STAT: :Neuroinflammation is where we’re going to find [Alzheimer’s] drugs.”

That’s what Rudolph Tanzi, a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher at MGH says about the work of Robert Moir, a member of his team.  A story in STAT last week — which ran in today’s Globe – chronicles Moir’s struggle to get funding for a theory that


Alzheimer’s disease is a triggered by microbes in the brain.

If true, the finding would open up vastly different possibilities for therapy than the types of compounds virtually everyone else was pursuing, ” Sharon Begley writes…. 

If he and other scientists are right that beta-amyloid is an antimicrobial, that the brain goes on an amyloid-making immune rampage in response to pathogens, and that the rampage ignites neuron-killing inflammation, it suggests very different therapeutic approaches than the 30-year pursuit of amyloid destroyers.

“It used to be thought that stopping the plaques early was ‘primary prevention,’” Tanzi said. “I think primary prevention is stopping the microbes.” Treatment would mean leaving amyloid mostly alone (since it protects the brain from herpes and other viruses) but targeting inflammation, a biological fire that “kills 10 neurons for every one killed by amyloid and tau directly,” he said. “Neuroinflammation is where we’re going to find [Alzheimer’s] drugs.”

Noting the final paragraph. Not sure it applies here, but sometimes just a call from a reporter can move some wheels.  (See the Globe’s Fine Print column as an example.)

This month…(Moir) got an unheard-of email from NIH: The agency had found some extra money lying around in its budget. Would he please respond to the reviewers and resubmit his proposal? An over-the-moon Moir did. He expects to hear back in a few weeks.


Interested in efforts to control health costs? Pay attention to Massachusetts

The state has set benchmarks for health care costs — with a watchdog in the form of the state Health Policy Commission.  Here’s yesterday’s news.

The state attorney general’s office and the Department of Public Health on Thursday signaled that they are drafting conditions for the biggest health care merger proposed in Massachusetts in decades, after a state watchdog agency stood firm behind projections that the deal could sharply raise costs for consumers.

The comments from the three public agencies indicated that nearly two years after it was first proposed, a merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health may be nearing final approval — but with guardrails…

Slide from a Tufts researcher’s Dec. 2017 presentation to the California General Assembly

The Health Policy Commission is charged with studying hospital mergers but cannot block them. It can refer its findings to other officials with greater regulatory authority.

“The question is: Does the merger serve the Commonwealth? The answer is no — not yet,” said Dr. Donald Berwick, a member of the commission, said at a public meeting Thursday.

“Costs are going to go up. They’re going to go up substantially,” he said. “We need a form of restraint.”

Click here for a 2016 interview with chair Stuart Altman. 

Watch yesterday’s meeting, which was live streamed and posted to You Tube



Once the “Red Sox hospital,” now a nursing home, Sancta Maria in Cambridge to close.

The Cambridge Chronicle has a nice story on the hospital’s history, along with some photos of the nuns who worked there.

CaptureShortly after its founding in 1948, Sancta Maria Hospital earned the nickname “the Red Sox hospital” because of the number of players who received care there. Initially located on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, a little more than a mile across the river from Fenway Park, the hospital provided a convenient place for treating players’ injuries and ailments.

The nuns on staff, members of the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception, would receive a call from a team doctor or trainer asking, “Is our room empty?”, according to a 1949 Boston Globe article. The nuns would start preparing “the Red Sox room,” described as a “pleasant, blue room with large open fireplace and cheery floral hangings.”

Rocking the health news at The Boston Globe and STAT.

An incomplete list, but worth noting. globe doors

Suicide rates up

How to get help

Treating drug addiction with drugs

Five myths about addiction meds

Community hospitals struggle to compete with better-paid rivals

For smaller companies, a presence at BIO conference is a big deal

STAT: The Gates Foundation rolls outs details of its new biotech, one without a profit motive

The patient was saying sexist things. How I handled him made me part of the problem


Big data is big in health care. With #data from police and social services, #hospitals could help patients who constantly show up at the #ER.

It’s probably PI to call them this, but they are known as frequent flyers. An editorial in The Boston Globe this morning lauds a new program — which calls them “Frequent Utilizers ” —  aimed at helping hospital  staff help patients who show up at the ED again and again.

boston_globeResearchers, police officers, and doctors have long understood the challenge of so-called frequent utilizers — mentally ill or addicted people who cycle in and out of emergency rooms and jailhouses at enormous cost, with little sign of improvement...

There are records here and records there. But you’d have to look at them in combination — two ambulance calls for overdoses, a police call for an attempted suicide in one town and a second call, in a neighboring town, when she was the victim of an assault — to get the full picture.

That’s the idea behind a promising new pilot program bringing together law enforcement, corrections officials, and health care providers in three jurisdictions: Long Beach, Calif., Johnson County, Iowa, and Middlesex County, a sprawling region that includes urban centers like Cambridge and Lowell and smaller towns like Concord and Groton.

How to use interactive graphics to look at #Massachusetts #hospital #quality measures like infection rates. Data for individual hospitals, health care systems and the entire state.

NYTimes: How can police subdue a violent suspect without violence? Starr says look to hospital protocols for violent patients.

From The Sunday NYTimes:

When a police officer in Cambridge, Mass., punched a black male Harvard student in the stomach multiple times while subduing him this month, the nation was reminded yet again of how quickly confrontations between the police and civilians can intensify beyond what the situation seems to call for. (The student was naked in public and apparently behaving erratically.)B0000200

Much of the recent conversation about police violence in the United States has focused — quite rightly — on concerns about racism and the flagrant abuse of power…How can police officers be better trained to remain calm and defuse tense situations?

An unexpected model comes from the field of health care, a profession that has found ways to address the incidence of violence in encounters with those it aims to serve.