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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Commission charts path to end TB within a generation

Ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on Sunday, the Lancet Commission on tuberculosis just announced a set of strategies to eliminate the respiratory disease within a generation. The commission — which is comprised of 39 commissioners from 13 countries and makes policy recommendations to countries with high TB rates — says that the plan includes investments in rapid diagnostics, treatment for the most high-risk populations, and vaccine development. But implementing these strategies around the world comes at a high price: an extra $5 billion per year, which would almost double the current global funding to fight the disease. TB is currently the most deadly infectious disease, killing roughly 4,500 people every day.

U.K. health secretary calls for NHS to roll out routine genetic testing

U.K. health secretary Matthew Hancock is calling on the NHS to expand the genomic services it covers to include predictive risk testing to assess a person’s probability of developing diseases such as cancer. “I see it as a game-changer for cancer screening in the NHS, and I’m determined that we harness this technology to save lives,” he said yesterday during a speech at The Royal Society in London. Hancock shared that he took a genetic test and learned that he had a 50 percent higher than average risk of getting prostate cancer, and that he was planning to get further testing. Hancock was quickly criticized for his comments — some scientists said he was misinterpreting the results of his genetic testing, while others raised concern his plans would ultimately waste NHS resources. 

Long-term medications for opioid addiction are effective but difficult to access

A new report says that medicines to treat opioid use disorder are effective, but that the vast majority of people who need the treatments aren’t getting them. Previous research has shown that opioid-addicted individuals are up to 50 percent less likely to die when they are being treated long term with methadone or buprenorphine. But in 2017, about 80 percent of those who needed treatment did not receive it. The report, issued by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, outlines several major barriers to treatment, including strict restrictions on how medications can be administered. Making access to current medications “much broader and more equitable is a high priority for making meaningful progress in saving lives,” the report says.

Inside STAT: Peering inside life’s microworld with MIT’s 2019 image award winners

One of the featured images: adult stem cell-derived human airway cells in a dish. (Raghu Chivukula, David Mankus, Margaret Bisher, Abigail Lytton-Jean, David Sabatini, Massachusetts General Hospital, Whitehead Institute, and Koch Institute at MIT)

From electron micrographs that reveal how a chemotherapy drug changes shape to images of immune cells erupting to kill malaria parasites, this year’s picks for the MIT Koch Institute’s public gallery of bioscience images offer a peek into the living world as few have ever seen it. The 10 winners were chosen from a record 160 submissions and capture subjects as different as epigenetic modification and the sexual anatomy of a popular laboratory flower. View the images in all their beauty and intricacy here.

User data from medical apps routinely shared

An analysis of 24 medicine-related apps — such as those that remind people to take their pills on time — has found that user data are very frequently shared with others. Nineteen of the apps transmitted data from within the app to outside sources, including third-parties that advertised within the app and more than 200 “fourth-parties” who received the data from the third parties. A caveat: The data were collected at a single time point and from a small number of apps, making the scalability of the analysis limited. But since these apps are often used by health care professionals, the authors warn clinicians to be conscious about the recommendations they make to patients on app usage.

Adverse childhood experiences associated with higher health costs in adulthood

Adverse childhood experiences, including abuse and having parents with mental health issues, are associated with higher out-of-pocket health care costs later in life, according to a new study. Children who face adversities are more likely to have higher rates of mental and physical illness, but this is the first study to show effects on certain health care costs. Those who reported having one or two adverse experiences growing up had, on average, $184 more in annual out-of-pocket costs in the household compared to those with no such experiences. Three or more events were associated with an average of $311 more in out-of-pocket costs and were twice as likely to have medical debt. The study relied on people recalling childhood experiences, so it may be limited by possible recall bias.

What to read around the web today

  • Some ADHD medicines may increase psychosis more than others, ‘real-world’ data show. STAT
  • Gov. Matt Bevin exposed his 9 kids to chickenpox, says vaccine not for everyone. Louisville Courier-Journal
  • Former DEA official now working for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. NBC News
  • As Zika danger wanes, travel warnings are eased for pregnant women. The Washington Post
  • How Rhode Island’s emergency 911 system failed baby Alijah. ProPublica

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, March 21, 2019


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