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Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

Good morning! Andrew Joseph here filling in for Megan.
You can reach me at andrew.joseph@statnews.com.

Claim of CRISPR'd babies rocks science world

The global scientific community has been scrambling to understand and respond to the monumental claim that researchers helped make the world’s first babies whose DNA was edited when they were embryos.

  • In Hong Kong, where scientists and ethicists were gathered at a summit to discuss the very topic of human genome editing, the claim stunned organizers and led to pushback that the research — which has not yet been verified — was unethical and potentially dangerous.
  • In China, the Southern University of Science and Technology sought to distance itself from the work, which was led by one of its researchers. Other Chinese researchers condemned the project.
  • In the U.S., Rice University announced it had launched an investigation into one of its faculty members for his involvement in the research. Also, the NIH reiterated its opposition to editing embryos' DNA. 

Meanwhile, He Jiankui, the lead researcher, is scheduled to address the genome editing summit tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in Hong Kong, which is 10:30 p.m. ET tonight. Webcast info is available here. And be sure to check statnews.com — our reporter Sharon Begley is in Hong Kong covering the summit. 

FDA looks to overhaul medical-device system 

The FDA has announced a plan to revise the rules for approving most medical devices, including those around how a company developing a new device can rely on an older device’s safety data to make it to market. Experts have been calling for an overhaul to the decades-old system for years to ensure that new devices have up-to-date safety elements. Among the potential changes: publicly posting when a device’s approval is based on a device more than a decade old.
 
It’s been a big week in the medical device world, with the publication of a major investigation from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists alleging that there have been nearly 83,000 deaths in the last decade suspected of being linked to medical devices. AdvaMed, a medical device trade group, said it is considering paid advertising to counter the investigation.

Fractional dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lasting protection, study shows

Inoculating someone with a yellow fever vaccine that is one-fifth the standard dose still provides protection against the virus for at least 10 years, researchers reported. The finding adds to the evidence that using a so-called fractional dose is an adequate strategy when responding to outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease. To stretch the vaccine supply, health authorities have started deploying fractional-dose campaigns, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016. Previous studies showed the one-fifth dose extended protection for up to a year, but questions remained about the long-term strength of a smaller dose. For the new study, the researchers studied 40 adults who were given a fractional dose a decade ago as part of an earlier trial, and found that 39 of them still had protective antibodies in their systems without receiving boosters.

Inside STAT: A protest over insulin prices is seen as a fight for life

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Antroinette Worsham holds some of her daughter's ashes. (hyacinth empinado/STAT)

On a recent morning, a group of protestors rallied outside the Cambridge, Mass., office of Sanofi, urging the company to lower the cost of the insulin it manufactures. Some said they faced the choice of paying their rent or for their insulin. A few saw their children die after they rationed the drug. It is a medication that all type 1 diabetics need to survive. And without it, they will die like my daughter did,” said Antroinette Worsham, whose daughter died last year at 22. Sanofi is among the nation’s largest insulin makers — several of which have hiked the prices of the drug in recent years. STAT’s Hyacinth Empinado documented the rally — check out her video here.

Top YouTube videos on prostate cancer often wrong about screening and treatment

We at STAT hope you’re not relying on YouTube for medical advice, and in case you needed another reason to avoid the practice: A new study that looked at the top 150 videos about prostate cancer found that only about half accurately described the standard of care for screening and treatment as backed by current recommendations. What’s more, the study’s authors found that there was a negative correlation between the scientific quality of a video and the number of views and likes it had.

Scientists identify genomic regions tied to ADHD

Scientists have identified 12 regions of the genome that are associated with the development of ADHD — the first time researchers have conducted a so-called genome-wide association study tied to the condition. For the study, which was published in Nature Genetics, researchers compared the genomes of more than 20,000 people with ADHD and 35,000 people without the disorder to detect the dozen regions. They also identified gene variants — some of which are known to be involved learning and hormone regulation — that may play a role in the development of the disorder.

What to read around the web today

  • US officials: It's OK to eat some romaine, look for labels. AP
  • Opinion from Kevin Esvelt: Gene drive should be a nonprofit technology — at least for now. STAT
  • Overdoses, bedsores, broken bones: What happened when a private-equity firm sought to care for society's most vulnerable. Washington Post
  • Trump administration takes aim at pharmacy fees in complicated new pitch for lowering drug costs. STAT Plus
  • University of Alabama adding degree in addiction recovery on student demand. Tuscaloosa News

Thanks for reading, and until tomorrow, 

Megan

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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