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Brainstorm Health: Health Care Philanthropy, FTC DNA Kit Advice, Obamacare Enrollment Deadline

Happy Friday. Jonah Comstock at Mobihealthnews.com published its annual roundup of mergers and acquisitions in the digital health arena today. If you’re looking for where the business appetite is these days, the post makes for instructive reading.

But one of the deals sticks out from the rest: the purchase of Meta by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative back at the start of the year. Meta—which, in the words of cofounder Sam Molyneux, uses “artificial intelligence to analyze new scientific knowledge as it’s published”—partners with academic journals to access many thousands of scientific papers and draw insight from them (beyond the keywords, that is) with the help of a machine learning tool developed by SRI International, which created Apple’s spectral personal assistant, Siri.

The idea, as we’ve written about many times in this space, is similar to what IBM Watson is doing in oncology and other fields (and what the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence’s Semantic Scholar is doing)—and it’s one more reminder of just how integral AI is becoming to healthcare technology.

But it’s also a reminder of something else: of how often philanthropic organizations like CZI are leading the charge today when it comes to championing ambitious new healthcare strategies. Consider Chan Zuckerberg’s Biohub, which is embracing big hairy audacious projects like mapping every cell in the human body (with university partners Berkeley, Stanford, and UCSF) and developing a “universal diagnostic test” and rapid-response team for emerging pathogens.

It’s the same playbook that Sean Parker has been using—and many would say designed—with his Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, meanwhile, has been on the vanguard of no-holds-barred public health campaigns in malaria and HIV—efforts that, to some extent, have helped rewrite the rules of engagement.

For decades, it has seemed, the letters NGO stood for “no go fast.” In the fields of health and medicine, at least, that’s no longer the case.

Enjoy the weekend.

Brainstorm Health: Medical Devices, Net Neutrality and Health Research, Alphabet Anti-Aging Startup

Good morning. When I was in China last week, I missed this key news item on digital health—which I’m guessing some of you may have passed over as well, given the seeming prosaicness of the topic.

Last Friday the FDA released its draft guidance on “Clinical and Patient Decision Support Software.” So why, you ask, is this document so significant? Because, as CNBC’s Chrissy Farr reports, the lack of certainty about what the FDA will regulate and what it won’t with regard to digital health applications has been keeping some developers—from giants like Apple and Google to a bevy of garage-based startups—in limbo. And it’s hard to do pretty much anything else when you’re limboing.

The FDA has actually been ruminating over this challenge at least since the turn of the millennium. That’s because the questions that need to be answered are far meatier than they might at first seem, as researchers Roberto Rodrigues, Petra Wilson, and Stephen Schanz explained in a comprehensive 2001 paper:

When does the amount of automated “clinical thinking” done by the software application constitute the “practice of medicine” with all its associated ethical and legal aspects?

To what extent does the application software allow clinicians to examine the underlying logic and to independently evaluate how the software arrived at particular conclusions?

How are the consequences of eventual errors to be dealt with?

Yes, big thinkers were asking those questions 16 years ago and have yet to resolve them. Now throw in a semantic one, which likewise has critical relevance to government regulators: When is the software or algorithm powering a medical device a medical device itself?

For wonky types—and I include myself in that category—the FDA’s litany of examples that constitute devices (and not) is fascinating.

Software that flags potential drug interactions and known drug allergy contraindications (based on FDA-approved drug labeling)? Not a device, according to the draft guidance document.

“Software that analyzes sound waves captured when users recite certain sentences to diagnose bronchitis or sinus infection”? Device.

For all the FDA’s Solomonic judgments, though, there are—and will be more—questions from product developers about inventions that fall between the cracks. One pressing question concerns the latest generation of fitness trackers, particularly as their technology is developed to enable sophisticated diagnoses.

In the draft guidelines, for instance, the FDA says “software that analyzes multiple physiological signals (e.g., sweat, heart rate, eye movement, breathing—from FDA-regulated devices) to monitor whether a person is having a heart attack or narcolepsy episode” is….a device subject to regulation.

So does that mean that a Fitbit (or Apple Watch) that can potentially warn of a dangerous heart arrhythmia—and maybe even help you avoid a stroke, as I wrote about here—is a medical device under the purview of the FDA?

Hmmm. If so, that might slow down the innovation train a bit. But then, I’m guessing that this latest FDA draft may get a few substantive revisions before all is said and done. That’s what drafts are for, after all. Watch this space for more.


