Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

New details emerge in case of first death from fecal transplant

A 73-year-old man with a compromised immune system this spring was the first person to die from a rare, drug-resistant E. coli bacteria after receiving a stool transplant, and new details published in NEJM yesterday say the man had been a participant in a clinical trial being run by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He had received fecal transplant capsules in November from a single donor, and scientists just revealed that 21 other people also received capsules from the same batch. One other person thus far has become sick from the capsules, but has recovered. Others also tested positive for the bacteria but haven’t fallen ill. In January, MGH began screening would-be donors for such bacteria, but it didn’t test capsules that had been made before then.

Many fast-food chains failing to keep antibiotics out of their beef supply

A new report from the National Resources Defense Council and other entities finds that most fast-food chains are failing to source beef raised without antibiotics. Cutting back on these drugs in food is one way to address growing antibiotic resistance, experts have warned. Here’s more: 

  • Leaders: Of the food chains examined in the report, only Chipotle and Panera earned grades in the “A” range for not serving beef raised with any antibiotics. 
  • At the bottom: Nine food chains, including Olive Garden and Domino’s, earned an “F” grade for not establishing policies to restrict the use of antibiotics in their beef supply. 

  • Middle of the pack: McDonald’s and Subway earned “C” grades for outlining policies, although none have been implemented yet. 

Reformatting journal submissions costs more than $1 billion in researchers’ time

Since it’s Halloween, here’s a scary thought: The effort that researchers spend reformatting articles to submit to different journals adds up to more than $1 billion when accounting for teams’ time. A new paper surveyed the authors of nearly 300 research articles published across 96 journals. Even though most scientists submit manuscripts to more than one journal, only 4% of these journals said the first submission was free of any formatting requirements. For most of the publications, authors spent between one and three days on reformatting alone, which resulted in more than a two-week delay in submissions — for about 20% of these publications, this pushed things back by more than three months. Using first-year postdoc salaries as a benchmark, these tasks cost around $1.1 billion in researchers’ time — in the U.S. alone, that amount is an estimated $200 million annually.  

Inside STAT: Social capital first, science second: Biotech's recipe for success has limits


For PanTher Therapeutics founder Laura Indolfi, the crucial moment when her startup went from idea to reality was not based on the science behind her company. Indolfi met with a longtime mentor for coffee, by the end of which she had a key investor. “That pivotal moment had nothing to do with the technology,” Indolfi tells STAT’s Kate Sheridan. “It was a personal connection. You need that.” Indolfi’s experience is rather universal in the world of biotech. Who you know — and not necessarily what science you’re bringing to the table — often dictates whether a company takes off or fizzles out. That reality, however, often means that women, people of color, or even those who don’t live on either coast are shut out and don’t get the opportunity to expand their ideas. Read more here

White House launches website for addiction treatment resources

The Trump administration just launched a new website aimed at helping those with substance use disorders learn about treatment options. The website — — contains information for some 13,000 licensed treatment providers that was previously difficult to find. The site streamlines the process and allows for more precise searches, including treatment type (inpatient or telemedicine, for instance), payment options, and whether the treatment will be medication-assisted. There are also educational resources for patients and their families on paying for treatment. The launch of the site is the latest in the federal government’s attempts to curb the opioid epidemic — some 70,000 people in 2017 alone died from drug overdoses, mostly involving opioids. 

Bariatric surgery may not be cost-effective in the long run

Bariatric surgery is known to improve patients’ health in the long term, but a new study finds that the surgery may not be cost-effective in the long run. Looking at data from nearly 10,000 predominantly male patients — about 2,500 of whom underwent bariatric surgery — researchers found that the mean total expenditure in the six months following surgery was nearly $7,500. At the 10-year mark, it increased to about $8,500. Compared to the non-surgery cohort, those who underwent surgery had higher health spending in the three years before and the two years after surgery, although the two groups’ spending converged at five and 10 years after surgery. Bariatric surgery’s value may primarily lie in its health — and not cost — benefits, the authors conclude. 

What to read around the web today

  • Why Bill Gates' spending on Alzheimer's research is modest. STAT Plus
  • Ph.D.–turned–policy insider takes over world’s largest science society. Science
  • A woman's grief led to a mental health crisis and a $21,634 hospital bill. NPR
  • Veterans want answers as new data shows rise in cancers over two decades of war. McClatchy DC
  • Welcome to “Cancer Alley,” where toxic air is about to get worse. ProPublica

Have a safe Halloween! I'll be back with more tomorrow,


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Thursday, October 31, 2019


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