Navy Lures Once-Mocked Researcher Out Of Retirement To Lead Venture Selling Viruses For Potential Cures
The success of a therapy technique that injects viruses into bacteria and lets them reproduce like crazy until the germs explode was great news for Dr. Carl Merril -- and convinced him to return to work as a government scientist, starting a new company. Other public health news includes: babies' sleep, depression, maternal death rates, caregivers, medical data profits, mental health and surgery center ratings.
How The Navy Brought A Once-Derided Scientist Out Of Retirement — And Into The Virus-Selling Business
What was being requested was a sample from the Navy’s collection of viruses. The word virus, to most of us, implies disease, but in this case the Navy wasn’t stockpiling pathogens. Instead, these viruses were potential cures. Called bacteriophages — literally, eaters of bacteria — they could inject themselves inside germs, reproduce like crazy, and cause the buggers to explode. To the military, that image was alluring. Bacteriophage therapy had long been abandoned in the U.S., but as more and more antibiotics had stopped working, biodefense experts, Navy doctors — and just about anyone else with a stake in protecting human health — were wondering about other treatments. (Boodman, 10/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
Babies’ Sleep Linked To Lower Obesity Risks Years Later
Combating high childhood obesity rates is a vexing problem: Diets and other interventions often don’t work, and when they do the effects aren’t long-lasting. Now, some researchers are attacking the problem at the newborn stage with an unlikely target: sleep. Newborns whose parents received advice and hands-on education about sleep had about half the risk of developing obesity by ages 3½ and 5, compared with children whose parents didn’t get the sleep instruction, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. (Reddy, 10/15)
Los Angeles Times:
Paging Dr. Facebook: How The Social Network Could Help Doctors Screen Patients For Depression
More than half of Americans who suffer from depression never get any treatment, and in many cases that’s because their symptoms are never diagnosed. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises primary care physicians to screen all of their patients for depression and make sure proper care gets to those who need it, but this is a big job and doctors could use some help. Paging Dr. Facebook, stat! (Kaplan, 10/15)
Merck To Fund Programs Tackling Rising Pregnancy-Related Deaths
In the United States, women giving birth in the 21st century are 2.5 times more likely to die of a complication of pregnancy or labor than women who gave birth three decades ago. The trend, largely overshadowed by the much higher rate of infant deaths, has been getting a closer look in recent years. (Viviano, 10/15)
The Associated Press:
AP-NORC Poll: Many Caregivers Neglecting Their Own Health
Skipping your checkup but not grandma's? Caring for an older loved one is a balancing act, and a new poll shows that too often it's the caregivers' health that's neglected. The survey, by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found about a third of caregivers have gone without a routine physical or dental care, skipped or didn't schedule a test or treatment or even forgot to fill a prescription or failed to see a doctor for their own illness or injury because they were too busy with their caregiving duties. (10/15)
If Your Medical Information Becomes A Moneymaker, Could You Get A Cut?
Hospitals and health plans are increasingly using the huge amount of medical data they collect for research. It's a business worth billions of dollars, and sometimes those discoveries can be the foundation of new profit-making products and companies. When a company profits from your data, should you get a cut? (Harris, 10/15)
Report: World Support For Mental Health Care Is 'Pitifully Small'
It's a major milestone in the fight to recognize mental health and mental illness as global issues: a comprehensive report from the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health, three years in the making, released this past week at a London summit with royals Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, in attendance to show their support for the cause. But it was not a celebratory event. Threaded throughout the 45-page report is a lament that the world is ignoring millions of suffering people. (Silberner, 10/15)
Kaiser Health News:
Influential Leapfrog Group Jumps In To Rate 5,600 Surgery Centers
The influential Leapfrog Group, which grades nearly 2,000 U.S. hospitals, is launching a national survey to evaluate the safety and quality of up to 5,600 surgery centers that perform millions of outpatient procedures every year. The group now issues hospitals an overall letter grade and evaluates how hospitals handle myriad problems, from infections to collapsed lungs to dangerous blood clots — helping patients decide where to seek care. (Jewett, 10/16)