DIGITAL HEALTH

Net neutrality’s effect on health care. Nature out with an editorial warning about the potential harms of net neutrality repeal (which went through Thursday morning)—including the possibility of a throttling effect on medical research, information-sharing across nations, and health care services themselves. “The changes could affect traffic that routes through the United States, which includes plenty from South America, Central America and the Caribbean. So, in theory, terabytes of data sent from telescope arrays in Chile to physicists in Europe could be stuck in the digital slow lane as ISPs prioritize advertising-heavy social-media messages,” writes Nature. “Or universities and students, especially those in poorer countries, could face prohibitive access and download fees.” Repeal proponents have argued that providing digital fast lanes could help, for instance, people who want telemedicine services; but critics say that only bigger health care companies would benefit from the preferential treatment. (Nature)

We’re learning more about Alphabet’s under-the-radar anti-aging startup. A top executive at Calico, Google parent Alphabet’s secretive anti-aging startup, finally provided some more details on the science being pursued at the company during a conference Wednesday, Axios reports. The early stage research involves mice and yeast and centers on how diet affects aging and health and how cell aging leads to cell breakdowns. Calico’s ambitious goal is to harness greater knowledge about the relationship between aging and disease to tackle everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer. (Fortune)

Brainstorm Health: Free CRISPR Enzyme, Doug Jones and CHIP, Novartis Generics Unit

Good morning, readers! This is Sy.

CRISPR gene editing is widely regarded as one of the most significant advances in the life sciences in decades. The technology, which allows scientists to slice and dice bits of genetic code with the help of special CRISPR enzymes, has implications in everything from curing devastating diseases to making pigs less fatty to creating bigger, tastier, genetically modified tomatoes.

But existing CRISPR technologies are so red-hot that they’ve prompted an epic intellectual property showdown between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University’s Feng Zhang and U.C. Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and her academic partner Emmanuelle Charpentier (and the warring factions’ various affiliated biotechs). Well, Inscripta, a startup backed by Venrock, wants to take the IP considerations out of the equation by providing a new kind of CRISPR enzyme to (most) scientists at no cost.

“We want to liberate the research. We want to make it unencumbered, free,” Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness tells Fortune. Inscripta has a different CRISPR enzyme from the Cas9 and Cpf1 varieties most commonly being experimented with today. Called “MAD7,” the enzyme is available for free to scientists innovating in the space. “You can go right to the website, download the sequences instantly, even get a user guide,” says Ness.

Inscripta’s business model is somewhat of a cross between an incubator and public resource library. It’s not a nonprofit, though—companies or scientists who want to simply resell the MAD7 enzyme or use it in their products would have to pay Inscripta a single digit royalty. And, ultimately, the firm’s ambition is to sell technological instruments and reagents to firms to help them with their work.

Still, Ness sees the democratic approach as key to further unlocking CRISPR’s potential. “You can’t build a house without a hammer,” he says.

Read on for the day’s news.


THE BIG PICTURE

Doug Jones calls on Congress to renew CHIP in victory speech. Doug Jones’ stunning upset in Tuesday night’s Alabama Senate race makes him the first Democrat to be elected to that chamber in the state in 25 years. In his victory speech, which mostly focused on overarching themes of unity, Jones did call out Congress on one specific policy issue: Renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health coverage to about 9 million kids from low- to middle-income families. Congress failed to reauthorize the popular program in September, and now states are on the cusp of running out of funding, prompting warning letters to families that their coverage will soon lapse.


REQUIRED READING

Fortune‘s Favorite Business Books of the Yearby Polina Marinova, Matthew Heimer, Rachel King, and Anne VanderMey

How to Invest for a 40-Year Retirementby Chris Taylor

UPS, DHL, and Other Shippers Warn of Holiday Shipping Delaysby Chris Morris

Panasonic Is Going to Make Batteries for Toyota’s Electric Cars, Tooby Reuters

Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

Brainstorm Health: Free CRISPR Enzyme, Doug Jones and CHIP, Novartis Generics Unit

Good morning, readers! This is Sy.

CRISPR gene editing is widely regarded as one of the most significant advances in the life sciences in decades. The technology, which allows scientists to slice and dice bits of genetic code with the help of special CRISPR enzymes, has implications in everything from curing devastating diseases to making pigs less fatty to creating bigger, tastier, genetically modified tomatoes.

But existing CRISPR technologies are so red-hot that they’ve prompted an epic intellectual property showdown between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University’s Feng Zhang and U.C. Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and her academic partner Emmanuelle Charpentier (and the warring factions’ various affiliated biotechs). Well, Inscripta, a startup backed by Venrock, wants to take the IP considerations out of the equation by providing a new kind of CRISPR enzyme to (most) scientists at no cost.

“We want to liberate the research. We want to make it unencumbered, free,” Inscripta CEO Kevin Ness tells Fortune. Inscripta has a different CRISPR enzyme from the Cas9 and Cpf1 varieties most commonly being experimented with today. Called “MAD7,” the enzyme is available for free to scientists innovating in the space. “You can go right to the website, download the sequences instantly, even get a user guide,” says Ness.

Inscripta’s business model is somewhat of a cross between an incubator and public resource library. It’s not a nonprofit, though—companies or scientists who want to simply resell the MAD7 enzyme or use it in their products would have to pay Inscripta a single digit royalty. And, ultimately, the firm’s ambition is to sell technological instruments and reagents to firms to help them with their work.

Still, Ness sees the democratic approach as key to further unlocking CRISPR’s potential. “You can’t build a house without a hammer,” he says.

Read on for the day’s news.


