Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

FDA hears from patients about opioid use disorders

Today, patients with opioid use disorder will share their experiences with the FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in a public meeting. It's part of the FDA's work to address the opioid crisis and also encourage "patient-focused" development of new treatments for OUDs. The agency wants to hear from patients on how OUDs affect their daily lives, how current treatments have and haven't helped, and what barriers stand in the way of accessing treatments. You can watch the meeting, which gets underway at 10 a.m. ET, here

How prepared are we for a public health emergency?

A new report out this morning finds the nation is getting more prepared each year to deal with public health emergencies, but gaps persist. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report looked at dozens of different measures — from flu vaccination rates to the number of pediatricians — and found that nationwide preparedness climbed 3 percent since last year. But Maryland — which had the highest score, an 8 out of 10 —  was far more prepared than Alaska and Nevada, which each scored a 6.4. The authors say making sure each state is well-prepared for a public health emergency “remains a critical unmet priority.”

Millions of adults are misusing prescription stimulants

An estimated 5 million adults in the U.S. have misused prescription stimulants in the past year, health officials report. Prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are commonly used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but they're also frequently misused. HHS analyzed federal data and found that 56 percent of people who misused prescription stimulants said they did so to improve their cognitive abilities. But health officials warn there are risks with prescription stimulants — including stimulant use disorders, which affect 400,000 U.S. adults — and say there’s a need to address prescribing habits to minimize the amount of unused stimulants that could be misused.

Sponsor content by Cancer Research Institute

The evolution of the clinical immunotherapy landscape

Cancer immunotherapy is transforming cancer care, but there’s still a need to determine how and why certain patients respond to treatments better than others. “CRI’s iAtlas database is designed to help researchers discover how various medicines influence immune activity and how that correlates with survival outcomes,” explains Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Cancer Research Institute. Learn more about CRI and how their iAtlas program translates data into actionable insights for patients.

What it was like to be a CRISPR scientist working on "Rampage"

After STAT’s review of the new CRISPR movie “Rampage” published last week, we heard from James Dahlman, a real-life CRISPR scientist at Emory who advised the movie. “I was cold-called and I thought it was a joke,” Dahlman told me. He ended up spending two days on set in Atlanta, helping to set up lab scenes to make sure they looked real. “A movie producer doesn’t necessarily know a P20 pipette goes with P20 pipette tip,” he explained. Two added perks of the gig: Dahlman scored a spot as an extra in two scenes, and he also got hang out with the cast, including Naomie Harris, who plays a geneticist in the film, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who he called “really nice but intimidating” because he’s “so famous.”

Watch the brain's lining heal after an injury

immune cells help heal the brain's damaged lining. (dorian mcgavern / ninds)

Scientists have captured close-up videos of how the brain heals after an injury. The NIH researchers set out to study how injury impacted the brain’s lining — a network of membranes called the meninges — after observing it leaking fluid in some head injury patients. In a mouse model, they watched as immune cells started removing dead cells from damaged meningeal tissue, followed by blood cells that swooped in to rebuild damaged blood vessels. The images give scientists new insight into how the brain heals, which could help identify new targets to help the brain better recover after an injury.

Inside STAT: Should you trust consumer genetic tests?

The third and final installment of STAT and Retro Report’s The Code — a video series investigating the roots of today’s most promising genetic technologies — is out today. The final video centers around genetic testing. It's now easier than ever to peer into your own genetic code. But with companies claiming to link DNA to wine tastes and dating preference, it’s become difficult for consumers to know what to believe. Watch the final video here.

Google reinstates ads for addiction treatment centers

Google will start accepting ads for addiction treatment centers again,  Reuters reports. The company suspended the ads in September after The Verge reported that Google ads were being used to direct people to shady addiction treatment centers and away from legitimate facilities. Starting in July, treatment centers can run ads on Google after they’ve been vetted by LegitScript, a firm that also verifies online pharmacies. 

What to read around the web today

  • The strike: Chemicals, cancer, and the fight for health care. Longreads
  • For girls in the Texas foster care system, teen pregnancy is 5 times more likely. Texas Tribune
  • 3 red states could put Medicaid expansion on the ballot this year. Vox

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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