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Scientists Faked a Procedure on Patients to Find that Stents Don’t Actually Make them Feel Better

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:33

(Quartz) – Researchers at Imperial College London conducted a study on 200 patients who had one severely blocked artery to the heart, which starves the heart of oxygen and causes chest pain, especially when someone with the condition tries to exert themselves. For six weeks, the research team gave the participants statins and blood pressure medication, and then each patient underwent a routine procedure to insert a stent into the affected arteries. Except only about half of the patients actually got a stent.

Why Plague Caught Madagascar Unaware

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:31

(BBC) – Madagascar is facing the worst outbreak of plague in 50 years. There have been more than 1,800 cases and 127 deaths since the start of August, according to new figures. The island off the south-east coast of Africa is used to seeing about 400 cases of mostly bubonic plague in the same rural areas every year.  But this year it has developed into the deadlier pneumonic version and spread to much more populated areas, including the capital.

Heart Disease Death Rate Plummets, But Overdose Death Rate Rises, CDC Says

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:28

(CNN) – Three new reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bring both good and bad news about Americans’ health. Death rates for heart disease, cancer and HIV are all down in the United States in the year ending mid-2017 compared to the same period last year, according to one report published Friday by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Despite these “wins,” the overall mortality rate has increased from the same time last year, the report also indicated. This overall uptick includes the death rate for drug overdoses.

MDMA’s Journey from Molly to Medicine

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:26

(Scientific American) – The speed and effectiveness of the psychedelic experience Casey describes has caught the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 1985 classification of MDMA as a Schedule I substance—the murderer’s row of illicit drugs that include heroin and are deemed to have no medical value. This past August the FDA granted MDMA “breakthrough therapy” status in the treatment of PTSD, meaning it may provide a substantial improvement over existing therapies. The agency will work closely with MAPS—a privately funded research institute founded 31 years ago in Santa Cruz, California—to design and conduct phase III trials starting next spring. This marks the first time psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will be monitored in phase III trials for possible prescription use.

Can Math Be Used to Predict an Outbreak?

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:17

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) – While sitting in séances and pursuing Marabou storks may seem like extreme measures, the data researchers gather in the field — everything from the size and frequency of bat litters, to the levels of virus in their blood serum — is being used to build mathematical tools that scientists hope will achieve a landmark in human health. They want to predict an infectious outbreak before it happens.

West Virginia Cities Sue Accrediting Group over Painkillers

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:13

(STAT News) – Several West Virginia municipalities are suing The Joint Commission, claiming the Chicago-based health care accreditation group downplayed the dangers of prescription painkillers and helped fuel addictions. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the cities of Charleston, Huntington and Kenova and the town of Ceredo filed the class-action lawsuit Thursday in Charleston.

Red Cross Apologise for Losing $5m of Ebola Funds to Fraud

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:08

(BBC) – The Red Cross has confirmed that more than $5m (£3.8m) of aid money was lost to fraud and corruption during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Auditors found overpriced supplies, salaries for non-existent aid workers and fake customs bills. The disease, which raged between 2014 and 2016, claimed at least 10,000 lives. It required a massive humanitarian operation costing hundreds of millions of dollars to bring it under control.

Baby Gene Therapy Study Offers Hope for Fatal Muscle Disease

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:59

(ABC News) – A first attempt at gene therapy for a disease that leaves babies unable to move, swallow and, eventually, breathe has extended the tots’ lives, and some began to roll over, sit and stand on their own, researchers reported Wednesday. Only 15 babies with spinal muscular atrophy received the experimental gene therapy, but researchers in Ohio credited the preliminary and promising results to replacing the infants’ defective gene early — in the first few months of life, before the neuromuscular disease destroyed too many key nerve cells.

Doubling Down on Gene Therapy for Heart Failure

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:57

(MIT Technology Review) – For over a decade, scientists have been trying to reverse heart failure by delivering a new gene to the heart that makes it better at pumping blood and supplying the body with oxygen. A major clinical trial testing this gene therapy flopped in 2015. But as gene therapy has finally become a reality for other diseases after years in the making, there’s now renewed interest in trying it again for heart failure.

Stem Cell Subset Source of All Blood Cells, Basis of Bone Marrow Transplant Success

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:47

(GEN) – A new blood system isn’t created from scratch—just something close to it. A single type of stem cell, a new study demonstrates, can fully repopulate the bone marrow and give rise to all the cell lineages that constitute a complete blood system. This blood-forming stem cell is distinguished by three cell-surface markers—or rather the presence of two markers and the absence of a third. By heeding these markers, scientists may improve transplantation procedures, as well develop better gene therapy and gene-editing approaches.

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