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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

More than 1 million new STI cases daily, WHO finds 

There are more than 1 million new cases of curable STIs every day, according to new WHO data. Across four diseases — chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis — this translates to nearly 380 million cases globally every year. Researchers looked through studies between 2009 and 2016 to estimate the prevalence of these STIs in those aged 15-49 and found that of these four diseases, trichomoniasis was most common in women while chlamydia was most common in men. Trichomoniasis also accounted for the majority of the STIs worldwide, followed by chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. And compared to 2012 estimates, rates of trichomoniasis in women have increased, while chlamydia incidence has decreased. The prevalence of gonorrhea has increased in men, while the other three diseases have remained stable. 

Harvard hospitals host inaugural ME/CFS symposium

Researchers and physicians are gathering this weekend at Harvard’s first symposium on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME/CFS. Last year, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals launched a research center dedicated to studying the disease, which affects more than 200 million people globally. Today, around 30 scientists will be discussing various aspects of the disease, including how it affects the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. Those with ME/CFS experience malaise and fatigue, and can eventually lose muscle function. While there are no treatments for the disease, the symposium will discuss ongoing and planned clinical trials. Tomorrow, it will be open to members of the public to discuss the latest research with scientists.

Q&A: Diversity and inclusion in precision medicine research

Despite many calls recently for diversity in clinical research, such initiatives only think about recruitment. A new paper argues that studies ought to also account for data misuse and sharing results with vulnerable populations, especially since science has historically given them reasons to be distrustful of the research enterprise. I spoke with Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, a bioethicist at Columbia University and co-author of the perspective in Science, to learn more.

Why do we need to be more inclusive in our studies?

Diversity and inclusion isn't just a moral or political issue. Our data sets are so skewed to white Europeans that we run the risk of identifying genetic variants as causal for diseases when they're not. It's really a research problem that’s hurting our science.

What would progress look like?

Incorporating data not only in terms of genetic factors, but also built-in environment and social factors. Inclusion should also include ethicists, social scientists, and other experts so we can understand empirically how these different categories inform science.

Inside STAT: Fed up with FDA, ALS advocates consider a take-no-prisoners approach

Almost five years after the ice bucket challenge raised $115 million for research, some ALS activists are fed up with the lack of action or results. And like the ACT UP activists from the 1980s who protested in front of government buildings to raise awareness for AIDS, a small group of activists is hoping to spur change for ALS patients. Next Wednesday, a group of them — who have no previous protesting experience — will be gathering outside the FDA’s Maryland headquarters to demand the agency speed up approval of ALS drugs. And even though these advocates belong to no particular organization, their message of “No More Excuses” has captured the attention of FDA regulators, members of the ALS association, and even some members of Congress. STAT’s Nicholas Florko has more here.

U.S still using pesticides banned elsewhere in the world

Many pesticides that are banned in the EU, China, and Brazil are still being used widely in the U.S., according to a new study. Of the 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used by the U.S. in 2016, some 322 million pounds were of pesticides banned in the EU. Of the 500 pesticides approved in the U.S., 17 are banned or being phased out in Brazil, and 11 are banned or on their way out in China. In fact, the U.S. has been using more of some of the pesticides banned in at least two of the countries. One reason why the U.S. may be lagging behind is that the U.S. almost exclusively relies on voluntary cancellations by pesticide makers, according to the study, while regulators in the EU, China, and Brazil are responsible for removing harmful pesticides. 

UN introduces World Food Safety Day

Today marks the UN’s first World Food Safety Day. Every year, some 10% of people around the world get sick with a foodborne illness, leading to more than 400,000 deaths. Low- and middle-income countries also lose roughly $95 billion due to lost productivity from sickness. Children are especially vulnerable: Those aged 5 and under account for 40% of the cases worldwide and more than 25% of all deaths from consuming contaminated food. As part of today’s event — which will recur on June 7 yearly — the UN tasked the Food and Agriculture Organization and the WHO with leading efforts to promote food safety. The organizations created a guide to help ensure food safety, including calling on suppliers to safely transport food.

What to read around the web today

  • Soaring insurance deductibles and high drug prices hit sick Americans with a ‘double whammy.’ The Los Angeles Times
  • ‘Jumping genes’ could help CRISPR replace disease-causing DNA, study finds. STAT
  • His DNA solved a century-old jailhouse rape. The victim: his grandmother. BuzzFeed News
  • Redefining normal: Study shows mutations even in healthy tissues throughout the body. STAT
  • One cardiac arrest. Four 911 callers. And a tragic outcome. ProPublica

I'm off for the next couple of days as I attend my brother-in-law's wedding and make my way back to Boston from Kentucky, but my colleague Andrew Joseph will be filling in for me first thing next week! 

Happy weekend!


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Friday, June 7, 2019


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