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Genes account for less than 2% of the human genome- and much of what determines health and disease may lie elsewhere.
Trouble with the protein may underlie most kinds of dementia, potentially including Alzheimer's. New drugs could help.
For patients to be effective partners in their own care requires a basic grasp of medical terms that, shockingly, many don't have.
In most cases, antibiotics do the trick. But when they don't, symptoms can be devastating. New research aims to discover why.
Tailoring treatments, patient by patient, can achieve remarkable results. But can we afford to make every disease rare?
The best intentions don't always add up to a fast, effective medical response. A multidisciplinary approach could help.
If God wanted to send a plague to expose the Achilles' heel of American medicine, that plague would be MRSA.
Issues of choice, good science and the benefit of new treatments complicate the question.
"Disabled" doctors? They don't like the term or the implication, and their careers have been anything but limited.
When troubled kids erupt, the traditional view calls for tougher parenting. A new approach substitutes skill building for punishment.
The name — ductal carcinoma in situ — begs the question: how to treat a small breast lesion that has yet to spread.
It's disappointing when seemingly groundbreaking studied can't be repeated. But it's happening a lot.
Using 3-D printers to create skull implants or replacement joints is exciting; running off living organs would be revolutionary.
Telehealth technology takes primary and specialty care to distant patients. But will nagging issues slow its rapid growth?
The success of pediatric cancer therapies has a downside: adults with lingering health problems caused by their treatments.
Infusing colons with donated feces has led to remarkable cures and big questions about what's safe and what's next.
Finally recognized as real and debilitating, post-traumatic stress disorder may now be yielding ground to innovative therapies.
Bringing never-before-seen structures into view, today's microscopy is dispelling cartoon concepts and answering unanticipated questions.
Techniques of "bloodless" surgery, honed for those who refuse transfusions, could help stem what many call an overuse of blood.
Few identical twins suffer identical maladies, leading science to probe the significance of epigenetic changes that make paths diverge.
Can an aging nation transform the places no one wants to be? Innovations show the way, but the cost could mean slow progress.
The air you exhale carries a wealth of clinical data, and scientists are fashioning ever more precise methods for divining its truths.
Microscopic models--half living, half not--may prove more reliable than animals in explaining human disease and testing therapies.
Technetium, a diagnostic workhorse, provides high definition images with minimal radiation. But it's supply could dry up tomorrow.
Disease foundations that use a venture capital model get a stake in the breakthroughs they fund. Not everyone thinks that's a good idea.
Advocates of shared decision making argue that everyone benefits when patients know more and don't just follow doctors' orders.
Light-activated genes, now illuminating brain circuitry in rodents and monkeys, may help solve mysteries of human disease.
The potential to regenerate women's eggs is the latest breakthrough in reproductive research. But there are risks to perturbing nature.
May problems with therapies show up post-FDA approval. Could mining electronic data and online chatter head off trouble?
Issues of privacy and consent are scarcely slowing the race to build enormous, invaluable "biobanks" of human tissue and data.
There's ample proof that physician empathy can benefit doctors as well as patients. Next challenge: teaching medicine's softer side.
Hospitals are bulking up again, using acquisitions to try to become more efficient. But will consolidation improve care, or hurt it?
Research in space, absent gravity's pull, is shedding light on earthbound problems, from osteoporosis to immune deficiencies.
The trend of publishing research on the Web is raising concerns about how medical advances are judged and disseminated.
Not taking medicine as directed exacts a heavy toll on disease and death. New approaches, high tech and low, could make a difference.
The best signposts--from blood pressure readings to genetic tests--can personalize diagnosis and treatment. Most don't help.
It's serious research disguised as diet fad: the notion that special tissue—which not everyone has—can help burn off pounds.
For tumors, it's a grow-or-die world, and a renewed focus on cell metabolism aims to deprive them of the fuel they must have.
"Large molecule" therapies, tailored to home in on otherwise untreatable ills, have become medicine's hottest commodity.
Many doctors and patients still swear by an annual visit. But this expensive habit may not be the best way to head off disease.
