Friday, August 18, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Welcome to the end of the work week, and welcome to Morning Rounds. Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

Two major groups drop Mar-a-Lago galas

The Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society are both searching for new fundraising venues after pulling their big annual galas from President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. The Cleveland Clinic's decision marks a reversal from its prior commitment to keep the event at Mar-a-Lago — where it has been hosted for the past eight years — despite fierce criticism of President Trump's plan to repeal the ACA and cut federal research funding. The decision from both groups to pull their fundraisers from the Florida resort comes amid increasing pressure on businesses to distance themselves from Trump after his initial failure to denounce white nationalist groups involved in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Most people who wear contacts have bad contact habits

Almost everybody who wears contacts is bad at wearing contacts. A new report from the CDC finds that 87 percent of people age 25 and older report at least one bad habit when it comes to wearing and taking care of their contacts. The most common crimes: not swapping out contacts or contact cases often enough, and falling asleep without taking out contacts. Those habits can increase the chance of an eye infection and cause problems with vision.

Is this condition being overdiagnosed among women?

The number of women being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome is on the rise — but experts suspect that's partly due to an expanded definition that's driving over-diagnosis of the disease. Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is characterized by enlarged ovaries that have small cysts on the edges, often caused by hormonal problems. There isn’t a cure for the condition, and it’s been tied to a potentially higher risk of fertility problems, depression, and anxiety. But despite the wide range of symptoms that show up with PCOS, there's something of a one-size-fits-all set of diagnostic criteria for the disease.

In a new editorial, experts argue that's leading some women who are diagnosed with PCOS but likely aren’t at risk for long-term consequences to undergo unnecessary tests and procedures. Clinicians in the field say they're aware that's an issue, and would like to see more research to develop evidence-based guidelines. “The diagnostic criteria can lead to over-diagnosis, over-utilization of medical resources, and unintended patient harm,” Dr. Richard Legro, an OB-GYN and researcher at Penn State, tells me. 

Inside STAT: Can watching the eclipse hurt your eyes?


(alex hogan / stat)

People across the U.S. will be able to view the solar eclipse on Monday — and with the excitement over the spectacle comes a reminder to shield your eyes from its light. When you look at something bright, the pupils naturally get a little bit smaller to let in less light and protect the eyes. It might feel a bit easier to look at the sun when it’s covered by the moon during an eclipse — but it’s not any safer. Even staring at just a sliver of the sun can burn the retinas and cause vision problems. To watch the solar eclipse without damaging your eyes, you need special solar eclipse glasses that only let in a tiny fraction of the sun’s light. We get into the science of how a solar eclipse affects the eyes in a new video — watch here

Bacteria escape an amoeba by shooting tiny daggers

Bacteria living inside an amoeba can shoot teeny, tiny daggers into the amoeba’s gut to save itself from being digested, according to new research published in Science. There’s a particular type of bacteria that loves living inside of amoebae (true to its name, Amoebophilus). But the living situation can turn tumultuous if an amoeba tries to absorb the bacteria into a digestive compartment. To see how bacteria escaped, scientists at ETH Zurich froze amoebae right after they’d absorbed bacteria.  They used an ion beam to chip away at the frozen specimens and saw that bacteria use a spring-loaded dagger on their own membranes to shoot through the compartment they’re stuck inside. 

Lab Chat: Barcodes on stem cells track how they grow

Scientists have long tried to nail down how the cell types in human blood develop from stem cells. Now, scientists have slapped microscopic genetic barcodes on those stem cells to identify what they turn into over time. Here’s what Weike Pei of the German Cancer Research Center told me about the work, published in Nature.

What’s been the strategy to study where single cells come from?

Scientists have been using fluorescence proteins to mark specific cells and track the behavior of different fluorescence colors in their daughter cells. Due to the limitation of total numbers of available colors, [that's] not sufficient to track the cell fate in a complex system which consists of many cell types. To overcome this challenge, we developed a new research tool called Polylox which labels each cell with an artificial DNA sequence.

How does it work?

The labeling and reading process is just like the way people track goods in the supermarket. Cre is a type of enzyme [used] to create a DNA barcode in the genome of a cell. And the DNA barcode is passed to daughter cells and scanned by reading the barcode sequence to link the precursor and progeny. 

What to read around the web today

  • The night oxygen ran out in an Indian hospital. New York Times
  • India threatens Philip Morris with 'punitive action' over alleged violations. Reuters
  • Many nurses lack knowledge of health risks for new mothers. ProPublica / NPR

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! Back first thing Monday morning, 


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