Tag Archives: laboratory

Tip sheet on organoids can help journalists avoid misleading hype

BRAINS!!! What zombie wouldn’t be thrilled to hear scientists are growing brains in Petri dishes? It’s like a zombie’s dream come true! Except, like zombies, brains grown in a Petri dish don’t actually exist. What some scientists are doing is growing brain organoids in Petri dishes — and the difference is crucial.

Organoids are most easily described as not-quite-organs. They’re “simplified replicas” of a specific organ “with some of the features of the organ they model,” according to Chloe Reichel, whose tip sheet on organoids at Journalist’s Resource can help journalists avoid the pitfall of misrepresenting or overselling research on growing these tissues. Continue reading

Gaining a deeper appreciation for the costs of basic science

Photo: Tara Haelle

It’s not difficult to understand why clinical trials are so incredibly expensive. There’s the recruitment of the participants and their compensation, the cost of the drugs themselves, the work that has to go into ensuring both participants and clinicians are appropriately blinded (at least in double-blinded trials), the many visits to monitor symptoms and improvement, the time spent crunching the data – the dollars add up fast.

It’s harder (at least for me) to grasp where all the money goes for basic science. It’s often just cells in a petri dish, along with the fancy (and very expensive) microscope and computer equipment needed to examine them. Continue reading

Tell stories about lab rats on the radio

A cup of coffee with a former journalist colleague led Rhode Island radio reporter Lynn Arditi down the path of reporting on “superbugs,” the term for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Arditi’s former colleague was working for LifeSpan, a large Rhode Island health system, and pitched her the story of a study authored by one of its lead researchers and infectious diseases specialists. The study was about the discovery of a set of compounds that could become a new class of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacteria. Continue reading

While genetic tests proliferate, journalists cite the lack of scientific evidence

Photo: Caroline Davis2010 via Flickr

Photo: Caroline Davis2010 via Flickr

The potential benefits of genetic testing are widely touted and drive greater interest in these tests – even though the validity of the science behind such testing remains unclear.

Charles Piller, the West Coast editor for Boston-based online news site Stat, recently reported on the lack of a firm scientific basis for a test that Proove Biosciences in Irvine, Calif., has been marketing as an “opioid risk” detector. Continue reading

When patients get lab test results, journalists may need these resources

Next month, all clinical laboratories must make patients’ laboratory test results available to patients who request them.

Under rules three federal agencies issued in February, labs must either mail the results to patients or put them up in a secure site online within 30 days of receiving a request from a patient or a patient’s representative.

When the rules were published Feb. 3, Joseph Conn explained in Modern Healthcare that the new regulations pre-empt laws in 13 states and lift a federal exemption in 26 other states. “Previously, in those 39 states, patients could receive or view their lab test results only through their physician or other authorized health care provider,” Conn wrote.

Labs in some health systems already make results available. Kaiser Permanente, for example, has allowed patients to see their test results since 2008. Since the new rules became effective on April 7, some labs have begun complying although compliance is not mandatory until Oct. 6. Continue reading