Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Intended and unintended effects of the war on poverty

 2015 Summer;34(3):639-96.

Intended and unintended effects of the war on poverty: what research tells us and implications for policy.

Author information

  • 1National Bureau of Economic Research, and University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697. mbitler@eci.edu
  • 2RAND Corporation, Arlington, VA 22202. karoly@rand.org


During the mid-1960s, the United States adopted a series of cash and in-kind transfer programs, as well as human capital investment strategies, as part of the War on Poverty. A number of other programs were first proposed as part of this "war" but were not implemented until the mid-1970s. These programs had noble goals: to increase incomes at the bottom of the income distribution, reduce poverty, and improve nutrition, heath, and human capital. However, various features of the programs also had the potential to produce unintended consequences: for example, means-tested programs can discourage work. In this paper, we comprehensively evaluate the main War on Poverty programs that were aimed at the low-income nonelderly population along with several follow-on programs. We focus on both intended and unintended consequences, drawing on the most compelling causal evidence. We conclude with a series of lessons learned and questions that are outstanding.

From NYU: Incidence of HIV Infection in Young Gay, Bisexual, and Other YMSM: The P18 Cohort Study

 2015 Aug 1;69(4):466-73. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000616.

Incidence of HIV Infection in Young Gay, Bisexual, and Other YMSM: The P18 Cohort Study.

Author information

  • 1Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York, NY.



HIV infections continue to rise in a new generation of young gay, bisexual, and other young men who have sex with men (YMSM) despite 3 decades of HIV prevention and recent biomedical technologies to deter infection.


To examine the incidence of HIV and the demographic, behavioral, and structural factors associated with incident infections.


A prospective cohort study.


Six hundred YMSM who were aged 18-19 years at baseline.


At baseline, 6 prevalent cases of HIV were detected. Over the course of 36 months and 6 additional waves of data collection, we identified 43 (7.2%) incident cases of HIV. Incident infections were marginally higher among those residing in neighborhoods with higher rates of HIV prevalence. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we detected that hazard ratios (HRs) for time to HIV seroconversion were significantly higher for black YMSM (HR = 7.46) and mixed/other race YMSM (HR = 7.99), and older age at sexual debut with another man was associated with a lower risk of HIV seroconversion (HR = 0.50), whereas low perceived familial socioeconomic status was marginally associated with an increased risk for HIV seroconversion (HR = 2.45).


These findings support the disparities for HIV that exist within the population of sexual minority men and suggest that we attend to behavioral, structural, and social conditions to effectively tailor HIV prevention for a new generation of YMSM with keen eyes to the conditions faced by racial and ethnic minority YMSM, which heightened their risk for acquiring HIV.

Fair Is Not Fair Everywhere

Psychol Sci. 2015 Jun 26. pii: 0956797615586188. [Epub ahead of print]

Fair Is Not Fair Everywhere.

Author information

  • 1Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany mschaefer@eva.mpg.de.
  • 2Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Department of Psychology, University of Jena.
  • 3Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.


Distributing the spoils of a joint enterprise on the basis of work contribution or relative productivity seems natural to the modern Western mind. But such notions of merit-based distributive justice may be culturally constructed norms that vary with the social and economic structure of a group. In the present research, we showed that children from three different cultures have very different ideas about distributive justice. Whereas children from a modern Western society distributed the spoils of a joint enterprise precisely in proportion to productivity, children from a gerontocratic pastoralist society in Africa did not take merit into account at all. Children from a partially hunter-gatherer, egalitarian African culture distributed the spoils more equally than did the other two cultures, with merit playing only a limited role. This pattern of results suggests that some basic notions of distributive justice are not universal intuitions of the human species but rather culturally constructed behavioral norms.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Amniotic fluid as a source of multipotent cells for clinical use

 2015 Jun 26. pii: /j/jpme.ahead-of-print/jpm-2015-0152/jpm-2015-0152.xml. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2015-0152. [Epub ahead of print]

Amniotic fluid as a source of multipotent cells for clinical use.


Amniotic fluid cells (AFC) from 2nd trimester amniocentesis have been found to be a source of multipotent stem cells which might overcome the limitations of expansion, histocompatibility, tumorigenesis, and ethical issues associated with using human embryonic cells, umbilical cord, cord blood, bone marrow, and induced pluripotent cells. Previous work by our group and others demonstrated multipotency and the ability to grow well in culture. However, all these studies were done in media containing fetal calf serum. We sought to observe the properties of AFC grown in serum-free media as that would be required for clinical transplantation in humans. Fresh samples were obtained from three patients, and each sample divided into a culture whose cells were not exposed to fetal calf serum, and the other half into a standard culture medium containing fetal calf serum. Doubling time and stem cell marker expression by flow cytometry were assessed. Differentiation to neural, osteoid, and chondrogenic lineages was induced using appropriate media and confirmed by fluorescent microscopy, histology, and immunohistochemistry. There were no statistically significant differences between cells grown serum-free and in standard media in any of these parameters. The data supports the possibility of clinical use of AFC in stem cell transplantation.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"ACA 'Is Here to Stay'"

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare Subsidies, President Says ACA 'Is Here to Stay'

"Read the opinion and weep."

So Much for the Rule of Law

Justice Scalia’s final paragraph in his dissent today in King v. Burwell pretty much says it all. Read the opinion and weep.

