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One Giant Oops …


Breast cancer patients in California and Michigan who participated in studies of their disease now find themselves facing a different problem: because of a device used during surgery done for the study, the women now have hundreds of particles of the heavy metal tungsten lodged in their breast tissue and chest muscles, reports The New York Times' Denise Grady. Not much is known about tungsten's effects on health, however it does make mammograms harder to read because the particles can resemble calcium deposits, which can be indicative of breast cancer, Grady says, adding that this complication is "especially troubling" for the women who have already had breast cancer and are at risk for recurrence. In California, 27 women have been affected, and two women in Michigan are facing the same problem. At least one of the women, fearing what tungsten might do to her, including cause cancer, is considering having her breasts and the underlying tissue completely removed, Grady says. The device that cause the problem, the Axxent FlexiShield Mini, is a tungsten and silicone disc was supposed to shield a patient's healthy tissue during radiation treatments. The manufacturer, Xoft, was bought in December by iCad — the company has recalled the device in the wake of the tungsten particle problem.

The Scan

Rare Genetic Disease Partnership

A public-private partnership plans to speed the development of gene therapies for rare genetic diseases, Stat News writes.

Approval Sought for Alzheimer's Drug

The Wall Street Journal reports Eli Lilly has initiated a rolling submission to the US Food and Drug Administration to seek approval for its drug to treat Alzheimer's disease.

DNA Barcoding Paper Retracted

Science reports that a 2014 DNA barcoding paper was retracted after a co-author brought up data validity concerns.

Nature Papers Present Genomic Analysis of Bronze Age Mummies, Approach to Study Host-Pathogen Interactions

In Nature this week: analysis finds Tarim mummies had local genetic origin, and more.