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. 

Here's Why Texas Students Wait Weeks For Basic Mental Health Services

Aug 9, 2016
University of Houston

By the fall of her sophomore year at the University of Houston, Mariellee Aurelio had already thought of several ways to kill herself.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There are dozens of types of mosquitoes in North Texas -- more than 50, in fact. A mosquito hunter who works with the city of Denton helps explain the differences between the bugs.

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A biopsy involves removing tissue to find out if you have a disease or the extent of it. The FDA recently approved a less-invasive “liquid” biopsy for a certain form of lung cancer. But the possibilities are far greater.  

Children’s Health

For decades, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has partnered with academic institutions, working within their own system to come up with ways to care for sick patients. Now, the model is shifting. They’re investing in tech startups to care for healthy kids. 

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It’s estimated more than 24 million Americans, age 40 and older, have cataracts. This painless clouding of the lens of the eye can cause serious problems.  But cataracts can be easily treated, especially if you catch certain symptoms early. 

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A recently-published study shows some weight loss medications actually do help, but they’re not cures. An expert in non-surgical weight loss at UT Southwestern Medical Center says users of the drugs need to be clear about what they’re taking.

National Institutes of Health / Kuhn and Rossmann research groups, Purdue University

The news about the Zika virus has accelerated this week. A newborn in the Houston area tested positive for Zika-related microcephaly. Doctors are also trying to figure out how an elderly Utah man was infected without transmission through sex or mosquito bites. These developments come as a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center finds that Zika can infect brain cells and hide itself from the immune system.

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Sales of meat substitutes are soaring because of concerns about personal health and the environment. But not all products are as healthy as advertised. Reading the nutrition label is important. 

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New research shows that children who often go hungry are twice as likely to have impulsive, violent behavior while growing up -- and later in life. Alex Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas helped author the study, which is among the first to link childhood hunger with violence. 

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Fever, sneezing, a rash are obvious signals something may be physically wrong. But the body also sends “silent” signs you may ignore - signs of something far more serious. Here are six of them, according to Dr. Sentayehu Kassa, lead staff physician at Parkland Hospital's Vickery Health Center. 

SMU.edu/Illustration by Karen Carr

CT scans aren’t just for people -- they can also be used on dinosaurs.

An Alzheimer's Researcher On How To Curb The Disease

Jun 28, 2016
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Anyone who makes it into old age will have a brain that shows some signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Some people suffer symptoms, though, while others don’t. Today on Think, Lauren Silverman spoke with David Bennett, director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, about new research into how we can keep our minds sharp and avoid dementia.

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Sweets laced with marijuana. Police are seeing more cases of pot-laced cookies and candies made and sold in states where recreational use of marijuana is allowed, and then imported into states like Texas where marijuana remains illegal. Moreover, they look like the kind of regular treats kids would consume.

In Cardiology, It's Still A Man's World

Jun 24, 2016
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Half of all medical students in the U.S. are women. But there’s one specialty they rarely go into: cardiology. Yesterday on Think, told Lauren Silverman talked with a panel of women heart doctors about why there are so few female cardiologist, how that affects patient care and what can be done to even out the numbers.

STEPHANIE KUO

In 2004, Steve Papania was patrolling Kirkuk, Iraq, as a rifleman in the U.S. Army. He’d enlisted immediately after 9/11.

Anti-Overdose Drug Becoming Easily Available In Texas

Jun 21, 2016
The Texas Tribune

Just before his 25th birthday, Miles McEntee died of a heroin overdose last June in the Austin apartment he shared with his younger sister. Kelly McEntee wonders if her son might still be alive if he or his sister, Taylor, had a dose of naloxone in the medicine cabinet.

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A study published in 2015 found more than half of American adults had diabetes or pre-diabetes in 2012. Managing the disease usually involves medication, especially insulin. But exercise can also be effective - even preventive at times. 

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Operating on the wrong patient or on the wrong limb, or giving the wrong medication – those are examples of medical errors. And those errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.  

www.webmd.com

The Food and Drug Administration has approved changes to the nutrition facts label on packaged and processed food, beginning with larger, bolder type to make it easier to read. What  you will and won’t find on the label has also changed.

Somewhere in the forests of Northeast Texas there is a tree, or maybe group of trees, where an invasive species is breeding.  It’s a beetle called the emerald ash borer (EAB), and it’s wiped out forests of ash trees since it arrived in the U.S. from Asia a few decades ago. If unchecked, it has the potential to decimate trees in Texas, but there’s a plan to fight the ash borer.

And, it sounds almost like something from a horror movie. 


Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you thought meth labs disappeared after the final season of “Breaking Bad,” you’d be in for a surprise. Fewer people are illegally cooking drugs in Texas, but it’s still happening. A new tool tracks down illegal chemicals — in the air.

Flickr.com

When they can’t get opioid painkillers, a growing number of addicts turn to anti-diarrhea medication like Imodium for a cheap high,  but with serious consequences. Some call it "the poor man's methadone."

In Texas, State Offers Little Help With Zika Prevention

Jun 3, 2016
Texas Tribune

More rain is coming, and so are more mosquitoes.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

Childhood obesity rates may be improving in some cities, but the stats are still staggering. According to one recent survey, a third of American children are overweight. One elementary school in Fort Worth has made wellness a priority, and it’s a strategy that’s starting to pay off.

UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern Medical Center just opened a $17 million microscope center – not the kind we used in science class, but super-powered microscopes. Michael Rosen with UT Southwestern talks about what these microscopes will find.

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Epilepsy affects about three million people in the U.S. alone. But while people associate seizures with the disorder, a lot of myths persist about epilepsy. 

WIKIPEDIA

There’s a class every month at the downtown Dallas Public Library that teaches people the ins and outs of bike-riding in North Texas. It’s called Bike Commuting 101, and it covers everything from bike gear and safety to state biking laws. This week, the cyclists prepared for Bike to Work Day on Friday. 

Christopher Connelly/KERA

Four years ago Joe Hernandez was told he had cataracts and his vision would get worse. It did.

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Enlarged prostate is a problem common to men over 50. Doctors usually recommend medication or various forms of surgery to address the problem. However,  the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 approved a quicker, less invasive alternative treatment using steam.

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Scientists are thinking up new ways to prevent Zika and west Nile Virus in Texas. Still, some say the older ideas might be better.

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