Before Spreadsheets, Tape Held Together A Handwritten Chart Discovering The Genetic Code
The chart filled in by biochemists and preserved by the U.S. National Library of Medicine shows how complicated it was to figure out the universal code behind the cells of living organisms. Other public health news focuses on one woman's rape and her fight for justice in Alaska, walking fewer than 10,000 steps, preparing for difficult conversations, additional cancers aided by HPV vaccine, right-to-try drugs and trial results for an inherited blood disorder and myelofibrosis, as well.
The Washington Post:
How The Genetic Code Was Cracked, With Paper And Pencil And No Computers
When scientists discovered DNA and its double-helix form, they had finally identified the molecules that contain every human’s unique genetic code. But determining how those instructions were interpreted by cells was a beast of a challenge. Scientists had to figure out how a double helix of just four building blocks could be translated into proteins, the molecules that are the basis of living tissues — and they had to do so without the help of computer spreadsheets. (Blakemore, 6/13)
'They Were The Authority And I Didn’t Argue With Authority'
The stranger finally left. Sue Royston, terrified, peeked around her door to make sure the man wasn’t waiting for her just outside with his butcher knife — the knife he’d held moments earlier against her neck. She’d put up a fight, but she had lost. If she screamed, if she chased him, would he return to take her life? Seeing no one, she ran half-dressed from her apartment to see where he had gone. There he was. He was still wearing the waist-length black wig he had used as a disguise. He was walking slowly, nonchalant, down Antoinette Avenue on the north edge of Fairbanks. As if nothing had happened. As if he hadn’t quietly broken into her home in the early hours of the morning, wordlessly cut off her underwear and raped her at knifepoint. (Chang, 6/13)
The Wall Street Journal:
10,000 Steps A Day Is A Myth. The Number To Stay Healthy Is Far Lower.
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t clocking 10,000 steps a day. That threshold, often billed as the minimum for good health, originated in marketing, not medicine, when a Japanese company launched a pedometer in 1965 named, in English, the “10,000-step meter” with the slogan “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day.” (McGinty, 6/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
Worried About A Difficult Conversation? Here’s Advice From A Hostage Negotiator.
Bracing yourself for a tough talk? There are so many to have right now. Tensions over racial issues, politics and the coronavirus pandemic are provoking arguments within families and between friends: Spouses are arguing about money; siblings are fighting about how to keep parents safe from the virus; some people are confronting relatives about race. Many conversations have the potential to become heated, especially as chronic stress is keeping our fight-or-flight systems activated, making us more likely to react. (Bernstein, 6/14)
Gardasil, The HPV Vaccine, Approved To Prevent Head-And-Neck Cancer
For the past decade, evidence has suggested that Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, could stem an epidemic of throat cancer. But it has also never received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for that use — and it was unclear if it ever would. On Friday, the agency granted that approval, clearing the latest version of the vaccine, Gardasil 9, to prevent a cancer that affects 13,500 Americans annually. The decision was announced by Gardasil’s maker, Merck. (Herper, 6/12)
Would-Be Cancer Centers Want To Treat Patients With Right To Try Drugs
In an unusual move, a private equity firm is soliciting investors to help create a chain of cancer centers that would focus on providing experimental medicines that are available under the controversial Right to Try law that went into effect two years ago. Earlier this month, Vivaris Capital began touting United Cancer Centers, which is described as the “first institutional health care system” in the U.S. to offer “integrative cancer care.” A big selling point for patients will be helping patients obtain medicines under the Right to Try law, which largely cuts the Food and Drug Administration out of the process for determining when dying patients can access experimental drugs being studied in clinical trials. (Silverman, 6/15)
Agios Drug Shows Strong Response In Patients With Inherited Blood Disorder
Agios Pharmaceuticals on Friday reported positive results from the first clinical trial of its lead pipeline drug in patients with two different types of thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. Overall, 12 of the 13 patients treated with the Agios drug called mitapivat achieved meaningful hemoglobin responses in the Phase 2 study. The results are still preliminary but set up a pivotal Phase 3 studies starting next year, the company said. (Feuerstein, 6/12)
As Efficacy Of Constellation's Cancer Drug Wanes, Debate Over Data Grows
The response rate to an experimental myelofibrosis drug is falling, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s maker, said Friday. But whether that’s good or bad news depends on your point of view. With 30 myelofibrosis patients now treated and evaluable in its mid-stage study, the 24-week spleen response rate to CPI-0610 — when used on top of Incyte’s market-leading drug Jakafi — stands at 63%. The new data were presented Friday at the annual meeting of the European Hematology Association. (Feuerstein, 6/12)