is one of many efforts to address mental health through smartphone apps. Tools gestating within startups, academic institutions, and research clinics aim to help people manage everything from severe depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Through the discreet and continuous recording of social and physical behavior, these apps can detect changes in mental well-being, deliver micro-interventions when and where needed, and give patients a new awareness of their own illnesses. In the long run, they may even diminish the stigma attached to mental health disorders.
(New York Times) – The case of a Navy medical officer who refused to force-feed prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prompted the country’s largest nursing organization on Wednesday to petition the Defense Department for leniency, citing professional ethical guidelines that support the officer’s decision. The officer is a nurse and 18-year Navy veteran whose commander has called for an internal inquiry into the refusal, his lawyer said.
(Associated Press) – Some low-cost generic drugs that have helped restrain health care costs for decades are seeing unexpected price spikes of up to 8,000 percent, prompting a backlash from patients, pharmacists and now Washington lawmakers. Members of the Senate meet Thursday to scrutinize the recent, unexpected trend among generic medicines, which are copies of branded drugs that have lost patent protection. They usually cost between 30 to 80 percent less than the original medicines.
(Mumbai Mirror) – Seven senior doctors from Maharashtra, including three physicians from Mumbai, are among the 300 doctors summoned by the Medical Council of India (MCI) on charges of accepting bribes from a pharmaceutical firm. From huge amounts of cash to cars, flats and exotic foreign tours, an anonymous complaint received by the MCI has accused these doctors to have taken several benefits for promoting an Ahmedabadbased pharma firm by prescribing its medicines.
(NPR) – If a person can get treatment, he or she has nearly a 40 percent chance of surviving Ebola. But for a pregnant woman and her fetus, Ebola is almost a death sentence. One small study found a fatality rate around 95 percent. The woman invariably passes the virus to the fetus. And the fetus dies before labor, or it’s born and dies shortly after. The devastation doesn’t stop there. Both the baby and the woman’s amniotic fluid are flooded with Ebola virus — and are highly infectious.
(Bloomberg) – Come for the gold-spired temples and sun-kissed beaches; stay for the low-cost, U.S.-accredited medical services. Or vice versa. That’s the Land of Smiles today, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its December issue. Foreigners seeking treatment for everything from open-heart surgery to gender reassignment have made Thailand the world’s No. 1 destination for so-called medical tourism, luring as many as 1.8 million overseas visitors in 2013, according to Patients Beyond Borders, a consulting firm based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.