Thursday, July 21, 2016


Scientists create updated map of human brain

The Washington Post (7/20, Nutt) reports scientists have discovered many new areas of the brain by combining data from multiple brain imaging technologies, according to a study published in Nature. The scientists, led by Matthew Glasser and David Van Essen at Washington University, created a new map of the human brain that identifies 180 distinct areas, up from 83 that have previously been discovered.
        In a front-page story, the New York Times (7/20, A1, Zimmer, Subscription Publication) reports researchers made the map with data from volunteers who had their brains scanned by different imaging technologies.
        Reuters (7/20, Dunham) points out that the new map may lead researchers to new insights into many neurological and psychiatric conditions.
        STAT (7/20, Thielking) reports the research is part of the broader Human Connectome Project, which is being funded by the National Institutes of Health with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the human brain.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


CDC: Cheap surgery in Dominican Republic results in expensive infections
At least 18 women from the US contracted mycobacterial infections after undergoing plastic surgery at five different clinics in the Dominican Republic, the CDC reports. Some patients required hospitalization, surgery and long-term antibiotics.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Leading the News

Certain lifestyle factors may offset genetic risk of breast cancer

TIME (5/26) reports that research published in JAMA Oncology suggests that nearly “30% of all breast cancers in the US could be prevented if women maintained a healthy weight, do not use hormone therapy for menopause, and cut back on drinking and smoking.”
        The NBC News (5/26, Fox) website reports that the investigators “studied the cases of more than 40,000 women taking part in breast cancer and other health studies.” The researchers “looked at 92 common mutations known to raise breast cancer risk.” The investigators “left out the two best-known breast cancer risk genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – because they’re so clearly defined and studied.”
        The Los Angeles Times (5/26, Healy) reports that the study indicated “that those women who are at greatest risk of developing breast cancer due to factors beyond their control, are the same women who most steeply reduce their risk when they maintain a healthy weight, stay away from hormone replacement therapy, don’t smoke and drink little to no alcohol.”
        However, the ABC News (5/26, Mohney) website points out that the “study is limited by the specific group – white women between the ages of 30 to 80 in Australia, Europe and the US.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016



Researchers develop skin-conforming polymer that reduces wrinkles

Newsweek (5/9, Cuthbertson) reports that researchers have developed “a ‘revolutionary’ skin-conforming polymer called XPL” that “has the ability to replicate the mechanical properties of youthful skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and under-eye bagging.” This “material is described in a paper Nature Materials, following more than five years of research aimed at replicating healthy skin.” In “a series of small proof-of-concept human studies,” investigators found “that treatment with the material not only reduced wrinkles and mechanical functions but also improved the skin function of patients with severely dry skin.”
        The Washington Post (5/9, Feltman) “Speaking of Science” blog reports that “the researchers...say it could actually find its best use in patients with severe skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, which can both cause extremely dry and itchy skin.” The blog points out, “Initially developed by skin and haircare company Living Proof, the so-called Strateris platform (now under development with a spin-off company called Olivo Labs) was briefly introduced to a small number of dermatology practices in 2014.” At that “time, it was marketed solely as a under-eye solution – and it’s no longer available for sale.”
        The New York Times (5/10, A11, Kolata, Subscription Publication) reports, “The researchers say that they are not sure yet when they will have enough data to submit to the Food and Drug Administration for marketing approval – they will know more later this year.” The investigators “emphasize that their tests of the product as a cosmetic treatment, where most subjects responded, are separate from their tests of it as a medical product, where they do not yet know the response rate.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Immunotherapy found to be effective against head and neck cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma

In a 1,200-word story, the Washington Post (4/19, McGinley) reports that “new immunotherapy drugs are showing significant and extended effectiveness against a broadening range of cancers, including rare and intractable tumors often caused by viruses.” According to the Post, “Researchers say these advances suggest the treatment approach is poised to become a critical part of the nation’s anti-cancer strategy.” Data from “two new studies” indicate “that the medications...are now having some effect against recurrent, difficult-to-treat head and neck cancer and an extremely lethal skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.” Both studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The research on Merkel cell carcinoma was also published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
        Meanwhile, TIME (4/19, Park) reports that research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that “pembrolizumab...may become an effective treatment that people with late-stage melanoma can try at any time in their disease – before or after other therapies including drugs or chemotherapy or radiation.”

Monday, April 18, 2016


Excision Margins Don't Impact Melanoma Recurrence, SurvivalAlthough, sentinel lymph node involvement is tied to poor prognosis
MONDAY, April 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Wider excision margins in thick cutaneous melanoma cases do not improve locoregional recurrence or melanoma-specific survival (MSS), according to research published online March 25 in Head & Neck.
Olivia Ruskin, M.B.B.S., from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues reviewed the records of 108 patients (median age, 71.1 years) treated at a single site for head and neck melanoma between 2002 and 2012 (median follow-up, 40 months). The authors sought to assess the impact of excision margins and sentinel lymph node status on locoregional recurrence and MSS.
The researchers found that the median Breslow thickness was 6.0 mm and locoregional recurrence happened in 27 percent of cases. There was no significant reduction in recurrence with margins ≥2 cm (P = 0.17), and there was no survival improvement with increasing margins (P = 0.58). Of the 59 patients (55 percent) who underwent sentinel node biopsy, 27 percent were positive. Patients who were sentinel lymph node-negative had a trend toward longer survival (P = 0.097).
"Wider margins do not significantly improve locoregional recurrence or MSS," the authors write. "Sentinel lymph node involvement reflects a poor prognosis."



More than one-third of advanced-melanoma patients given nivolumab in study are alive five years after starting treatment, researchers say

The Washington Post (4/17, Mcginley) reports in “To Your Health” that research indicated “more than a third of advanced-melanoma patients who received one of the new immunotherapy drugs in an early trial are alive five years after starting treatment – double the survival rate typical of the disease.” Investigators found “that 34 percent of patients with metastatic melanoma who received...nivolumab have survived.” The Post points out that “the five-year survival rate for patients with advanced melanoma who got other treatments was 16.6 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to the National Cancer Institute.” The findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


PERJETA® (pertuzumab) is a HER2/neu receptor antagonist indicated in combination with Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and docetaxel for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who have not received prior anti‑HER2 therapy or chemotherapy for metastatic disease


Melanoma risk higher for women under 40 who started indoor tanning in their teens, study finds

CBS News (1/27, Marcus) reports on its website that research published in JAMA Dermatology indicated that “women under 40 who started indoor tanning at a younger age and tanned more often have a higher risk of being diagnosed with melanoma.”
        HealthDay (1/27, Reinberg) reports that investigators looked at “data on nearly 700 men and women ages 25 to 49 who were diagnosed with” melanoma “between 2004 and 2007 and compared them with a similar number of ‘controls.’” The study indicated that “women younger than 40 with melanoma reported starting indoor tanning earlier than women 40 to 49 – at about age 16 versus 25.” Additionally, “younger women with melanoma...reported more tanning sessions than older women – an average of 100 tanning sessions compared with 40 sessions for women diagnosed at 40 to 49.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Women diagnosed with melanoma while pregnant may be at greater risk of metastasis, study suggests

Reuters (1/21, Rapaport) reports that a new study suggests that women who are diagnosed with melanoma during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth may be significantly more likely to have metastasis to other organs and tissues. Researchers also found that these women were also more likely to have cancer recur after treatment. The findings were published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Nearly one-third of all cancer cases may be linked to inherited genes, research finds
On its website, NBC News (1/6, Fox) reports that research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that approximately one-third “of all cancer cases can be blamed on inherited genes.”
        STAT (1/6, Swetlitz) reports that investigators looked at data on “identical and fraternal twins in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, who were part of the Nordic Twin Study of Cancer.”
        Newsweek (1/6, Firger) reports that the researchers found that “overall heritability for cancer was 33 percent among the entire study population, and notably higher for certain types of cancers.” Newsweek adds, “Significant heritability was found in 58 percent of diagnosed skin melanomas, 57 percent of prostate cancers, 43 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers, 39 percent of ovarian cancers, 38 percent of kidney cancers, 31 percent of breast cancers and 27 percent of uterine cancers.”
        HealthDay (1/6, Thompson) reports that the researchers also “identified a set of cancers in which genetics play a very small role.” This group includes “lung cancer (18 percent), colon cancer (15 percent), rectal cancer (14 percent), and head and neck cancer (9 percent).”