Another Human Xenotransplant Success Achieved, With Pig Kidneys – Kaiser Health News

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The organ transplant success saw genetically altered pig kidneys functioning inside a patient, who was already brain dead, for over 70 hours. In other news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a quarter of U.S. adults are too sedentary to protect their health.
The Washington Post: Researchers Implant Genetically Altered Pig Kidneys Into A Brain-Dead Man 
Surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys into a brain-dead man, the university announced Thursday. The transplantation of the organs, which functioned for more than 70 hours, was another major step forward in the use of animal organs to replace failing human ones. Earlier this month, doctors at the University of Maryland transplanted a genetically altered pig’s heart into a living man with terminal heart disease. (Sellers, 1/20)
Stat: After A Flurry Of Firsts, Xenotransplantation Is Back In The Spotlight 
In his more than 30 years as a surgeon, Robert Montgomery has transplanted hundreds of kidneys. But at four in the morning September 25, the director of NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute performed one unlike any he’d ever done before. The kidney — six inches long, bean-shaped, and pale pink — was excised overnight from a genetically engineered pig, and flown into New York by private plane and helicopter from hundreds of miles away. The “patient,” lying face-up on the operating table, had died the day before. Machines now kept her body in a state of suspended animation, long enough to undergo the two-hour procedure to attach the organ to blood vessels in the woman’s leg, and to study what happened after. It was the first of a flurry of firsts over the last few months that have suddenly drawn attention to the niche field of xenotransplantation and its potential to solve the shortage of donated human organs. (Molteni, 1/20)
In other public health news —
Bloomberg: A Quarter Of U.S. Adults Are Too Sedentary, CDC Map Shows
Two years into a pandemic that has normalized work-from-home and moved many social gatherings online, new data from the Centers for Disease Control show that many Americans were couch potatoes long before Covid-19. A quarter of U.S. adults aren’t active enough to protect their health, according to a CDC study conducted from 2017-2020. The agency released a map on Thursday showing that Puerto Rico and states in the South had the highest prevalence of inactivity, followed by the Midwest, Northeast and West. Colorado, Utah, Washington and Vermont were the most-active states. (Muller, 1/20)
Stat: Study Casts Doubt On How Combination Cancer Therapies Work In Tandem
Some drugs are thought to be more powerful together: aspirin and coffee, cannabis and alcohol, and the antibiotics ampicillin and gentamicin, to name a few. In the case of cancer drugs, scientists have long thought discovering synergistic drugs, where one agent paves the way for another to target a tumor more aggressively, is the epitome of combination therapy. But a growing line of research is beginning to shatter the idea that “synergy” should be a high priority in cancer treatment. The latest study, published Thursday in Clinical Cancer Research, examined 13 combinations with cancer immunotherapy drugs and found that the benefits of all the pairings seem to come from each drug independently, not how they work together. The finding points to a concession in cancer research: For all the advances made in cancer biology and combination therapy, scientists are still largely in the dark about tumors and the drugs that target them. (Chen, 1/20)
The Washington Post: Former Lawmaker Dies Using Medical Suicide Law He Helped Pass Nearly A Decade Ago
A former Vermont lawmaker died last week using a medical aid-in-dying law that he helped pass nearly nine years earlier, before his terminal diagnosis. Willem Jewett (D), who served two years as House majority leader from 2013 to 2014, died Jan. 12 at his home in Ripton, Vt. He was 58. Jewett’s palliative-care doctor confirmed to the Vermont-based digital news outlet VTDigger that he died using a prescription obtained through Act 39, also known as Vermont’s Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act. Jewett was diagnosed last year with mucosal melanoma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer, according to his obituary. (Bellware, 1/20)
In mental health news —
CNN: Marijuana Affects Your Brain's Ability To Function At Higher Levels, Study Says 
Remember those classic stoner dudes — Cheech and Chong, anyone? — spending their days in a weed-drenched room (or car), capable of little besides finding that next great high? If you don't, that's not surprising. As more and more states move to legalize marijuana, the stereotypical mind-numbing effects of weed have become passé, often replaced by an acceptance of the drug as an acceptable way to socialize, relax and get better sleep. But while society may have forgotten the impact that weed can have on the brain, science has not. (LaMotte, 1/20)
Chicago Tribune: Chicago Dentists Say COVID-19 Stress Is Hurting Our Teeth As More People Clench And Grind 
Along with everything else, COVID-19 is also creating problems with our teeth. That’s what dentists say after treating patients who are under stress during the pandemic and taking it out on their teeth. According to local providers and the American Dental Association, dentists have seen more stress-related oral health conditions during the pandemic. “People are clenching more, grinding more, cracking more teeth,” said Dr. Rana Stino, dentist and partner at Water Tower Dental Care. “Even their bite guards are fracturing.” (Bowen, 1/20)
CNBC: Relationships During The Pandemic: Covid Has Strained Couples, Families
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken an immense emotional toll on humankind, with people around the world dealing with the tragic loss of loved ones and heightened everyday pressures that have come from living, working and schooling from home. While many families have enjoyed spending more time together during the pandemic, there are some relationships that have failed to thrive during a period of unprecedented upheavals and uncertainties. From arguments over Covid rules and restrictions to disagreements over whether children should be vaccinated — and even disputes between families and friends over the very existence of the virus — have seen relationships pushed to breaking point during the pandemic, according to family law experts and psychologists. (Ellyatt, 1/21)
Bloomberg: Meta, Snap Sued Over Social Media ‘Addicted’ Girl’s Suicide
Meta Platforms Inc. and Snap Inc. are to blame for the suicide of an 11-year-old girl who was addicted to Instagram and Snapchat, the girl’s mother alleged in a lawsuit. The woman claims her daughter Selena Rodriguez struggled for two years with an “extreme addiction” to Meta’s photo-sharing platform and Snap’s messaging app before taking her life last year. Thursday’s complaint in San Francisco federal court isn’t the first lawsuit to blame a youth’s suicide on social media, but it comes at a sensitive time for platforms that engage millions of young people worldwide. (Burnson, 1/21)
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