In America, Demand For Organ Donations Will Likely Always Outpace Supply. So Are Pigs The Answer?
It turns out that a 150-pound pig is uncannily humanlike in organ size and function. In other public health news: the future of medical treatments, the placebo effect, exercise, suicide and more.
The New York Times:
20 Americans Die Each Day Waiting For Organs. Can Pigs Save Them?
Anchoring a row of family photos in Joseph Tector’s office is a framed, autographed picture of Baby Fae, the California newborn who made headlines in 1984 when she received a baboon’s heart to replace her own malfunctioning organ. It’s inscribed “To Joe” by Leonard L. Bailey, the surgeon who turned to the monkey heart as the only option to keep his patient alive. Bailey snapped the picture about five days after the operation, while Stephanie Fae Beauclair was sleeping. A strip of surgical tape runs down the center of her chest from neck to diaper, marking the incision line where her rib cage was pulled apart to make the swap. Baby Fae would die less than three weeks later. (Clynes, 11/14)
Drug Crafted From Deadly Bacteria Is Changing Kidney Transplants
Doctors believe they’ve found an answer for patients like [Delilah] Romero in a protein that is produced by lethal bacteria. The protein, which temporarily wipes out antibodies, was crafted into an experimental drug called imlifidase to give donated organs a fighting chance against the immune system’s defenses. Developer Hansa Medical AB says imlifidase could make transplants possible for about 35,000 U.S. patients who currently have poor odds, and increase matches for others. (Lauerman, 11/14)
Sean Parker: Health Care Breakthroughs Aren't Going To Come From Google, Amazon
Sean Parker, the tech billionaire and cancer research philanthropist, may be a product of a Silicon Valley tech giant — but he’s skeptical about the impact those companies will have as they increasingly make a play in medicine. “I just don’t think the innovations that are going to drive this revolution in health care and discovery are going to come out of Amazon or Google,” Parker said Tuesday at an event put on by the Washington Post. “Google has a big group that’s focused on this — they’re really smart, they’re not unsophisticated, they’re not naive — but I don’t think that’s where you’re going to see the big breakthroughs happening.” (Robbins, 11/13)
A Biotech Analyst On Neuroscience, Placebo Effect, Not Over-Selling The Dream
Is biotech having a renaissance in neuroscience? Can we solve the placebo effect? And what’s going to happen next year? Paul Matteis, co-head of biotech research at Stifel, sat down with STAT at the firm’s annual health care conference here to field those questions and opine on how management teams can walk the delicate balance between hype and sandbagging. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. (Garde, 11/14)
The New York Times:
Very Brief Workouts Count Toward 150-Minute Goal, New Guidelines Say
As of Monday, the United States has new federal physical-activity guidelines. The new guidelines, which represent a scientific consensus about how much and what types of physical activities we should complete for good health, bear a strong resemblance to the existing, 10-year-old governmental recommendations. But they also feature some important updates and expansions, including the first-ever federal activity parameters for 3-year-olds, as well as a few surprising omissions. And they offer a subtle, admonitory reminder that a substantial majority of us are not moving nearly as much as we should. (Reynolds, 11/14)
St. Louis Public Radio:
Debt, Disfigurement Place Survivors Of These Types Of Cancer At Higher Risk Of Suicide
Studies show cancer survivors are twice as likely to die by suicide than the general population. But some cancer survivors are at a greater risk than others, according to research from a St. Louis University doctor. A study appearing in this month’s journal Cancer has found patients in recovery from pancreatic, head and neck cancers die by suicide at a higher rate than other common cancers. In the case of head and neck cancer, the suicide rate is 63 for every 100,000 people — close to four times that of the general population and two times that of other cancer survivors combined. (Fentem, 11/12)
The Associated Press:
No Accounting For These Tastes: Artificial Flavors A Mystery
Six artificial flavors are being ordered out of the food supply in a dispute over their safety, but good luck to anyone who wants to know which cookies, candies or drinks they're in. The dispute highlights the complex rules that govern what goes in our food, how much the public knows about it, and a mysterious class of ingredients that has evolved over decades largely outside of public view. (11/13)
The New York Times:
Why Teenagers Mix Drinking And Sex
Adults should talk with teenagers about drinking. And we should talk with teenagers about sex. But in addition to taking up each of these topics separately, we should also address the fact that adolescents are more likely than adults to combine the two. Common sense suggests, and research confirms, that intoxicated sex can be a bad idea. Of course, underage drinking is illegal; state laws vary on the legality of having sex with an intoxicated person. Legal questions aside, results from a new survey of more than 7,000 undergraduates at Indiana University show that consensual sex is both less enjoyable and less strongly wanted when one or both of the participants has been drinking. Other research links alcohol use to higher rates of unprotected intercourse. (Damour, 11/14)
The Associated Press:
Gene-Edited Food Is Coming, But Will Shoppers Buy?
The next generation of biotech food is headed for the grocery aisles, and first up may be salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil genetically tweaked to be good for your heart. By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA "edited" are expected to begin selling. It's a different technology than today's controversial "genetically modified" foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer. (11/14)