THE BIG PICTURE

Doug Jones calls on Congress to renew CHIP in victory speech. Doug Jones’ stunning upset in Tuesday night’s Alabama Senate race makes him the first Democrat to be elected to that chamber in the state in 25 years. In his victory speech, which mostly focused on overarching themes of unity, Jones did call out Congress on one specific policy issue: Renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health coverage to about 9 million kids from low- to middle-income families. Congress failed to reauthorize the popular program in September, and now states are on the cusp of running out of funding, prompting warning letters to families that their coverage will soon lapse.


REQUIRED READING

Fortune‘s Favorite Business Books of the Yearby Polina Marinova, Matthew Heimer, Rachel King, and Anne VanderMey

How to Invest for a 40-Year Retirementby Chris Taylor

UPS, DHL, and Other Shippers Warn of Holiday Shipping Delaysby Chris Morris

Panasonic Is Going to Make Batteries for Toyota’s Electric Cars, Tooby Reuters

Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

Brainstorm Health: Chinese Biotech, FDA and Medical Devices, The ‘Man Flu’

Good morning. I spent a week in China for two Fortune conferences—our inaugural Brainstorm Tech International and the annual Fortune Global Forum—which we hosted back-to-back in the beautiful city of Guangzhou, in southern China. My head is still swimming from the experience and, I admit, my own reflections still feel somewhat muddy to me. But one takeaway concerns China’s approach to its homegrown biotech sector.

The approach is a bit like a science experiment, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, though, let me take you to Medprin.

Nestled in a gleaming office complex in Science City, in the New High-Tech Industrial Park, in the Guangzhou Development District, 20 minutes or so from downtown Guangzhou, is one of the pearls of China’s biotech oyster bed: Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies Co., Ltd. Medprin, cofounded by Yuyu Yuan (who serves as CEO) and Tao Xu in 2008, manufactures biological cells by way of 3D printing.

The company, one might say, prints life.

“We print live cells, layer by layer, and then fold them onto a 3D structure,” explains Tao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University, who is also Medprin’s chief technology officer.

Medprin’s founders, who hold a number of U.S. patents in the area of cell printing, have pulled off some remarkable feats, it appears—including printing a facsimile of cardiac stem cells directly onto the damaged heart of a rat. (According to Tao, the imprinted cells in the experiment proliferated and transferred healthy, functioning cardiac cells to the rodent.)

But while the company says it has conceived of at least “2,000 applications” for its technology, including 3D printing cells for repairing battle wounds in humans—the founders concede they “still have a long way to go” on this front. So right now, they focus on other applications, such as building precise three-dimensional models, drawn from CT scans, of actual patient organs and tissues that surgeons can use for pre-operative practice and training in the case of difficult surgeries. (I saw one of these models—a brain with a cancerous lesion snaked precariously around a cranial nerve—being printed, cell layer by cell layer.) The company also prints tumor chips from actual patient specimens removed during surgery, which can then be used to test different drug therapies, Tao says. Because the tumor chips can be printed, essentially, in unlimited supply, the possibility for fine-tuning a drug therapy is endless.

For now, the company mostly makes money, it seems, by printing biomaterials for implanting biomedical devices—an area, Tao says, “that has a very huge market and very great potential, especially in China.” Medprin manufactures several forms of what it calls “biomimetic-synthetic” material which look and act like real human tissue, with microstructures that resemble human extracellular matrix. The materials are now being used in repairing jaws, faces, skulls, blood vessels, even damaged brain tissue.

It’s cool stuff. Really cool stuff. And I can imagine this company dominating whatever the market is for 3D-printed cells for some time.

Which brings up China’s approach to its growing clusters of biotech startups mentioned up top—or, as I called it, the “science experiment.”

China’s government takes innovators and inventors such as Yuyu Yuan and Tao Yu and places them in the equivalent of a giant Petri dish (economic development districts). It then throws in plenty of growth factors (direct government funding, networking support, connections to customers, heavy promotion to outside investors, and relaxed regulations) and incubates them for years. That’s how companies like Medprin scale up so quickly in a market that, until they came along, didn’t really exist.

It’s impossible to know whether the strategy will work over the long-term. There’s a danger, certainly, when governments try to pick winners—and any kind of state control is likely to inhibit two key ingredients common to business creation and scientific research: human creativity and freedom of choice.

But for now, Americans in this industry should take note of the competition brewing on the other side of the planet. China’s biotech sector is growing—and growing fast.

Brainstorm Health: Huntington’s Disease Drug, Ascension-Providence Deal, Opioid Executions

Hello, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. This is Sy.

An experimental injectable drug from Ionis Pharmaceuticals is one of the first to show potential in treating the root causes of Huntington’s disease, a devastating and fatal rare genetic disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down. But the treatment is still in its earliest stages, researchers caution, and much larger clinical trials will need to be done to prove it can truly help reverse patients’ disease.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals stock remained relatively flat in Monday trading despite success in an early stage study of it’s Huntington’s drug, Ionis-HTTRx. The treatment is part of a new class of therapies that aims to “silence” certain genes in order to prevent the production of toxic proteins that can cause disease. Muted investor response aside, the results (called “groundbreaking” by lead researcher Sarah Tabrizi of the University College London) prompted Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche to exercise its licensing option for Ionis-HTTRx.

