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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Happy Friday, everyone! And thanks for reading my first week of Morning Rounds newsletters! Let's get to today's news. 

Monthly shots for HIV as effective as daily pills, two large studies show

Monthly shots of a combination HIV medication work just as well against the virus as daily pills, researchers announced yesterday. If regulators approve this new dosing, it would offer patients a more convenient way to take their medication — and may help improve treatment adherence. Two big international studies — one in people already taking pills for HIV and one in people who hadn’t yet begun treatment — tested the efficacy of a long-acting shot of rilpivirine, sold as Edurant, and an experimental drug known as cabotegravir. After nearly a year, the number of people with traces of virus in their blood was similar, regardless of whether they received the monthly shots or the daily pills.

NIH’s Janine Clayton on advancing women's health research

To mark International Women’s Day today, I chatted with Dr. Janine Clayton, director of the NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, about the issues facing women's health and the ways in which research has become more inclusive. Here’s a snapshot of our conversation:

What are some major challenges in women’s health right now?

Even though maternal mortality is decreasing in every other high-income country, it is increasing in the United States. For every woman who dies, there are many more women who had near-misses. We know, for example, that black women, regardless of education and income, are three to four times more likely to die [of something] related to childbirth. So that's one of the things that I think is our biggest challenge is addressing these demographics.

What advances have been made in incorporating sex differences in research?

One thing we’re really proud of is the policy that I put forward that requires our investigators to account for sex as a biological variable. Investigators who are doing preclinical research using animal models are now using both male and female animals. The default should be to study both sexes, and [there] should be a strong scientific justification why you're not studying both sexes.

A nightmarish tetanus case highlights the dangers of not vaccinating

A startling case report released by the CDC yesterday details a gut-wrenching tetanus infection in an Oregon child who hadn’t received any vaccines. The 6-year-old boy contracted tetanus after getting a cut while playing on his family’s farm in 2017 — the state’s first pediatric case in more than 30 years. The boy spent 54 days in the hospital, suffering racking spasms and spending weeks sedated in a darkened room. After the medical marathon, which cost well over $800,000, the boy’s parents still refused to vaccinate him against the disease. “I never thought I would see a case of severe tetanus in the United States,” Dr. Judith Guzman-Cottrill, who helped treat the boy, tells STAT.

Inside STATIn 'The Inventor,' Elizabeth Holmes dazzles, but keeps her secrets


Holmes, a fan of Yoda from "Star Wars," had his mantra on the walls at Theranos. (HBO)

First came the book chronicling the quick rise — and catastrophic fall — of the blood-testing startup Theranos, and now comes the documentary. “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” which premieres later this month on HBO, comes from filmmaker Alex Gibney, known for his searing look at Scientology in “Going Clear.” The new film tries to unravel the mystique behind Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, but the well-spun crime picture never seems to pin her down, writes STAT’s Damian Garde, who got an early peek at the film. Read his review here.

Genomic analysis of sewage waste shows widespread antimicrobial resistance

As concerns persist over antibiotic resistance, a new genomic analysis of sewage waste details its international spread, particularly in areas with poor sanitation and health systems. In data from 74 cities across the world, samples from Asia, Africa, and South America tended to have the highest rates of resistance to commonly used antibiotics, such as tetracycline. Samples from North America, Western Europe, and Australia had the lowest incidence. The study’s authors say they examined sewage data because it allows for “real-time surveillance.” But not all antimicrobial resistance or resistance genes are equally important, the authors write, so further studies could benefit from looking at individual drugs and genes.

New imaging device keeps track of tiny tumors

Researchers have created a device that they say can go deeper into tissue to detect cancers than other optical imaging techniques. The new system can also spot tumors as small as only a couple hundred cells, deep within the body. The hope is that clinicians could use this device to better catch tiny tumors early among the 37 trillion cells in our body. Researchers found the device was able to track a tiny tumor-sized cluster of fluorescent particles through the GI tract of a live mouse over the course of four hours. Further studies are needed to see if the device can work just as well in the human body.

Correction: Yesterday's edition incorrectly referred to IBD as irritable bowel disease. IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease. 

What to read around the web today

  • Sanofi suffers setback as panel recommends against dengue vaccine in adults. STAT Plus
  • ‘Not dead enough’: Public hospitals deny life-saving abortion care to people in need. Rewire News
  • Doctors Without Borders fiercely criticizes Ebola outbreak control effort. STAT
  • Culture wars in the lab. Scientific American
  • Dubious diagnosis: How real is ‘prediabetes’? Science

Enjoy your weekend, and don't forget to change your clocks on Sunday! See you next week!


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Friday, March 8, 2019


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