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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Measles cases top 25-year record

It’s official: 2019 is the worst year for measles in the U.S. in a quarter-century. There have been 971 cases so far this year, according to the CDC, topping the previous record of 963 in 1994. To date, 26 states have reported cases and 10 states are currently battling outbreaks. The bulk of the cases have occurred in New York, which has two large and long-running outbreaks in and around New York City. Public health officials are hoping this year doesn’t break the next record, which is the more than 2,200 cases of measles in 1992. They’re also hoping the New York outbreaks can be stopped in time to preserve the country’s status as having eliminated endemic measles. An outbreak lasting more than a year would threaten that status. 

FDA holds long-awaited CBD hearing

The FDA will hold a long-awaited public hearing today on the regulation of cannabis-derived products, including CBD, the hemp extract currently being put in everything from body lotion to dietary supplements. The meeting is the official public kickoff of what is likely to be a yearslong endeavor to regulate this market. More than 100 participants — including industry representatives, academic researchers, and health professionals — are set to testify. CBD manufacturers, traditional dietary supplement makers, and consumer advocates have all called for clearer rules of the road for the booming market, but the FDA has struggled to regulate the $390 million industry because of uncertainty over whether some of the products ought to count as therapeutics or nutritional supplements. 

Neuroscientist argues against ‘sexist’ beliefs that keep research focused on male animals

In a newly published paper, neurobiologist Rebecca Shansky argues that “sexist” misconceptions continue to persist about female hormones being “messy” and inherently making research more difficult, even when male hormones can often be equally, or more, variable. But such variability is not taken into account when it comes to male research models, Shansky says. The NIH issued a mandate in 2016 to factor sex as a variable when submitting grant applications, but it doesn’t make clear how to incorporate both female and male animals into experiments. Since animal models form the basis of research, “I would hope that if a researcher considers their research to be clinically relevant, then they would want it to be clinically relevant for everyone and not just men,” Shansky tells STAT

Inside STAT: Congress wants an ALS patient to get a therapy never tested in humans 

Jaci Hermstad at her relative's ranch in Webb, Iowa. (HILARY KOLLASCH)

After months of circulating petitions, tweeting at President Trump, and calling on influential politicians in Congress, Iowa’s Jaci Hermstad and her family may finally be getting what they want: the chance to try an experimental drug. Hermstad, a 25-year-old who is dying from a rare form of ALS, has gotten hints from the FDA that she will be able to get a drug that hasn’t ever been tested in humans and therefore does not fit the bill of an experimental drug that patients can have access to under the “right to try” law that was passed last year. But the Hermstads’ success in getting through to the FDA has reignited a debate on how the regulatory agency and politicians play a role in deciding how patients get access to unapproved treatments. STAT’s Nicholas Florko has more here

New Zealand passes first ‘well-being’ budget

Lawmakers in New Zealand passed the country’s first “well-being budget,” an ambitious plan that includes billions of dollars in funding for mental health and combating childhood poverty. The new budget will include an added $1.2 billion for mental health over the next four years, money that will go toward suicide prevention services and free addiction treatment. At least 180,000 children in the country currently live in poverty, and part of the overall budget will go toward halving that number in the next 10 years. While many have lauded the liberal government’s plan, conservative lawmakers have criticized the budget, with some saying it had “style over substance.”  

TV and film feature few portrayals of mental health

A new report from USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative, which studies inclusion and diversity in entertainment, finds that although nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a mental health disorder, portrayals of such conditions on film and TV are rare. Here’s more from the report:

  • On film: A little under 2% of the nearly 4,600 characters from the top 100 movies in 2016 had a mental health condition. Nearly half of such characters were shown in the context of disparagement.  

  • On TV: About 7% of the more than 1,200 TV characters studied had a mental health condition. Half of these characters were shown in a humorous or mocking way.

  • By condition: The most common issue portrayed was addiction, followed by anxiety/PTSD and mood disorders.

What to read around the web today

  • Doctors were alarmed: 'Would I have my children have surgery here?'. The New York Times
  • My science has no nationality. SupChina
  • A scientist keeps claiming his life force can somehow kill cancer cells, and researchers are calling him out. BuzzFeed News
  • Facebook pledged crackdown on vaccine misinformation. Then not much happened. The Wall Street Journal
  • Fertility treatment gets less clinical, more ’grammable. Wired

Thanks for reading! See you on Monday,


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Friday, May 31, 2019


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