That’s question #8 on the list of top health-related Google searches for 2018. It’s coincidentally question #1 on this writer’s mind when he wakes up, but that’s neither here nor there. Questions about the keto diet topped the list, with searchers presumably interested in the high-fat, low-carb lifestyle. Stephen Hawking’s death in March could be responsible for “What is ALS?” appearing at #2, while CNN posits that Lena Dunham could’ve driven searches for “What is endometriosis?” ringing in at #3. All we’ll say is, we did not expect to write a sentence where those two are mentioned in the same breath. As marijuana legalization slowly creeps over the US, would-be job applicants are worried about how long weed stays in urine, making it #4. It’s supposedly anywhere from 1 to 90 days, BTW.
The first case concerning the recent Right to Try legislation has come along and it involves Matt Bellina, one of the patients who pushed to pass the legislation in the first place. Before diving in this writer just wants to say—damn this guy is really a fighter. He’s not only a veteran battling ALS, but he also got legislation passed in freaking Congress, which isn’t easy. His case involves a cell therapy being developed by BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, a biotech with no currently marketable treatments. It’s planning on addressing Right to Try applicants in a semicommercial model that they say won’t exploit patients. But since the company is pre-revenue there’s some big ethics concerns about how to charge vulnerable patients for the expensive treatments, which the law may not address.
Now we’re not going to begrudge anyone at the end of their rope looking for anything that can help, but we do have some strong opinions on the subject. Listen to our recent discussion on Right to Try here in our second InsightCity podcast.
For those interested in solving ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), last week was pretty good. While fewer than 20,000 people each year in the US are diagnosed with ALS, the impact of the disease is devastating. Researchers from Syracuse University, St. Jude’s, and SUNY Update Medical Center published a paper in Molecular Cell describing how ubiquitin eliminates droplets of Ubiquilin-2 (UBQLN2) in solution. This is important because UBQLN2 is found in motor neuron inclusions of ALS patients. The hope is that the research can lead to a better understanding of ALS’ molecular mechanisms. In a separate study, NIH-funded researchers at Stanford “used the gene editing tool CRISPR to rapidly identify genes in the human genome that might modify the severity of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) caused by mutations in a gene called C9orf72.” Go get ’em. We couldn’t say it any better: #ALSsucks
RIP Stephen Hawking:
Source: USA TODAY