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Morning Rounds

Good morning, folks! A heads-up: I'll be hosting a live chat on challenges and innovations in college mental health care next Tuesday at noon. I'll be joined by Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, director of the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital. Sign up and submit questions here!

Facebook plans to restrict addiction treatment ads

Facebook is planning to announce new restrictions on advertisements for addiction treatment centers today, amid concerns about shoddy facilities that advertise to patients. Going forward, the site says it'll only allow treatment centers to advertise after they've been certified by an outside company. That company, LegitScript, will review a center's background, qualifications, and compliance with licensing requirements. 

The news comes as technology companies face growing pressure to help address the opioid crisis. In June, Facebook announced that users trying to buy opioids or seeking addiction treatment would be redirected to information about a federal crisis help line. The technology giant also took part in an "opioids summit" convened by the FDA earlier this summer. 

Induced labor at 39 weeks linked to lower C-section risk



A large new study finds that inducing labor at 39 weeks — when a pregnancy has reached full-term — doesn’t result in any higher risk of perinatal death or severe health problems in infants. And women who had labor induced were less likely to have a C-section or experience problems with blood pressure than women who didn’t. In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine said the findings show it’s a reasonable option for certain women. “I think it’s going to have a very big impact on obstetric practice not just in the U.S., but around the world,” Dr. Kate Walker, an obstetrician and researcher at the University of Nottingham, tells me. More here.

Some Open Payments entries aren't accurate

Government oversight officials have given the Open Payments database — which tracks industry payments to doctors — a new checkup. The overall prognosis: pretty good, but could be better. Of the 11.9 million records published on Open Payments, only 11,643 were missing a required component, such as a physician's specialty. But there were problems with more than 9 percent of the records, like incorrect drug codes or device names. The inspector general's office at HHS outlined recommendations for CMS — which oversees Open Payments — to make entries more accurate.

Lab Chat: Tumors send out tiny weapons to attack T cells

Scientists have discovered that cancer cells can release tiny weapons called exosomes that target immune cells before they have a chance to reach a tumor. Here's what Wei Guo and Xiaowei Xu of University of Pennsylvania told me about the finding, published in Nature.

What did you discover?

It has been shown that tumor cells physically interact with immune T cells to inhibit T cell function through PD-L1 expression on the tumor cells. But we found the tumor can also secrete these small vesicles called exosomes, and on the surface, there are also these PD-L1 proteins. We showed they can bind directly to the T cell and inhibit its function.

How could that finding be used?

That may explain why cancer patients might have weakened immune systems, since the cancer cells can secrete lots of exosomes that circulate to distant sites and target T cells. Exosomes could potentially be used as a biomarker to predict which patients will respond to anti-PD-1 therapy. We’re trying to secure funding now to expand our study with more patients.

Inside STAT: An immunotherapy to rival CAR-T finally nears the clinic 

Dr. Steven Rosenberg had a big year in 1985: He successfully removed a polyp from President Ronald Reagan's intestine. And months later reported that an immunotherapy he was working on — which had failed in 66 patients — cured the 67th of metastatic melanoma. That treatment, known as tumor infiltrating lymphocytes or TILs, still hasn’t reached the clinic. But 2018 is shaping up to be another important year for TILs and for Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute since 1974. Several TILs are now in Phase 2 trials and are poised to surpass CAR-T treatments in the cancers they target. STAT’s Sharon Begley has more here.

Cherries improve gut health, cherry industry says

Here’s a finding for your conflicts of interest in research file: Montmorency tart cherries might boost gut health, according to a new study sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. A grand total of nine healthy adults downed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice — from concentrate — every day. Researchers report they found more good bacteria in people’s guts after five days, but the actual bacteria involved varied from one person to the next. And while the Cherry Marketing Institute said it wasn’t involved in the study, its stated mission is “to increase the demand for Montmorency tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research.”

What to read around the web today

  • Argentina Senate rejects bill legalizing abortion. New York Times
  • ‘How are these results even possible?’: Inside Rep. Chris Collins’ painful biotech education. STAT
  • The $250 biohack that's revolutionizing life with diabetes. Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Those CRISPR’d human embryos? We got it right, scientists insist, rejecting criticism. STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

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