“The key now is to move quickly to a larger trial to test whether Ionis-HTTRx slows disease progression,” said Tabrizi in a statement. That is, it remains to be seen whether the treatment’s reduction of the Huntington’s-associated toxic protein can slow or reverse the mental and physical decline wrought by the disease. (Other diseases present the same big question—for instance, whether or not eliminating amyloid plaque buildup in the brain can reverse or stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.)

Still, the reduction in the protein is notable, according to Huntington’s specialists and patient advocates, especially since existing Huntington’s therapies only tackle its symptoms rather than its causes. And the general field of “gene silencing” has recently been on a tear given its promise to address genetic diseases at the genomic level. For instance, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals’ own patisiran has driven the company’s stock up more than 250% this year thanks to strong, later-stage clinical trial results.

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Bitcoin Mental Health, Mass Teva Layoffs, Collins’ Obamacare Deal

Hello and happy Friday, readers! This is Sy. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

The finance world has been watching the crackerjack rise of bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency phenomenon, with a combination of fascination and, in many cases, severe skepticism. Bitcoin is currently trading at around $16,000; at the beginning of the year, it was at $1,000, raising warnings from some analysts and prominent financial figures that it’s a bubble. The currency is extraordinarily volatile despite its recent ever-peaking performance, rising by thousands of dollars in value on one day only to fall by even more the next. Which raises the question: For an investor, what does holding on to such a volatile asset do to mental health?

Financial decision-making is among the most stressful processes out there. And, when it comes to high-risk, high-reward investments like bitcoin, an investor may go through a roller coaster of emotions. As the cryptocurrency specialist site Bitcoin.com notes, there’s been at least one story about an investor who committed suicide following a deep depression about a bitcoin investing strategy gone awry; following bubble bursts and market crashes (a distinct possibility with bitcoin), visits to mental health professionals rise as economic anxiety balloons.

One of the most stressful parts of high-risk trading is the oscillating emotions. For instance, there is evidence that “decision-makers in a happy mood have higher levels of financial risk tolerance, holding bio-psychosocial and environmental factors constant,” according to a 2017 study by British researchers. In other words, there can be a short-term tendency to “buy on the emotional high,” particularly among less experienced investors.

But those emotional peaks can be followed by deep troughs, particularly when considering a relatively new product whose value may whiplash. There’s also financial FOMO (“fear of missing out,” for the non-millennials) and the hindsight effect of selling too early or too soon. With a digital currency like bitcoin, there’s also the added risk of potential hacks that can wipe out billions in value.

Those are mental and emotional realities of risky trading. And minimizing the psychological toll of financial stress may boil down to asking three basic questions, writes Paul Merriman, founder of Seattle-based Merriman Wealth Management: 1) Have you lost sleep over an investment?; 2) Do you constantly, compulsively follow the financial news over an investment?; and 3) Does watching financial news make you worry about your future? “If you answer yes to even one of those questions, you probably have taken on too much risk,” says Merriman.

Read on for the day’s news, and enjoy your weekend.

Brainstorm Health: Alzheimer’s Cases to Skyrocket, Medical ‘Virtualists’, Sage Depression Drug

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

A National Institutes of Health-funded (NIH) study presents a sobering projection: The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment will hit 15 million by 2060, fueled by an aging population. And, by using a new kind of methodology which incorporates people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the researchers determined that about 6 million U.S. adults have Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment.

The new method of calculation may be more precise than current tactics and could present an opportunity to assess Alzheimer’s-prevention techniques. “For the first time, scientists have attempted to account for numbers of people with biomarkers or other evidence of possible preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, but who do not have impairment or Alzheimer’s dementia. People with such signs of preclinical disease are at increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s dementia,” wrote the NIH in a press release. “The researchers say they factored those rates of transition in their multi-state model; further, the model can estimate the impact of some possible prevention efforts on the number of future cases.”

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In America and abroad, the condition (and other dementia and cognitive decline conditions) are expected to balloon in the coming decades—an ironic side effect of growing life expectancy across the globe. The trouble is that there aren’t really any drugs that tackle the root of Alzheimer’s rather than just its symptoms. Companies attempting to innovate in the space, like Eli Lilly and Merck, have been hit with costly failures (although Biogen is still marching forth in its efforts). And some scientists even disagree with each other about what, exactly, it is that should be targeted in the hunt for a cure.

The dearth of treatment options ups the ante for finding effective prevention techniques, whether they be diet, exercise, “brain games,” or other activities; but the first step in assessing those options is getting the numbers right—which is the broader goal of this new methodology.

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Migraine Drugs, Zika Gene Vaccine, Weight Loss and Diabetes

Hey there, readers! This is Sy.

