Julie's Feed
Jan 20, 2015

Big city life may not be a key asthma risk – U.S. study

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The simple fact of growing up in a big city may not be a major factor in whether a child develops asthma, according to a new study that contradicts decades of public health assumptions about the so-called inner city asthma epidemic.

Instead, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that being poor, black or Puerto Rican are the most important factors that determine a child’s asthma risk.

Jan 15, 2015

More than three quarters of U.S. flu shots ineffective-report

CHICAGO (Reuters) – More than three-quarters of Americans who got this season’s flu shot could get the virus anyway, given a mismatch between the flu strains covered by the shot and those actually causing illness in people, U.S. officials said.

An interim CDC report found the shot was only 23 percent effective overall, a performance about in line with what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted last year, experts said. At the time, CDC warned that the predominant flu virus, influenza A (H3N2), had “drifted” or changed genetically since the shot was made.

Jan 14, 2015

Genome wiz Venter partners with Roche in DNA sequencing deal

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Genome pioneer J. Craig Venter has signed a multi-year deal to sequence and analyze tens of thousands of genomes for Roche’s Genentech unit in a deal aimed at identifying new drug targets and biomarkers, the companies said on Wednesday.

The deal is one of the biggest yet for Venter’s La Jolla, California based Human Longevity Inc (HLI), a start-up formed last March with the goal of sequencing 1 million genomes by 2020. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jan 9, 2015

U.S. official urges use of antivirals to fight “bad” flu season

CHICAGO, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Influenza is widespread across
the United States and this flu season is shaping up to be
especially harsh, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention said on Friday.

Antiviral drugs such as Roche’s Tamiflu were
underutilized, the CDC’s Dr. Thomas Frieden said, urging doctors
to prescribe the drugs to patients with flu-like symptoms even
before tests confirm influenza as the cause.

Jan 5, 2015

Flu widespread in 43 U.S. states: CDC report

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Flu is widespread in 43 U.S. states, up from 36 states in the prior week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Monday.

Six children died from the flu during the last full week in December, bringing the total flu deaths to 21 this season, the report showed.

Dec 31, 2014

Exclusive: CDC to hire lab safety chief after Ebola, bird flu mishaps

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to hire a chief of laboratory safety, a new post that has taken on more urgency after a CDC scientist was possibly exposed to Ebola in a laboratory last week.

Creating a new high-level safety position was a key recommendation of a months-long internal investigation into the mishandling of anthrax and bird flu in CDC labs this past summer, according to an internal CDC memo obtained by Reuters.

Dec 22, 2014

Exclusive: Can the blood of Ebola survivors create a cure?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – For months, Vanderbilt University researcher Dr. James Crowe has been desperately seeking access to the blood of U.S. Ebola survivors, hoping to extract the proteins that helped them overcome the deadly virus for use in new, potent drugs.

His efforts finally paid off in mid-November with a donation from Dr. Rick Sacra, a University of Massachusetts physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia. The donation puts Crowe at the forefront of a new model for fighting the virus, now responsible for the worst known outbreak in West Africa that has killed nearly 7,000 people.

Dec 10, 2014

Genomics startup NextCode stakes claim in pediatric disease market

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Small startup NextCode Health will use gene-hunting tools pioneered by Iceland’s Decode Genetics to help a leading U.S. pediatric hospital identify causes of rare diseases in children, marking the latest foray of genetic sequencing into routine medical practice.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based NextCode, a Decode spin-off, has signed a deal with Claritas, the former in-house lab of Boston Children’s Hospital that is now a stand-alone company focused exclusively on pediatric diagnostics, the companies told Reuters.

Dec 9, 2014

U.S. agency offers legal immunity to Ebola vaccine makers

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services on Tuesday offered liability protections to drugmakers
rushing to develop Ebola vaccines and urged other countries to
follow suit.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell
made the announcement as part of the Public Readiness and
Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act in a move aimed at encouraging
the development and availability of experimental Ebola vaccines.

Dec 4, 2014

CDC says it is too late to make new flu vaccine for this season

By Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday it is too late to make new flu vaccines for the current flu season that could better protect against the predominant flu virus now circulating in the United States.

On Wednesday, the CDC sent an advisory to doctors noting that one component of this year’s flu vaccine was only partially protective against the predominant flu virus, known as influenza A (H3N2), which has mutated since the current flu shots were made.

    • About Julie

      "Julie Steenhuysen has been covering health and science topics for Reuters for the past decade, first as a medical device correspondent, then as team leader for the equities team covering U.S. pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies. For the past 4 years, Julie has worked as U.S. health and science correspondent, focusing on coverage for a general news audience."
    • Follow Julie