Health Highlight: Mon. 13, Mar.

Carlos Franco
4 min readMar 15


Today’s highlights: Today’s highlights: Looking to art as a window into mental health; advances and ethical concerns surrounding gene-editing using CRISPR-Cas9; a potential new approach for fighting liver cancer.

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🔗: Art and Images in Psychiatry

✍🏼 By: James C. Harris, MD@JAMA_current

Summary: Between 2002 and 2014, James C. Harris, MD, Director of the Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic and Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (now deceased), published monthly essays in JAMA Psychiatry, exploring the relationship between art and mental health.

  • Context: In these essays, Dr. Harris who has written extensively on the role of art in psychiatry, discussed various aspects of how the visual representations related to mental health issues and conditions.
  • Support Info: He explored how artists have used these mediums to represent truths about mental illness, such as the experience of living with depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. He also highlighted the ways in which art can be used to address social stigma and increase understanding of mental health issues.
  • Analysis: As a form of creative expression, art can help individuals process and cope with their emotions, experiences, and trauma. It can also provide insight into the complex nature of mental illness and help reduce social stigma surrounding mental health issues.
  • Conclusion: Art and images can provide a unique perspective into the world of psychiatry and mental health. Anyone interested in this intersection should take some time to explore these essays and beautiful works of art.

🏷️ Tags: #MentalHealth #VisualArt #HumanCondition #Psychiatry

🔗: Why CRISPR babies are still too risky — embryo studies highlight challenges

✍🏼 By: Heidi Ledford@Nature

Summary: The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing says that genome-editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9 are still not safe enough to be used on human embryos that are going to be used to make more people.

  • Context: There are still technical and scientific challenges, such as the unknown consequences of breaking both strands of the DNA double helix in embryos. What’s more, there are no governance frameworks or ethical principles in place for the responsible use of heritable human genome editing.
  • Support Info: “About 40% of the embryos in one genome-editing study failed to repair broken DNA. Over one-third of those embryos continued to develop, resulting in the loss or gain of pieces of chromosomes in some cells. That could risk the health of offspring if such embryos were allowed to develop further. ‘These results are really a warning,’” -Dagan Wells, reproductive geneticist at the University of Oxford, UK
  • Analysis: “An alternative to editing embryos would be to instead edit gametes, such as eggs and sperm, or the stem cells that give rise to them. This would also sidestep concerns that efforts to edit embryos might not succeed in all cells of the embryo, resulting in offspring that contain a mixture of edited and unedited cells.”
  • Conclusion: “We are still keen that the research goes ahead,” said developmental biologist Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute in London, who chaired the organizing committee for the summit. “In parallel, there has to be more debate about whether the technique is ever used.”

🏷️ Tags: #CRISPR #Cas9 #GeneEditing #DNA #Ethics #IVF #HumanGenome

🔗: Scientists reveal a potential new approach to treating liver cancer

✍🏼 By: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)@ncats_nih_gov

Summary: Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the Massachusetts General Hospital may have found a new way to treat liver cancer. This could lead to the creation of a new class of cancer drugs.

  • Context: Researchers discovered that an enzyme produced in liver cancer cells could convert a group of compounds into anticancer drugs, killing cells and reducing disease in animals in a series of experiments in cells and mice.
  • Support Info: : “The Massachusetts researchers showed that the liver cancer cells made an enzyme, SULT1A1. The enzyme activated the YC-1 compound, making it toxic to tumor cells in cancer cell cultures and mouse models of liver cancers.”
  • Analysis: “Once we found SULT1A1 activated YC-1, it led us to ask, ‘What other compounds are active and can kill cells by the same mechanism?’ Hall said. “Can we identify other compounds that were being developed and demonstrate that they were also active because of SULT1A1 activation? The answer was yes. We found other compounds with the same mechanism of action as YC-1.”
  • Conclusion: According to the researchers, this enzyme could be a potential target for the development of new drugs to treat liver cancer, as well as other cancers and diseases.

🏷️ Tags: #Cancer #CancerResearch #LiverCancer #AnticancerDrugs

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Carlos Franco

Freelance technical writer with an advanced degree and 10+ years of experience in patient education.