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Brainstorm Health: Pain VR Tech, Geron Stock, Athenahealth Bids

September 27, 2018, 9:21 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers. This is Sy.

Finding alternative ways to treat pain is important way to tackle the opioid addiction epidemic. To that end, VRHealth is teaming up with Oculus to create “distraction therapies” that harness virtual reality tech, MobiHealthNews reports.

The upstart and the Facebook-backed creator of the Oculus Rift are aiming their tech toward mothers who are experiencing pain while undergoing labor and cancer patients, in addition to a number of other consumers (including those who have had recent surgery).

But VRHealth’s ambitions will go beyond the pain management space, according to CEO Eran Orr. “It used to be that when people thought of virtual reality entertainment and games were the first application that came to mind, but we see that applying the effects of VR to the healthcare industry has the potential to improve many lives and aid doctors in providing personalized and comfortable experiences for their patients,” he said in a statement.

As for “distraction therapy,” some early studies have found that using virtual reality “reduced levels of pain, general distress/unpleasantness and [led patients to] report a desire to use VR again during painful medical procedures.”

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Athenahealth reportedly fielding multiple bids. CNBC reports that digital health/IT firm Athenahealth is fielding multiple buyout bids, though they may not be for a particularly high premium. The company made news following the departure of CEO Jonathan Bush and amid a takeover offer from activist firm Elliott Management, run by Paul Singer. CNBC's sources told the outlet that the interest is coming from "two private equity firms and one strategic buyer." (CNBC)


Geron shares crater on J&J jilt. Shares of biotech Geron tumbled 63% in Thursday trading as Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm Janssen ended a partnership with the smaller company to develop a blood disease treatment called imetelstat. The therapy was geared toward those suffering from the bone marrow disorder myelofibrosis, but the study results (and design) had been flaky. Geron will continue development of the experimental drug on its own. (STAT)


The life of an international blood smuggler. If you're in the mood to read some seriously compelling reporting that doesn't involve Supreme Court and Congressional drama, this is the piece for you: The fascinating story of Kathleen McLaughlin, who for years smuggled American blood plasma into China out of necessity for treating a medical condition (shipping it over the old-fashioned, legal way proved prohibitively expensive). Her tale is well worth a read(The Guardian)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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