Migraines are the Big Bads in the world of headaches, to appropriate a TV trope. They often show up preceded by warning signs—literally called “auras”—that may mess with your vision, cause mood changes, and even induce auditory hallucinations. Once they really get going, migraines can last for days while making it difficult to deal with even semi-bright light and may nausea and vomiting. Some truly unfortunate souls can experience these debilitating episodes frequently; and, unfortunately, the current treatment landscape centers on certain migraine symptoms rather than the root causes of the condition itself.

But two new drugs could change the way we treat migraines altogether, according to a pair of large studies published in a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The condition is complex and can be affected by multiple factors, which is partly why it’s so difficult to treat, the study authors note. That’s why the go-to medical route usually involves therapies meant for other conditions, such as blood pressure or depression medicines. But the two drugs being explored—fremanezumab and erenumab‬—are antibodies that go after parts of the brain at the crux of migraine-induced pain. And they’ve shown promise in preventing many of the most frustrating migraine symptoms, from the nausea to the visual-auditory effects to the headaches themselves. In fact, some of the chronic migraine patients in the studies had no migraines at all following treatment.

Now, here’s the twist: The placebo arm of the study also had significant drops in migraine frequency (although not as much as the participants taking the actual drugs did). Still, the effects were significant enough that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may well give it the green light, especially given the dearth of available disease-specific options.

Then again, you could always go with the wrinkle-fighter Botox, which is also approved to treat migraines (seriously).

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Migraine Drugs, Zika Gene Vaccine, Weight Loss and Diabetes

Hey there, readers! This is Sy.

Migraines are the Big Bads in the world of headaches, to appropriate a TV trope. They often show up preceded by warning signs—literally called “auras”—that may mess with your vision, cause mood changes, and even induce auditory hallucinations. Once they really get going, migraines can last for days while making it difficult to deal with even semi-bright light and may nausea and vomiting. Some truly unfortunate souls can experience these debilitating episodes frequently; and, unfortunately, the current treatment landscape centers on certain migraine symptoms rather than the root causes of the condition itself.

But two new drugs could change the way we treat migraines altogether, according to a pair of large studies published in a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The condition is complex and can be affected by multiple factors, which is partly why it’s so difficult to treat, the study authors note. That’s why the go-to medical route usually involves therapies meant for other conditions, such as blood pressure or depression medicines. But the two drugs being explored—fremanezumab and erenumab‬—are antibodies that go after parts of the brain at the crux of migraine-induced pain. And they’ve shown promise in preventing many of the most frustrating migraine symptoms, from the nausea to the visual-auditory effects to the headaches themselves. In fact, some of the chronic migraine patients in the studies had no migraines at all following treatment.

Now, here’s the twist: The placebo arm of the study also had significant drops in migraine frequency (although not as much as the participants taking the actual drugs did). Still, the effects were significant enough that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may well give it the green light, especially given the dearth of available disease-specific options.

Then again, you could always go with the wrinkle-fighter Botox, which is also approved to treat migraines (seriously).

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: World AIDS Day, Cancer Genetic Test, American Obesity

Greetings and happy Friday, readers! This is Sy.

Friday marks World AIDS Day, an occasion for recognizing the myriad struggles, successes, and work left undone—societal, political, and medical alike—in the battle against HIV infection and the immune system-compromising disease it causes, AIDS. The overall story has been one of promise over the last few decades. Consider: the arsenal of effective (and less risky) HIV medicines has ballooned, the stigma associated with the disease has declined (although, as activists note, much work remains to be done on that front), and awareness campaigns centered on HIV/AIDS have gone from what was a fringe movement just 40 years ago to a cause championed by top public figures and companies around the world.

There was a point when an HIV diagnosis meant preparing for the worst. Countless stories shared on World AIDS Day by survivors and patient family members describe Americans who, ignored by the political class and facing a dearth of treatment options, simply accepted HIV and AIDS as a death sentence several decades ago. But the rise of drugs that can keep HIV infection in check or prevent it altogether with fewer patient side effects has helped turn the scourge into a relatively manageable chronic condition for many in America (albeit not for everyone, and one that can still come with steep financial costs).

Companies like U.S. biotech giant Gilead and the U.K.’s GlaxoSmithKline (the majority stakeholder in global HIV partnership ViiV Healthcare) have developed drugs that drastically lower the chance of HIV infection—or which simply lower the number of drugs you have to take to treat it, consequently curbing the risk of toxic side effects while simplifying medical regimens. For instance, just last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ViiV’s Juluca, the first-ever treatment for HIV-1 that contains just two drugs (rather than the three or more involved in most HIV therapy cocktails). And then there’s the prevention avenue. Taking Gilead’s Truvada, a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment, has been found to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by more than 90% by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Cutting-edge companies are also working on ways to treat HIV through under-the-skin implants that ensure patients are taking their medicine or even targeting the infection through cutting-edge genetic technologies.

These medical advances have helped bring new HIV infection diagnoses in some of the most historically afflicted regions, including New York City, to record lows, according to recent CDC reports. But about 15% of the 1.2 million Americans infected with HIV in 2015 didn’t know they carried the virus, illustrating just how much work still remains to be done on the public health front. And the issue of financing—making sure that patients who need these life-changing drugs can actually afford them—will continue to be a hot button issue.

