The Handoff: Your Week in Endocrinology – 12/9/16

The Handoff is a weekly roundup of endocrinology and general medicine news covering various developments in subspecialties, as well as pharmaceutical industry, association, and society news.

  • The Senate has voted 94-5 to approve the 21st Century Cures Act, which will fund medical research and allow speedier approval of drugs and devices by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senate’s decision follows a vote in favor of approval from the House of Representatives on November 30, 2016.
  • The US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy has released a report expressing concern about the increasing use of e-cigarettes among children and teens. Although more research on the harms of “vaping” is necessary, Vivek told The Washington Post that “We know enough right now to say that youth and young adults should not be using e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product, for that matter.”
  • According to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for the US population has declined. While researchers have not pinpointed a single cause for this decline, they did find increased mortality rates for several causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.
  • As the Donald Trump administration prepares to take office, many are wondering how that will affect the state of health care. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), offered his perspective on how some of the proposed changes may affect Medicare and Medicaid.
  • A dispute between scientists, as well as prestigious institutions, has arisen over who holds the patent for the gene-editing technique CRISPR-cas9. Patent judges heard oral arguments on December 6, 2016.
  • Silly Putty may be a children’s toy, but it also has some interesting scientific properties that make it a good candidate for measuring bodily motion. Due to its softness, the substance may hold promise for creating a sensor that can measure heart rate, pulse, and breathing while also being comfortable for the patient, according to researchers at Trinity College Dublin.
  • In New York City, warning labels next to high-sodium dishes on menus are a common sight at chain restaurants. The New York Public Health Department believes consumers benefit from the warning. The National Restaurant Association, however, believe the rule is “unlawful and unprecedented,” and is suing New York.
  • Renowned researcher and former Endocrine Society President P. Michael Conn, MD, MS, died on November 26, 2016, leaving the endocrinology community to mourn his passing, according to a press release from the Society. Dr Conn’s early research on signaling mechanisms in the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor and more recent studies on the correction of mutant cell surface proteins have implications for treatment of several diseases and disorders, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Major General James Gilman, MD, a cardiologist and distinguished military service member, will become the inaugural CEO of National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, according to an announcement from NIH Director Francis P. Collins, MD, PhD.