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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Welcome to a new, short week! Just a reminder that there won't be a newsletter on Thursday, Nov. 28 or Friday, Nov. 29. 

Boston health leaders band together for new center for making cell therapies

Citing bottlenecks in manufacturing, researchers from several Boston-area institutions just announced plans for a new center dedicated to growing vast quantities of biological materials. The yet-to-be-named facility is a joint venture from 12 Boston hospitals and facilities, including Harvard University, some of its affiliate hospitals, and GE Healthcare Life Sciences. The $50 million facility will be able to produce human cells for the treatment of disease, including genetically engineered ones and those from stem cells. The center will also be able to produce materials for gene therapies. About half of the 25,000-square-foot facility, which could be up and running as early as 2021, will be used as lab spaces for academic researchers to experiment with better ways of manufacturing the materials.

NIH lifts sanctions against Duke University

Almost two years after the NIH placed sanctions on Duke University over concerns about its response to cases of misconduct, the federal agency is lifting the regulations, according to Retraction Watch. A memo from Duke’s vice president for research says the school has complied with an April 2018 action plan to correct missteps in its handling of high-profile cases, including that of a researcher who submitted fraudulent data to receive more than hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. Among other things, Duke researchers have since had to submit detailed budgets for grants worth less than $250,000. The university will have to continue completing the action plan through the end of the year, and will be working with the NIH to figure out how removing the sanctions will affect the workflow for grant management.   

Cancer patients may have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease

There’s new data to further support the idea that as cancer patients survive longer due to better treatments, they may instead be dying from other conditions. Researchers looked at more than 3.2 million cancer patients and found that about 1 in 10 died due to cardiovascular disease, the vast majority of whom had heart disease. Cancer patients had a tenfold higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those without cancer, although that difference decreased as cancer survivors got older, since older age is a risk for cardiovascular disease in the general population. People with certain cancer types —  breast, prostate, or bladder — had the highest risk. The first year after an endometrial cancer diagnosis was also associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, which the authors suggest means that cardiologists ought to get involved earlier to help these patients avoid negative outcomes. 

Inside STAT: Health-tech entrepreneur hopes to win at the French startup game

Inside the Paris startup incubator Station F. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

The story of French company Aalia Tech goes back to when its founder, Abdelaali El Badaoui, was 7 years old. He had tipped a pot of boiling water onto himself. Over the course of the next several months of recovering from the burns, he watched over and over again how his parents — who only spoke Arabic and Berber — tried in vain to communicate with the French doctors. Young El Badaoui, with his nascent Arabic and French skills, was left to translate. The problem went beyond just understanding physicians: A nurse by training, El Badaoui has also seen how those struggling to communicate receive worse care. He hopes that his medical translation app can do away with some of these problems faced by many non-native French speakers. STAT Plus subscribers can read more from Eric Boodman here

Five groups unite to form the American Nutrition Association 

Five major nutrition organizations just united to form the American Nutrition Association. The groups who have joined together are: the American College of Nutrition; the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists; the Center for Nutrition Advocacy; the Accreditation Council for Nutrition Professional Education; and the American Nutrition Association Foundation. Poor nutrition, the ANA said in a statement, poses a greater risk to health than tobacco, inactivity, or any other risk factor, a claim echoed by a global study earlier this year. Nearly half of Americans have some form of chronic illness, according to the ANA, and better personal nutrition could help address the “nutrition gap” in the U.S. The group aims to ensure that improving nutrition includes not only health care providers, but also farmers, policymakers, and philanthropists. 

Eye injuries from BB and other non-powder guns has risen 30%

Anyone who’s watched the 1980s classic “A Christmas Story” has seen the risk with BB guns, and new data suggests that eye injuries related to these and other non-powder guns are on the rise. Here’s more: 

  • The study: Researchers looked at data from over 360,000 children under the age of 18 between 1990-2016. 

  • Overall findings: The rate of eye injuries from BB guns as well as pellet, paintball, and airsoft guns increased by 30%, even though the number of all types of injuries from these guns decreased by almost 50%. 

  • Specific trends: BB guns accounted for more than 80% of all injuries, and nearly 90% of children injured were boys. The most common type of eye injury was a scratch on the eye’s cornea.

What to read around the web today

  • Meet Di Feng, STAT 2019 Wunderkind. STAT
  • Amazon pulls skin-lightening products after groups’ concerns. The Associated Press
  • Not yesterday’s cocaine: Death toll rising from tainted drug. Kaiser Health News
  • New data on Takeda’s dengue vaccine look promising, but with troubling exception. STAT
  • These women are going through “hell” after finding out their breast implants are linked to cancer. BuzzFeed News

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, November 25, 2019


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