Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Molly Evans / KERA News

Robots are assuming more and more roles in our daily lives. They can ask us about our day, play songs for us and, as one study from the University of Texas Arlington shows, can perform Shakespeare with us, too. 

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A new FDA-approved cell therapy holds promise for treating a form of blood cancer called multiple meyeloma. UT Southwestern Medical Center will soon begin clinical trials of CAR-T therapy to find out if it can succeed where older treatments have failed.

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Herbs and spices definitely enhance the flavor of food, but some believe, on their own, they can do the same for your health. A clinical dietitian at Parkland Hospital says there’s some truth to that, but there are limits.

People who experience frequent migraines may soon have access to a new class of drugs.

In a pair of large studies, two drugs that tweak brain circuits involved in migraine each showed they could reduce the frequency of attacks without causing side effects, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Baylor University Medical Center / Facebook

Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas announced it has delivered the first baby born in the United States to a mother who received a uterus transplant.

States Sound Warning That Kids' Health Insurance Is At Risk

Nov 30, 2017

This week, Colorado became the first state to notify families that children who receive health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program are in danger of losing their coverage.

Texas Falling Behind In HPV Vaccinations, Study Says

Nov 29, 2017
Courtesy University of Texas System Office of Health Affairs

Texans are falling behind the rest of the country in getting vaccinated against the most common sexually transmitted infection — making them more vulnerable to several types of cancer, a new study says.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Trying to keep up with medical terminology and acronyms during a doctor’s visit can be tricky for anyone. Imagine if you and your doctor didn’t speak the same language. 

Angelia Soloman watched out the window of her ranch house in northeast Houston as the floodwaters rose up to the windowsills.

She huddled inside with her three adopted children (ages 12 to 15), a nephew and her 68-year-old mother. "They were looking and crying, like, 'We're gonna lose everything,' " said Soloman. "And I'm like, 'No, it gonna be OK.' "

When the water began rushing under the front door, filling up the house like a bathtub, Soloman led her family outside, and plunged into a river of water up to her chest.

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An estimated 660,000 Texans aren’t aware they have diabetes, and far more don’t know just how at risk they are for the disease. 

Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be Type 2 diabetes. Your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to completely normalize your blood sugars.

The condition has no symptoms.

Photo courtesy of Eric Frey

Medical school students today are trained to diagnose complicated diseases, they’re rarely trained to engineer the solutions themselves. Soon, Texas A&M will start training doctors to also be engineers.

GlaxoSmithKline via Associated Press

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new vaccine for shingles. Zostavax has been the only product on the market for the last decade. Now, Shingrix appears to be more effective against the painful, viral rash.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

When Dallas doctor Don Read enrolled in medical school at the UT Medical Branch at Galveston in 1964, he had to pay more than other students because he wasn’t a Texas resident.

“Back then I paid $500,” he said. “So things have changed a little bit since then.”

They sure have.

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We often think about our diet in terms of what it can do for our heart and our waistline, but the right nutrients also provide the fuel for the brain to operate properly.

Maggy Boyd, a registered dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, explains how to feed your brain.  

Photo courtesy of Oliver Wyman

It’s the second week of open enrollment for health care on the federal marketplace.

While people across North Texas are deciding which plans to sign up for, some of the people who design those very plans are meeting in Dallas. And they’re talking about what health care might look like five or 10 years from now at the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit.

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Another good reason to watch your weight: Experts say obesity has likely contributed to a common, but potentially fatal condition called acute pancreatitis.

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Starting Wednesday, Texans can enroll in health care coverage for 2018 on healthcare.gov through Dec. 15.

Breast Health Center

A new state law this year requires commercial insurers to cover 3D mammograms, a more advanced — and expensive — form of screening for breast cancer than the standard 2D version.

Courtesy of Trinity River Authority

In the last decade, a multibillion-dollar industry has emerged - and much of its products end up in our toilets. We’re talking about the wet wipes industry. 

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While breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death among women, the American Cancer Society recently reported death rates from the disease declined nearly 40 percent between 1989 and 2015.

Open enrollment for health plans through the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 1. But, this year, cutbacks in federal money for outreach efforts for potential enrollees could mean fewer people signing up for health insurance in Texas.

That gap in federal outreach means the work of getting people signed up could fall squarely on local advocates like Vitoria Ortega of Foundation Communities.

The Trump administration has made a number of changes to health policy in the past two weeks, raising questions about how consumers will be affected. Will the new rules for birth control coverage affect access to an intrauterine device? Might an association health plan help bring down costs for workers at small businesses? And if you're healthy, doesn't a short-term health plan that is cheaper than marketplace coverage make sense? Here are some answers to those questions.

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Researchers are launching clinical trials into prevention and treatment of kidney stones — hard deposits of minerals and salts that can block the flow of urine — as more Americans are contracting them and enduring their painful symptoms.

From Texas Standard:

Stephanie Garcia is a high school student. She’s also a 24-year-old inmate at the Lockhart Correctional Facility, a minimum-security women’s prison in Central Texas. Outside, her life was hectic, but here, every day is the same.

In just over four decades, obesity levels in children and teenagers have risen dramatically worldwide, though that rise has been far from uniform. In a new study published online Tuesday, British researchers and the World Health Organization say those levels have plateaued lately in high-income countries, "albeit at high levels," while the rise in obesity rates has only accelerated in regions such as East Asia and Latin America.

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Polycystic kidney disease — or PKD — causes numerous cysts to grow on the kidneys. It's the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. There is no cure, but a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center believes treatments are about 10 years away.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

HIV is no longer considered a death sentence in the United States, and people living with HIV are living longer. That’s largely thanks to antiretroviral drugs, which were first introduced 30 years ago.

As the earliest survivors are growing older, though, doctors are discovering new health challenges related to HIV.

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A recent study found 70 percent of Americans binge-watch TV shows, sitting through an average of five episodes per marathon session. But that trend raises some health concerns.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The number of Texans testing positive for cannabis after a traffic accident has gone up over the last few years. Trouble is, there's no quick, reliable test to determine if they're driving while high.

 

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Identifying a human body isn't easy when you're dealing with decomposed remains or just a few scattered bones. The Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas specializes in these kinds of cases and receives requests for help from all over the nation. 

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