Have a great weekend, and read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: World AIDS Day, Cancer Genetic Test, American Obesity

Greetings and happy Friday, readers! This is Sy.

Friday marks World AIDS Day, an occasion for recognizing the myriad struggles, successes, and work left undone—societal, political, and medical alike—in the battle against HIV infection and the immune system-compromising disease it causes, AIDS. The overall story has been one of promise over the last few decades. Consider: the arsenal of effective (and less risky) HIV medicines has ballooned, the stigma associated with the disease has declined (although, as activists note, much work remains to be done on that front), and awareness campaigns centered on HIV/AIDS have gone from what was a fringe movement just 40 years ago to a cause championed by top public figures and companies around the world.

There was a point when an HIV diagnosis meant preparing for the worst. Countless stories shared on World AIDS Day by survivors and patient family members describe Americans who, ignored by the political class and facing a dearth of treatment options, simply accepted HIV and AIDS as a death sentence several decades ago. But the rise of drugs that can keep HIV infection in check or prevent it altogether with fewer patient side effects has helped turn the scourge into a relatively manageable chronic condition for many in America (albeit not for everyone, and one that can still come with steep financial costs).

Companies like U.S. biotech giant Gilead and the U.K.’s GlaxoSmithKline (the majority stakeholder in global HIV partnership ViiV Healthcare) have developed drugs that drastically lower the chance of HIV infection—or which simply lower the number of drugs you have to take to treat it, consequently curbing the risk of toxic side effects while simplifying medical regimens. For instance, just last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ViiV’s Juluca, the first-ever treatment for HIV-1 that contains just two drugs (rather than the three or more involved in most HIV therapy cocktails). And then there’s the prevention avenue. Taking Gilead’s Truvada, a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment, has been found to reduce the chance of contracting HIV by more than 90% by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Cutting-edge companies are also working on ways to treat HIV through under-the-skin implants that ensure patients are taking their medicine or even targeting the infection through cutting-edge genetic technologies.

These medical advances have helped bring new HIV infection diagnoses in some of the most historically afflicted regions, including New York City, to record lows, according to recent CDC reports. But about 15% of the 1.2 million Americans infected with HIV in 2015 didn’t know they carried the virus, illustrating just how much work still remains to be done on the public health front. And the issue of financing—making sure that patients who need these life-changing drugs can actually afford them—will continue to be a hot button issue.

Have a great weekend, and read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: GOP Tax Plan and Obamacare, Trump Health Pick and Drug Prices

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

The contours of the GOP tax plan currently making its way through Congress are in flux. But the sprawling bill from the U.S. Senate would, in addition to reshaping individuals’ and corporations’ tax rates, also have broad effects on American health care—including millions in insurance coverage losses and premium hikes, even if Congress also passes certain fixes to shore up Obamacare markets, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in a new report released Wednesday.

Health care became intimately mired in the tax reform debate as Senate Republicans heeded President Trump’s call to tack on a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, one of the health law’s most unpopular measures, into their plan. The mandate requires all Americans to carry insurance (subsidized for the vast majority of people buying individual health insurance plans) or pay a tax penalty.

Trump and the Congressional GOP have long aimed to nix that requirement. But they’ve been unsuccessful to date in part because the CBO has projected that repealing the mandate would lead to millions of fewer insured Americans relative to current law while also hiking rates. And while experts may quibble over the precise magnitude of those effects, the CBO hasn’t equivocated about the overall trend.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around how effective the mandate has been,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the independent health care think tank Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), told Fortune in an interview. “But CBO has said the direction of the effect is clear. Repealing the mandate would increase premiums, would increase the number of people who are uninsured.”

Just how big of an effect would a mandate repeal have? According to CBO, 13 million fewer people would be insured in 2027 compared with current law while premiums would spike 10%. That’s because, without the policy “stick” of a mandate, healthier and wealthier people would likely drop out of Obamacare’s marketplaces, in turn making individual insurance risk pools more costly by disproportionately leaving them with sicker Americans.

That projection been a big road block for more moderate Republican Senators like Maine’s Susan Collins. But Collins reportedly has come around on the issue after Trump assured her he would support a pair of bipartisan “fixes” to Obamacare—one that would guarantee insurer payments that help lower out-of-pocket medical costs for poorer Americans and another (co-sponsored by Collins) that would establish reinsurance funding to give insurance companies more market certainty.

Whether such bills would pass a Congress with general antipathy toward Obamacare is an open question. But, even if they did, CBO now says they would do little to make up for the damage wrought by axing the individual mandate.

“If legislation were enacted that incorporated both the provisions of the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act and a repeal of the individual mandate, the agencies expect that the interactions among the provisions would be small; the effects on premiums and the number of people with health insurance coverage would be similar to those referenced above,” wrote CBO in its new analysis.

