Monday, August 21, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning, folks! Welcome to the start of the work week, and welcome to Morning Rounds. Here's what you need to know about health and medicine today. 

Tom Price talks global health with leaders in Asia

HHS Secretary Tom Price is visiting China, Vietnam, and Japan this week to talk about how to boost global health security.  He's meeting with his counterparts in those countries, along with HHS staffers based in Asia. The goal: Bolster the international collaborations designed to build up the ability to prepare for and respond to global health threats. The trip might also yield more details of a possible partnership between the U.S. and Japan. In May, government officials and policy experts from the two countries met to talk about teaming up to tackle the threat of emerging infectious diseases, fight the spread of antibiotic resistance, and step up emergency preparedness.

Bacteria-toting balloons launch during the eclipse

Scientists working with NASA are sending dozens of giant balloons into the sky during today’s solar eclipse, including some carrying strains of bacteria. Here's why: The Earth's stratosphere is already somewhat similar to the atmosphere on Mars. The eclipse will make it even more similar, as the temperature will drop and the moon will temporarily block some of the sun's ultraviolet rays. The balloons are equipped with sensors to measure temperature and humidity. That'll help scientists analyze which bacteria survived — and under which conditions. 

Are you planning on watching the eclipse today? Be sure to protect your eyes

Inside STAT: White House vaccine panel appears stalled

Environmental activist and leading vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. says it's been months since he has spoken with White House officials about heading up a vaccine safety panel. Kennedy tells STAT's Helen Branswell that the idea of such a panel — which alarmed public health officials and vaccine proponents — may no longer be under consideration. Even so, Kennedy says he has met with a slew of top Trump administration officials to talk about vaccine safety over the past few months, including the heads of the FDA and the NIH, at the request of the White House. For more on the commission, read this. You can read STAT's full conversation with Kennedy here

The legacy of Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis — the entertainer who helmed the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual telethon for decades — died yesterday at age 91. Lewis hosted the Labor Day telethon until 2011, helping to raise more than nearly $2.5 billion for the charity, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Lewis was revered by many for his work with the organization, but was criticized by others as exploitative of children  with muscular dystrophy, known as "Jerry's Kids."

A new genetic atlas aims to predict cancer prognosis


a close-up look at a polyploid giant cancer cell in a breast tumor. (National Cancer Institute/Univ. of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute)

Scientists have created a new atlas of thousands of genes implicated in the many types of cancer in an effort to predict patients' prognosis. The researchers analyzed nearly 8,000 patient tumor samples to pinpoint genes which, when they were expressed at higher levels, correlated with either better or worse patient outcomes. One interesting finding: Nearly 2,400 genes could be either helpful or harmful, depending on the type of cancer the patient had and where it was located. They also used the atlas to identify genes worth targeting in the search for new cancer drugs. The atlas is publicly available, and its creators are hopeful it’ll spur new research into potential cancer treatments.

Nigeria celebrates one year without a case of wild polio

Today marks one year since the last declared case of polio in Nigeria, the country which once accounted for half of all polio cases worldwide. It’s a small step — a country isn't considered polio-free until it has notched three years without a case. The country had celebrated two years without a wild polio case at this time last year when news came that two children had been paralyzed by wild-type polio virus. A massive vaccination effort followed, and the country hasn’t seen a polio case since.

Blood pressure problems among kids are rising

High blood pressure among kids is growing increasingly common — so common, in fact, that the American Academy of Pediatrics is releasing a new set of screening and treatment guidelines for doctors. It’s estimated that 3.5 percent of kids in the U.S. have hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure. An expert panel reviewed nearly 15,000 articles on hypertension to come up with the new guidelines, which include a new set of standards for blood pressure measurements in kids. They’re designed to give doctors a more precise picture of what's normal, based on a child’s body size. The guidelines recommend performing routine blood pressure tests once a year at an annual preventive care visit.

What to read around the web today

  • Home visits help new parents overcome tough histories, raise healthy children. Kaiser Health News
  • Former HHS chiefs urge Trump to stop undermining Obamacare. AP
  • The appointment ends. Now the patient is listening. New York Times

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

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