KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Drug Makers Attempt To Treat Depression By Blocking Inflammation Instead Of Altering Brain Chemistry

Meanwhile, in other public health news, WBUR profiles a former addiction counselor now living with dementia — with help from a onetime patient whose life he changed. And researchers capture a cell that would become cancer at its earliest state.

The New York Times: A Single Cell Shines New Light on How Cancers Develop
It was just a tiny speck, a single cell that researchers had marked with a fluorescent green dye. But it was the very first cell of what would grow to be a melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Never before had researchers captured a cancer so early. The cell was not a cancer yet. But its state was surprising: It was a cell that had reverted to an embryonic form, when it could have developed into any cell type. As it began to divide, cancer genes took over and the single primitive cell barreled forward into a massive tumor. (Kolata, 1/28)

On autism, KHN reports on a possible link to maternal weight and diabetes while The Tennessean writes about two autistic brothers with vastly different lives —

The Tennessean: Two Sons With Autism: 1 Incarcerated, 1 Thriving
Juli Liske awaited two letters. One from her older son, Dylan, 26 years old and a heroin addict locked away in a detention center five hours north. The other for her younger son, Ben, an academically advanced student who, at 15 years old, was already anticipating early admission to Vanderbilt University. Two brothers with the same medical diagnosis but vastly different experiences — “a heavenly dream and an unthinkable hell.” (Bliss, 1/28)

And researchers try to shed new light on why middle-aged white Americans are dying at a higher rate —

Kaiser Health News: Study Finds 'Mortality Gap' Among Middle-Aged Whites
Don’t blame suicide and substance abuse entirely for rising death rates among middle-aged white Americans, asserts a new study out Friday. They’re both factors, but the bigger culprit is almost two decades of stalled progress in fighting leading causes of death -- such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease -- according to a Commonwealth Fund analysis of data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Gillespie, 1/29)

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