Mainstream genome sequencing, baker cats & geometric predictions of dating outcomes 📐
Coming in hot, one more healthcare newsletter you never asked for. But I promise, we’re cooler.
Think about it 💡
🧬 Genome sequencing is going mainstream. DNA sequencing fuels biology and medical research. It is essential for cancer surveillance, epidemiology and vaccine development. It is also a pillar of preventive medicine. The cost (about $600 to sequence a human genome today) is still a barrier to access. The quest for cheaper genome sequencing is driving competition within the DNA sequencing industry, which has long been dominated by genomics behemoth Illumina. The company recently unveiled what it calls its quickest and most cost-efficient sequencing machine to date, the NovaSeq X series. This new technology would reduce the cost to as little as $200 per human genome while providing a read that is twice as fast. For now, the lower costs will benefit researchers and patients will most likely have to wait to see a direct impact. Cheaper genetic sequencing could mean, among other things, larger genetic data sets.
💊 New developments in ALS treatments. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a devastating neurological condition in which patients generally pass away within three years of the onset of symptoms. On September 29, the FDA approved Relyvrio, an experimental drug combination from Amylyx Pharmaceuticals, for a ‘modest’ $158,000 treatment cost per year. The ALS Association is also celebrating, as it invested $2.2 million of the funds raised through the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge into the development of ALS technology. It is the first ALS drug to be approved in the past 5 years, and the third by the FDA - in spite of the uncertainty regarding its efficacy. Relyvrio’s price is higher than the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review's recommended price of $9,100 to $30,700 per year, which triggered yet another discussion on the trade-off between regulation and patient access.
Parental control is a bit of a smokescreen 🌫️
🧒 Your 4-year-old (and that wallet of yours duly grafted to them) is Netflix's most treasured customer. Kids' profiles on Netflix watched 3.6 times more content in early 2022 compared to 2018, outpacing adult viewing growth. The streaming platform even personalized home screens to make it more visual for the little ones. The pandemic has also added a systemic element to this trend, so much that it seems impossible for parents to dodge the “moooom, can I watch Netflixxxx” bullet.
👨👧 This of course raises the question of parental control features. It turns out that this is absolutely not in the platforms’ best interest, as including any helpful control features in their product would diminish their engagement potential and therefore hurt business. Parental control today mostly allows you to block shows by title, which can quickly turn into attempting to kill off a pixelated version of Hydra, with two more shows popping up whenever you block one.
⛔ Which really only gives parents one option: enforcing time limits, as parental control features turn into a heavy load instead of being a source of empowerment. Parents must choose between deceiving their children into believing that Teletubbies have disappeared from the TV or becoming Tyrants of Time. This calls into question whether families are solely responsible for creating a safe digital environment for children, especially in a world where trying to do so is like hoping for a cold day in July. Aaaaah the good old days when all you had to do was give them the phone book to read and they were thrilled and busy for a whole week.
Neat News 🗞️
🧪 Biogen and Eisai's Alzheimer's drug shows promising data, making it the first to show clinical benefit in a late-stage study. Neat.
🦾 Cionic secured $12.5 million to fast-track development of its assisted mobility device and help people suffering from conditions including strokes, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Super neat.
October is menopause awareness month and Essity launched Issviva, a new menopause platform and brand, in the U.K. and Brazil. Ultra neat.
What the hellth? 🔬
🐈 Your cat's kneading is not proof that he is the fluffy reincarnation of a very skilled baker. And your dog's enthusiastic licking is not an expression of his love for you. Humans are fascinated by their pets and what they consider to be singularly cute oddities. I am sorry to inform you that your bond with your cat is not scientifically special. Animal behavior research has shown that these quirky behaviors are actually a modern embodiment of the evolutionary origins of pets, also building on their contemporary connection to humans. It turns out that your dog's puppy eyes are a manipulative tactic devised to get what he wants from you, and that what you think is an eager kiss actually means he wants you to feed him. Similarly, kittens "knead" their mother when she nurses them to stimulate milk production. Not to make imaginary cookies.
Clean Content 🧼
🎙️ The sound of your voice could diagnose diseases. Send this to your mother who always pestered you about going to med school. This basically means you’re a doctor, right?
🧫 An awesome roundup on life sciences research and development.
This is what you came for 🍑
📐 The shape of his face might be an indicator of whether he will be calling you back. No need to ponder upon the psychological intricacies of your date, it’s apparently all about geometry. Two Macquarie University researchers have found that women have the ability to accurately assess a man's attitude towards casual sex by observing the shape of his face. This little trick unfortunately does not work with men, however. Which means they’ll have to stick to psychology. Lol.
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