This Mysterious Hormone Has Been Proven To Enhance The Brains Of Mice. Ethicists Wonder, Should It Really Be Used In Humans?
What are the ethics behind a drug that boosts your brain? Who would decide who gets it, and what would that criteria be? It might not work at all, but if it does, it could lead to some tricky discussions. In other public health news: Alzheimer's, opioids, stem cell treatment, cigarettes, migrant children in U.S. custody and asthma.
The New York Times:
One Day There May Be A Drug To Turbocharge Your Brain. Who Should Get It?
In 2011, Dr. Dena Dubal was hired by the University of California, San Francisco, as an assistant professor of neurology. She set up a new lab with one chief goal: to understand a mysterious hormone called Klotho. Dr. Dubal wondered if it might be the key to finding effective treatments for dementia and other disorders of the aging brain. At the time, scientists only knew enough about Klotho to be fascinated by it. Mice bred to make extra Klotho lived 30 percent longer, for instance. But scientists also had found Klotho in the brain, and so Dr. Dubal launched experiments to see whether it had any effect on how mice learn and remember. (Zimmer, 4/2)
Biogen Believes Failed Alzheimer’s Trials May Still Offer Clues To Way Forward
Dr. Michael Ehlers, Biogen’s head of research, said Monday that the company is “looking very closely” at the data on aducanumab, an Alzheimer’s drug meant to slow the disease by targeting sticky brain plaques called beta-amyloid. Last month, Biogen terminated two large studies of aducanumab after determining that the drug had no hope of succeeding. Now Biogen must decide what that failure means for the rest of its work in Alzheimer’s, a ruling Ehlers said will arrive “in the coming weeks.” (Garde, 4/1)
Insys Therapeutics Pushed Opioid With Bribes And Lies, Prosecutors Say
In Boston's federal courthouse, prosecutors spent two months calling witness and laying out their argument in the criminal case against Insys Therapeutics founder and onetime billionaire, John Kapoor, and four of his former employees. The defense could begin presenting its case Monday. If convicted, the opioid entrepreneur could face up to 20 years behind bars. Kapoor and his co-defendants are accused of racketeering, a charge often applied to drug kingpins and mafia bosses. (Emanuel, 4/1)
Kaiser Health News:
Elite Hospitals Plunge Into Unproven Stem Cell Treatments
The online video seems to promise everything an arthritis patient could want. The six-minute segment mimics a morning talk show, using a polished TV host to interview guests around a coffee table. Dr. Adam Pourcho extols the benefits of stem cells and “regenerative medicine” for healing joints without surgery. Pourcho, a sports medicine specialist, says he has used platelet injections to treat his own knee pain, as well as a tendon injury in his elbow. Extending his arm, he says, “It’s completely healed.” (Szabo, 4/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
Walgreens Isn’t Ready To Quit Cigarette Sales Yet
Under pressure from federal regulators and some investors, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is testing tobacco-free stores in the U.S., but the pharmacy chain’s leader has no plans to quit selling cigarettes entirely. “The safety of our patients is very important, but we also have to do what our customers are requiring us to do,” Walgreens Boots Chief Executive Stefano Pessina said in a recent interview. “We see that when we don’t sell tobacco, we have a lot of [negative] reactions.” (Al-Muslim, 3/31)
The Associated Press:
2nd Guatemalan Child Dead In US Custody Had Flu, Infection
An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died while in custody of the U.S. border patrol on Christmas Eve died of the flu and a bacterial infection, authorities in the Central American nation said Monday. Oscar Padilla, Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, Arizona, told The Associated Pres that the autopsy report on Felipe Gomez Alonzo was delivered in recent days and had found he died from the infection and "complications from influenza B." (4/1)
The New York Times:
Omega-3s May Ease Asthma Symptoms
Omega-3 fatty acids in foods may reduce symptoms of childhood asthma, while omega-6 fats may aggravate them, a small study suggests. Omega-3s are found in high concentrations in fish and walnuts. Omega-6 sources include corn oil and other vegetable oils. Some foods contain both. (Bakalar, 4/1)