After assuming control of the House in the mid-term elections, Republicans vowed to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law signed by the “Big O” last March. Thank heavens, therefore, that the Boehners were too busy congratulating themselves to even notice those federal helicopters dumping $1 billion in cash on some needy biotech companies just as the election results were being tallied.
Yep, it happened. Federal disbursements in the form of grants and tax credits were made last week, as required by a provision in the reform law known as the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program. According to the terms of this program, biotech and life sciences companies with less than 250 employees could apply for federal funds to cover research costs they had incurred in the last two years, so long as the research focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
There’s an extraordinary new article in The Atlantic entitled “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science.” It echos an excellent article in our Journal of Participatory Medicine (JoPM) a year ago by Richard W. Smith, 25-year editor of the British Medical Journal, entitled ”In Search Of an Optimal Peer Review System.”
JoPM, Oct 21, 2009: “….most of what appears in peer-reviewed journals is scientifically weak.”
The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2010: “Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong.”
JoPM 2009: “Yet peer review remains sacred, worshiped by scientists and central to the processes of science — awarding grants, publishing, and dishing out prizes.”
The Atlantic 2010: “So why are doctors — to a striking extent — still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?”
Dr. Marcia Angell said something just as damning in December 2008 in the New York Review of Books: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” (Our post on Angell is here.)
What’s an e-patient to do? How are patients supposed to research if, as all three authorities say, much of what they read is scientifically weak? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at e-Patients.net*
Currently, once a donated organ has been harvested it only has a few hours on ice before it “expires.” Lengthening this time period would be an incredible breakthrough that would allow patients in a wider area to potentially receive a transplant and also it would reduce some of the insanity surrounding the time pressures of organ transplantation.
One proposed method of extending an organ’s shelf life is to alter the internal cell biology to allow cells to live longer at lower temperatures. The State University of New Jersey Rutgers-Camden just received a $385,419 grant from the NIH to study an enzyme system, AMP phosphatase, and how it can potentially create cold-tolerant Drosophila. The enzyme was originally identified in ice worms as the key enzyme that allows them to survive in glaciers. The researchers hope that if they are able to utilize this enzyme system to create a cold-tolerant fruit fly, then they would be able to apply that knowledge to donated organs. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
This is not good. Not good at all.
Recently Paul Goldberg of The Cancer Letter reported on an investigation into Duke cancer researcher Anil Potti, M.D., and claims made that he was a Rhodes Scholar in Australia. The misrepresentation was made on grant applications to National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The Cancer Letter, a $375 per year go-to newsletter on cancer research, funding, and drug development, has made this issue free at this PDF link.
News & Observer higher education reporter Eric Ferreri has a nice overview of the situation. Potti has been placed on administrative leave by Duke, and the ACS has suspended payments on his grant and initiated their own investigation. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*