That’s going to leave a mark

Ever wonder why your significant other about falls down in pain when they slightly stub their toe and you can dig out a splinter with a dull kitchen knife and just shake it off? No? Turns out they (or you) might not just be a wuss. This article does explains there is “rapidly expanding evidence that dozens of genes and variants go into determining our pain sensitivity and how well analgesics – like opioids – reduce our pain and even our risk for developing chronic pain.” So, next time someone says “go rub some dirt on it” you can tell them you have a variation in your SCN9A gene. For everything you ever wanted to know about pain, go here. Speaking of pain, there wasn’t much at the All Drug Olympics.

Brother, can you spare a dime

Turns out pharma companies can spare a dime (or more) for cancer patients who want to participate in clinical trials. Pennsylvania recently became the 2nd state (after California) to sign a bill that “provides for reimbursement of patient expenses associated with participation in cancer clinical trials.” Wait, we need a bill for that? Guess so. The participation rate for people with cancer in the US is really low, like 3% low. Maybe these bills will create some positive momentum for clinical trial participation. Just a 1% increase in participation rates would be huge, given there are over 1,000 assets in the development pipeline targeting cancer. Apparently FDA came out with some guidance that reads “paying research subjects in exchange for their participation is a common and, in general, acceptable practice.” Good to know.

Cell phone cancer

I didn’t mean to imply cancer of the cell phone. My bad. According to NBC News, the US government’s National Toxicology Program released its report on the effects of cell phone-like radiation on tumor development. According to one rat participant “it’s not a tumor” (but really it was). Exposure to radiation of the types from 2G and 3G phones led to “cancerous heart tumors” in male mice. “…the totality of the available scientific evidence continues to not support adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current radiofrequency energy exposure limits,” said a very dull-sounding Dr. Jeffrey Shuren from the FDA. Ok, but what about that heart tumor thingy? If that’s not confusing enough, the irradiated male rats also lived longer than the non-radiated rats. Must be a Spider Man thing. These results were about as clear as the reception from Straight Talk mobile service. Here’s a list of the best and worst mobile carriers in the US. Spoiler…Straight Talk suuuuuuuuks.

Flu protection powered by llamas

Flu season is upon us, have you gotten your shot yet? You may be apprehensive because it doesn’t always work—for instance, last year’s flu vaccine was only 40 percent effective. If flu strains weren’t so diverse it wouldn’t be such an issue, which is why “mega-antibody” vaccines capable of protecting against multiple strains would be cool. Last week, researchers published a study detailing the process they used to develop one of these vaccines, which combined the fun-sized antibodies that llamas produce to make a vaccine capable of protecting mice against 59 of 60 flu strains they tested against. However, human antibodies are bigger, so they might not fit together nicely like llamas’ do. But even a vaccine that could protect against just a few strains could drastically affect infection rates. Here’s a likely delivery mechanism.

A total sugar buzz[kill]

In celebration of Halloween, just a couple days away, InsightCity will relay the stupidest advice on candy eating ever written. NBC News interviewed Amy Gorin, a nutritionist, for advice on responsible candy consumption. See? I told you it was B.S. Here are the two takeaways: first, just eat one (nope) and second, hide the candy from yourself so you don’t overeat (trust me, I’ll remember where it is). The other thing they provide is a list of the healthiest options if you’re going to eat it. At the top is gummy worms—yawn—because a serving size is 8 worms. Second is snack-size Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups (now we’re talking) because they have some protein and fiber. But one puny cup contains 110 calories! The worst—in more ways than one—is candy corn. 19 terrible pieces of this garbage contain 140 calories of sadness. From a sugar addict’s perspective, we have 3 options: eat a bunch of candy and be happy, eat a bunch of candy and be sad, or eat a bunch of candy and be happy. Lucille Ball had it right.

No more “freeloaders” in clinical development?

While “America First” is a rallying cry for supporters of President Donald Trump, one thing they don’t want to be first in is prescription drug pricing. Following up on last week’s proposal to mandate the displaying drug pricing in TV ads, the US President took aim at the pharmaceutical industry for charging more in the States as compared to other industrialized nations. He criticized those countries for freeloading on the US’s inflated prices saying, the “American middle class is effectively funding virtually all drug research and development for the entire planet.” To address this, the Department of Health and Human Services released a proposal that would tie Medicare Part B payments for medicines to the levels that other nations pay. HHS Secretary Alex Azar did note this could cause companies to stop selling some drugs in other countries… probably not a big concern for the America First crowd.