The High Five
9:05 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Suburban Dallas Woman Inspires Cholesterol Drug Race

Five stories that have North Texas talking: key to preventing heart attacks could be locked inside a Dallas area woman, Perry signs off on bill to give nurse practitioners more medical might, national historic park on moon may be tough to visit and more.

When we hear about genetic mutations, our mind usually jumps to bad. Genetic mutations pass on things like Huntington’s chorea or increased breast cancer risk. But a woman from a Dallas suburb, a 32 year-old aerobics instructor and mother of two, has a genetic mutation that's got major drug companies clicking their heels with glee.

Her cholesterol is shockingly low. When tested, her low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which is the form that promotes heart disease, was 14. Healthy adults’ normal levels tend to be over 100. The reason is a rare genetic mutation inherited from both her mother and father. This has only been seen one other time in a Zimbabwean woman.

According to the New York Times, these two women have set off a frenzied race among three pharmaceutical companies: Amgen, Pfizer and Sanofi. All hope to test and win approval for a drug that apes the effects of the mutation, drives LDL levels to new lows and, in essence, prevents heart attacks. Clinical trials are underway and the three drug companies say their results have been very promising.

  • Perry Signs Off On More Medical Authority For NP’s: To help combat the primary care physician shortage, Governor Rick Perry has signed a bill that will give nurse practitioners more autonomy and allow them to do more for patients. KUHF reports practitioners will still work with a doctor, but will be given more authority for things like writing prescriptions and treating colds and infections. The new law allows a doctor to supervise up to seven practitioners at a time, up from four. KERA’s Lauren Silverman spoke to the president of the Texas Nurse Practitioner’s Association last month. Hear what she has to say about the legislation, and why she thinks it needs to go even further.
  • New citizen Phong Nguyen, her niece Lily and young daughter Jackie before the ceremony at the Bush Presidential Center.
    New citizen Phong Nguyen, her niece Lily and young daughter Jackie before the ceremony at the Bush Presidential Center.
    Credit BJ Austin / Flickr

    Immigration In The Spotlight At Bush Center: Former President George W. Bush delivered the keynote address this morning as 20 immigrants from 12 different countries were sworn in as new US citizens at the Bush Center. Following the ceremony, a Bush Institute panel discussion on the economic impact of immigrants and immigration reform kicks off. Here’s the full schedule of events as well as panel topics. While it isn’t open to the public, you can watch live here. KERA’s BJ Austin is at the Bush Center, and will have more this afternoon on All Thing’s Considered.

  • Will Park Admission Be Sky-High?: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) wants to ensure the protection of moon landing artifacts, and to do so, she’s proposing a national, historic park… on the moon. While the word "park" is more legal term, less vacation destination in this sense, Johnson says protecting and preserving such a hallowed place is of the utmost importance. According to the Dallas Morning News, no ground on the moon would be included. But the bill requires the nomination of Neil Armstrong’s first footprints on the moon a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which offers protection to threatened sites.
  • Big Screen Dreams: An Austin-based startup doesn’t care if you’re a seasoned Hollywood director or an idiot with a camcorder, if you’ve got a movie to show, and you can fill the seats on viewing night, they’ll set you up on the big screen. Tugg schedules film screenings across the country, all the filmmaker is responsible for is providing the flick and selling the tickets. If you plug a zip code into Tugg’s online search box, you’ll see what’s playing when and whether or not the ticket quota has been met. For example, two movie screenings planned for Dallas are short right now. [KUT]
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