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Health and medicine/Clinical medicine/Medical treatments/Drug therapy

The rise of tuberculosis (TB) in North Korea has been swift. According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, reported cases went from fewer than 50 per 100,000 people in 1994 to 380 cases per 100,000 people in 2011. Today, the incidence of TB in North Korea is second only to that in sub-Saharan Africa.

Children who develop cancer in the United States have a much better chance of surviving than they did in decades past—about 80% on average now, up from 10% in the 1960s. But even though new drugs have helped achieve that, most patients still receive the same basic treatment: chemotherapy and radiation. Soon, however, children with cancer may receive therapies that manipulate a tumor cell’s function to strangle it or train a patient’s immune system to identify and kill cancer cells, researchers said at AAAS.

Drugs that help premature babies strengthen their lungs can also impair brain development even at low doses, reports a new study in the journal Science Translational Medicine. This study brings new knowledge to the table that could help doctors and parents make more informed decisions on how to treat preemies.

A new study in dogs reveals two genes responsible for controlling heartbeat rhythm and re-coordinating the action of the heart’s right and left ventricles. These genes may be part of the molecular pathway affected by pacemakers, researchers report in the 14 September issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Using gene therapy or drugs to activate these genes in heart failure patients may help people who cannot use a pacemaker—or possibly replace pacemakers altogether, the study authors propose.

Science correspondent Jon Cohen has received the American Society of Microbiology’s 2011 Public Communications Award for his package of reports on Eastern Europe’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The award, which includes a $2500 honorarium, recognizes outstanding journalistic achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of microbiology. Cohen accepted the award during a 22 May ceremony at the Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans.