Trending News Today: 9/11 First Responders Still Face Health Problems from Toxic Fumes

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

On that tragic September morning 15 years ago yesterday when terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center causing widespread devastation, the country is still feeling the after effects. According to the Los Angeles Times, tens of thousands of first responders who spent hours of their time sifting through the rubble became sick and died due to exposure to toxic fumes. It’s estimated that 90,000 people came to help after the attacks, and now approximately 65,000 responders are in the NIOSH WTC Health Program that tracks and treats these individuals. There has been a continuing public awareness campaign to help connect responders to help, wherever they are located. By signing up for the program, responders are provided with medical care and monitoring. More than 5000 people in the program have cancer related to toxic fume exposure, with approximately 40% who have respiratory or gastrointestinal problems, according to the article. In December, US President Barack Obama signed a law that extended funding through 2090, the LA Times reported.

A joint venture between Verily Life Sciences LLC, a unit of Google Parent, and Sanofi SA will develop high-tech tools for managing diabetes, reported The Wall Street Journal. The new company, called Onduo, will combine Sanofi’s expertise in diabetes medicine and Verily’s knowledge of miniaturized electronics, analytics, and software development. Initially, the collaboration will focus on type 2 diabetes, since it is the most common form of the disease, and affects approximately 90% of all diabetes patients. By 2035, diabetes is expected to affect 592 million people worldwide.

A computerized mapping program aims to help physicians stay ahead of cancer by showing them how an individual’s disease will most likely progress. The program, called PiCnIc for short, will take patient data and reveal the most likely potential scenario, according to NPR. This program produces maps of cancer progression in a way similar to how historical explorers drew maps of the Earth without satellite imaging. The program draws tiny reginal maps and pieces them together like a puzzle. PiCnIc then extracts the simplest pieces of information from medical data, referred to by researchers as “little blocks of causality,” which describes a stage of cancer and a potential outcome. Once the blocks are constructed, the program examines them to retain only the likeliest paths.