Mainstay model organisms such as fruit flies, mice and roundworms have contributed to countless research breakthroughs, but some experts think science can be advanced even further with the development of novel model organisms. Advances in genomic sequencing and editing are fueling new interest in less traditional creatures such as freshwater flatworms, crustaceans, squid and corals that might be able to shed new light on biology and disease.
Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, lived less than seven years, but a paper published in Nature Communications suggests her status as a clone had nothing to do with her short lifespan. Dolly's "sister clones" -- Daisy, Debbie, Denise and Diana -- just marked their ninth birthday and are in good health and within the normal range for blood pressure, metabolism, heart function and a variety of other metrics.
Five laptops were stolen from an administrative office at StarCare Specialty Health, a mental and behavioral health system in Lubbock, Texas, one of which contained confidential information on its patients. The provider has already notified about 2,900 of its patients about the potential data breach, which may have compromised their names, admission and discharge dates, birth dates, diagnoses, medical record numbers, Medicare and Medicaid numbers, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers.
ProPublica reported that both the Department of Veterans Affairs and CVS Health received more than 200 privacy complaints that led the HHS Office for Civil Rights to provide corrective action plans or technical assistance from 2011 to 2014, putting them at the top of the list of providers with the most HIPAA privacy violations. The OCR, which received more than 17,000 complaints in 2014, also issued private letters regarding privacy violations to Kaiser Permanente, the Military Health System and Planned Parenthood, the report said.
Cerner, Meditech, Epic Systems, Evident and McKesson are among the top 10 certified health IT vendors used by hospitals participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, according to an ONC report. Meanwhile, the top 10 certified HIT vendors used by ambulatory health care professionals participating in the program include Epic Systems, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, NextGen Healthcare and GE Healthcare.
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that 17.2% of medical students expressed ethical concerns about accessing EHRs of former patients and said it may be inappropriate. Researchers surveyed 103 medical students at Northwestern University and found 92 of those who reported having tracked former patients by accessing their EHRs found it beneficial to their education.
The University of Utah and NantHealth will collaborate on studying the genetic causes of 25 diseases and conditions, including breast, colon and prostate cancers, autism and preterm birth. NantHealth's genomic sequencing platform will be used by researchers from the University of Utah to perform extensive testing.
Building on earlier animal studies, researchers have shown that T cells within the nervous system lymphatics secrete interferon gamma, a molecule that inhibits prefrontal cortex neurons and serves as a normal behavior control mechanism in mice and other model species. The researchers, whose work is reported in Nature, say this information could contribute to a better understanding of human disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder, which have already been linked to immune system dysfunction.
A new study in mice suggests a vaccine may provide protection from chlamydia, a sexually transmitted bacterial disease that may cause infertility in women. In female mice, the vaccine blocked the bacteria from infecting host cells, reducing vaginal bacterial count by 95% and alleviating fallopian tube pathology by 85%, according to the paper published in Vaccine. Tests on monkeys and guinea pigs are planned, followed by clinical trials in humans.
A new hydrogel that activates when it contacts damaged, inflamed tissues and remains dormant when it encounters healthy tissue substantially extended the survival time for a limb transplant in a rat model. The drug, set to be tested in pigs, could spare patients with inflammatory diseases serious side effects and allow more effective, immediate treatment with less frequent dosing.
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