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Brainstorm Health: Ebola Deaths, Vaccine Exemptions, 3D Printed Lungs

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Happy Friday, readers!

At the risk of being a wet blanket going into the weekend, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in the Congo right now.

As readers know, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been grappling with one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in decades (and the second worst of all time). It’s now lasted about nine months and claimed more than 1,000 lives. It’s been exacerbated by deadly civil conflict that’s led to attacks on health workers and medical staff attempting to vaccinate the vulnerable and treat the sick.

Despite all of this, more than 100,000 people have been vaccinated with drug giant Merck’s Ebola treatment (and a product from Johnson & Johnson is also under consideration for extended use). And global health experts say the key to containing this outbreak isn’t to retreat in the face of violence—it’s to build community trust and engagement.

In short, health care leaders are running into the fire.

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

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

A new advance in 3D printed organs. Following reports of a 3D printed human heart in Israel, researchers from the University of Washington and Rice University have 3D printed a “lung-like air sac” which, well, emulates a real human lung! The product can mimic vascular systems and funnel white and red blood cells while oxygenating them. (CNET)

Aon, dacadoo launch wellbeing platform. Aon and dacadoo announced Thursday that they’ve launched a new corporate wellness platform to encourage healthy behaviors among employees. The Well One application utilizes a digital health scoring platform created by dacadoo. “Well One is an exciting enhancement to our wellbeing capabilities,” said Alistair Connell, CEO of Aon’s Health Solutions, in a statement. “The anonymous and aggregate data received from the Well One platform, coupled with Aon’s data and analytics capabilities, will allow a deeper understanding into what employers and their workers need to thrive – enabling sustainable healthy behavior change and helping them further reduce risk, manage cost and increase performance.”

INDICATIONS

Dan O’Day is looking for a Kite CEO. Daniel O’Day, the new CEO of biotech giant Gilead, is looking for a chief executive to lead Kite Pharma, the cancer specialist unit that Gilead snatched up in a deal back in 2017. Kite created one of the first-ever “CAR-T” cancer therapies, which involves re-engineering patients’ own immune cells to fight blood cancers. O’Day is looking for some executive help to maintain the unit, which focuses on cell therapies (a major bet for Gilead as it grapples with falling revenue from its flagship hepatitis C portfolio). (FiercePharma)

THE BIG PICTURE

Maine Senate endorses vaccine religious exemptions. Maine state Senate lawmakers unexpectedly voted to retain religious exemptions to school vaccination requirements—a significant public health issue in Maine, which has some of the highest vaccine opt-out rates in the country. Lawmakers had expressed concern about that trend in the wake of the worst measles outbreak (largely driven by unvaccinated individuals) in three decades.

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