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Morning Rounds Andrew Joseph

Good morning! STAT reporter Andrew Joseph here filling in for Megan for the day. Say hello at andrew.joseph@statnews.com. 

NIH institute pauses heart stem cell trial after calls for retractions

A federal health agency has paused a clinical trial as doubts about the science underpinning the study continue to be raised. The CONCERT-HF trial was designed to test whether stem cells could repair damaged muscle in patients with chronic heart failure, based in part on a theory advanced by Dr. Piero Anversa. But earlier this month, Harvard and an affiliated hospital called for the retraction of 31 of the researcher's papers, including some in which they found he had "committed research misconduct." Anversa isn't working on the trial, but the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has halted it while a more thorough review is completed.

Separately, FDA investigators have determined that a Minneapolis hospital violated regulations on human research by testing powerful antipsychotics and ketamine on emergency room patients without their knowledge or consent. In response, a health watchdog group on Monday urged federal regulators to suspend all clinical trials at the hospital.

Experimental Ebola vaccines offer lasting protection

Researchers have found that three experimental Ebola vaccines — including the one being used to stem an ongoing outbreak — generate an immune response against the virus that lasts for at least two and a half years, a promising sign that the vaccines provide long-lasting protection. The researchers, who reported their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, tested the vaccines on healthy volunteers and so far have found signs of persistent protection after two and a half years, up from the two years previously shown. One of the immunizations tested is a Merck vaccine, which health authorities are deploying as they respond to an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Inside STAT: Postpartum can be both boundless love and deep sadness. It shouldn’t mean silence 3c3c03eb-ead2-4257-b1a7-8430ed411081.png

MARIA FABRIZIO FOR STAT

“It was hard to admit that a mental health crisis had crept up on me, just weeks after one of the happiest days of my life. I told myself that I was exaggerating my own symptoms, that I was just overtired. Many women have it worse, I thought. I could make it work. And yet, even as I was ‘making it work,’ I was pierced by moments of breathtaking sadness.” That’s how Alissa Ambrose, STAT’s deputy director of multimedia and creative, describes her postpartum depression in a new First Opinion. Even with a strong support network, she struggled to admit something was wrong, and then to find appropriate help — both because of the stigma and the barriers to care. As she has started to speak up more about her experience, she’s encountered many mothers who have faced similar struggles. Read her essay here.

The conflicts of interest lurking in clinical practice guidelines

A pair of new studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine demonstrate the medical field is still struggling with transparency and conflict-of-interest practices. In one study, researchers reported that authors of clinical practice guidelines that involved expensive medications don’t always declare payments they received from the companies that make those treatments. The second study focused on gastroenterology practice guidelines, finding that the authors’ disclosures don’t always match their financial disclosures in a publicly available database. More here. 

Physicians group eyes gun-violence policies

The American College of Physicians is out with its updated policy position on how to reduce gun violence, reiterating its support for a ban on civilian ownership of assault weapons. The group is also advocating for bolstered background checks and strengthened laws that prevent people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. The latest iteration of the ACP's guidelines includes such previous recommendations as increased funding for gun-violence research and the need for doctors to talk with patients about the risks of keeping guns at home. It also adds the group's support to laws that allow family members to ask courts to remove a person's firearms in some situations.

How formula influences infants' microbiomes

Just about everything seems to affect our microbiomes, and new research suggests that using formula instead of breast milk creates changes in subtle ways. By studying the communities of bacteria taken from infants' digestive tracts, researchers discovered that the microbiomes of formula-fed infants appear similar to those who get breast milk. But the scientists uncovered some metabolic differences, including which amino acids the bacteria were primed to make. A key point: Researchers aren’t sure if there are any health effects from the differences.  

What to read around the web today

  • Pharma's 'come to Jesus moment': The industry braces for a Pelosi speakership and Democrats' drug pricing agenda. STAT
  • Your DNA is out there. Do you want law enforcement using it? Bloomberg
  • Opinion: States are protecting living organ donors. Congress should follow suit. STAT
  • Evacuated after 'health attacks' in Cuba and China, diplomats face new ordeals in U.S. NBC News
  • To fight high drug prices, Utah will pay for public employees to fill prescriptions in Mexico. Salt Lake Tribune

Thanks for reading! 

Megan

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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