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Out-of-this-world technology co-opted for breast cancer research

Scientists see the potential for medical breakthroughs with the help of tools originally designed to monitor space and protect planets. In other public health news: vaccinations, Zika-related epilepsy, dragon’s blood, third-hand smoke and more.

Stat: Using Space Tech To Unlock The Mysteries Of Breast Cancer
For decades, scientists here at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have sent spacecraft deep into the solar system. Now, they’re exploring another mysterious terrain: the human breast. The lab’s primary mission, of course, is to dream up and create robotic spacecraft to look for water on Mars or peer below the dense clouds that shroud Jupiter. But in recent years, top scientists here have realized that JPL’s powerful technology for exploring the cosmos might also help solve daunting medical questions here on Earth. (McFarling, 4/18)

The Washington Post: Why It’s A Bad Idea To Space Out Your Child’s Vaccination Shots
With so many vaccines being required for young children today, some parents are asking their doctors whether they can space out or delay the vaccine schedule. They’re concerned that too many vaccines might overwhelm their child’s immune system. Parents also worry that getting more than one shot at a time increases the pain and stress. (Sun, 4/17)

Sacramento Bee: Vaccinations Rise When Parents Chat With Other Parents 
A new pilot program in Washington hopes to boost vaccination rates by having parents who support vaccines talk to parents in the neighborhood who might be unsure. A study released this week by Kaiser Permanente and published in the journal Health Promotion Practice shows the model is already working. (Caiola, 4/17)

Miami Herald: CDC Urges Doctors To Screen For Zika-Related Epilepsy In Infants Born To Infected Moms
Federal health officials writing in a medical journal on Monday urged doctors to be on the lookout for Zika-related seizures and epilepsy among infants born to mothers infected with the virus while pregnant. Citing recent studies that found seizures and epilepsy reported in some infants exposed to Zika while in the womb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that cases of epilepsy caused by the virus may be misdiagnosed or under reported. (Chang, 4/17)

The New York Times: In A Dragon’s Blood, Scientists Discover A Potential Antibiotic
Biochemists may have discovered a type of antibiotic that sounds like something out of a fairy tale: It is based on dragon blood. Scientists from George Mason University recently isolated a substance in the blood of a Komodo dragon that appeared to have powerful germ-killing abilities. Inspired by the discovery, they created a similar chemical in the lab and dubbed it DRGN-1. (McNeil, 4/17)

San Jose Mercury News: California: Breast Cancer Rates Increasing Among Asian-Americans
While breast cancer rates have plateaued or declined in some racial groups, they have been steadily rising among Asian-Americans since 1988. The new findings, released last week by the Fremont-based Cancer Prevention Institute of California, show the largest increase in breast cancer rates in the Golden State is occurring among Koreans and Southeast Asians. (Seipel, 4/17)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.