Out of favor for decades, testosterone replacement therapy is back--and so is the debate about a possible link to prostate cancer.
Adept at saving lives, we need to learn how to let patients go, say three physician-essayists, who consider why a "good death" is so elusive.
Could natural killer cells, long thought to be blind and blunt, actually be discerning enough to help defeat HIV's protean defenses?
Science is unraveling the biological factors that determine food preferences. Next: making people like what's good for them.
Though critics call them overprescribed, ineffective and worse, the real story on antidepressants is more complicated.
Becoming ubiquitous, thes on-the-spot physicians provide immediate care and may cut hospital costs. The jury's still out on quality.
Homeless patients suffer multiple afflictions that most doctors never see. Innovative programs are reaching and helping them.
Clock genes keep circadian rhythms in sync, coordinating cells' essential work and possibly enhancing well-timed therapies.
Drug availability is getting worse, with essential medicines often impossible to obtain. What will it take to fix the system?
Though routinely discarded, the placenta has a rich story to tell, full of information about fetal development and future health.
Palliative care—just easing pain and boosting spirits—help very ill patients live better. Now it turns out to let them live longer, too.
It can be as resilient as it is vulnerable, recovering from the most devastating wounds. Researchers are only beginning to understand how.
Can doctors and hospitals collaborate to improve quality and limit costs? The accountable care organization may be their last, best chance.
If residents' long shifts endanger patients, lightening the load should reduce the risk. Trouble is, there's no evidence it does.
Rare, elusive stem cells could explain why cancer is so difficult to cure—if they even exist.
Each discovery adds to the sense that these long-ignored cells matter—for brain development, learning, memory and more.
Though not as sexy as genomics or the latest miracle drug, improved techniques and technology for fixing aortas are saving lots of lives.
Statins' ability to control cholestrerol is undeniable. Less certain, after almost 25 years, is whether benefits outweigh potential harm.
Melanoma, almost impossible to treat after it metastasizes, appears vulnerable to two new approaches that could someday be combined.
Scientists are uncovering thousands of metabolites, all of which provide unique evidence of bodily functions and dysfunctions.
A brief history of quarantine in policy and popular prose.
Exploring 75 years of data, researchers trace the emotional highs and lows in the lives of hundreds of men and their descendants.
It’s when cancer metastasizes that it becomes deadly. New research is tracing its migratory path to find points of vulnerability.
The find: big orange tonsils. The payoff: genetic insight, a crucial molecule and possible treatments for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
From three-stage nanorockets to remote-controlled pills, today’s drug delivery marvels transport payloads where nothing else can go.
Patients on networking sites discuss their illnesses and treatments. Can pattern-recognition software pull insights from the noise?
Creating a medicine from scratch takes years and may cost $1 billion. One alternative: recycling failed compounds for new applications.
A long campaign halved the percentage of U.S. smokers. Could a similar effort succeed against the nation’s obesity epidemic?
Therapies that focus on tumors’ key proteins have had miraculous but often short-lived effects. New strategies could extend their usefulness.
Using natural language processing and other advanced search tools, bioinformatics experts are mining patient files—and striking paydirt.
Synthetic biologists go far beyond genetic engineers, creating cellular computers, microbial drug factories and cancer-hunting bacteria.
Hormone therapy after menopause may prevent heart attacks and caner—or cause them. New research could show who benefits.
Ordinarily resistant to economic ills, health care this time is suffering too. Poor and uninsured patients are most at risk.
Art and message merged in twentieth-century posters, raising the alarm about contagions from TB to AIDS.
An experimental protocol fools the immune system into accepting a new organ without debilitating drugs. Could it become routine?
C. elegans, a 959-celled Nobel magnet, helped explain cell suicide and launch genomics, and could now revolutionize drug development.
Of every 300 people infected with HIV, one doesn’t get AIDS. Understanding this uncanny protection might help science imitate nature.
Prototypes play well with humans, helping patients with autism and Alzheimer’s. But don’t expect an arm of such aides just yet.
