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Health News Roundup: Solid Biosciences gene therapy trial on hold; plant-based Whoppers and more


Health News Roundup: Solid Biosciences gene therapy trial on hold; plant-based Whoppers and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Solid Biosciences gene therapy trial put on hold for second time, shares slump

Solid Biosciences Inc said on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had put on hold a trial testing its gene therapy for a muscle-wasting disorder, the second halt by the health regulator, sending its shares plunging 66%. One of the six patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy dosed with the company's drug, SGT-001, experienced a serious side effect that was deemed related to the therapy, the company said.

Granting dying patients' wishes may help families feel better about end-of-life ICU care

Families of dying patients may feel better about end-of-life care in the ICU if they are granted simple wishes, like letting the patient taste a favorite meal or use a blanket from home, a small study suggests. Researchers interviewed families and caregivers of 730 terminally ill patients about their experiences with the 3 Wishes Project (3WP), a program designed to create a meaningful patient- and family-centered memories as part of compassionate end-of-life care.

Burger King picks Unilever to make plant-based Whoppers in Europe

Burger King on Monday rolled out a meat-free version of its Whopper burger in 25 European countries, using patties made by Unilever Plc to strengthen its foothold in the exploding market for plant-based food served in restaurant chains. Heightened concerns about health and the environmental impact of industrial animal farming are pushing plant-based proteins into restaurant menus and chilled meat aisles in stores. Companies from Beyond Meat Inc to Impossible Foods Inc are competing fiercely for deals with fast-food makers, as plant-based mania spreads across Europe and the United States.

Japan Tobacco halves price of reduced-risk cigarette starter kit

Japan Tobacco is halving the price of starter kits for its Ploom S reduced-risk cigarettes, as it struggles to compete against rival Philip Morris International. Japan is the world's biggest market for "heat not burn" products, which emit less smoke than conventional cigarettes, as regular e-cigarettes with liquid nicotine are banned.

Hospital sticker prices can rise faster than inflation

U.S. hospitals' sticker prices for two common sources of surprise medical bills have climbed far faster than economic inflation, a new study suggests. Researchers focused on so-called chargemaster rates, or sticker prices, for two services that are often the source of surprise medical bills for patients - emergency medicine and anesthesiology. Patients with insurance usually pay only a small fraction of chargemaster rates, but people who lack insurance or receive care from out-of-network physicians may be billed at these higher rates.

Pneumonia kills a child every 39 seconds, health agencies say

Pneumonia killed more than 800,000 babies and young children last year - or one child every 39 seconds - despite being curable and mostly preventable, global health agencies said on Tuesday. In a report on what they described as a "forgotten epidemic", the United Nations children's fund UNICEF, the international charity Save The Children and four other health agencies urged governments to step up investment in vaccines to prevent the disease and in health services and medicines to treat it.

Google signs healthcare data and cloud computing deal with Ascension

Alphabet Inc's Google has signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare to date, in a deal giving it access to datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Google and Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across the United States, said the healthcare provider would move some data and analytics tools in its facilities to Google's servers.

AstraZeneca succeeds in treating lupus in late-stage study

AstraZeneca Plc said on Monday its experimental treatment significantly reduced disease activity in patients with autoimmune disorder lupus, in a late-stage study. The results pit the British drugmaker's anifrolumab against rival GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Benlysta - the only new drug approved for lupus in the last 60 years.

Merck wins European approval for first-ever Ebola vaccine

U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc on Monday received approval from the European Commission to market its Ebola vaccine, less than a month after a European medicines panel backed the first-ever vaccine against the deadly virus. The vaccine, Ervebo, is approved for individuals aged 18 years and older and has already been used under emergency guidelines to try to protect against the spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Trump to meet with vaping industry as he mulls tighter regulation

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he will be meeting with vaping industry representatives as his administration considers tightening e-cigarette regulations amid a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related injuries and deaths. "Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma. Children's health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!" he wrote on Twitter.

(With inputs from agencies.)


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