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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Allergan recalls textured breast implants over link to rare cancer

Allergan is recalling a type of its textured breast implants worldwide, the company announced yesterday. The FDA had asked for a removal after several hundred women developed a rare type of lymphoma after getting the company’s Biocell textured implants. The link between this type of lymphoma and any type of breast implant was first identified in 2011. Since then, 573 women have become sick with breast implant-associated lymphoma, of which 33 have died. Notably, of the total cases, 481 are women with Allergan implants, as are at least 12 of the 33 deaths. Women with these implants who are experiencing painful symptoms should consult with their doctors, the FDA says, but is not recommending that those who are asymptomatic undergo surgery to remove them.

NIH sets up research network for treating opioid addiction in criminal justice settings

The NIH announced yesterday it was awarding $155 million in grants for research into treatment for those in jails and other criminal justice settings who have opioid use disorder. The move comes amid increasing attempts from state and federal governments to address the opioid epidemic and make treatment available widely. Opioid use disorder disproportionately affects those in criminal justice settings, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow said in a statement, and implementing treatment strategies will be important to prevent them from relapsing, especially as they go back to their communities. The grants will go toward establishing the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network across 12 research universities and health centers, with George Mason University in Virginia serving as the main center. 

Inside STAT: An AI expert's toughest project: writing code to save his son's life

Matt Might works at his son’s bedside at Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham. (COURTESY MATT MIGHT)

When 11-year-old Buddy Might became sick with an unexplained illness, his doctors struggled to figure out how to treat the medically complex child beyond inserting tubes to drain his fluid-filled lungs. But there was an unlikely helper waiting in the wings: an AI program that happened to be developed by the boy’s father. Matthew Might runs the Precision Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he and his team had been working on an experimental program to help clinicians identify connections between genes, proteins, and other biochemicals to better understand the roots of disease and come up with treatments. And although he wasn't planning on it, his son's sudden illness became a test of the AI system's ability to help patients facing medical emergencies. Read more from STAT’s Casey Ross on how, from thousands of results, Might found an answer to save his son’s life.

The VA’s progress on electronic health records and more D.C. events

It’s another busy day in our nation’s capital. Here’s what to keep an eye on: 

  • Electronic health records: A subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs is holding a hearing to look at the VA’s progress toward moving health records to an electronic platform over the next decade.

  • Day two on Juul: Juul’s co-founder and its chief administration officer will be testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform today, as will the president of an anti-tobacco advocacy group, on the second day of a hearing on Juul and skyrocketing youth e-cigarette use. 

  • Opioid crisis: The House Committee on Homeland Security is holding a hearing on the opioid crisis and its possible impact on domestic security. What could it entail? “Drug trafficking, organized crime, and just broadly overdose and death,” my D.C. colleague Lev Facher says.

Lab Chat: Building green spaces for mental health 

Increasingly, scientists are finding that spending time in nature can be beneficial for mental health. In a new study published in Science Advances, researchers gather evidence for this link and suggest that cities and developers ought to think more about making green spaces accessible — for the mental health of citizens. I spoke with Gretchen Daily, the paper’s lead author and an environmental scientist at Stanford University, to learn more. 

What is the evidence to link mental health and being out in nature? 
People experiencing nature in different ways have lower stress and anxiety, and improved cognitive function such as better memory. There are also huge ramifications for schoolkids, for example. Schoolkids perform better and are more creative when they have access to nature. 

Is this a personal or public health issue? 
It’s a huge equity and health justice issue. If you look at cities, you can tell the wealthy neighborhoods because they are leafier [and greener]. It’s about improving access [to natural areas] through public transportation or other programs provided by employers and schools. 

Rise in medical imaging among pregnant women in U.S. and Canada

A decade-long study looking at pregnant women who got MRI or CT scans finds that more expecting mothers now are being scanned than before. In the U.S., rates of CT scans, albeit still low, quintupled from two per 1,000 pregnancies in 1996 to about 11 in 2010, before dropping to around nine in 2016. Canada’s largest province, Ontario, also saw an increase: from two per 1,000 pregnancies in 1996 to around six in 2016. Rates of MRIs also increased during this time period, as did rates of X-ray imaging. The scientists speculate that improvements in imaging technology and the fact that patients can request such scans could have driven the increase, but caution that monitoring imaging trends will be important to prevent unnecessary testing and radiation exposure to the women and the fetus. 

What to read around the web today

  • A vaunted program for boosting the diversity of U.S. academic scientists is starting to spread. Science
  • She played video games as her Bedford VA patient was dying. Now, she’ll plead guilty to lying about it. The Boston Globe
  • On a mission to help people control diabetes — and save money on insulin. Kaiser Health News
  • Boston hospital reports disciplining of renowned child abuse skeptic. ProPublica
  • Opioid makers say there’s no proof they are responsible for the epidemic’s harms. The Washington Post

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Thursday, July 25, 2019


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