AngelMD Friday Roundup – December 8, 2017

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Promising Zika Vaccine Produced by NIH

The vaccine was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and was shown to produce an immune response in adults. Because of Zika’s link to birth defects, the vaccine was developed extremely quickly.

The vaccine itself is a plasmid encoded with two proteins found n the Zika virus, this stimulates an immune response, including generating antibodies to protect the body from any real Zika infection.

Contraceptives Linked to Breast Cancer

Women who use hormonal birth control have an increased risk of breast cancer according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study followed 1.8 Danish women and found the rate of breast cancer per 100,000 women higher in the group that used hormonal contraception (68 versus 55 in nonusers).

The research also indicates that progestrin, a common hormone used in birth control, raises breast cancer risk. Current birth control methods were thought to be significantly safer due to the decreased dose of hormones, but though risk has gone down, this study shows it is not absent.

CRISPR Can Now Activate Genes Without Editing Them

“What can’t CRSIPR do?” is the question we should probably all be asking ourselves at this point. At the Salk Institute in San Diego, researchers “turned on” beneficial genes in live mice, which improved the animals’ health in 50 percent of cases.

CRISPR had successfully been used to edit gene expression previously, but never in vivo because the material needed was too large to fit in the viral transport. Instead, researchers split the materials into two separate viruses and perfected the technique through trial and error.

Retail Drug Spending Decelerates

Though still growing, retail prescription drug spending has slowed to 1.3 percent growth in comparison to 12.4 percent growth just three years ago, a CMS report states. The agency credits this to a decrease in hepatitis C costs.

Overall, healthcare spending increased to $3.3 trillion, but pharmaceuticals consistently makes up about 10 percent of that, a stat pharma execs can point to to show pricing isn’t out of control.

Brain Atlas (No, Not the Sequel to Cloud Atlas)

A team of neuroscientists at UC San Francisco have been compiling information on gene expression in the brain for the last five years. They hope to create a comprehensive atlas of the human brain.

The researchers analyzed individual brain cells, which will enable new classifications for cells based on gene regulation instead of relying on shape and location. Though this new atlas covers less regions than the Allen Institute’s 2014 version, it does so with higher specificity than ever before.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – 11/24/17

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Net Neutrality’s Threat to Telemedicine

As the FCC marches forward with its plans to end net neutrality — the practice of providing equal service and footing to all content on the Internet — healthcare may see impacts as well. As Modern Healthcare explains, telemedicine could be directly impacted by net neutrality changes.

While the FCC argues that paid prioritization for telemedicine could ensure better patient outcomes, the opposite side of the coin can also be argued. Many small companies can not afford the bills associated with paid prioritization, and their innovations could be stifled by being given lower-priority traffic.

An Apple EHR?

It’s no surprise to anyone when we see Apple, Google, and the rest of the tech juggernauts toying around in the healthcare market. But some recent patents from Apple give us a bit more of a peek into the company’s potential plans.

Healthcare IT News reports that Patent US 9723997 B, obtained by Apple back in August, is an electronic device that computes health data of the user based upon sensor data regarding the received light. While it’s purely conjectured at this point, patents such as this could certainly open the door for Apple to deepen its trek into the healthcare market.

Lower-Ranked Education Linked to High Opioid Prescriptions

As the United States continues its war on the opioid epidemic, a new study from Princeton University shows a somewhat-surprising link to the problem. Physicians trained at the United States’ lowest-ranked medical schools write more opioid prescriptions than physicians trained at the highest-ranked schools.

The study found other interesting links as well:

  • Doctors who received more pain management education were less likely to prescribe opioids.
  • Doctors trained in the Caribbean and in Canada were more likely to prescribe opioids than doctors trained in other parts of the world.
  • Doctors who graduated more recently were less likely to prescribe opioids than those who had been in practice for longer.

mHealth Makes Strides in Diabetes Management

A study from New York University shows that mHealth practices can have a direct, positive impact on the management of Type 2 diabetes. Specifically, patients who are sent non-personalized reminders about caring for their condition exhibited lower blood glucose levels, while personalized messages correlated to lower incidences of hospital admissions.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes conditions cost the United States approximately $322 billion each year. Recent advances in the field have shown promise, but are also cost-prohibitive for many patients. mHealth practices like the ones showcased in this study could help to improve patient lives with minimal or no additional costs.

Amazon + Cerner

CNBC reported on a big story from Amazon. The company, which has met resistance when it comes to getting healthcare companies to adopt the cloud, has recently inked a deal with Cerner.

The deal is centered around Cerner’s population health management application. HealtheIntent enables hospitals to gather and analyze huge volumes of clinical data to improve patients’ health outcomes and lower treatment costs.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – 5 Big Stories from this Week

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Pro Tip: Get Injured During the Day

New research suggests that when an injury occurs can impact how fast it heals due to the circadian rhythm of cells. The researched looked specifically at fibroblasts — skin cells that help with wound repair — which operate on a rhythm, and used them to estimate the times of day that would impact biological healing.

The difference between night and day was twofold, which is fairly significant. Researchers aren’t confident enough to declare it the only factor in time spent recovering, but it certainly has some effect.

I Dream of Genes

According to a statement from commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the FDA is streamlining the approval process for consumer genetic testing.

In it, the FDA asserts the fact that people are “more aware of and engaged in their health care than ever before” as a main drive for fast tracking the tests which can reveal if someone carries genes that predispose them to certain diseases.

Now, manufacturers of these tests will just need to pass a one-time review, after that any tests they produce can go straight to market without further review.

Are Cookie-Cutter Hospitals the Future?

