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New service will peer review unpublished manuscripts before journal submissions

The nonprofit life sciences organization ASAPBio and the European Molecular Biology Organization press have teamed up to launch Review Commons, a preprint platform where researchers can submit their unpublished manuscripts for peer review. In the current system, rejections and revisions requested by peer reviewers often prolong the publishing process and this new system looks to cut down on such delays. Once the preprint is peer-reviewed through Review Commons, researchers will have a better sense of which journals are ideally suited for publishing their work. At the same time, the new service is also affiliated with 17 life science journals across six publishers — including the PLoS family of journals and EMBO’s journals — and could help scientists fast-track their work into one of these journals. 

Insurance claims for Lyme disease care increased nearly 120%

A new white paper from Fair Health found that insurance claims — for a health care service or procedure — related to Lyme disease increased nearly 120% between 2007 and 2018. Here’s what else you need to know: 

  • Overall trends: Claims for Lyme disease increased by 117% between 2007-2018, although such claims still made up less than 1% of all insurance claim lines. Lyme disease made up nearly 94% of claim lines for all tick-borne diseases last year alone. 

  • Geographic distribution: Urban areas experienced more than a 120% growth in claims related to Lyme disease, while rural areas saw a 105% increase, a gap that researchers attribute to people perhaps seeking care more in urban areas. 

  • Age and gender: In 2018, more claims were submitted for females than males. Individuals aged 51-60 had the largest share of claims related to Lyme disease, followed by those ages 41-50.

Majority of school-aged children aren’t vaccinated against MMR ahead of international travel

The majority of preschool and school-aged children haven’t received the mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine as required before they travel abroad, according to new research. Looking at data from more than 14,600 consultations at a CDC network of clinics about international travel between 2009-2018, researchers found that nearly 57% of preschoolers and almost 89% of school-aged children who were eligible to receive the MMR vaccine hadn’t received the vaccination. About 44% of eligible infants were not immunized. Medical exemptions and guardian refusal were the two most common reasons why the children weren’t vaccinated. Still, in more than 40% of these consultations for infants and preschoolers, physicians did not recommend MMR vaccination, which the authors write signals a major gap among these doctors who are travel medicine experts. 

Inside STAT: Brains-in-a-dish force a radical rethinking of Huntington's

Brain organoids created from healthy stem cells (top) have (left to right) large neuron-making structures (pink), and large numbers of well-organized specialized neurons (red) in the forebrain and cortex, in contrast to organoids from stem cells with Huntington's mutations (bottom). (MAHMOUD POULADI/AGENCY FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH , SINGAPORE)

Huntington’s disease has long been considered a neurodegenerative disease, characterized by slow physical and mental deterioration as neurons die. But new research suggests the disease may also affect neurodevelopment. Researchers using minuscule, 3D versions of brains in a dish describe how fledgling "progenitor cells" created from people with Huntington’s disease impatiently rush through the process of becoming full-fledged, mature neurons. This is in sharp contrast to typical progenitor cells that spend a much longer time simply replicating in their place of origin before they develop into specialized brain cells. The findings could one day offer scientists a way to intervene sooner rather than later. STAT’s Sharon Begley has more.

The cities experiencing the biggest physician demand

As a physician shortage continues to loom, a new report from Doximity finds that the demand for physicians this year grew by about 5%, an improvement since 2018. Here’s more: 

  • Highest demand: El Paso, Texas, Miami, and Minneapolis were among the top 10 cities with the most open jobs advertised for physicians this year. Minneapolis also experienced a small growth in how well it paid its physicians. 

  • By speciality: Family medicine doctors, internists, and emergency physicians were among the most needed specialists. 

  • Telemedicine: Demand for telemedicine doctors also grew, with internists, psychiatrists, and radiologists being among the most in demand. At the same time, the survey found that radiologists are among the top 10 most well-paid specialties.

Young doctors’ moods are affected by major political events

A new study finds that physicians’ moods are affected by major political events. Researchers surveyed more than 2,300 individuals who were first-year medical interns about political events such as the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as nonpolitical events like the California wildfires. Interns were more likely to report a shift in mood following political events than nonpolitical ones, with the biggest change reported after the 2016 election. The change in mood associated with the election was also greater than the mood decline interns reported right after they first started internships, when they are known to be dealing with a heavier workload and more stress. Women experienced a greater decline in mood than their male colleagues in response to the election and President Trump’s inauguration. Future studies should examine whether physicians in other countries experience similar mood changes, the authors suggest. 

What to read around the web today

  • Meet Ritu Raman, STAT 2019 Wunderkind. STAT
  • Pete Frates, who raised millions for ALS research by championing the Ice Bucket Challenge, dies at 34. The Boston Globe
  • 3D-printed bunny contains DNA instructions to make a copy of itself. New Scientist
  • Facebook ads push misinformation about HIV prevention drugs, LGBT activists say, ‘harming public health.’ The Washington Post
  • House Republicans fuel Capitol Hill chaos with competing drug pricing bill. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, December 10, 2019


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