They work without employees, fancy offices or big incomes. But back-to-basics doctors cite one elusive perk: satisfaction.
The brain, it turns out, can heal itself, and adding stem cells could unleash that toper to treat Parkinson’s, stroke and even depression.
There's remarkable science behind mail-order gene tests. But should buyers beware?
Emergency room jam-ups threaten patients, inflate costs and disrupt hospital operations. Small fixes might solve this big problem.
Acute inflammation fights off infection, but the chronic kind, simmering inside most of the population, can be deadly.
Break a bone and pull it apart a millimeter a day. Seems crazy, but distraction osteogenesis is saving legs, arms and faces.
Like shoelaces’ tips, telomeres do damage control, preserving DNA and slowing aging. What happens if we extend their expiration date?
Billing for care now costs almost a third as much as providing it. It's time to cut the paperwork.
After symptoms begin but before reality departs, aggressive treatment may forestall the disease. But is the intervention worth the risks?
Long the stuff of science fiction, suspended animation also has a medical history—and it could soon save trauma victims.
Once poised to defeat infectious disease, vaccines beat a long retreat. Now they’re back, and gaining new ground.
Operating in the womb sometimes has miraculous results. Yet many still question whether it should be done at all.
Far from replacing animal testing, computer simulation is leading to smarter experiments—and the need for more animals.
Medicine’s debt to Framingham, Mass., is almost incalculable. And after 60 years, the famous study may be just getting started.
Human joints wear out, and often replacements do too. Now innovative designs are improving longevity and function.
Injected RNA, which can turn off genes and halt production of harmful proteins, could profoundly affect the way we treat disease.
Salty, sweet, sour, bitter and... umami. Science could have used a cooking lesson to discover one very important amino acid.
A new kind of video contest has serious aims, from motivating cancer patients to solving the mysteries of how proteins fold.
Is watching the same as doing? Both depend on a newly discovered neuron, which helps explain how humans connect.
As a cure for the disease, bariatric surgery is poorly understood. But it’s so effective that it’s now being done on patients who aren’t even obese.
As medicine battles antibiotic resistance, tougher drugs breed still more deadly bacteria. New approaches could break the cycle.
Liquids act differently in tiny spaces, enabling lab-on-a-chip technology to transform research, drug discovery and disease diagnosis.
Someday, we might all be taking it—even if we don't really need it.
As today’s caregivers face a rainbow of cultures, issues of race, religion and language can make or break a treatment plan.
Often, biology knows best, which is why these medical innovations borrow liberally from natural properties and processes.
Promising yet far from proven, this approach to treating post-traumatic stress neutralizes a memory just before it comes back to haunt you.
A remarkable machine lets doctors operate from across the room and quickly gets patients back on their feet. But will hospitals pay the price?
Transplant surgeon Amy Friedman argues: Since we can't get enough organs for free, why not pay for them?
As the population ages and Alzheimer’s disease proliferates, millions of minds are being lost. A spate of new drugs could stem the damage.
What can hospitals learn from Toyota and other industry icons? Four paradigm-shifting strategies that improve efficiency and care.
The cause of hepatitis C was a mystery solved only after years of groundbreaking research. But the battle continues.
First, a predicted glut; now, an apparent shortage. Getting physician supply to match demand is hard; getting it wrong could be devastating.
Dementia care has an end-of-life problem. The author explores the system’s shortfalls through her mother’s last days.
Can a refresher course in the laws of natural selection help doctors better understand human health and illness?
The next generation of medical software offers extraordinary support. But how can such tools be used to the best effect?
Researchers are narrowing in on a compelling explanation for narcolepsy: the body at war with itself.
When a medical mistake is made, full disclosure and a sincere apology could be better for everyone involved.
The best protection against bioterror could be an enhanced immune system. But human biology might pose a problem.
Yardsticks developed in 1968 can’t explain many disorders. New tools may reveal what really happens when one’s head hits the pillow.
It appears that natural selection isn’t the only way traits are passed along. Environmental influences, too, may get embedded in our DNA.