A sizable number of consumers would be shielded from the rate hikes since more than 70% of Obamacare plan holders receive federal subsidies to help pay their monthly premiums. Those subsidies would rise in tandem with insurers’ rates. But Americans making too much money to qualify for the subsidies would be out of luck—which could be financially devastating for people with costly medical needs. “It would have the biggest effect on the middle class,” as Levitt explained.

Then there’s the matter of whether or not more insurance companies would exit Obamacare markets since a repeal of the individual mandate would introduce even more uncertainty to the health law. “Repeal of the individual mandate could be the final straw for some insurers,” said Levitt.

Read on for the day’s news.


INDICATIONS

Trump’s health secretary pick says high drug prices are a problem. Former Eli Lilly executive and George W. Bush administration official Alex Azar has come under some scrutiny for his close ties to an industry he would regulate as Secretary of Health and Human Services. That issue came up from both Democrats and Republicans during a Senate confirmation hearing for Azar on Wednesday. His response? “The current system of pricing insulins and other medicines may meet the needs of many stakeholders, but that system is not working for the patients who have to pay out of pocket, and we have to recognize that impact,” he said. Azar said that tackling high drug prices would be a top priority of his if confirmed to the HHS post. But that doesn’t mean drug makers should necessarily be shaking in their boots quite yet—most of the proposals discussed by the Trump administration and Azar are largely industry-friendly, such as fighting patent trolls and helping get drugs (especially generic drugs) to market faster.

Brainstorm Health: The Promise of the ‘Crapsule,’ OTC Viagra, Optum’s Digital Health Venture Fund


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Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

Brainstorm Health: Depression Light Therapy, Teva C-Suite Shuffle, Children’s Health Insurance

Hello, readers! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. This is Sy.

The winter solstice, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, is less than a month away. And with cold, darkened days comes the phenomenon of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually affects people in the late fall and early winter. To treat this kind of seasonal depression, thought to be linked with a relative lack of light, some patients with SAD take to “light therapy” wherein they’re exposed to bright, artificial light from a screen—and new research suggests it may also be effective in treating another kind of depression, the type that’s associated with bipolar disorder.

People suffering from bipolar disorder (as nearly 6 million U.S. adults do) typically have periods of manic behavior followed by depressive bouts when they feel sad, lonely, helpless, or fatigued. These manic and depressive states can last days, weeks, or months and make even everyday activities difficult to perform.

One of the theories supporting light therapy to treat seasonal depression is that the condition is linked in some way with a lack of sunlight which causes low levels of serotonin production in the skin. To counteract this effect, patients sit in front of a bright, white light emitted from a screen (taking Vitamin D or prescribed antidepressants can also help the process, according to the National Institute of Mental Health).

In the (very early) study of light therapy’s effect on people with depression related to bipolar disorder, Northwestern University researchers had 46 patients with moderate bipolar depression undergo either light therapy or a placebo process with a red LED light. The results, while preliminary, were striking: 68% of patients treated with white light therapy reported a remission in depression symptoms compared with just 22% of the patients exposed to LED light. The participants sat about a foot away from the light box (without necessarily looking right at it) for 15 minutes per day before gradually working up to hour-long sessions.

The “dosing” process was a bit different from the bright light treatment used in Seasonal Affective Disorder, though—patients received their light therapy in the afternoon rather than the morning, for instance, because of the procedure’s potential to induce a manic state in people with bipolar disorder. And lead study author Dorothy Sit says there’s still much more research needed into the therapy’s promise in this particular kind of depression. For now, though, the study is helping shed light on a non-medication approach to combating mental illness.

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Depression Light Therapy, Teva C-Suite Shuffle, Children’s Health Insurance

Hello, readers! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. This is Sy.

The winter solstice, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, is less than a month away. And with cold, darkened days comes the phenomenon of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually affects people in the late fall and early winter. To treat this kind of seasonal depression, thought to be linked with a relative lack of light, some patients with SAD take to “light therapy” wherein they’re exposed to bright, artificial light from a screen—and new research suggests it may also be effective in treating another kind of depression, the type that’s associated with bipolar disorder.

People suffering from bipolar disorder (as nearly 6 million U.S. adults do) typically have periods of manic behavior followed by depressive bouts when they feel sad, lonely, helpless, or fatigued. These manic and depressive states can last days, weeks, or months and make even everyday activities difficult to perform.

One of the theories supporting light therapy to treat seasonal depression is that the condition is linked in some way with a lack of sunlight which causes low levels of serotonin production in the skin. To counteract this effect, patients sit in front of a bright, white light emitted from a screen (taking Vitamin D or prescribed antidepressants can also help the process, according to the National Institute of Mental Health).

In the (very early) study of light therapy’s effect on people with depression related to bipolar disorder, Northwestern University researchers had 46 patients with moderate bipolar depression undergo either light therapy or a placebo process with a red LED light. The results, while preliminary, were striking: 68% of patients treated with white light therapy reported a remission in depression symptoms compared with just 22% of the patients exposed to LED light. The participants sat about a foot away from the light box (without necessarily looking right at it) for 15 minutes per day before gradually working up to hour-long sessions.

