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The Information Within the Data

Big data may be able to help clinicians make connections between symptoms and outcomes or between drug combinations and side effects, the New York Times Magazine's Veronique Greenwood writes.

For instance, Columbia University's Nicholas Tatonetti sifted through the US Food and Drug Administrations' adverse drug reaction records to uncover a link between taking both paroxetine, an antidepressant, and pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug, and high blood glucose levels. Individually the drugs didn't affect glucose levels, but together they did.

But, the Times points out that making connections like these in patient data brings up privacy and consent concerns — is such data mining part of medical treatment or is it medical research? Additionally, medical records include data from people who sought treatment and there is a lack of controls for such studies.

Still, Greenwoods says that "[w]ith time, and with some crucial refinements, this kind of medicine may eventually become mainstream."

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.