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.
First Embryo Edited with CRISPR in US
Researchers from Portland, Oregon have become the first scientists in the US to edit a human embryo using CRISPR. Previously, most of the experimentation with CRISPR had been conducted in China.
Led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the experiment was promising as it had few “off-target” edits of genes CRISPR was meant to avoid. There was also no “mosaicism,” in which only some cells of an embryo have the intended DNA changes.
The process of using CRISPR to modify DNA of an embryo is referred to as “germline engineering” because the child produced would also pass the changes to their children through their own germ cells. Though the practice has great potential, like the ability to edit out genes that cause debilitating inherited diseases, many are concerned by the prospect of genetic enhancements and so-called “designer babies.”
Amazon Eyes Healthcare Frontier as Next Takeover
CNBC reported that Amazon has a super-secret stealth lab specifically for pursuing opportunities in healthcare. Nicknamed 1492 (possibly after Columbus), the group works on both software and hardware products.
This is just one of a few moves Amazon has made to position itself in healthcare. The company recently invested in Grail, a startup working on cancer detection, and various outlets have reported they are toying with the idea of formulating a pharmacy.
Making Sense of Metrics
A wide range of data from hospitals is now available, and is likely to influence a patient’s choice on where to receive treatment. However, an article in the New York Times points out that most metrics are not representative of a hospital’s performance and can easily be misinterpreted.
For example, many of the metrics are not adjusted for the socioeconomic status of a hospital’s patrons. Patients of a hospital in a wealthy region are likely to have more resources, which research indicates translates to better health. This might make it look like the hospital is higher quality, but that might not be due to its care.
Don’t Let Antibiotics Run Their Course
That’s the new message two scientists in Britain are exploring. Martin Llewlyn from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Tim Peto from the Oxford Biomedical Research Center and their colleagues argue that advice to complete the full course of prescribed antibiotics “contradicts the unambiguous fact that it’s not underuse but overuse that’s creating the resistance problem.”
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem and cautionary practices like limiting antibiotic exposure could help curb its rise. Instead of completing the full course, they advocate for advising a patient to stop taking antibiotics when their condition begins to improve.
No Repeal without a Replacement
Earlier this week, the Senate rejected a bill that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but not institute any kind of replacement. From here, it appears as though senators might consider a “skinny repeal” which would slice out a few pieces of the ACA, but leave it mostly intact until a more full-fledged plan is developed.
In addition to rejecting the repeal-only bill, senators also rejected the Better Care Reconciliation Act, an ACA replacement that the CBO estimated would have left 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. In comparison, a skinny repeal would lower that number to 16 million.
Edit: The senate rejected the “skinny repeal” in a 49-51 vote this morning.
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