Archive by date | March 2012

Autism reaches record high levels in the US

Autism reaches record high levels in the US

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today reported that the number of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen to an estimated 1 in 88 (1.1%), up from 1 in 110 (0.9%) according to agency estimates released just two years. The prevalence figure is the highest since the CDC began its biennial nationwide survey of children ten years ago.  Read more

Greater oversight needed for genomic tests, experts say

Greater oversight needed for genomic tests, experts say

With an eye to advancing ‘personalized medicine’, clinicians have tried to predict who will respond to certain therapies using biomarkers gleaned from tests that probe genomics, proteomics and other branches of biomedicine. But according to a report from the US Institute of Medicine (IOM), such ‘omics-based’ tests require greater regulatory oversight and more transparent data-sharing before they should be allowed to move from the lab to the clinic.  Read more

Top Canadian biomedical prize goes to antibody pioneer

Top Canadian biomedical prize goes to antibody pioneer

The immunologist who revealed the structure and function of the crucial Fc region of antibodies was one of the researchers recognized today by the Toronto-based Gairdner Foundation for his contributions to biomedicine. Jeffrey Ravetch (pictured), along with six leading scientists in the fields of genetics, neurobiology and infectious diseases, has received one of the prestigious Gairdner awards, which have been called the ‘Canadian Nobels’. The awards come with a hefty C$100,000 ($101,000) cash prize for each winner.  Read more

VIDEO: ‘Resting state’ brain scans give diagnosis by default

Brain scans that map differences in how brain regions communicate while people lie idle in the imaging machine are providing a possible new way to diagnose attention disorders. Michael Milham of the Child Mind Institute in New York talks about the work being done on so-called ‘resting state’ brain scans and explains how they are expanding the field of functional MRI.  Read more

Circumcision cuts prostate cancer risk—but only a bit

Scientists have found more evidence for yet another health benefit of circumcision for young males. In addition to reducing the risk of urinary tract problems, penile cancer and sexually transmitted infections, doctors might now add lower rates of prostate cancer to the mix. In a study of nearly 3,400 men, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle found that males who were circumcised before their first sexual encounter were somewhat less likely to develop prostate cancer in later life compared to uncircumcised men.  Read more

Fluke’s testimony highlights broad uses of birth control, but pain applications go beyond ovarian cysts

Fluke’s testimony highlights broad uses of birth control, but pain applications go beyond ovarian cysts

The Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage currently being debated in the US Congress could allow institutions that provide health insurance to opt-out of covering birth control pills for religious or moral reasons. Such policies have, in the past, raised difficulties for women prescribed the drugs for noncontraceptive uses, such as the treatment of pain from ovarian cysts. On 23 February, a law student at Georgetown University named Sandra Fluke testified before the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that when insurance coverage doesn’t cover contraceptives, it can deny women such a friend of Fluke’s with polycystic ovarian syndrome access to birth control prescribed to treat the condition.  Read more