Monday, September 26, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning! STAT reporter Melissa Bailey here, filling in for Megan with today's health and science news.

Inside STAT: Tough questions for tonight's debate

"Mr. Trump, are you out of your mind?" That’s one question Larry Tye would ask tonight if he had a chance to moderate the first presidential debate. (He'd ask it in relation to Trump's vow to repeal Obamacare without detailed plans to ensure that the millions who rely on it for health insurance stay covered.)  Tye, a former Boston Globe health reporter, has a list of tough health and science questions he’d like to ask both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, including:

  • You both get donations from Big Pharma, yet rail against price-gouging. Would you give the donations back?
  • You’re the oldest candidates in US history and we don’t really know how healthy you are. Would you release a full record of your last four check-ups?
  • You both talk about China and trade, but our commitment to basic science research is declining. How would you fund the National Institutes of Health to fix this?

Read more here.

Cancer patients are overly optimistic that early trials will shrink their tumors

Cancer patients are keen to jump into Phase I clinical trials, but their expectations are unrealistic, according to a study coming out later today in Cancer. Such trials are mostly about assessing drug safety; they use low drug doses to minimize risk. Typically only 4 to 20 percent of patients see their cancer shrink, and the median overall survival is six months. Researchers interviewed 396 cancer patients in the U.K. and found that nearly half thought their tumors would shrink in a Phase I trial, even after speaking with clinical staff. Fourteen percent expected a cure. The lead researcher called the findings “sobering.”

Kids’ bones are getting more fragile

The percentage of children experiencing broken bones has increased from 35 percent to 65 percent over the past 40 years, according to a clinical report published today in Pediatrics. The researchers say the increased risk can be traced in part to modern habits — kids sitting indoors instead of running around outside, and not eating enough calcium. Certain diseases contribute, as well. No drug used to treat weak bones in older adults has been FDA-approved for use in children, the authors write, but pediatricians can take preventive measures, such as encouraging kids to build bone mass by jumping for 10 minutes per day, three times a week.

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What it takes to turn a breakthrough into the standard of care

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Panel discussion tomorrow: Is every disease "rare"?

“Precision medicine” aims to make every disease a rare disease by treating patients differently based on genetics. But how quickly will breakthroughs come, and are biotech companies losing their incentive to tackle big public health problems? STAT reporter Damian Garde and a panel of experts will tackle these questions tomorrow as part of Boston HUBWeek. Also at HUBWeek, STAT’s David Armstrong will discuss the science of opioid addiction on a panel that includes a doctor and a recovering addict.

Moms with hearing loss tend to have low-birth weight babies

If a mother is hard of hearing, her baby is significantly more likely to be low weight or premature, according to research out today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study, the first to examine pregnancy outcomes for this population, looked at 17.9 million births, 10,462 of which were to mothers who had hearing loss. People with hearing loss — who make up about 1 percent of US adults between 18 and 44 years old — often suffer other health problems, too, in part due to language barriers and poor clinician training in how to communicate with and care for them, the authors write.

What to read around the web today

  • Doctor confesses he lied to protect colleague in malpractice suit. ProPublica
  • How a garbage fire could lead to new antibiotics. Atlantic
  • As their numbers grow, home care aides are stuck at $10.11. New York Times
  • Studies suggest a concussion leaves brain vulnerable to PTSD. NPR

More reads from STAT

Thanks for reading. Megan will be back with you tomorrow. (I've missed her, too!).


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