Genomics Biotechnology & Emerging Medical Technologies Institute e-News
Jun. 26, 2014

In single gene, a path to fight heart attacks
The New York Times
Two major studies by leading research groups published independently identified mutations in a single gene that protect against heart attacks by keeping levels of triglycerides — a kind of fat in the blood — very low for a lifetime. The findings are expected to lead to a push to develop drugs that mimic the effect of the mutations, potentially offering the first new class of drugs to combat heart disease in decades, experts say. More

Genes tied to curvature of spine in kids
HealthDay News
Scientists say they've identified two rare genetic mutations that greatly increase a child's risk for severe scoliosis — curvature of the spine. Children with these mutations have a quadrupled risk of developing S-shaped curves in their spines that are serious enough to require surgery, according to the team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.More

Cancer genes hijack enhancers
Medical Xpress
Unlike most other forms of cancer, medulloblastomas exhibits very few mutations in growth-promoting genes. In collaboration with an international team of colleagues, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center have now made an important discovery about a particularly malignant subgroup of medulloblastomas: often the cancer-causing genes are transcribed at higher or lower levels than normal.More

Aetna: ACOs need data sharing, mobile health
While it will take several years to measure the true effect of accountable care organizations, investments in technology and data sharing could accelerate the model's success. Aetna's CEO of Accountable Care Solutions Charles Kennedy. M.D., offered his two cents on overcoming ACO challenges in a recent interview. More

ACO initiatives test pharma's traditional sales model
The U.S. healthcare system's shift from volume to value-based reimbursement for treatment in order to lower costs and improve patient care is disrupting healthcare business models. The high-profile government–led accountable care organizations, which put financial pressure on payers and providers to share responsibility for meeting quality and cost goals, is no exception.More

Personalized medicine is here, but is your doctor ready to use the new genome sequencing technologies?
Medical Daily
The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, and in the decade-plus since then, clinical genome and exome sequencing has gradually moved into mainstream medical practice. Yet, confusion remains, certainly among physicians, as to when they should order these tests, how to interpret the results, and most importantly, what information should be conveyed to their patients. More

Aging accelerates genomic changes, signaling challenges for personalized medicine
Science Codex
Exploiting individual genomes for personalized medicine may be more complicated than medical scientists have suspected, researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute of Virginia Tech have discovered. In a paper published in June in the journal Aging, scientists from the institute's Medical Informatics and Systems Division found that spontaneous mutations occur in our bodies constantly, but the rate of change differed dramatically among various people.More

Stem cell transplantation for severe sclerosis associated with improved long-term survival
Medical Xpress
Among patients with a severe, life-threatening type of sclerosis, treatment with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, compared to intravenous infusion of the chemotherapeutic drug cyclophosphamide, was associated with an increased treatment-related risk of death in the first year, but better long-term survival, according to a study in JAMA.More

Osteoarthritis may be treated with stem cell mobilization therapy
Researchers in Taiwan have found that peripheral blood stem cells can be "mobilized" by injection of a special preparation of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor into rats that modeled osteoarthritis. The bone marrow was stimulated to produce stem cells, leading to the inhibition of OA progression. The finding, they said, may lead to a more effective therapy for OA, a common joint disease that affects 10 percent of Americans over the age of 60.More

Neurobridge device allows quadriplegic to move his own hand
Ian Burkhart, a 23-year-old quadriplegic from Dublin, Ohio, was injured in 2010 in a diving accident, breaking his neck on a sandbar and paralyzing his body from the neck down. He has some use of his arms, but was left unable to move his legs, hands and fingers. Thanks to a new device known as the Neurobridge, though, Burkhart has now moved his right hand and fingers for the first time since the accident — signalling a brighter future for paralysis patients.More

Study: Patients more honest, open with virtual doctors
Patients are more comfortable discussing private health matters with a "virtual human," or computer-created entity, according to a new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Pacific Standard Magazine reports. For the study — which was led by Gale Lucas of the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies — researchers recruited online 239 adults. More

In single gene, a path to fight heart attacks
The New York Times
Two major studies by leading research groups published independently identified mutations in a single gene that protect against heart attacks by keeping levels of triglycerides — a kind of fat in the blood — very low for a lifetime. More

Alternatives to ACO strategies emerge
HealthLeaders Media
While joining an ACO can be the right decision for some physicians practices, the cost savings under this model are still being tested.More

How our genes could make us gay or straight
The Washington Post
The claim that homosexual men share a "gay gene" created a furor in the 1990s. But new research two decades on supports this claim — and adds another candidate gene.More

Making the case for state Medicaid expansion
By Maria Frisch
Medicaid is a joint federal- and state-funded program that provides healthcare for more than 60 million low-income Americans. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was expanded to cover people from 19 to 65 years old with incomes of no more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. But not all states are taking part in the expansion. This article makes a case in support of state-level Medicaid expansion, by examining health and financial factors. However, it is also important to consider the ethical and political factors at play. The matter is complex, and there are no easy answers. More

Jumping through hoops for a better health plan
The New York Times
To get an idea of what your employer's health plan may look like in the near future, consider the options the government of Manatee County, Florida, offers to its workers. The county, on the state's west coast, offers four different plans that charge members the same monthly premium — currently $70 for a single employee. Everyone paying that amount is eligible for a "basic" plan that carries a $1,000 deductible — the amount you must pay before the plan starts paying — for hospital coverage.More

2014 premiums were $100 or less; 2015 looks promising
USA Today
Nearly 70 percent of consumers who bought subsidized health insurance on the federal exchange for 2014 paid $100 or less in monthly premiums, a federal report shows. That means the average monthly premium went from $346 before tax credits to $82 across all plan types, according to the Department of Health and Human Services report.More

FDA: A new posture in digital health?
Modern Healthcare
If there is any government agency viewed with suspicion and mistrust in Silicon Valley, it's the Food and Drug Administration. The agency's reputation among the valley's tech heads is a bad one — a stodgy, slow-moving agency officially concerned with high quality and safety. For a region that celebrates speed and, yes, even failure, no philosophy could be more opposed. More

Testosterone products must warn about clot risk
HealthDay News via WebMD
The growing unease around the safety of testosterone supplements was highlighted with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement that the products must now carry a warning label on the general risk of blood clots in the veins. Testosterone therapy has been widely advertised as a way to help aging men with so-called "low T" improve their sex drive and reclaim diminished energy. More

FDA approves Sivextro to treat skin infections
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Sivextro, a new antibacterial drug, to treat adults with skin infections. Sivextro is approved to treat patients with acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections caused by certain susceptible bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, various Streptococcus species, and Enterococcus faecalis. Sivextro is available for intravenous and oral use.More