Health & Science

Insurers, hospitals and health advocates are waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown to deal the drug lobby a rare defeat, by signing legislation that would force pharmaceutical companies to justify big price hikes on drugs in California.

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Today, three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a new way to image biological molecules. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce has more on the winners.

The Living Wounded

Oct 4, 2017

In the days to come, the victims whose lives were taken in the Las Vegas shooting massacre will be honored and remembered. But many who survived the tragedy with serious injuries are just coming to terms with difficult days ahead.

Kerri De Nies received the news this spring from her son's pediatrician: Her chubby-cheeked toddler has a rare brain disorder.

She'd never heard of the disease — adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD — but soon felt devastated and overwhelmed.

"I probably read everything you could possibly read online — every single website," De Nies says as she cradles her son, Gregory Mac Phee. "It's definitely hard to think about what could potentially happen. You think about the worst-case scenario."

Dr. Christopher Fisher was working at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center just off the Las Vegas strip on Sunday evening when the patients starting arriving.

"It did look a bit like a war zone, can't say that it didn't," he remembers. "Frantic families, blood in the hallways."

People came in so grievously injured and so many at a time that Fisher, who is the medical head of trauma services for the hospital, and his colleagues used markers, writing directly on patients, to do triage.

This past weekend, basketball players from island nations across the Indian Ocean converged in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, to face off in the regional championships. But no one was to cheer on the teams. The bleachers were empty — because of the plague.

Updated at 2:57 p.m. ET

The question remains "open" as to whether any Americans colluded with the Russian influencemongers who interfered with the 2016 presidential election, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday.

Would Aliens Look Like Us?

Oct 4, 2017

The universe is teeming with earth-like planets.

In February, three were discovered circling a star, Trappist-1, 40 light years away. Last November, one even closer yet was found — four light years away — orbiting our next-door neighbor, Proxima Centauri. By one estimate, there are as many as 40 billion planets similar to Earth just in our Milky Way galaxy.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to researchers Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for their work that developed cryo-electron microscopy, which the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says "both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules."

In a tiny hamlet in Tanzania, children who have never been to school, and can't recognize a single letter in any language, are about to start learning basic math and reading. They'll do this with the help of a cutting-edge, artificially intelligent "tutor" who can hear what they are saying in Swahili and respond meaningfully.

In the slums of Bogota, Colombia, children play with special board games, dominoes and dice games that can teach them math and reading in a matter of months. Youth volunteers in the community help bring the games to younger children.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is Nobel Prize week. And so far, Nobels have been handed out in physics and medicine. Today it's chemistry.

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Valerie Green is still waiting to be cured.

The Delaware resident was diagnosed with hepatitis C more than two years ago, but she doesn't qualify yet for the Medicaid program's criteria for treatment with a new class of highly effective but pricey drugs.

The recent approval of a less expensive drug that generally cures hepatitis C in just eight weeks may make it easier for more insurers and correctional facilities to expand treatment.

When corporate chief executives appear before Congress, they come braced for battle, but hope for gentle treatment.

Tender handling is not what they got on Tuesday. Not from Republicans. Not from Democrats.

Not when they were representing Wells Fargo and Equifax — two huge companies that recently have harmed Americans.

"At best, you were incompetent. At worst, you were complicit. And either way you should be fired," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan.

In the hours just after the massacre in Las Vegas, some fake news started showing up on Google and Facebook. A man was falsely accused of being the shooter. His name bubbled up on Facebook emergency sites and when you searched his name on Google, links of sites connecting him with the shooting topped the first page.

It appears to be another case of automation working so fast that humans can't keep pace. Unfortunately, these powerful tech companies continue to be a main destination for news and it's not clear how they can solve the problem.

Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's.

A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported Tuesday in the online journal eLife.

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