Experts diverge on stock price flux ahead of cancer trial results

Experts diverge on stock price flux ahead of cancer trial results

The stock prices of companies that report positive results for cancer drug trials tended to increase before the first public announcement of the findings, according to a study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. But experts are split as to whether the trend points to illegal ‘insider trading’ by people who know the results of these trials in advance — including physicians and scientists — or simply reflect a bias in the analysis.  Read more

NEWS FEATURE: Taking tissue engineering to heart — a look at the first US trial of tissue-engineered blood vessels

NEWS FEATURE: Taking tissue engineering to heart — a look at the first US trial of tissue-engineered blood vessels

More than a decade after Japanese scientists implanted the first bioengineered blood vessel into a child with a congenital heart defect, the experimental treatment has finally made its way into clinical testing in the US. Elie Dolgin asks what took so long and what lessons have been learned along the way.  Read more

Experts hash out guidelines for HIV trials involving men who have sex with men

Experts hash out guidelines for HIV trials involving men who have sex with men

ROME — Last week’s encouraging results from two trials showing that prophylactic use of AIDS drugs in HIV-negative people can help prevent infection has underscored the value of studying new preventative treatments, particularly in high-risk groups. And one of the highest risk groups remains men who have sex with men — a term used to include men who might not self-identify as gay. In the US, for example, men who have sex with men (MSM) represent about 2% of the population, but they accounted for 59% of new HIV diagnoses in 2009. Strikingly, a global review estimated that only 3.3%  … Read more

Scaled-up study of soldiers points to doubled risk of dementia from head injury

Scaled-up study of soldiers points to doubled risk of dementia from head injury

PARIS — A massive review of the medical records of nearly 300,000 US veterans lends weight to the notion that traumatic brain injury might contribute to the risk of cognitive impairment later in life. Neurologist Kristine Yaffe of the University of California–San Francisco and her colleagues reviewed seven years’ worth of data from the files of the former military troops, and found that these types of head injuries were linked to a doubled risk of dementia.  Read more

AIDS map gives reason to hasten Hastings’ bill

AIDS map gives reason to hasten Hastings’ bill

The idea that HIV affects people living in the southern US far worse than their neighbors to the north is not new. Back in 2008, a report grabbed headlines by showing that the rate of infection in some pockets of the country rivaled that of the most heavily affected parts of Africa.  Read more

WHO defers decision on smallpox stocks

The World Health Organization’s top-decision making body, the World Health Assembly, said today it would defer until 2014 any decision on the destruction of the two last known remaining stocks of the virus that causes smallpox. A US-resolution calling for the stocks to be maintained for at least another five years ran into opposition led by Iran, resulting in deadlock last night after a day of negotiations.  Read more

Shall I compare thee to another drug?

In 2009, the US Congress pledged $1.1 billion to improve comparative effectiveness research, a field dedicated to side-by-side evaluations of how drugs perform. The key question is whether new medicines really offer any improvements over the current standard of care at their time of approval. Without this information, are clinicians equipped to make the best treatment decisions?  Read more

Tale of two twins highlights role of chance in HIV infection

Tale of two twins highlights role of chance in HIV infection

HIV is notoriously unpredictable. The virus can prove fatal rather quickly in some individuals, while it remains at bay in a rare group of people known as elite controllers. Doctors have puzzled as to why some patients can fend off the virus better with drugs, while others progress despite receiving the best antiviral medications available.  Read more