KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Special Cells In Small Part Of Brain May Be A Primary Culprit Behind Aging

“This is a really important study … in the field of aging research,” Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology at Washington University in St. Louis, says of new findings on the role played by the hypothalamus. And today's other's public health stories report developments on brain cancer, editing embryo genomes, hospitals' Yelp reviews, the opioid crisis and tainted water.

Stat: A Tiny Part Of The Brain Appears To Orchestrate The Whole Body's Aging
Why do we age? It’s a seemingly simple question that nonetheless scientists don’t have a great answer to. Some amount of aging seems to be controlled by our genetic makeup, while other evidence shows that our cells have an upper limit to how many times they can divide. But a new study points to a different player: a special population of cells in a tiny region of the brain. Middle-aged mice that got an infusion of stem cells to their hypothalamus — the hormone-releasing center of the brain — had less memory loss and longer lives than normal mice, indicating that the hypothalamus plays a role in whole-body aging. (Wosen, 7/26)

The Washington Post: These Experimental Treatments Target Brain Cancer Like John McCain’s
When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned to work Tuesday, he seemed his tough old self, saying it would be hard to call the Senate the “world's greatest deliberative body” with a straight face. He added he was headed home soon for treatment for the aggressive brain cancer recently discovered during surgery. McCain hasn't announced his medical care plans, but for most patients, the first-line treatment for glioblastoma is radiation and chemotherapy. But if the cancer recurs, as it usually does, what then? (McGinley, 7/26)

Stat: Genome Of Viable Human Embryos Edited In Controversial Study
In a step that some of the nation’s leading scientists have long warned against and that has never before been accomplished, biologists in Oregon have edited the DNA of viable human embryos efficiently and apparently with few mistakes, according to a report in Technology Review. (Begley, 7/26)

USA Today: Contaminants In Water Are Legal But Still Pose Big Health Risks, Environmental Group Says
Contaminants detected in water samples throughout the country pose health risks but are perfectly legal under the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to data released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group. “Most people turn on their tap water and think: It’s clear, I live in America, we have these laws, I’m being protected,” said Nneka Leiba, director of the Healthy Living Science Program for the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “What people don’t realize is that there have been no additions to the list of regulated chemicals for drinking water since 1996.” (Toy, 7/26)

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