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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Kansas Supreme Court rules state constitution protects abortion rights

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled late last week that the right to an abortion is protected under the state’s constitution, blocking a 2015 state law that would have banned a common second-trimester procedure. The state has had a contentious history regarding abortion: Physician George Tiller, who had faced threats for performing the procedure, was killed in 2009 by an abortion opponent who had previously targeted him. With Friday’s landmark decision, Kansas joins at least nine other states whose high courts have ruled in favor of abortion rights activists. Antiabortion activists in Kansas have already vowed to organize to amend the state’s constitution.

FBI raids offices of microbiome company UBiome

The FBI searched the San Francisco headquarters of microbiome company UBiome late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company sells several tests that sequence people’s microbiome to provide information that could inform their nutrition or health decisions. The agency is investigating the company’s billing practices, according to the WSJ, as are the California Department of Insurance and insurance companies. None of these groups has revealed the exact nature of their respective investigations. A person familiar with the FBI investigation told STAT that the agency has heard allegations that physicians who order UBiome’s tests for customers via a telemedicine service have been compensated in ways that may be illegal. It’s unclear whether Friday’s raid is related to these allegations.

After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican youths experience significant PTSD symptoms

Following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, 7 percent of school-aged children in Puerto Rico have significant symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study. Researchers surveyed nearly 100,000 children in grades 3-12 and found that more girls than boys reported experiencing such symptoms, which can include unwanted memories of the traumatic episode. The majority of the children saw houses damaged and had a friend or family member leave the island following the hurricane. A third of the children also said they perceived their lives to be at risk at some point during the hurricane. The researchers say they did not have pre-hurricane data, meaning they were unable to gather whether the event changed rates of PTSD in the children. 

Inside STAT: The entrepreneur behind the cancer immunotherapy revolution

Nils Lonberg helped usher in a transformation in the way cancer is treated.

It all started with a decision to buy an entire bottle of whiskey back in 1998. Nils Lonberg, then a scientist at pharma company Medarex, had stayed up all night talking and drinking with Jim Allison. Allison shared with Lonberg an early vision for cancer immunotherapy, the revolutionary idea of harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight tumors that would one day earn Allison a Nobel Prize. When he accepted that prize last year, Lonberg was not on the podium, nor was his colleague Alan Korman, who was also instrumental in making immunotherapy a commercial success. But without them, a class of medicines that have changed the way doctors think about and treat tumors might not exist. STAT’s Matthew Herper has more on Lonberg here.

The benefits of intensive blood pressure therapy for those with type 2 diabetes

A new study finds that intensive treatment to help those with type 2 diabetes reach ideal blood pressure levels helps prevent heart attacks, according to data from nearly 11,000 adults. Previous research had inconclusive or seemingly contradictory results on the therapy, but in the new study, those whose blood pressure was lowered to at least 130/80 mm/Hg — the recommended threshold set by leading cardiology groups for those with diabetes — experienced fewer cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, and fewer deaths from any cause than those in the placebo group. The study authors say that further research is needed to know whether the 130/80 target is enough or whether lower levels of blood pressure will be more beneficial. 

Nearly 700 under measles quarantine at two LA colleges

Close to 700 people at the University of California, Los Angeles, and California State University in Los Angeles are still under quarantine after possibly being exposed to measles. Los Angeles county health officials ordered the quarantine late last week after people at both campuses were potentially exposed to a person with measles. Those under quarantine were instructed to stay at home and off public transit and not interact with others. The public health order comes as the U.S. continues to battle the biggest measles outbreak — with 695 cases so far in 22 states — since the disease was considered eliminated in 2000. 

What to read around the web today

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Monday, April 29, 2019


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