Brainstorm Health: Instagram and Anti-Vaxxers, Emilia Clarke’s Story, Another Alzheimer’s Drug
Happy Friday, readers.
I suspect some among you are fans of Game of Thrones, HBO’s massively popular fantasy drama series (I confess to being a fanboy myself). On Thursday, one of the show’s stars, Emilia Clarke—otherwise known as Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, or just plain old Khaleesi—shared an extraordinary essay about several terrifying health episodes in the New Yorker, just weeks before Thrones’ final season premieres.
Clarke revealed that she had suffered two separate brain aneurysms (i.e., blood-filled portions in weak arterial spots which can rupture and may be severely life-threatening) since the first season of the show. Both required surgery; the latter actually required two procedures, including one that involved cutting open a piece of the actress’ skull. And this all happened while Clarke was in her mid-20s.
That’s a rarity, but certainly not an impossibility. There are plenty of risk factors for having a cerebral aneurysm, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). Those include genetic risk factors that weaken arterial walls, certain forms of kidney disease, and high blood pressure, among others.
Clarke says she is now fine—at “100%,” even—and closes her remarkably candid piece with a call to elevate awareness of, and investment in, brain injury treatments: “Beyond my work as an actor, I’ve decided to throw myself into a charity I’ve helped develop in conjunction with partners in the U.K. and the U.S. It is called SameYou, and it aims to provide treatment for people recovering from brain injuries and stroke. I feel endless gratitude—to my mum and brother, to my doctors and nurses, to my friends. Every day, I miss my father, who died of cancer in 2016, and I can never thank him enough for holding my hand to the very end.”
Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.
Instagram steps up against anti-vaxxers following criticism. Following a detailed report on how anti-vaccination groups have used social media to spread disinformation about vaccines, Instagram announced that it would seek to purge certain anti-vaccination hashtags on its platform. “As part of our work to address health-related misinformation on Instagram, we’re looking at ways to minimize recommendations of this content and accounts that post it across Instagram – including in ‘Suggested For You’, Explore and hashtags,” the company said in a statement Thursday. Recently, a teenager who received immunizations over the disapproval of his parents testified that Facebook and social media was the main driver of his parents’ vaccine skepticism. (The Hill)
Eisai doubles down following brutal Alzheimer’s flop. Biogen and partner Eisai faced a devastating setback on Thursday with the failure of the closely watched experimental Alzheimer’s medication aducanumab. This latest flop has led to some soul-searching in the life sciences community and renewed debate over whether the “beta-amyloid” theory is a dud. Eisai, it would seem, is ready to give it one more expensive phase 3 shot—the company announced on Friday that begin new trials for the experimental BAN2401, which is in the same class of treatments. There hasn’t been a new Alzheimer’s treatment approved in well over a decade, and none of the ones on the market treat the underlying disease. (FierceBiotech)
THE BIG PICTURE
The flu season is lasting longer than usual. February is the peak month for the flu; but, this year, influenza appears to be afflicting people for longer than usual. In fact, the share of doctor visits for flu-like symptoms in the past week is the highest it’s been (for this time of year) since 1998. This is likely driven by a second major strain of the virus which began rising since February after the primary one had, for the most part, run its course. (Fortune)
Why It’s Time to Cancel the Internet’s Free Ride, by Adam Lashinsky
FEMA Shared the Bank Info of 2.3 Million People Agency Contractor, by Renae Reints
|Produced by Sy Mukherjee|