Scientists are untangling puberty’s central mystery: What combination of genes and environmental cues flip the switch?
Addiction significantly alters the brain, drawing drug users into its irresistible chemistry. Treatment, then, can't block the high.
Pay for performance seems simple: Give doctors financial incentives to improve care. So what's taking so long?
A cadaver, an anatomist and a press of onlookers in a sixteenth century engraving inspire a twenty-first century verse.
Biofilms are microbial metropolises: teeming, diverse and, when attached to surgical implants, nearly impossible to subdue.
The waning of consciousness during surgery is a mysterious as it is routine. Finally, the curtain may be about to part.
Once a last resort for the severely depressed, electroconvulsive therapy has been joined by a new generation of less shocking alternatives.
Understanding the patient's genetic makeup is leading to better, more precisely targeted treatments.
In some trials, subjects have responded just as well to sugar pills as they have to real treatment. So how can we trust any real results?
The link between obesity and diabetes is well established. But it's not the only reason for the skyrocketing incidence of the disease.
These remarkable devices are saving soldiers, improving lives after combat—and benefiting civilians too.
A new path to internal organs would cause little pain and leave no scars. But will the benefits outweigh the risks?
After crippling millions worldwide, polio may soon be wiped out. But to the last, the virus is proving an elusive, stubborn foe.
A "new" approach, 40 years in the making, attempts to keep blood vessels from feeding tumors. It's starting to work.
Brain-scanning breakthroughs are proving remarkably able to detect falsehoods. But is it wrong to invade a liar's skull?
They were hooked from the start, four pioneers whose work changed the course of a modern plague—and they're not done yet.
Genetic variations, it turns out, explain why everyone experiences pain differently. Now medicine can push toward personalized relief.
Frustrated by the glacial pace of autism research, activist parents have taken matters into their own hands.
Disfigured patients will risk anything for a shot at being normal. Three breakthroughs may improve their odds.
The Veterans Health Administration, of all places, has embraced the computer age. Will the rest of medicine (finally) follow.
More Americans are dying with dementia and Alzheimer's. A Proto video series explores how hospitals, doctors and policy makers may be failing them.
Electrical stimulation may hold the key to treating conditions as diverse as asthma and liver disease—if only researchers can crack the code.
The far-flung tumors of tuberous sclerosis complex, noncancerous but hardly benighn, are shedding light on how malignancies develop.
It’s much easier to get a medical device approved than to bring a new drug to market. Should that change?
Thousands of step-by-step decision aids stand ready to assist in diagnosis and treatment. But most physicians don’t use them.
What do London cabbies have in common with musicians and mathematicians?
In today’s antimicrobial world, broad swaths of humans’ 100 trillion resident bacteria may soon disappear, with profound consequences.
A deceptively simple-seeming concept, evidence-based medicine calls for physicians to follow consensus guidelines. But whose consensus?
If, as some scientists suspect, illnesses that strike late in life have a common root, similar therapies might help us avoid many of them.
When proteins misfold, molecular chaos ensues, leading to cystic fibrosis and other ills. New research aims to unwind the mistakes.
Not just pop science, handwriting analysis can be a telling diagnostic tool, revealing signs of bipolar disease, Parkinson’s and other disorders.
What causes osteoarthritis? Not wear and tear, apparently, but bone lesions, misaligned joints and fat-cell-generated inflammation.
Avoid gluten, and celiac disease loses its sting. But research continues, and breakthroughs might treat other disorders too.
At Singapore’s gleaming Biopolis complex, researchers get all the money and lab support they need. What they don’t get is time.
Could “medical homes,” where every patient has a physician-led support team, improve health and reduce costs? Early evidence says yes.
The protein endothelin shows up everywhere, so scientists hoped blocking its action could treat many diseases. It hasn’t happened—yet.
When the retina fails, the body’s window on the world slams shut. These futuristic treatments may pry it open again.
When the powerhouses of cells—mitochondria—black out, a host of diseases ensue. The trick is to get them humming again.
