Trending News Today: Starving Cancerous Tumors

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

Despite UnitedHealth Group Inc’s announcement last month on its withdrawal from offering marketplace plans in 34 states to just a small remaining proportion, Aetna Inc will continue to sell the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans in 15 states and may even expand into new areas. According to The Wall Street Journal, Aetna believes it will continue to break even on the exchanges in 2016, as Chief Executive of Aetna Mark T. Bertolini said the ACA marketplaces are still a good investment. During the first-quarter earnings, Aetna reported an increase in the enrollment of individual plans by about 200,000 from last year. In fact, 911,000 of those people have signed up through the ACA marketplaces. Although the insurance company is optimistic, Bertolini said changes to the law are needed to help ensure a sustainable business.

On Wednesday, Cigna reached value-based contracts to cover cholesterol lowering drugs Praluent and Repatha, reported The Wall Street Journal. The contracts will now modify the cost of the pricey drugs based on how well patients respond to the medications. If the drug meets or exceeds expectations, the negotiated price will remain the same. However, if the medications don’t lower the cholesterol or perform as well as they had in the clinical trials, then Cigna will further discount the cost.

Twentieth century German biochemist Otto Warburg was once praised for his findings that were considered a major breakthrough in understanding cancer, but in the decades that followed his contributions had become dismissed, until recently. According to The New York Times, Warburg believed that cancerous tumors could be treated by disrupting their source of energy and that abnormal chromosomes found in cancer cells could have something to do with the development of cancer. Warburg’s discovery was later called the Warburg effect and is estimated to occur in up to 80% of cancers. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick created the structure of the DNA molecule, setting the stage for molecular biology’s gene-centered approach to cancer, dismissing Warburg’s work. However, over the past decade, and especially in the past 5 years, the metabolic catalysts “housekeeping enzymes” have become one of the most promising areas of cancer research and has left many scientists to wonder if metabolism could be the Achilles’ heel of cancer.