Hospital chains have been growing for years and they’re reaching behemoth sizes. In some towns, nearly all the hospitals are owned by companies located hundreds of miles away.

Recently, this growth has slowed, due to a variety of factors and as the nation’s healthcare policy debate rages on, the future of hospital ownership has been called into question.

Some consolidation was inevitable, but also jeopardizes a hospital’s community ties. Read more about the shift in POLITICO.

Second Skin

A child suffering from epidermolysis bullosa has been successfully treated with genetically engineered skin cells. Epidermolysis bullosa is a painful disease that results in fragile skin which easily blisters.

In this particular case, a 7-year-old boy had lost 60 percent of his outer skin layer and doctors were struggling to treat him. After failed transplants, they turned to genetic engineering by using a virus to insert health genes into the boy’s skin cells and then let them multiply, resulting in a sheet of epidermis.

The method gives hope to parents of children with the disease and doctors at Stanford are now also using the treatment.

Face the Facts

EHR program Drchrono becomes the first to integrate with Apple’s new FaceID feature. Doctors can now simply look at their phone and login into their Drchrono account.

Leveraging this new technology means reducing the valuable time that can be wasted trying to gain record access. Drchrono hold roughly three percent of the US population’s medical records and were also the first to implement TouchID when the feature was made available.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – November 3rd, 2017

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Biotech Stock is Waning

October was a slow month for biotech – the index dropped 5.8 percent after it had been trending upward since earlier 2017.

“Perhaps the one thing that has affected s-mid cap sentiment is a more measured outlook for fundraising,” said Eric Schmidt of Cowen. “September/October were heavy months for banking activity, and some capital markets fatigue appears to be setting in.”

AMA Calls for Fight Against Physician Burnout

At the Connected Health Conference in Boston, AMA president Dr. David Barb used his keynote speech as an opportunity to call attention to the issue of physician burnout and how some digital innovation in medicine can add to it.

Burnout is having a significant impact according to a recent survey of 6,880 practicing physicians. The results show that 1 in 5 physicians want to reduce hours and 1 in 50 plan to leave medicine in the next two years.

Stents Stunted by New Trial

The study suggests that percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI, a non-invasive method of opening up arteries which typically involves catheters, balloons, and stents, might have no more effect than non-action, suggesting a possible placebo effect.`

PCI has been used for nearly 40 years and has become the main choice of treatment. Though the study was small, it does raise questions about the procedures performed on already stable patients.

What is in Your Gut?

Turns out the gut microbiome plays a role in the effectiveness of immunotherapy as a cancer treatment. Two different studies in Science found indications that the bacteria in the gut impacts treatment.

One study found “good” bacteria aided treatment and the other found that those taking antibiotics had less success with immunotherapy because of the lack of gut bacteria. The studies are prompting physicians to consider profiling a patient’s gut microbiome before beginning treatment.

Opioid Commission Gives Final Recommendations

Following the declaration of a health emergency by the White House at the end of October, the commission on drug addiction and the opioid crisis released its final report this week.

The report included recommendations for handling the crisis including expanding the drug court system and educational media about resources. Not among the report or declaration? Recommendations for funding, which has become a major point for those critiquing the administration’s handling of the crisis.

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AngelMD Friday Roundup – November 27th, 2017

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

CRISPR 2.0

Just when you thought the CRISPR hype was dying down, researchers at the Broad Institute announced that they have successfully modified the system so that it can now edit RNA instead of DNA.

Lead researcher Feng Zhang has said this is much safer, as it does not permanently edit the genome since RNA naturally degrades in the human body.

Zhang’s colleagues at the Broad Institute have also developed a new system called “base editing” in which a single DNA base (either adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine) can be changed. So far, they have been successful in changing an adenine to a guanine. The technique would be useful to repair point-mutations – 32,000 of which known to cause disease.

Pollution’s Effect on World Mortality Shown

The Lancet’s Commission on Pollution and Health shared a jarring report recently about the negative impacts of pollution on health. Among their findings was that 9 million people died as a result of pollution in 2015. Deaths in low-to-middle income countries account for 92 percent of those deaths, illustrating the importance of adopting regulations on air quality.

Airborne contaminants, which can cause a heart disease, strokes, and respiratory ailments, are the main contributor. Water pollution, like the lead-infested water of Flint, was the second highest contributor.

Searching Through Scientific Papers Just Got Easier

Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence has done it again, and by “it” I mean super cool AI stuff. They just launched Semantic Scholar, a free (!) database of peer-reviewed research, with a fancy algorithm to tease out the most relevant research to your search topic.

Like all AI, the program is powered by a neural network. To train the network, researchers had four medical experts annotate papers and abstracts, in addition to highlighting other medical topics mentioned within them. Then, they fed this to the network which was able to identify additional topics and relationships. I highly recommend messing around with it for five minutes, it churns out some pretty neat research.

Let’s Get Virtual, Virtual

Virtual and augmented reality has long been growing in popularity, especially in the gaming sector, but it turns out there are several applications for the tech in healthcare as well.

VR has been shown to be effective with pain reduction and at a much lower cost than typical treatment. One hospital found a 24 percent reduction rate in pain after only ten minutes, some patients even felt nearly no pain at all after a prolonged amount of time.

It’s Electric!

Scientists at UCLA have demonstrated the ability to improve memory function by stimulating the brain with electricity.

Eight out of nine patients were able to correctly identify faces after receiving a shock to the right side of their entorhinal area, shocking the left side had no effect on memory function. This is likely because the entorhinal area is critical to learning and memory.

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