Also: A missing cancer option in the US, and what makes CF patients good hosts for one type of bacteria

In Cystic Fibrosis, Lungs Feed Deadly Bacteria

(Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 8/20/19)

According to a study published by researchers from Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the reason that the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa is so dangerous for people with cystic fibrosis (CF) lies in its dietary preference. The researchers suggest that the cellular metabolism byproduct succinate is the bacterium’s favorite food source. An overabundance of succinate in the lungs is a common symptom for people with CF. Additionally, the bacterium that feeds on succinate is able to produce an extracellular “slime” that makes the infections difficult to treat.

Why a promising, potent cancer therapy isn’t used in the US

(Michele Cohen Marill, WIRED, 8/21/19)

The US currently does not have any medical or research centers capable of carbon ion therapy – a cancer treatment similar to proton therapy – that directs highly accelerated carbon ions at a tumor. Although the treatment is gaining popularity in Europe and Asia, with several studies claiming incredibly positive results, there has not yet been any randomized Phase III clinical trials to demonstrate whether carbon ion treated patients live longer than those who receive standard radiation. Oncologist Hak Choy from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center plans to secure funding for a Phase III trial of the treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Polypills found to cut heart attacks by half

(Don McNeil Jr., The New York Times, 8/22/19)

Giving people an inexpensive pill containing generic drugs that prevent heart attacks — an idea first proposed 20 years ago but rarely tested — worked quite well in a new study, slashing the rate of heart attacks by more than half among those who regularly took the pills. Medical experts, however, are sharply divided over the polypill concept, with critics saying it is unethical and dangerous.  

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker