Editor’s note: Health Beat is a weekly roundup of local and national health news.
UAMS RESEARCH MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE CURE
Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have found a new way to replicate Lou Gehrig’s disease in mice, in what they hope will bring scientists one big step closer to a cure. Mahmoud Kiaei, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine, published the project recently in Human Molecular Genetics, a peer-reviewed journal published by The Oxford University Press on all topics related to human molecular genetics.
Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), attacks the nerve cells that control muscles, called motor neurons. Patients become progressively weaker, eventually losing the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe. There is no cure and the disease is 100% fatal. Death sometimes occurs as fast as six months to a year after diagnosis. About 10% of ALS cases in the United States are inherited.
In the mid-‘90s, after the identification of one gene associated with ALS, scientists first replicated human ALS in mice, creating a so-called “mouse model.” For many years, it remained the only mouse model available for ALS testing, but it failed to yield a drug treatment that was replicable in human clinical trials.
CIGNA TO HALT $48 BILLION MERGER WITH RIVAL ANTHEM, ASKS FOR $14.8 BILLION IN DAMAGES, TERMINATION FEES
Cigna Corp. announced Tuesday (Feb. 14) it has exercised its right to terminate the proposed merger agreement with Anthem Inc. following the order on Feb. by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that blocked the deal due to competitive concerns raised by the Justice Department. In light of that ruling, Cigna said it believes the transaction cannot and will not achieve regulatory approval and that terminating the agreement is in the best interest of Cigna’s shareholders.
To end the deal, Cigna said it has filed suit against Anthem in the Delaware Court of Chancery seeking a declaratory judgment to lawfully end the deal and prevent Anthem from extending the termination date. Cigna is also seeking payment by Anthem of the $1.85 billion reverse termination fee contemplated in the merger agreement, as well as additional damages in an amount exceeding $13 billion.
MOST AMERICANS UNPREPARED TO CARE FOR ELDERLY FAMILY MEMBER, STUDY SAYS
Despite recognizing the financial and lifestyle complexities of providing care to an elderly relative or friend, many Americans are not taking proactive steps to mitigate the impact on their budgets, careers and personal lives. According to the latest Northwestern Mutual C.A.R.E. Study released Feb. 8, four in 10 Americans are current or past caregivers, while one in 5 non-caregivers expect to step into this role in the future.
Among those caregivers who incurred added expenses, half (51%) said they reduced discretionary living expenses, while more than a quarter (28%) increased work hours to assist with the added financial demands.
Notably, future caregivers who expect to accrue financial costs anticipate even more pervasive lifestyle changes. A full three quarters (76%) believe they will need to reduce living expenses while half (49%) foresee working more. Despite recognizing the potential burden, 1 in 3 have taken no steps to plan.
“As people live longer, the need for some form of long-term care will continue to surge,” said Kamilah Williams-Kemp, vice president, long term care, Northwestern Mutual. “Planning is essential to ensuring that you can take care of those you love without compromising your own financial and emotional well-being.” To learn more, click here.