New $125 Million Immunology Research Unit Sprang From Personal Quest Of Paul Allen
The Allen Institute announced the new unit Wednesday, three months after Paul Allen died of septic shock stemming from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other public health news focuses on Islam and organ donations; reactions to the CRIPR babies; vitamin treatments for sepsis; the continuing short supply of Shingrix; and the high costs of animal attacks.
Allen Institute Announces $125 Million Gift To Probe Human Immunology
This past July, philanthropist Paul Allen spent hours grilling his team about an ambitious plan they were hatching: Expanding the Allen Institute — the Seattle-based scientific research organization he founded and funded — to add a new division that would probe the mysteries of the human immune system. For Allen, the quest was personal (he had survived two cancers of the immune system) as well as intellectual (the Microsoft co-founder was fascinated with complex biological problems). Allen kept pushing his team to articulate how it was going to maximize the impact of the research, according to one of the participants in those July meetings. Finally satisfied with the plans, Allen decided to commit $125 million to fund the immunology division. (Robbins, 12/12)
When Religion Collides With Organ Donation, What Does Islam Say?
It is a concern that counselors for the Gift of Life Donor Program repeatedly hear from Muslim families during the heartbreaking moments in a hospital when a loved one is declared brain dead, and the question of organ donation is broached — moments that will increasingly arise as the region’s Muslim population, which community leaders estimate at more than 200,000, continues to grow. That has prompted the Philadelphia-based nonprofit to begin a series of eight public information seminars to answer questions about Islamic texts and offer scholars' interpretations. (Holmes, 12/12)
China's Global Reputation Shapes Public Reaction To 'CRISPR Babies'
A member of the audience shouted “shame on you” from the back of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong as He Jiankui presented research that he proudly claimed led to the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies. That initial reaction two weeks ago was reinforced by official responses of a similar tenor from the Chinese government and scientific community. The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences quickly said He had violated laws, regulations, and ethical norms, while an official with the government science ministry called his research “shocking and unacceptable.” More than 100 Chinese scientists signed a blunt letter denouncing He’s experimentation on humans as “crazy.” (Tang, 12/12)
VICTAS Study Tests Vitamins For Sepsis Treatment
Dr. Jonathan Sevransky was intrigued when he heard that a well-known physician in Virginia had reported remarkable results from a simple treatment for sepsis. Could the leading cause of death in hospitals really be treated with intravenous vitamin C, the vitamin thiamine and doses of steroids? "Hundreds of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year and millions of people in the world die of this," says Sevransky, a critical-care physician at Emory University. "So when somebody comes out with a potential treatment that is cheap and relatively easily available, it's something you want to think about." (Harris, 12/12)
Lawsuit Alleges NIH, FDA Let Clinical Trial Sponsors Off The Hook
A former top official at the Food and Drug Administration and a longtime science journalist are suing the agency and the National Institutes of Health, saying they let clinical trial sponsors off the hook for reporting nearly a decade’s worth of important scientific data. Under a law passed in 2007, researchers involved in many clinical trials must report their results to the federal government. But the NIH and FDA only finalized a rule to ensure compliance in 2016. (Facher, 12/11)
Shingrix Vaccine Against Shingles Remains In Short Supply
If you're 50 or older, Judith Strull's story might sound familiar. Told by her doctor last month to get the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, Strull went to her local CVS in Newton, Mass., expecting a quick in-and-out procedure — like getting a flu shot. The pharmacist, however, said the store had no Shingrix left in stock. (Wasser, 12/11)
Animal Attacks Cost Us More Than $1 Billion A Year
Animal-related injuries lead to health care costs of more than $1 billion a year in the United States, according to a new study -- and they're happening more often. The rate of all animal attack injuries has increased over the past 10 years, according to Dr. Joseph Forrester, one of the authors of the study published Tuesday in the BMJ. He anticipates that it will continue to rise, partially because of climate change. (Thomas, 12/11)