Thursday, August 31, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Thursday, folks! Welcome to Morning Rounds, where I get you ahead of the day's news in health and medicine. 

What to know about the first CAR-T drug approval

The first CAR-T cancer treatment, a novel approach to fighting tumors, is headed to the U.S. market. Yesterday, Novartis won a landmark FDA approval for its pioneering treatment for young patients with a rare, deadly type of cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. The treatment — which rewires a patient’s own white blood cells to direct them to attack tumors — is the first in a pack of potential CAR-T therapies expected to make their way before the FDA.

CAR-T treatments represent an entirely new approach for doctors, regulators, and payers, who are used to patients receiving pills or injected medications. The treatment, called Kymriah, will require a patient’s cells to be safely transported across the country, re-engineered, and returned safe and sound. The price tag: $475,000 for a course of treatment. That might sound exceedingly steep, but analysts say it’s lower than they expected. More from STAT’s Damian Garde here.

Walking into walls, chicken strikes, and other bizarre injuries


raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by a rogue chicken. (amino)

Have you showed up in the hospital sporting a fresh injury from a rogue barnyard animal? Ever have to admit to the doctor that you walked into a wall? You’re not alone. A new analysis of insurance claims data by Amino looks at how often some of the more bizarre ICD-10 medical billing codes were used last year. Here’s what it found:

  • Reenacting Game of Thrones at home probably isn't a good idea. In 2016, 600 people were treated for contact with a sword or dagger.

  • Remember it isn’t all fun and games with farm animals. A whopping 1,700 people were treated after being “struck by cow” in 2016. Chickens, the fairest of the barnyard animals, struck just 200 people.

  • Watch where you’re walking. More than 17,000 people were treated after walking into a wall. Another 400 people walked into a lamppost.

The striking racial disparity in CPR use

People who go into cardiac arrest in a predominantly black neighborhood are much less likely to get CPR from a bystander, according to a new study in JAMA Cardiology. Researchers analyzed data from more than 22,000 cases of cardiac arrest that happened outside the hospital between 2008 and 2011, then sorted those cases by the neighborhoods where they occurred. In primarily white neighborhoods, nearly 47 percent of people received bystander CPR. In primarily black neighborhoods, just 18 percent did. There was a similar disparity in use of defibrillators. The race of the individual suffering a heart attack didn’t seem to matter when it came to treatments and outcomes — but the neighborhood did. The cardiologists behind the new research say it should serve as a call to target those neighborhoods with better defibrillator access and CPR training for the public.

Cholera outbreak in camp for displaced Nigerians

Health officials are responding to a cholera outbreak in northeastern Nigeria, where 69 suspected cases of the bacterial illness have cropped up in a camp for internally displaced people. Five people have died in the outbreak. The health ministry is working with the WHO to set up a cholera treatment facility, educate people living in the camp, and evaluate whether a cholera vaccination campaign might be needed. They’ve trained dozens of health workers on how to handle cholera cases. They’re also working to get more sanitary water conditions at the camp in Borno State, where conflict has left 60 percent of health facilities functioning only partially or not at all.

Inside STAT: The growing interest in inflammation

Inflammation has been suggested as a culprit that plays a part in conditions ranging from allergies to autism to Alzheimer's disease. And with the increasing scientific interest in the role of inflammation comes an interest in developing new drugs or repurposing anti-inflammatory medications already on the market.But there's still much left to learn about what happens when the immune system goes into overdrive. STAT's Meghana Keshavan has the story — read here.

Teenagers use contraception more often than adult men

More than 80 percent of single men say they used contraception the last time they had sex, according to new data released this morning by the CDC. The group using contraception most commonly? Teenagers. Nearly 95 percent of young men ages 15 to 19 who are having sex say they used contraception the last time they did so, compared to 72 percent of unmarried men age 35 to 44. The study also turned up a troubling finding: The percentage of men using withdrawal as a form of contraception has nearly doubled. It’s less effective than other forms of male contraception such as condoms, and it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted disease.

What to read around the web today

  • Science labs offer help to Texas researchers. The Scientist
  • ESPN football analyst walks away, disturbed by brain trauma on the field. New York Times
  • Houston dialysis center struggles to treat patients. NPR

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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