Brad McCarty • July 13, 2018

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.

Fears of a Sexually-Transmitted Superbug

An article from the BBC highlights a new danger that could go unnoticed. Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a sexually-transmitted disease that, because of its lack of symptoms, could easily be spread without either party knowing. The long-term effects of MG include infertility in women, and left untreated the disease could gain resistance to antibiotics.

Most carriers of MG become aware of the problem due to discharge from the urethra, or painful urination. But in many cases, there are no symptoms at all. The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV is going on the offensive to prevent the spread of the disease. Campaigns are being launched to tout the use of condoms as an effective barrier from MG, and to encourage testing in those people who believe that they may have contracted the disease.

Coffee Could Help You Live Longer

Your morning brew could provide more than a pick-me-up. According to a JAMA study highlighted by NPR, coffee drinkers tend to live longer. The study highlighted over half a million participants, ranging in age from 38 to 73. It found that those who drank at least three cups per day of coffee had a twelve percent lower risk of mortality compared to those who abstained.

Interestingly, it appears that there is no relation between the longevity and caffeine. Even those who reported drinking decaf coffee showed the same improved life expectancy. This new data, combined with studies that show a daily coffee habit linked to a decreased risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes, should give lovers of the roasted beans reason to rejoice.

CRISPR the Cancer Slayer?

While scientists are still finding new uses for CRISPR gene editing, an interesting behavior has been uncovered and reported in ScienceNews. Cancer cells have a unique ability to return to their original source tumor. This knowledge has been used in the past to deliver cancer-killing viruses back to the host tumors. But now researchers have taken this method a step further.

By editing the genes in the cells, this homing effect is now being used to kill the host tumor without the addition of viruses. “The new twist here is the use of CRISPR-based technology to add resistance or sensitivity features to the parental cells,” says Renata Pasqualini, a cancer biologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in Newark.

A New Definition of Alzheimer’s

Scientists at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) have proposed that it’s time to change the definition of Alzheimer’s disease. Rather than relying on the symptoms associated with the disease, they posit that it should instead be defined by biomarker pathology.

“The biggest change we are proposing — for research purposes only — is that AD no longer be defined by the presence of clinical symptoms and a stereotypical clinical presentation, which has historically been the definition used for clinical and research purposes,” lead author Clifford R. Jack Jr, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News.

Is Cancer Research Overfunded?

If you caught up with our 2017 Private Healthcare Investment Report, chances are that you noticed the dramatic gap between funding for cancer research and all other areas of healthcare. As it turns out, this is a hot topic elsewhere as well. During the MedCity CONVERGE conference in Philadelphia, a panel raised the difficult questions that must be answered in order to get a grasp on the costs of cancer research.

“Do we want to overinvest in cancer treatment? Do we want to spend more on children with cancer as opposed to patients of other ages? What if we looked at every disease state and asked what the bang for the buck is?” These questions, while shocking when taken at face value, make up a core problem that faces anyone involved with cancer research funding.  Going Below the Surface is a new initiative looking to bring together stakeholders to take a better look at how the United States uses healthcare resources.

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