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Top 5 Reads of the Week

In Clams and Other Similar Species, Cancer May Be Contagious: Though researchers say contagious cancer among humans is still unlikely, the concept isn’t quite as rare in bivalves, saltwater creatures with two shells that join together. A study released Wednesday by molecular biologist Stephen Goff says that the number of creatures dying from communicable cancers is actually double what researchers thought. Part of the study cites a species of clams that is dying from bivalve leukemia near the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “I guess that many, many of the cancers that are known will turn out to be of this type,” Goff said. “How many other marine species might turn out to suffer from this, we don’t really know.” (The Washington Post)

A Treatment That Would Edit Genes to Fight Cancer Passes an Initial Safety Review: CRISPR, a proposed tool that could engineer genes to destroy cancerous cells in a person’s body, has been approved by the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The approval is the first step toward using the technique as a means of editing a person’s T cells to treat cancer. Unlike other gene editing techniques, CRISPR would be able to modify three different genes at once. (American Association for the Advancement of Science)

Starting This Fall, Men Can Test Their Sperm From Home: Gone are the days when men need a doctor to test the fertility of their sperm. Starting this fall, with a new do-it-yourself device called the Trak, men can test their sperm cell levels from the comfort of their homes.  1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility worldwide, and approximately 40 percent of infertility cases are due to issues with male fertility. Trak isn’t the first over-the-counter sperm counter on the market, but its creators hope that its release will make home testing more accessible for couples struggling with infertility. (STAT)

A Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Upholds Patent Evaluation Systems: On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed challenge to the system currently in place for identifying bad patents without excessive time or money spent. Though the system helps the tech industry avoid unnecessary patent lawsuits, opponents argue the current system is abused by those attempting to attack drug patents. Tech companies, such as Apple and Google, are among those promoting “broader patent reform.” (Fortune)

A Boston Hospital Treats A Man After A Run-In With “Stem Cell Tourism” Causes A Mass to Grow On His Spine: After Jim Gass had a stroke in 2009, his left arm was “useless,” and his left leg was weak. In an expensive attempt to recover from the stroke, he received stem cell therapy at a clinic in Mexico, referred to by many as “stem cell tourism.” The treatment ultimately caused a mass to grow on the man’s lower spinal column. Dr. John Chi, the director of Neurosurgical Spine Cancer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, operated on the man in an effort to remove it, and he said it was nothing like he had ever seen before. (The New York Times)

Felicia Gans

Felicia Gans

    Felicia Gans is an editorial intern at MedTech Boston. She will be a senior this fall at Boston University, where she is studying journalism, political science, and computer science. When she's not working, Felicia loves drinking coffee, jamming out to Broadway music, and reading the news.

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