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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

WHO advisory committee calls for registry of studies on human genome editing

A WHO advisory committee on human genome editing plans to ask the agency to establish a global registry of all research on editing human DNA. The committee will also urge the WHO to recommend that scientific journals not publish any unregistered studies and ask science funders to require grantees to register their studies. The registry would include studies where DNA of eggs, sperm, and early embryos are edited — known as germline editing — as well as of studies where adult cells are edited for the purpose of curing disease. “We think this could make a very important difference and could increase transparency around what kind of research is going on in this area,” said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, co-chair of the advisory committee.

The committee did not specifically call for a moratorium on editing human embryos, but did say that it is “irresponsible for anyone to proceed with human germline genome editing.”

FDA approves first postpartum depression drug

The FDA approved brexanolone late yesterday, making it the first drug to specifically treat postpartum depression. Sage Therapeutics will market the drug as Zulresso, which will cost $34,000 for a single course of treatment. Experts praised the drug because it works fast, but there are factors that may limit its usage. Zulresso is given intravenously over 60 hours and must be delivered in an inpatient facility or hospital. But Sage is developing another similar postpartum depression drug, which is taken as a daily pill.

Plan for Sackler family gift to London National Portrait Gallery is dropped

The National Portrait Gallery in London has agreed to decline a $1.3 million donation from the Sackler family, who control Purdue Pharma and have been accused of seeding the opioid crisis by illegally marketing OxyContin. In a joint statement, the museum and the family’s charitable organization say the decision was reached together. “It has become evident that recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work,” the statement says. The gallery had been debating for more than a year on whether to accept the donation, according to Artnet News, which first reported the decision.

Inside STAT: What was it like when mumps was rampant? Ask Greg

Left, a 1957 photo of Greg Cox and his brother Greg. Right, a present-day recreation. (AP, Courtesy Greg Cox)

In 1957, a 7-year-old Greg Cox was at home in Illinois with a compress wrapped from chin to hairline and a wistful gaze at his younger brother, who was bundled up and ready to play outdoors. A sign tacked to the family’s kitchen door said, “Greg can’t play,” followed by “MUMPS.” This was nearly a decade before the U.S. began a mumps vaccination program and 15 years before the combined mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine was licensed. Now a Louisiana resident, 69-year-old Greg still remembers mumps as being pretty painful. He also remembers having measles and chickenpox, which were “very itchy.” STAT’s Helen Branswell has more on Greg, whose childhood scene was captured in photo distributed by the Associated Press, here.

Committee to examine the future of nursing

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Committee on the Future of Nursing is holding its first public meeting today. There are roughly 3 million nurses working in the U.S., and amid concerns of a workforce shortage, community leaders are looking for ways to sustain the field. The committee, which will produce a 10-year plan, will explore various issues facing nurses, including health care reform and integration of new technologies. Leaders of health groups, including AARP and the American Nurses Association, will be providing comments. You can tune in to the webcast starting at 1:30 p.m. ET here.

Daily, high-potency marijuana use linked to increased rates of psychosis

Daily use of marijuana, and using strains with high levels of the compound THC, could be more harmful to mental health than previously thought. Researchers looked at incidence of first-time psychosis in 900 adults across 11 European countries between 2010 and 2015. About 37 percent of people who experienced psychosis for the first time also reported using high-potency cannabis — which is made up of 10 percent or more of THC. Nearly 1 in 3 of those who experienced episodes of psychosis also reported daily cannabis use, compared to about 7 percent of healthy controls who reported daily use. Although these findings only show correlation, the authors write the possible adverse effects associated with daily and high-potency marijuana use must be acknowledged alongside the potential medicinal properties of the drug.

What to read around the web today

  • Opinion: Biosimilar approval and adoption in the U.S. needs to be expedited. STAT
  • How a measles quarantine can lead to eviction. The Atlantic
  • University of Illinois at Chicago missed warning signs of research going awry, letters show. ProPublica
  • Aspiring doctors seek advanced training in addiction medicine. NPR
  • Monsanto weedkiller Roundup was ‘substantial factor’ in causing man’s cancer, jury says. The New York Times

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, March 20, 2019


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