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Effectiveness of Comparative Effectiveness

Duke University oncologist Amy Abernathy says the policy shift towards more comparative effectiveness research presents some problems for researchers doing work in cancer, reports Scientific American's Katherine Harmon. The first problem, Harmon writes in the Observations blog, is that comparative effectiveness research focuses on broad populations of patients, but that oncology is about individual treatment. "Newly prioritized research might turn out new results about treatments that are best for most breast cancer patients with a defective HER2 protein, for example, but many other individuals with different genetic factors might still need trial-and-error treatment until research finds what works best for them," she writes. Another problem, she says, is that there aren't enough studies to add to the overall comparative effectiveness literature. Although focusing on the most medically and cost-effective treatment for patients is "a respectable goal," there isn't enough evidence to help physicians. Many clinicians and researchers are hoping that better data gathering and sharing "will soon fill in some of the blanks," Harmon writes.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.