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Friday, May 13, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! STAT reporter Rebecca Robbins here, filling in for Megan today. Let's get started on today's health and science news.

Microbiome research to get a funding boost

The multitude of bugs in your body commands plenty of excitement (and sometimes dubious hype). Now, it’s increasingly attracting serious research interest and funding, too. The White House is announcing a National Microbiome Initiative today that will provide $121 million in federal funding in the current and next fiscal years. It's also marshaling funds from dozens of outside groups, including $100 million over four years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More from Washington editor David Nather here

Lawmakers discuss concussions in youth sports

Congress is holding a hearing this morning focused on concussions sustained during youth sports. On the witness list: Dartmouth College’s football coach and representatives from youth football, lacrosse, and hockey leagues. They’re gathering at a time when concern about the dangers of contact sports for young people is making waves. The Ivy League recently banned tackling during football practice. And high school football programs are being shut down around the country, even in hotbeds like Texas. Here’s what happened last time Congress took on the subject of concussions.

Inside STAT: Meet the doctor treating LA's homeless

In the Los Angeles neighborhood with the nation’s most densely concentrated homeless population, a doctor donning a backpack is a familiar face. Dr. Susan Partovi has repeatedly received treatment for the antibiotic-resistant infection MRSA. She often works with patients for months or even years without making headway. None of that stops her from treating her patients with dignity (and often without gloves). “She’s badass, is what she is,” another street doctor said of Partovi. STAT West Coast correspondent Usha Lee McFarling has the profile. And here’s more on a bold effort in Los Angeles County to use health care dollars to fund housing for Skid Row’s sickest residents.

sponsor content by shire

New Research Addresses Two Key Areas of Adult Psychiatry: ADHD and B.E.D. 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D.) affect approximately 10.5 and 2.8 million US adults, respectively. On May 16th and 17th, Shire will present research characterizing eating behaviors in adults with B.E.D. and patterns of prescription medication use for adult ADHD and B.E.D. at the 2016 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Research presented is intended to advance understanding of the needs of adults affected by these disorders. Intended for US audience.

What you should know about those new stem cell research guidelines

The International Society for Stem Cell Research yesterday updated its research guidelines for the first time since 2008. The most important things to know:

  • Presently only embryo research that creates stem-cell lines is subject to rigorous internal review. The new guidelines expand such review to all research in which human embryos are manipulated.
  • The guidelines also address the question of whether researchers should conduct experiments on a human embryo more than 14 days after fertilization. No, is the answer, upholding the current global ban. More on that debate here.

Sun exposure while driving could be a health risk

The driver’s side window in many cars and trucks may fail to adequately protect drivers from the most damaging kind of ultraviolet light, according to new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology yesterday. A study that looked at 29 automobiles from 15 manufacturers found that side windows generally blocked far less UV light than the nearly impenetrable front windshields — a finding that may in part explain increased rates of cataracts in left eyes and skin cancer on the left side of the face. “I believe that there is a potential public safety issue here on a large scale,” said Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, the study’s author and an eye surgeon in southern California.

Origami robots dive deep into organs

Go go gadget robot (Melanie Gonick/MIT)

You’re looking at a simulated model of the stomach. The red object is a tiny robot, which unfolded itself out of a capsule meant to be swallowed. Guided by magnetic fields, the robot’s on a retrieval mission: To drag the silver button battery out of the stomach. (There are 3,500 annual reports of the tiny batteries being swallowed in the US.) The demonstration is being presented this week at a robotics conference by researchers from MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Hepatitis C testing is making a difference on Native American reservations

It’s believed that more than half of people with hepatitis C don’t know they’re infected, and that’s historically been a problem among Native Americans, who are disproportionately affected by the condition. But new CDC data released yesterday presents an encouraging picture. About one third of a group of rural Native American adults had been tested for hepatitis C as of last year, quadruple the total before a push began to increase testing in 2012. In Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma, from 2012 to 2015 about 400 people were diagnosed with hepatitis C and about half of them completed a drug regimen that cured them. 

What to read around the web today

  • Meet the women trying to eradicate polio in Pakistan. Los Angeles Times
  • A database detailing doctors’ prescribing habits is being used to search for opioid-friendly prescribers. ProPublica
  • Serious preventable errors are common with a popular cataract surgery. Boston Globe

More reads from STAT

Thanks for reading! I'll be back with more news on Monday,

Megan

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