Health Desk

In a first, the Food and Drug Administration has given approval to a drug that is produced on a 3-D printer. The pill, produced by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, treats seizures. It's expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2016.

NPR's Rob Stein reports for our Newscast unit:

"The drug is called Spritam and is designed to treat seizures in people suffering from epilepsy. It's a new version of a seizure medication that's been on the market for years.

Walk along one of the many streams and rivers in the West Nile region of Uganda, and you'll notice something funny. All along the riverbanks, you'll see small pieces of blue cloth, attached to wooden stakes in the ground. There's one every 50 yards or so.

No, this isn't some half-baked public art project. These dinky contraptions are actually flytraps, designed to lure and kill tsetse flies, whose bites transmit a parasitic disease called sleeping sickness, which, like rabies, drives victims mad before it kills them.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You're probably at least a little bit racist and sexist and homophobic. Most of us are.

Before you get all indignant, try taking one of the popular implicit-association tests. Created by sociologists at Harvard, the University of Washington, and the University of Virginia, they measure people's unconscious prejudice by testing how easy — or difficult — it is for the test-takers to associate words like "good" and "bad" with images of black people versus white people, or "scientist" and "lab" with men versus women.

On the ninth floor of a glassy high rise in downtown Washington, partitions are coming down to make more room for workers handing out billions of dollars in Obamacare-funded research awards.

Business has been brisk at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute or, PCORI, as it is known. The institute was created by Congress under the Affordable Care Act to figure out which medical treatments work best —measures largely AWOL from the nation's health care delivery system.

Kim Pil-Gi left his construction job in Seoul, South Korea, three months ago. Now he happily spends his days handling grubs: squirming, writhing, beetle larvae, each one about as thick as a grown man's thumb. He sits at a tray, sorting them by size.

"At the construction company a lot of the time I'd wake up at 6 in the morning and work all night through to the next day," he says. "That was really hard for me."

One of the frequent trials of parenthood is dealing with a picky eater. About 20 percent of children ages 2 to 6 have such a narrow idea of what they want to eat that it can make mealtime a battleground.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics shows that, in extreme cases, picky eating can be associated with deeper trouble, such as depression or social anxiety.

Researchers are increasingly turning to nature for inspiration for new drugs. One example is Prialt. It's an incredibly powerful painkiller that people sometimes use when morphine no longer works. Prialt is based on a component in the venom of a marine snail.

Wheelchair Beauty Queen Sings For Toilets

21 hours ago

Grace Alache Jerry is everything you'd imagine a pageant winner should be — beautiful, smart, articulate. She's a gifted musician, holds a diploma in law and even campaigns for the less fortunate.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its alleged handling of fetal tissue for research are louder than ever. But they are just the latest in a decades-long drive to halt federal support for the group.

This round aims squarely at the collection of fetal tissue, an issue that had been mostly settled — with broad bipartisan support — in the early 1990s. Among those who voted then to allow federal funding for fetal tissue research was now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In 1953, Dr. John Clements realized something fundamental about the way the lung functions — an insight that would ultimately save the lives of millions of premature babies.

The story begins in 1950, when the U.S. Army sent Clements, a newly graduated physician, to the medical division of what was then called the Army Chemical Center in Edgewood, Md. Clements was interested in doing research in biochemistry. His commanding officer was of a different mind.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Beware the mention of natural causes, as in my mother's obituary:

"Norita Wyse Berman, a writer, stockbroker and artist ... died at home Friday of natural causes. She was 60."

Sixty-year-olds don't die of natural causes anymore. The truth was too hard to admit.

Fifteen years on, I'm ashamed of my family's shame. Those attending her funeral and paying shiva calls knew the truth anyway. People talk.

It's an open secret among journalists: When reporting a major news story in an unfamiliar country, it's great to have a "fixer."

That's the catch-all term we use for our local guides to language and logistics — the people who can translate documents, interpret during interviews and generally help you figure out the most efficient and the safest way to get from one location to the next.

Doctors Without Borders is calling it a "champagne moment." The World Health Organization says it's a "game changer."

In a small trial, an experimental vaccine protected 100 percent of participants who were at high risk for the virus. Although the results are preliminary, they offer new hope of finally stamping out the virus in West Africa — and preventing the next epidemic.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

To Haben Girma's grandmother, back in East Africa, it "seemed like magic." Her granddaughter, born deaf and blind, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and works as a civil rights attorney.

Nisha Saini has been practicing an Indian traditional health form called Ayurveda for more than 16 years. She runs a small alternative health center in Manhattan called New York Ayurveda, where customers can get massages and dietary advice. Over the counter, Saini sells an extensive array of traditional remedies concocted from herbs and spices. But there's one kind of Ayurvedic medicine she doesn't sell.

In a development that could change the way the deadly Ebola disease is fought, researchers have announced promising results of a new vaccine's trial in Guinea, one of several countries affected by a historic outbreak in West Africa.

"The estimated vaccine efficacy was 100 percent," a team of researchers say.

Just over two-thirds of Californians who did not have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014 are now covered, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The newly insured are much less likely to say that paying for health care is a problem, compared to when they were uninsured.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Fighting Cancer

About David Agus' TED Talk

Dr. David Agus believes that current research is too narrowly focused on the specifics of cancer. Instead, he thinks broader, more interdisciplinary methods are needed to control and treat cancer.

Read the study mentioned in Dr. Agus' interview in the New England Journal of Medicine.

What's A Better Way To Detect Cancer?

Jul 31, 2015

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Fighting Cancer

About Jorge Soto's TED Talk

We often discover cancer after it's too late to treat. Jorge Soto is in the process of creating a simple, fast and cheap method for early cancer detection and all it takes is a few drops of blood.

About Jorge Soto

What Does It Mean To Be A "Cancer Survivor"?

Jul 31, 2015

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Fighting Cancer

About Debra Jarvis' TED Talk

Debra Jarvis had breast cancer, but it doesn't define her, she says. Jarvis explains how clinging to the identity of "survivor" sometimes stifles personal growth.

About Debra Jarvis

Can Healthy Eating Reverse Some Cancers?

Jul 31, 2015

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Fighting Cancer

About Dean Ornish's TED Talk

Dr. Dean Ornish studied how lifestyle changes could help people with chronic heart disease; he wanted to figure out if there was a way to do the same with patients with some types of cancer.

How Will Open-Source Research Help Cure Cancer?

Jul 31, 2015

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Fighting Cancer

About Jay Bradner's TED Talk

Giving away something that could make you a billion dollars sounds foolish. But Dr. Jay Bradner believes it's essential to share even the most prized scientific discoveries if we hope to find a cure for cancer.

When it comes to getting the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, teens below the poverty line are doing better than the rest.

Among teenage girls ages 13 to 17 whose total family income was less than the federal poverty level for their family size, 67.2 percent have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine, compared to 57.7 percent for those at or above the poverty line. For teen boys, it's 51.6 percent compared to 39.5 percent.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

If there's such a thing as the first family of health care, the Lees may be it.

Five decades ago, two brothers helped start Medicare. Their father inspired them and they, in turn, have inspired the next generation.

To mark the anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, three Lees sat down to reflect on the U.S. health care system.

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