Thursday, September 15, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Thursday, folks! Here's what you need to know about health and medicine today. I'll be out until Tuesday, September 27. Look out for some great guest Morning Rounds writers while I'm away! 

Trump's health talk with Dr. Oz hits the air

Today presidential nominee Donald Trump makes his much-anticipated appearance on The Dr. Oz Show. There have been a few leaks from people present at the taping — like Trump proclaiming his love for fast food and admitting he'd like to shed a few pounds — and the show says Dr. Oz conducted a “complete review” of the results of the candidate’s recent physical, from hormone levels to heart medications. Watch a clip of the show here

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton heads back on the campaign trail today after taking a few days off to recuperate from pneumonia. Clinton's campaign released more details yesterday about her health in a letter from her doctor, which says the candidate remains "healthy and fit to serve." 

FDA talks pediatric opioid prescriptions

The FDA is meeting to talk about developing new painkillers that would be safe for kids. A handful of committees on pediatric health and drug safety are joining up to advise the FDA on progress in developing and using opioids to treat pain in pediatric patients, as well as lay out the strict study requirements to test potential new drugs. Back in August 2015, the agency approved the use of OxyContin for children age 11 and older with severe, lasting pain. There are only two extended-release opioids approved for use in kids: OxyContin and fentanyl, also known as Duragesic. Today’s meeting is part of a broader effort by the FDA to retool its approach to prescription opioids. 

Novel nets to ward off malaria-carrying mosquitoes

Researchers have created a new bed net that better keeps away the bugs with a blend of two different insecticides. Bed nets are a cheap way of minimizing mosquito-borne infections, but some mosquitoes have grown resistant to the insecticides commonly used to treat the nets. So researchers combined the typical insecticide treatment with another chemical that can prevent female mosquitoes from producing eggs and can kill mosquito larvae. In a trial with just a handful of people, the net killed more mosquitoes and prevented mosquito bites more effectively than the standard nets. Efficacy went down the more times the net was washed, which is true of standard nets as well. The nets are now being tested in a larger field trial.

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Inside STAT: Breaking down how an EpiPen works

(Alex hogan and hyacinth empinado / stat)

EpiPens can deliver a life-saving dose of epinephrine to individuals experiencing a severe allergic reaction. They've also become the source of much controversy in recent weeks as public scrutiny over their price hikes has gained traction. But how do they actually work to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction? Watch our explainer video from STAT's Alex Hogan and Hyacinth Empinado here

Soda industry fires back at sugary drink tax

The American Beverage Association has filed a lawsuit to block Philadelphia’s sugary drink tax, which was signed into law in June and is set to take effect on January 1. The law would add a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce to sugary drinks and diet sodas. It’s expected to generate upwards of $92 million in revenue each year, which would go toward expanding pre-kindergarten care and other citywide efforts. But the industry group says that’s unconstitutional, and has asked an area court to stop the city from collecting the tax.

Lab Chat: How inflammation might drive diabetes

Scientists have a new clue as to how inflammation can drive early disease in patients with type 1 diabetes. They zoomed in on a signaling molecule dubbed IL-6, which has also been implicated in diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s what study author Dr. Jane Buckner of the Benaroya Research Institute told me about the discovery, published in the new Science Translational Medicine.

What do we know about the role of IL-6 in disease?

We know IL-6 is important in driving inflammation. That’s helpful in the setting of infections, but having too much of it is a problem, particularly with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis. Blocking IL-6 is already used therapeutically in [the] clinic for other diseases, but it hadn’t been looked at in type 1 diabetes. We wanted to know whether the T immune cells in diabetes are also hyper-responsive to IL-6.

What did you discover about how IL-6 might drive diabetes?

We exposed T cells to IL-6 and then profiled those cells to see how they change and what proteins they make differently. And we saw they changed so they’re more likely to go into healthy tissue. In type 1 diabetes, that tissue is in the pancreas. So we think having this enhanced response to IL-6 may be promoting the movement of T cells into healthy pancreatic tissues, and at the same time, it’s changing the character of the T cells to make them more destructive. That gives us a new target therapeutically and helps us understand ways IL-6 contributes to the disease.

Nurses train for mass casualty care

Nurses from hospitals across the country are being trained in a specific skill: Treating patients in a mass casualty situation. It’s part of an emergency nursing conference happening this week in Los Angeles. They’ll be carrying out an earthquake simulation to give nurses hands-on experience in everything from triaging to tourniquet application. They'll do so during an earthquake simulation. Last year, they carried out a mass shooting simulation. It’s a skill set that ER doctors say is crucial for health care professionals to have. In 2014, the American College of Emergency Physicians evaluated the nation’s emergency care system and gave it a C- for disaster preparedness.

What to read around the web today

  • Transgender patients face fear and stigma in the doctor's office. Reuters
  • How color gets explained to someone without sight. Science of Us
  • Drug use is on the rise among workers. Wall Street Journal
  • SWAT officers treated for fentanyl exposure during drug raid. Washington Post

More reads from STAT

  • Hillary Clinton's doctor remains out of spotlight as attention on candidate health increases. 
  • Overwhelmingly white male lineup at a medical conference sparks criticism. 
  • Men with early prostate cancer can safely opt out of treatment, finds landmark study. 
  • An antibiotic gel could treat kids' ear infections with one dose. 

Thanks so much for reading! More tomorrow morning, 


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