Headlines: November 18, 2011
by Kyle Thomson
Geron, the first company to engage in government-approved testing of embryonic stem cell therapy, is discontinuing further stem cell work. The company attributed its exit due to financial constraints and not because of scientific setbacks in the often-controversial field. Citing “capital setbacks,” Geron decided to use its resources to fund further cancer trials, and hopes to find a corporate partner to continue stem cell therapy research in the future. Analysts cite the relatively small size of the company as a contributing factor, as stem cell research is costly and still in very early stages of development. The move underscores just how expensive it may be to bring promising therapies to the marketplace. Meanwhile, larger biotechnology companies have been weary to wade into the field because of the potential political controversy and scientific uncertainty.A new study suggests that people’s blood type may affect their likelihood of having a stroke. The research analyzed data collected as part of the Nurses Health Study and showed that people with AB and women with B blood types were more likely to suffer strokes than people with type O blood, which is the most common blood type. While the study showed an association of 26 percent increased risk of stroke for individuals with AB and 15 percent increased risk for women with B blood, no causal link was shown. Some have speculated that blood type may be standing in for other genetic risk factors that lead to stroke, rather than being the cause of increased risk itself.
The CDC released its most recent statistics on STD infections yesterday, showing that 19 million Americans were infected with one of the most common STD’s - chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis - last year, at an annual cost of $17 billion. Cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea continued to grow, with chlamydia rates reaching 1.3 million, an all-time high. Officials say that the numbers are still misleading, as the increase in reported rates are due to better screening and reporting, not an actual rise in infections. More than half the cases of chlamydia in America still go unreported. The syphilis rate, on the other hand, fell for the first time in a decade. Wide gaps persist between socio-economic classes and across races, with African Americans much more likely to carry a disease.