Adolescence is the brain’s boom time, a period of rapid development, specialization—and a heedless propensity for excess.
Retail clinics brought grocery-aisle convenience to strep tests and flu shots. Now they’re aiming to manage chronic conditions.
There’s an exceptionally long list of possible causes of multiple sclerosis, and growing evidence that almost all may play a role.
Zinc fingers could pull gene therapy back from the brink—but only if more researchers can get their hands on the remarkable proteins.
Untouchable for decades, hallucinogenic drugs are back in the lab, with new research into how they work and what they might achieve.
Once considered mere substitutes for embryonic cells, re-engineered adult cells are making breakthroughs of their own.
As more of us choose a different way to die, a philosophy has become an industry, raising questions about access, quality—and profits.
Kuru, scrapie, a fatal form of insomnia—all caused by renegade proteins. Cure one and other, more familiar diseases may follow.
Treating the heart today involves less cutting and more cutting-edge technology. But where does that leave cardiac surgeons?
Esophageal adenocarcinoma is increasing at a rate unmatched by any other cancer. There’s no simple explanation—just many complex clues.
The avian virus incubating in Asia is remarkably virulent. But nature itself may prevent a human pandemic.
Today's patient simulators breathe, bleed, talk and die, challenging even the most experienced clinicians.
Terrible things happen fast in a victim's brain. Now new drugs and smart systems can extend the treatment deadline.
With the human genome laid bare, scientists are narrowing their search for the roots of mental illness.
Sugar-free and engineered for tolerance, hogs may one day fill a need for transplant organs.
Almost eradicating the disease, as happened in the 1950s, led to a disastrous resurgence. Is now the time for a smarter, final push?
Does being a physician come with an expiration date? And if it should, how can age-related competence be measured?
Linda Griffith has brought a fresh perspective to the study of endometriosis, a debilitating inflammatory disease in women.
Early screening for disease saves lives, but research shows that some tests may do more harm than good.
The ocean floor is teeming with microorganisms that may hold the secret to new treatments for cancer and other diseases.
Proto's first 10 years saw policy reforms, genomic gains and a deluge of new data. What next?
A new generation of cancer treatments harness an internal ally—the power of the immune system.
Physicians have had plenty of powerful painkillers but no national strategy for treatment. Could that finally change?
Research on synesthesia has led to devices that blur the lines between the senses, and may offer new hope for the blind.
A stressful childhood can have psychological and physiological fallout in adulthood. Researchers are now narrowing in on how stress wounds the brain and the body.
A more relaxed attitude toward legal marijuana may mean more use among teens. The long-term effects may not be good.
Where does a medical breakthrough come from? Patients, caregivers and frontline doctors are all pitching in.
A breakthrough Ebola vaccine was grown in tobacco leaves. Are genetically modified plants the future of pharmaceuticals?
Some paramedics are focusing on keeping patients out of the emergency room, rather than taking them there.
Most transgender people know their gender identity as children. So how do pediatricians help them become healthy adults?
Red blood cells are free to ferry oxygen around the body, an enviable access that can be hijacked to deliver new therapies.
Lasers used in cancer treatment can burn away tumors, and also gather precise information and unleash targeted treatments.
Doctors have a long history as fighters for social causes. What can be done to make sure that legacy isn't lost?
The genomics revolution has hit the courtroom, with the first case that relies on next-generation sequencing of DNA.
New gene-editing techniques let researchers create precisely the laboratory animals they need—but at what ethical cost?
Tropical diseases thrive little noticed and unaddressed in the poorest areas of the United States.
Troves of data are gathered during clinical trials, but most of it stays locked away. Could freeing it lead to new cures?
A bold theory—that the brain-tangling proteins of Alzheimer’s disease may form to fight infection—could spur new research.
Helping patients in pain often means prescribing opioid drugs, which can be dangerous. New research looks into alternatives.
Dashed expectations in midlife may be fueling a sharp rise in suicides. Several strategies seek to save people in despair.
The first U.S. penis transplant didn’t save a life, but it vastly improved one, opening a frontier for complex transplants.