"...the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites."

Federalism is dead

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare Subsidies

In siding with the administration in King v. Burwell, the justices deal a blow to opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

"King v. Burwell centered on whether plaintiffs' arguments that middle- and low-income adults who purchased health insurance through the federally run Healthcare.gov marketplace were entitled to subsidies based on the language of the law that says tax credits are only to be distributed for marketplaces 'established by the state.'"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Safety and Efficacy of Buparlisib (BKM120) in Patients With PI3K Pathway-Activated Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Results From the Phase II BASALT-1 Study

 2015 Jun 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Safety and Efficacy of Buparlisib (BKM120) in Patients With PI3K Pathway-Activated Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Results From the Phase II BASALT-1 Study.

Author information

  • 11University Hospitals KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; 2Grand Hôpital de Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium; 3Fondazione IRCCS, Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy; 4AOU San Martino IST, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Genoa, Italy; 5European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy; 6Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL; 7National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan; 8Medical Oncology Department, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Barcelona, Spain; 9Kurashiki Central Hospital, Kurashiki, Japan; 10S.G. Moscati Hospital, Avellino, Italy; 11Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY; 12Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; 13LungenClinic Grosshansdorf, Airway Research Center North (ARCN), German Center for Lung Research (DZL), Grosshansdorf, Germany; 14Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland; 15Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ; 16Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Cambridge, MA; 17Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus and University Paris-Sud, Villejuif, France.



The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway promotes tumor growth and treatment resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aim of the open-label, two-stage, Phase II study BASALT-1 (NCT01820325) was to investigate the pan-PI3K inhibitor buparlisib (BKM120) in patients with PI3K pathway-activated, relapsed NSCLC.


After pre-screening for PI3K pathway activation, patients with PI3K pathway-activated, metastatic, squamous or non-squamous NSCLC who had relapsed after prior systemic antineoplastic therapy, were enrolled. In Stage 1, patients received single-agent buparlisib (100 mg/day). A futility analysis was performed independently in each histology group, based on the 12-week progression-free survival (PFS) rate for the first 30 patients treated in each group being <50%. Exploratory biomarker analyses were performed in archival tissue samples andcirculating tumor DNA (ctDNA).


Of 1242 pre-screened patients, 13.5% exhibited PI3K pathway activation. As of June 5, 2014, 63 patients (30 squamous and 33 non-squamous) were treated in Stage 1. The 12-week PFS rates were 23.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.9-42.3) and 20.0% (95% CI 7.7-38.6) in the squamous and non-squamous groups, respectively. Stage 2 was therefore not initiated in either group. PI3K pathway mutations in ctDNA were more concordant with metastatic tissue than with primary biopsies.


Despite preselecting patients for targeted treatment, BASALT-1 did not meet its primary objective during Stage 1. PI3K pathway activation can be detected using ctDNA, but may not be the main oncogenic driver in NSCLC. Combinations of PI3K inhibitors with other agents may demonstrate greater efficacy than monotherapy.

Reactive oxygen species a double-edged sword for mesothelioma

 2015 Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Reactive oxygen species a double-edged sword for mesothelioma.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino "Carlo Bo", Urbino, Italy.
  • 2Molecular Medicine Area, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.


It is well known that oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation which, in turn, could mediate most chronic diseases including cancer. Oxidants have been implicated in the activity of crocidolite and amosite, the most powerful types of asbestos associated to the occurrence ofmesothelioma. Currently rates of mesothelioma are rising and estimates indicate that the incidence of mesothelioma will peak within the next 10-15 years in the western world, while in Japan the peak is predicted not to occur until 40 years from now. Although the use of asbestos has been banned in many countries around the world, production of and the potentially hazardous exposure to asbestos is still present with locally high incidences of mesothelioma. Today a new man-made material, carbon nanotubes, has arisen as a concern; carbon nanotubes may display 'asbestos-like' pathogenicity with mesothelioma induction potential. Carbon nanotubes resulted in the greatest reactive oxygen species generation. How oxidative stress activates inflammatory pathways leading to the transformation of a normal cell to a tumor cell, to tumor cell survival, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, chemoresistance, and radioresistance, is the aim of this review.

The ethics of placebo treatments in clinical practice: a reply to Glackin

 2015 Jun 22. pii: medethics-2014-102651. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2014-102651. [Epub ahead of print]

The ethics of placebo treatments in clinical practice: a reply to Glackin.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • 2Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.


In 'Placebo treatments, informed consent, and "the grip of a false picture"' Shane Nicholas Glackin argues that if a physician offers a patient an inert placebo with the following disclosure, this is compatible with informed consent and is not deceptive: 'I would like to offer you a pill which I believe can help lessen your suffering. I do not know exactly how it works. I have other pills to offer whose mechanism is clearer, but I am not sure that they will work better for you, and they may also entail more serious side effects'. According to Glackin, telling patients that the recommended treatment is an inert placebo is providing incidental information, analogous to telling a patient the chemical details of an active drug. He argues that this information would influence a patient's decision only if she was 'in the grip of a false picture' that inert drugs do not have physical effects on patients' bodies. We contend that this disclosure typically is incompatible with informed consent and typically is deceptive. We give an example of a transparent placebo disclosure, that is, a disclosure that is compatible with informed consent and is not deceptive.

Jindal is in

Bobby Jindal announces entry into 2016 presidential race