The Food and Drug Administration Tuesday approved the first gene therapy to treat an inherited disease.
The treatment is called Luxturna, a genetically modified virus that ferries a healthy gene into the eyes of patients born with retinal dystrophy, a rare condition that destroys cells in the retina needed for healthy vision.
In tests on patients, the treatment often produced dramatic results, restoring the ability of patients to see things they could never see before, such as the stars, the moon, fireworks and their parents’ faces.
Elena Altemus is 89 and has dementia. She often forgets her children’s names, and sometimes can’t recall whether she lives in Maryland or Italy.
Mrs. Altemus, who entered a nursing home in November, was screened for breast cancer this summer. “If the screening is not too invasive, why not?” asked her daughter, Dorothy Altemus. “I want her to have the best quality of life possible.”
But a growing chorus of geriatricians, cancer specialists and health system analysts say that for the best quality of life, she’d be better off skipping the screening. Such testing in the nation’s oldest patients is highly unlikely to detect lethal disease. It is also hugely expensive and more likely to harm than help, since any follow-up testing and treatment is often invasive.
Home-based electrical field treatment known as tumor-treating fields, or TTFields, holds promise in helping patients with glioblastoma, the same type of brain cancer for which Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, is receiving treatment, according to a new study.
The new research was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The research was funded by Novocure, the company behind the development and marketing of the device.
Glioblastoma is the most common form of primary brain cancer, and one that is notoriously difficult to treat. Standard treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor, radiation to the brain and a chemotherapy drug called temozolomide.
Obamacare survived the first year of President Donald Trump, but it’s badly damaged. The sweeping Republican tax bill on the verge of final passage would repeal the individual mandate in 2019, potentially taking millions of people out of the health insurance market. On top of that, the Trump administration has killed some subsidies, halved the insurance enrollment period, gutted the Obamacare marketing campaign, and rolled out a regulatory red carpet for skimpy new health plans that will change the insurance landscape in ways that are harmful to former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
Republicans are rushing to pass their cruel joke of a tax bill — legislation they claim will assist working families but in reality is an early Christmas present for corporations and the super-wealthy. Voting begins Tuesday.
It would be easy to devote an entire column to the vicious provisions of the bill, such as making corporate tax cuts permanent but relief for individuals only temporary, or running up well over a trillion dollars in debt to make the rich richer.
But the part that strikes me as most galling, and which has become almost an afterthought amid all the other damage the bill will do, is its incongruous and completely unnecessary repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
When Alice Mayall rushed her daughter Hannah to the hospital for a head injury after a water polo tournament a few years ago, she didn’t think twice about whether she could afford it. Her daughter was covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Mayall is a self-employed psychologist in Livermore, in the Bay Area, and the mostly federally funded program has helped her get through tough economic times over the years by insuring her twins. It has kept her kids healthy when she needed to give up work hours to be at home with her son Owen, who is autistic.
Eighty-one days ago, Congress’ lack of action put the future of one of our nation’s most widely supported and vitally important programs into question. Across the nation, nearly 9 million children rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for their health care in a given year. However, the families of the 174,000 Pennsylvania children currently enrolled in CHIP are about to receive notices informing them that their insurance is being canceled. The failure to reauthorize CHIP is a betrayal of the trust placed in Congress.
The history of CHIP is closely tied to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Twenty-five years ago, my father, Governor Robert P. Casey, signed CHIP into law in Pennsylvania, which served as a model for the federal program that Congress passed some five years later. In Pennsylvania, CHIP was enacted into law by a Democratic governor and a Republican state senate, meaning it required bipartisan work and support to pass.
Anita Willis says the social worker offered her a painful choice: She could either leave the San Jose, Calif., nursing home where she’d spent a month recovering from a stroke — or come up with $336 a day to stay on.
She had until midnight to decide.
Willis’ Medicaid managed-care plan had told the home that it was cutting off payment because she no longer qualified for such a high level of care. If Willis, 58, stayed and paid the daily rate, her Social Security disability money would run out in three days. But if she left, she had nowhere to go. She’d recently become homeless after a breakup and said she couldn’t even afford a room-and-board setting.
In February 2009, Samantha Pierce became pregnant with twins. It was a time when things were going really well in her life.
She and her husband had recently gotten married. They had good jobs.
“I was a kick-ass community organizer,” says Pierce, who is African-American and lives in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit that fought against predatory lending. The organization was growing, and Pierce had been promoted to management.
It felt like a good time to get pregnant. “I went to get my birth control taken out and showed up two weeks later, like ‘Hey, We’re pregnant!’ ” she says, laughing.