Skip to content

Alzheimer’s Researcher Turns To Drug She Helped Invent

Every week, KHN reporter Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Atlantic: An Alzheimer’s Researcher Ends Up On The Drug She Helped Invent
Given her relatively young age, Dr. Rae Lyn Burke didn’t think much about her family history of Alzheimer’s disease — a grandmother and an aunt had suffered from it, but they were much older. Ironically, Burke was just in her late 50s when she started having her own symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. Even more ironic is that Burke had been one of the key developers of the Alzheimer’s drug bapineuzumab, which she now takes herself to reduce the progression of the disease in her own brain. … Burke figured out what compounds could be added to bapineuzumab, an antibody vaccine, that might help kick the recipient’s immune system into higher gear (Alice G. Walton, 6/19).

Mother Jones: Is There A Criminal Transmission Of HIV Law In Your State?
In 2007, Donald Bogardus contracted HIV from his long-term partner. When he later had unprotected sex with a man who didn’t know Bogardus was HIV positive, he was charged under an Iowa law that criminalizes the transmission of HIV. “I wanted to tell him,” Bogardus told the Daily Iowan, “but when I went to say it, I clammed up. … I was afraid he was going to blab it out to everybody.” Now Bogardus—a church going, nursing-home worker with cerebral palsy and a pet goldfish named “Survivor”—faces 25 years in prison and lifelong sex offender status. For many opponents of criminal HIV transmission statutes, who argue that they are ineffective at preventing transmission and stigmatize the HIV-positive, he’s become the poster boy for the laws’ severity. According to the Center for HIV Law and Policy, 32 states and two US territories have some sort of HIV-specific criminal transmission statute (Nicole Pasulka, 6/21).

The New Yorker: Say Ah
(Franklin) Pailino, a first-year student at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, had just completed a course called “The Professional Eye,” at the Metropolitan Museum. He was satisfying a requirement in his school’s Program in Narrative Medicine, which aims to make med students well versed in art as well as in enzymes. He and his classmates had come together to celebrate at the Frick Collection, the mansion turned museum, which Henry Clay Frick built “to make Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack.” Edie Langer, a retired internist with a blond bob, who runs the program’s Arts in Medicine initiative, described why it’s important to teach doctors how to respond to visual cues. “Somebody is telling me a story and they have a little tear in their eye,” she said. “If you miss that tear, you miss the whole point” (Emma Allen, 6/25).

The New Yorker: Unpopular Mandate
On March 23, 2010, the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law’s requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional. It was hard to find a law professor in the country who took them seriously. … Today, as the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its decision on the law, (George Washington University law professor Orin) Kerr puts the chance that it will overturn the mandate—almost certainly on a party-line vote—at closer to “fifty-fifty.” The Republicans have made the individual mandate the element most likely to undo the President’s health-care law. The irony is that the Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought that it would help them secure conservative support. It had, after all, been at the heart of Republican health-care reforms for two decades (Ezra Klein, 6/25).

Slate: Test-Tube Piggie
But the issue of when, exactly, data drawn from one species can (or should) be applied to another isn’t confined to scholars. It has crept into everyday language and shaped the way the rest of us talk about science. Whenever we invoke the standard metaphor for experimental subjects, calling someone or something a guinea pig, we invoke a long-standing debate among scientists and natural philosophers over the question of what a lab mouse or a hemorrhagic monkey can tell us about a man. Aspects of that debate are reflected in the ways we use the guinea pig as an emblem of science (Daniel Engber, 6/18).