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. 

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President Trump called the opioid crisis in the United States a national emergency last week, and Texas has joined a coalition of states to investigate the role pharmaceutical companies have played in creating and prolonging the epidemic.

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Paramedics can respond to emergencies in minutes. But, an injured person could possibly bleed to death in less time. A government program called Stop the Bleed aims to train bystanders to help in the interim.

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You don't hear about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, too often.

Only about one in 100,000 people contract ALS. That ratio included actor and playwright Sam Shepard, who died from the disease at age 73 late last month. 

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Nearly half a million plant specimens that are native to Louisiana will soon take up residence at Fort Worth’s Botanical Research Institute of Texas – also known as BRIT.

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Time spent outside in the heat is often uncomfortable, but as Texas marks more triple-digit days, it can be dangerous, leading to heatstroke and heat exhaustion if you're not careful.

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A new gene-editing technique developed in North Texas shows promise in stunting Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe genetic disorder that affects about one in every 5,000 boys.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Cancer patients face special challenges in addition to the disease — like complications from chemotherapy and weakened immune systems.

Hospitals are recognizing that cancer patients need special emergency care, too.

Surgeons have several options when it comes to rebuilding breasts after surgery related to breast cancer. But for replacing nipples, women have fewer choices.

A startup biotechnology company in San Antonio is working to develop a better way to rebuild nipples after cancer surgery. Two young scientists saw a niche and decided to try and fill it.

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Spuds, chips or fries, we consume a lot of potatoes in a lot of ways. Some are healthy and some not. It all depends on how you prepare them. But, there are plenty of health benefits in the vegetable itself.

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel ushered in a new era for cancer treatment last week. The panel unanimously recommended the approval of the first treatment to fight acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common blood cancer in children – with a patient’s own cells.

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Those of you wanting to shed some weight this summer might do well to be more mindful of the clock. A recent study suggests when you eat may be as important as what you eat.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have built a small, inexpensive sensor they say can tip you off if you're at risk for Type 2 diabetes — the world's leading cause of amputations, blindness and kidney failure.

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This week, Republicans in Congress will try to rally votes behind a bill that proposes major changes to the way Americans get health care and how much they pay. 

Use this Q&A to explore how the bills would affect you.

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New research by the Environmental Defense Fund using federal data found detectable levels of lead in 20 percent of baby food samples.

While the Food and Drug Administration has determined safe levels of lead that can be ingested, a North Texas toxicologist explains that repeated exposure to small amounts of lead is the greater concern when it comes to kids' health and development.

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Birds and babies may seem like very different creatures, but a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center has uncovered parallels in how both species master language.

Dr. Todd Roberts, who's spearheading the research, explains how a network of neurons in the brains of zebra finches could expand our understanding of how people learn speech.

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The rate of liver cancer has been increasing in the U.S. — 38 percent between 2003 and 2012.

Texas has the highest incidence in the country of the most common form of liver cancer. The reason likely stems from a cluster of risk factors for the disease.

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A vote on the Senate's health care bill has been delayed until after the July 4 recess. If the bill is passed, it will roll back programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and the Congressional Budget Office predicts 22 million more people will be uninsured by 2026.

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A new study has found longer survival rates for women with Stage 4 breast cancer, the most severe form. 

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

At the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, researchers are doing something unusual: They’re making people fall down. It’s all happening at the Human Movement Performance Lab, where they’re mapping how people with Parkinson’s disease and other mobility issues react to jolts and falls.

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Many of you travelers will reach your summer vacation spot by plane, and for some, that will mean jet lag. And the more time zones you cross, the worse your symptoms can be.

However, there are possible ways to avoid the downsides of a long flight.

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Researchers in North Texas have identified more than 100 genes linked to memory in the human brain. 

Dr. Genevieve Konopka of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas talks about her team's research — and how it could help develop new therapies for patients who have epilepsy or memory disorders. 

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Family members usually have to wait outside when doctors treat someone for a serious injury. But that’s changing with trauma care for children. A new study finds it can be beneficial for the family to be inside the emergency room.  

Courtesy of The Family Place

Domestic violence victims are often women, but not only women. In Texas, one in three men report facing intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

 

This month the Dallas nonprofit The Family Place opened one of the country’s first shelters exclusively for battered men and their families.

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have been looking into the reasons why patients return to hospitals within 30 days.

Results in 2016 focused on patients discharged with unstable vital signs. The latest study of six North Texas hospitals found a high rate of hospital-acquired anemia or a loss of red blood cells.  

To understand why teen pregnancy rates are so high in Texas, meet Jessica Chester. When Chester was in high school in Garland, she decided to attend the University of Texas at Dallas. She wanted to become a doctor.

"I was top of the class," she says. "I had a GPA of 4.5, a full-tuition scholarship to UTD. I was not the stereotypical girl someone would look at and say, 'Oh, she's going to get pregnant and drop out of school.' "

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For patients visiting emergency rooms in Texas, surprise medical bills are common. In 2009, the Texas Legislature developed a mediation system for these hefty bills, but it was limited.

 

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a new law aimed at improving the system and expanding consumer protection.

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Even though people sleep less as they age, it doesn’t mean they need less sleep. A geriatrics specialist talks about factors that can impair sleep for seniors and steps they can take to get some needed rest.

Lauren Silverman / KERA

Maybe you’ve heard of sponsors or recovery coaches to help with drug and alcohol addiction. How about for mental health? In the last decade, peer support for people with serious mental illness has hit mainstream.

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Five years ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine blood tests to measure your level of prostate-specific antigens – the PSA test. The task force now recommends men 55 to 69 should talk with their doctor about whether to have the test. 

Jessica Chester and her children, from left, Ivory, Kameron and Skylar.
Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Across the U.S., the number of teenagers having babies has hit a record low — it's down to about one out of every 45 young women. That trend hasn't extended to certain parts of Texas, where it’s still nearly twice the national average.

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