Inequality in medicine – Nature

Image: Zara Picken

Regulators have been calling for equal representation of men and women in health research for nearly 25 years. So why are women still underrepresented?

Read the full story in Nature

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What will it take to 3-D print organs? – NeoLife

Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock; Scientific Reports

Every day in the U.S., about 22 people die waiting for an organ transplant. If scientists could 3-D print organs like kidneys, livers and hearts, all those lives could be saved. For years, people have been touting personalized organ printing as the future.

But despite decades of promising work in bioengineered bladders and other kinds of human tissue, we’re not close to having more complicated organs made from scratch. Harvard professor Jennifer Lewis, a leader in advanced 3-D printing of biological tissue, has only recently developed the ability to print part of a nephron, an individual unit of a kidney.

I asked Lewis what it will take to someday print a full kidney or a similarly complex organ.

Read the full story in NeoLife.

Take two placebos and call me in the morning – NeoLife

Illustration by Gabriel Alcala

When a new drug is being tested in a controlled clinical trial, half the patients get the real drug and half get a placebo, something harmless like a sugar pill or a saline injection. But patients on the placebo often improve anyway, and that’s because they expect that they’re getting the real drug, right? Well, no. Harvard professor Ted Kaptchuk’s research has exploded that explanation. Read the full story in NeoLife.

Power of positive thinking skews mindfulness studies – Nature

Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS

There’s a little too much wishful thinking about mindfulness, and it is skewing how researchers report their studies of the technique.

Researchers at McGill University analysed 124 published trials of mindfulness as a mental-health treatment, and found that scientists reported positive findings 60% more often than is statistically likely. The team also examined another 21 trials that were registered with databases such as ClinicalTrials.gov; of these, 62% were unpublished 30 months after they finished. The findings hint that negative results are going unpublished.

Read the full story in Nature.

Artificial Intelligence Offers a Better Way to Diagnose Malaria

Image credit: Intellectual Ventures Laboratory

An algorithm for spotting malaria under the microscope could bring accurate, rapid diagnosis to understaffed areas.

For all our efforts to control malaria, diagnosing it in many parts of the world still requires counting malaria parasites under the microscope on a glass slide smeared with blood. Now an artificial intelligence program can do it more reliably than most humans.

Read the full article in MIT Technology Review.

Gel scaffold paves way for 3D printing of biological organs

3D printing needle creates intricate objects in soft gels

To improve 3D printing, simply add gel. A fresh technique uses one to support complex shapes that would fall apart under their own weight in normal 3D printing.

This new-found combination of strength and delicacy will be crucial if we’re ever to print the biological structures that make up organs, blood vessels and other tissue.

Read the full article in New Scientist.

Should babies have their genomes sequenced? – MIT Technology Review

Illustration by Sophia Foster-Dimino

The BabySeq project in Boston has begun collecting data to quantify the risks and benefits of DNA sequencing at birth.

The central question for this project is what will come of giving genomic information to parents and their baby’s doctor. Will doctors order more tests and interventions? Will those tests and interventions make babies healthier? Or will they just waste money, or even end up doing more harm than good?

Read the full article in MIT Technology Review.