Volume V, Issue 49

Dec. 3, 2018
The scientist, the twins and the experiment that geneticists say went too far  
Helen Regan, Rebecca Wright and Alexandra Field report for CNN on Dec. 1, 2018:  
Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced to the world that he successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to modify the DNA of two embryos before birth, essentially creating the world's first genetically modified humans... Editing the DNA of human embryos that go on to deliver has never been done before. And with good reason, scientists say. The technology is still in its infancy and could lead to a multitude of unknown genetic complications later in life. Scientists have reached an understanding that implanting such an embryo is a boundary that shouldn't be crossed until the risks are reduced or eliminated.

"No one expected that someone would do this experiment on a human embryo," Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of the gene-editing technique CRISPR and member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard told CNN. "The scientific community didn't actually know anything about what was going on."
U.S. life expectancy declines again, a dismal trend not seen since World War I
Lenny Bernstein reports for the Washington Post on 11.29.18:
Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises. The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918...
"I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States," said Joshua M. Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Life expectancy is improving in many places in the world. It shouldn't be declining in the United States."
CVS closes $69B acquisition of Aetna in a 'transformative moment' for the industry 
Eli Richman reports for Fierce Healthcare on 11.28.18:

Aetna is now officially part of CVS Health. The two companies closed the $69 billion deal on Wednesday, finishing off a vertical merger that makes one of the largest healthcare giants even larger. Aetna sold for $212 per share. The total value of the transaction, including assuming Aetna's debt, was $78 billion. The Department of Justice signed off on the merger back in October, but the deal was awaiting approval from several states-notably California, New York and New Jersey.

According to Mr. Richman:

The merger is sure to change the dynamics of the industry. Both companies have said the deal will generate more than $750 million in savings in the first two years by reducing medical costs, closing gaps of care, optimizing sites of care and providing localized services for patients with high-cost chronic conditions.
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