It can be difficult to tease out the evidence-based science amidst the claims of successful adult stem cell-based treatments for a range of health problems from joint pain to Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, and spinal cord injury. Even a number of well-respected medical centers now offer patients regenerative medicine treatments that use the patient’s own fat or bone marrow cells or extracts created from platelets in their blood. ...

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As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one morning, I noticed an article with a title starting with: "When Doctors are Wrong" with a picture of a newborn baby with a breathing tube in the NICU. I immediately opened the article and started reading it with interest because my baby also looked this way, so tiny, in the NICU, with lots of tubes all covering her little body. As I ...

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STAT_LogoWhen the Human Genome Project began in 1990, bioethicists feared that giving people the results of genetic tests would do them a lot more harm than good. Experts feared that individuals who received genetic information about their future health status would be overwhelmed by depression or anxiety. Or as genetic testing became more widely available, it would ...

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You can save your baby for $2 million. Can you afford to do this? If you cannot, should we all pay? Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. All types of SMA result from a single known cause, a deficiency of a protein called SMN, for "survival of motor neuron." When SMA symptoms are present at birth ...

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Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right. Just because we enjoy a right of free speech, doesn’t mean we should be verbally insulting people. Just because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a treatment or a test, doesn’t mean we should pursue it. The FDA has given approval to 23andMe, a private company, to provide genetic testing directly to individuals. The results provide genetic risks of contracting several ...

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“Personalized” medicine sounds appealing. Rather than just guessing at what medication to try, a genetic test can figure out, in advance, which medications will be effective and which medications are more likely to make you sicker. Except it doesn’t work. It’s mostly marketing and hype. The FDA has officially warned consumers and physicians that genetic tests sold to predict patient responses to medications shouldn’t be used. They’re not FDA approved, and ...

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STAT_Logo "Is she in pain?" I asked quietly as the pearlescent baby-shaped image on the screen folded its legs and then extended them. The radiologist doing my ultrasound had just finished pointing out a cluster of alarming abnormalities in our developing daughter, using a slew of medical terms my husband and I, both medical students, were grimly familiar with. Pleural ...

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Health care providers and even consumers who order their own genetic testing should really get to know GINA. Who or what is GINA? Is it some new virtual voice-activated personal assistant? Is she a new Italian superstar? Neither choice is correct. GINA stands for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a U.S. federal law that was put in place to protect consumers from discrimination based on their genetic testing. GINA celebrates ...

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For $199 and a tube of saliva, I found out that I have straight hair and green eyes. Mirrors have been telling me this my whole life for free. But as a genetics counselor, I wanted to learn more about the recreational home genetics tests that have been captivating people. What I was left with (aside from the aforementioned physical description and unsurprising heritage data), was the sense that the dangers ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 46-year-old man is evaluated for intermittent rectal bleeding of 3 months' duration. He is otherwise well and takes no medications. His father had a few polyps removed from the colon when he was 71 years old, but no other details are known about his father's medical history. The ...

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