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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

This Week in PLOS Medicine: Translational Research Standards, New Cancer Risk Model, Drug Costs & BP Outcomes, & TB

This week PLOS Medicine publishes the following new articles:

Image Credit: snre, Flickr
Image Credit: snre, Flickr

The promise of translational medicine attracts increased funding, yet challenges in translating animal research to humans include the poor methodological quality of some animal experiments, insufficient reporting of animal research, and publication bias. In their July editorial, the PLOS Medicine Editors discuss the potential of translational medicine to improve global health and how adherence to reporting standards and guidelines for translational research will lead to better quality studies in this field. PLOS Medicine now requires authors to submit the recent ARRIVE checklist with all manuscripts using animal models.

Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe new statistical models to calculate the probabilities (absolute risks) for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-hispanic women over 50 years.  Using easily obtainable information on known risk factors for these cancers, these new models could inform clinical decision-making. In an accompanying Perspective, Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers discuss the importance of ensuring prediction models lead to better clinical decision-making.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a global public health crisis affecting one billion people worldwide, leading to 7.5 million deaths. Will Maimaris and colleagues systematically review the evidence that expanding health insurance coverage and reducing drug co-payments (costs that are paid by patients) in countries without universal free healthcare may improve the treatment and control of high blood pressure. The authors report a lack of studies in low-and middle-income countries, which bear most of the global burden of hypertension, and also that there is an urgent need for studies that evaluate how aspects of health care systems other than financing and interactions between health care system arrangements affect hypertension outcomes.

Kwonjune Seung and Stephen Linton from the non-governmental organization (NGO) EugeneBell discuss the worryingly high levels of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) they have observed in North Korea’s tuberculosis sanatoria. MDR TB patients will continue to be a source of transmission to families, neighbors, health providers, and other patients, until the international community, including donors, NGOs, and governments, aid in a rapid scale-up of MDR TB treatment in North Korea. The article is provided with a Korean translation.


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