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Brainstorm Health: Editas CRISPR Study, Blood Pressure Drug Recalls, Measles and Ebola Outbreaks

Happy Friday, readers.

There are many elements that influence the spread of infectious diseases. Cold, dry climates can propagate the flu; warmer, more humid ones can give rise to the mosquito populations that give transmit Zika or West Nile.

But social factors are just as important to consider as environmental ones when it comes to communicable illness, as evidenced by two very different scourges currently wreaking havoc: Ebola and measles.

In the case of the former, widespread violence has created an intense—and dangerous—situation for health workers, who have explicitly described the situation in Congo as a “war zone.” The conflict has stymied ongoing vaccination and treatment campaigns, and even put the Trump administration in tension with some global health officials urging the U.S. to return its medical experts to regions deemed too dangerous by the U.S. The Congo Ebola outbreak has now been deemed the second worst in history, in large part because of these factors.

And then there’s measles, the largely preventable viral condition that’s been making a troublesome resurgence across the developed and developing worlds alike. Scientists say this is also attributable to a social failing: Lagging vaccination rates.

“Because of gaps in vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, while there were an estimated 110,000 deaths related to the disease,” wrote the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new report released Thursday.

“Using updated disease modeling data, the report provides the most comprehensive estimates of measles trends over the last 17 years. It shows that since 2000, over 21 million lives have been saved through measles immunizations. However, reported cases increased by more than 30 percent worldwide from 2016.”

Read on for the day’s news, and have a great weekend.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Editas gets the go-ahead on a gene editing trial. The life sciences world has, understandably, been captivated by the news this week of CRISPR gene editing reportedly producing the birth of twin babies in China. But there’s also been some less controversial recent developments in the space—including the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) green light of a CRISPR trial for patients suffering from a rare genetic disorder that can cause blindness. (STAT News)

INDICATIONS

More blood pressure drug recalls. The FDA has now issued its sixth voluntary recall warning for common blood pressure medications. The latest product affected is for certain valsartan tablets manufactured by Teva partner Mylan India over concerns that they may include a carcinogenic chemical called N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA). (Fortune)

THE BIG PICTURE

The polio problem. The WHO says that polio must still be considered a major public health threat despite major progress against the disease in the past few decades, stressing that complete elimination is on the cusp but will require major international cooperation and sustained public health campaigns. (Reuters)

REQUIRED READING

Female CEOs Are More Likely to Be Fired Than Men, Even When Their Companies Are Thriving, by Kristen Bellstrom

China Knows Where Electric Car Drivers Are at All Times, Report Saysby Erik Sherman

SEC Charges Floyd Mayweather, DJ Khaled With Illegally Promoting ICOsby Kevin Kelleher

Novartis CEO on the Company’s $4 Million Drugby Susie Gharib

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

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