The “dosing” process was a bit different from the bright light treatment used in Seasonal Affective Disorder, though—patients received their light therapy in the afternoon rather than the morning, for instance, because of the procedure’s potential to induce a manic state in people with bipolar disorder. And lead study author Dorothy Sit says there’s still much more research needed into the therapy’s promise in this particular kind of depression. For now, though, the study is helping shed light on a non-medication approach to combating mental illness.

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Depression Light Therapy, Teva C-Suite Shuffle, Children’s Health Insurance

Hello, readers! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. This is Sy.

The winter solstice, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, is less than a month away. And with cold, darkened days comes the phenomenon of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually affects people in the late fall and early winter. To treat this kind of seasonal depression, thought to be linked with a relative lack of light, some patients with SAD take to “light therapy” wherein they’re exposed to bright, artificial light from a screen—and new research suggests it may also be effective in treating another kind of depression, the type that’s associated with bipolar disorder.

People suffering from bipolar disorder (as nearly 6 million U.S. adults do) typically have periods of manic behavior followed by depressive bouts when they feel sad, lonely, helpless, or fatigued. These manic and depressive states can last days, weeks, or months and make even everyday activities difficult to perform.

One of the theories supporting light therapy to treat seasonal depression is that the condition is linked in some way with a lack of sunlight which causes low levels of serotonin production in the skin. To counteract this effect, patients sit in front of a bright, white light emitted from a screen (taking Vitamin D or prescribed antidepressants can also help the process, according to the National Institute of Mental Health).

In the (very early) study of light therapy’s effect on people with depression related to bipolar disorder, Northwestern University researchers had 46 patients with moderate bipolar depression undergo either light therapy or a placebo process with a red LED light. The results, while preliminary, were striking: 68% of patients treated with white light therapy reported a remission in depression symptoms compared with just 22% of the patients exposed to LED light. The participants sat about a foot away from the light box (without necessarily looking right at it) for 15 minutes per day before gradually working up to hour-long sessions.

The “dosing” process was a bit different from the bright light treatment used in Seasonal Affective Disorder, though—patients received their light therapy in the afternoon rather than the morning, for instance, because of the procedure’s potential to induce a manic state in people with bipolar disorder. And lead study author Dorothy Sit says there’s still much more research needed into the therapy’s promise in this particular kind of depression. For now, though, the study is helping shed light on a non-medication approach to combating mental illness.

Read on for the day’s news.

Brainstorm Health: Canned Cranberry, Takeda Depression App, Economic Cost of Opioid Crisis

Thanksgiving dinner hosts around this great nation will have one command this year to their guests: “No politics…please.” They will hope and implore that the conversation turns to holiday plans and travel, to new babies and weddings in the extended family, school musicals, college and career ambitions, and that “cooked to perfection” turkey, for heaven’s sake—not the tax bill or tweet du jour.

I get it. And I’m damn sorry—because I have to inject a note of dissension into the holiday meal. I want to speak truth to power today and share with you what has been grating on me for years: On the grand holiday table, so-called “real” cranberry sauce is forcefully, and recklessly, displacing the canned cranberry sauce that I love. The crimson jelly roll that many of us grew up with—that jiggly, wiggly mold of tartness—is being uprooted from its rightful place on the Thanksgiving table. And in its stead, on that china-closet serving dish, is something unholy and natural, an interloper, a beguiler: something with pungent berries in it.

The move is part of the sweeping trend that is shaking the center aisles of the supermarket, as my esteemed colleague Beth Kowitt has written about so thoughtfully in the pages of Fortune: a migration away from processed foods to those that are simpler and less removed from nature. (See, for example, her magisterial 2015 cover story, “The War on Big Food.”) But the systemic deracination of the canned red barrel by the homemade berry concoction is a bridge too far.

Yes, I write about human health in this column. And yes, the shimmery, glimmery cranberry sauce I crave each November for precisely two meals a year—Thanksgiving dinner and the ritual post-Thanksgiving 10 p.m. white bread-turkey-cranberry sandwich—is composed of things that are almost surely antithetical to human health: Two of the four ingredients on most of the cans I’ve seen are high-fructose corn syrup and (plain old standard) corn syrup. But there’s an argument to be made that one amazing late-night sandwich is worth a little modest gut pollution. It’s a bonding experience for family, after all—and one likely to involve not a scintilla of political discussion. (Unless someone starts trash-talking mayo again….)

And please, dear Thanksgiving hosts, don’t sub in the organic jellied sauce for the authentic fake one. In our Fortune taste test, the verdict was unanimous that the “wholesome” organic version was unpalatable. One Fortune tester suggested it was a cross between apple sauce and cat food.

The hands-down winner of our informal office sampling—OceanSpray Jellied Cranberry Sauce (with 24 grams of sugar per serving)—went down easy, like a slippery jam, potent with berry flavor and a whiff of history. As one tester put it: “That’s the taste I grew up with, that I’ve had every Thanksgiving since I was five years old.”

And that, my friends, is the point.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We’ll be back here on Monday.




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