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Brainstorm Health: Cancer Nanorobots, American Well-Being, Former Celgene CEO’s Senate Run

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

The cancer treatment space has given way to some extraordinary advances in recent years, including therapies that can re-engineer your own cells to fight cancer. But, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, scientists may be on the cusp of yet another significant milestone—tiny little cancer-killing robots that choke off the blood supply to tumors.

First things first: This study was done in mice, so there’s still a long ways to go before the nanobots come anywhere close to being deployed in humans. The tech, however, is fascinating; it involves recruiting engineered DNA bots to home in on cancerous cells to inject them with a deadly payload.

“Using tumor-bearing mouse models, we demonstrate that intravenously injected DNA nanorobots deliver thrombin specifically to tumor-associated blood vessels and induce intravascular thrombosis, resulting in tumor necrosis and inhibition of tumor growth,” said the study authors.

Translation: These little biological weapons were able to deliver a dose of lifeblood-blocking, clot-inducing medicine to mice with human breast cancer tumors. But perhaps the most significant part of the tech is its precision, at least in the mouse models: The programmed DNA bots avoided causing any clotting or harm to healthy cells.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Fitbit bolsters health care offerings with latest acquisition. Fitbit announced Tuesday that it’s snatched up Twine Health, a startup that connects chronic disease patients with coaches and doctors in order to help them control their conditions. “Twine Health has delivered powerful results for patients managing conditions like diabetes and hypertension—two key focus areas for Fitbit, which together affect approximately 105 million people in the U.S. alone,” said Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park in a statement. Park has previously noted that Fitbit’s health care ambitions aim to take its trackers from being “cool” accessories to devices that can actually improve health and lower costs for employers via wellness programs. (Fortune)

INDICATIONS

Former Celgene exec prepares run for U.S. Senate. Embattled Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez may have a heavy-hitting opponent to face in the midterm elections this year: Bob Hugin, former chairman and CEO of biotech giant Celgene. Hugin has been a vocal supporter of both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Donald Trump; but his history at Celgene may make drug pricing a critical issue in the Senate race. The company has consistently raised the price of its flagship cancer treatment Revlimid, and Trump has harped on pharmaceutical companies for price hikes. (NJ.com)

THE BIG PICTURE

Record number of states saw well-being declines last year. The latest Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index survey finds that 21 states found a decline in well-being in 2017—and none saw an improvement in the metric, which measures broad measures of holistic wellness including mental and emotional health, physical well-being, and others. The drops were mostly driven by declining mental and social well-being. (Fortune)

Life, disability insurance denied to some taking HIV prevention pill. Gilead’s Truvada has revolutionized HIV prevention, with studies showing that the PrEP drug can effectively nix the risk of the virus’ transmission. That’s why it’s recommended as a preventive measure for some high-risk people, such as men who have sex with men or unprotected sex. But the New York Times reports that taking Truvada actually makes it more difficult for some to obtain life or disability insurance—a dynamic that one public health expert and PrEP researcher likened “refusing to insure someone because they use seatbelts.” (NY Times)

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Gunmaker Remington to File for Bankruptcy Protection As Sales Slideby Phil Wahba

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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