Supercomputer Watson Was Going To Revolutionize Cancer Treatment. It Has Yet To Live Up To Hype.
Stat looks at the reasons why this lofty project faltered. In other public health news: HIV crime laws, CAR-T therapy, gene editing, pediatric blood-pressure guidelines, and Zika.
IBM Pitched Watson As A Revolution In Cancer Care. It's Nowhere Close
It was an audacious undertaking, even for one of the most storied American companies: With a single machine, IBM would tackle humanity’s most vexing diseases and revolutionize medicine. Breathlessly promoting its signature brand — Watson — IBM sought to capture the world’s imagination, and it quickly zeroed in on a high-profile target: cancer. (Ross and Swetlitz, 9/5)
HIV Crime Laws: Historical Relics Or Public Safety Measures?
Robert Suttle clearly remembers telling his boyfriend that he was HIV positive the night they met. But after they split, three quarrel-filled months later, that became a point of contention: His “ex” pressed charges against him. Suttle’s home state, Louisiana, is one of 33 states with laws that can be used to prosecute people living with HIV. And in Louisiana, intentionally exposing someone to HIV/AIDS is a felony punishable by up to 11 years in prison. (Wiltz, 9/6)
Cellectis Off-The-Shelf CAR-T Therapy Grounded Following Patient's Toxic Death
Two clinical trials of an off-the-shelf CAR-T cancer therapy from Cellectis (CLLS) have been placed on clinical hold following the death of a patient caused by a severe toxic reaction to the treatment. Cellectis’ stock price is down 30 percent to $22.79 in early Tuesday trading. The biotech company, with operations in Paris and New York, announced the FDA clinical hold on Sunday night. (Feuerstein, 9/5)
Shawnee Woman Was Among First In The World To Undergo New FDA-Approved Cancer Therapy
CAR: It’s a mouthful, but it stands for chimeric antigen receptors. The therapy involves removing a patient’s T cells, a type of white blood cell, and genetically engineering them to recognize and attack the patient’s tumors. The T cells are then put back into the patient’s body. ...KU’s clinical trial involved patients like [Emily] Dumler with an extremely aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. One of those patients, a 47-year-old Australian who traveled to KU to undergo CAR-T therapy in late 2015, died last year. But a significant percentage of patients – nearly half – achieved complete remissions. (Margolies, 9/6)
The Washington Post:
Was The Big Paper About The Successful Editing Of Human Embryo Genes Wrong?
A month ago, an international team of researchers announced that they had used a gene-editing technique to safely erase a heritable heart condition from a human embryo. This blockbuster news was greeted with both excitement and fear. Now the scientific community is buzzing about a new critique that questions the main conclusions of their paper. Columbia University's Dieter Egli, Harvard University’s George Church and other respected names in the field are raising doubts about whether the experiment — using the groundbreaking laboratory tool known as CRISPR (or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) — was successful at all or at least in the way the researchers originally described it. (Cha, 9/5)
The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com:
New Guidelines Mean More Kids Will Be Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure - And That's A Good Thing
Newly announced pediatric blood-pressure guidelines may result in more youngsters getting flagged for hypertension, but that will likely help more children and teenagers get started earlier on healthy lifestyle changes. That’s the take-away for parents on the new standards for identifying and treating high blood pressure in children and adolescents, published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics. The recommendations and accompanying study are the work of a 20-person American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) panel. (Giordano, 9/6)
Kansas City Star:
Washington University: Zika Virus Kills Brain Cancer Stem Cells
The Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis on Tuesday said the Zika virus has shown it may be useful in attacking glioblastoma cancer cells. The university collaborated with the University of San Diego School of Medicine in the research that shows the Zika virus kills brain cancer stem cells. (Campbell, 9/5)
St. Louis Public Radio:
Researchers Test If Zika Virus Can Be Used To Kill Brain Tumors
St. Louis researchers have used a strain of the Zika virus to shrink highly lethal brain tumors in mice. The study, run by Washington University and the University of California San Diego, used 33 lab mice with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. (Bouscaren, 9/5)