A new study shows that a drug usually used to treat erectile dysfunction could help boys with the fatal disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, states that doses of Cialis appeared to improve blood flow to the boys' muscles, USA Today reports. The sample size was very small, with just 10 boys taking part, and the drug likely won't change the course of the disease, but the doctors involved believe the promising findings merit further research.
"We had really striking results," says Ronald Victor, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the leader of the study. After the muscle cells were studied, "it looked like a complete correction of the blood flow abnormality."
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is most often discovered in boys between the ages of 4 and 8. Their muscles begin to grow weak because the body is unable to produce a protein called dystrophin, which gives muscles their structure and sends out signals to the cells (including to repair damage done by exercising). People with the disorder usually die in their 20s, or even earlier, when their heart or diaphragm (both muscles) gives out.
There were some side effects during the trial, as to be expected; many of the subjects had prolonged erections while on the drug, although the boys told researchers they were not painful. When a lower dose was taken, the Cialis seemed to normalize blood flow to the skeletal muscles, USA Today reports, and a higher dose allowed the muscles to recover after exercise. Another erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, was also tested, but it had to be taken as much as three times a day — more often than the Cialis — and could not be taken with food. Catherine Garcia
Republicans released their final tax bill Friday, the result of conference between the House and Senate. The final legislation proposes seven tax brackets for individual earners, with the top rate capped at 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent. The corporate tax rate is lowered to 21 percent from 35 percent.
Dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill overall includes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The latest version notably retains a deduction for state and local taxes, which had been scrapped from versions of the bill in both the House and Senate to the consternation of some Republicans in California and the Northeast. It also expands the child tax credit to be fully refundable up to $1400 — a concession to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — as well as preserves deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.
After the child tax credit expansion prompted Rubio earlier Friday to flip to a "yes" vote, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) also announced that he would back the bill, likely sealing enough support for the bill to pass the Senate and hit President Trump's desk. Republicans have said they hope to deliver the measure to the president by Christmas.
Critics of the bill warn that the sweeping tax cuts are not sufficiently offset and will cause the federal deficit to balloon. Read more about the bill at The Wall Street Journal, or see a summary of its contents below. Kimberly Alters
Summary of final GOP tax bill - House members are currently being briefed on a conference call pic.twitter.com/z1AqIRWqpS
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) December 15, 2017
If you want easy money, don't bet on the Golden State Warriors. ESPN reported Friday that final scores in Warriors games this season are an average of 10.5 points off of their predicted point spread — a nightmare for bettors.
In point-spread betting, gamblers bet on the difference, aka "spread," of a game's final score. And while the defending NBA champions win most of their games, their quality of play fluctuates drastically from night to night, which means the scoreboard's final tallies are extremely unpredictable. Professional bettor Erin Rynning summed up the issue to ESPN: "It's a headache. You do all this research and you want to think you're going to get 100 percent effort ... [but they] are bored. They have bigger fish to fry."
In order to minimize fatigue in the long 82-game regular season — not to mention conserve energy for an expected lengthy postseason run — the Warriors generally rest one or two key players per game under the guise of a minor "injury." These rests rarely lead to actual losses for the Dubs, but the absence of a star player like point guard Stephen Curry can lead to reduced margins of victory that mess with the spread. The Warriors are also notorious for playing possum in the first half of games and then either racing to huge leads in the second half or squeaking out victories in a game's final minutes.
While the Warriors' ability to "flip the switch" makes for great TV, it doesn't make for good predictions. In a season where the Warriors' actual win-loss record is 23-6, their record against the point spread is only 14-15. Read more at ESPN. Kelly O'Meara Morales
President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has at long last managed to convince a U.S. District Court judge to allow him to leave the Virginia condominium where he's been serving his detention in favor of staying in his home in Palm Beach Garden, Florida, The Washington Post's Spencer Hsu reports. Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were indicted in October as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Manafort stands accused of massive financial crimes, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, false statements, and "conspiracy against the United States."
In early December, Manafort reached an $11 million bail agreement by pledging four properties — the Virginia condo and Florida house, as well as a Manhattan condo and a home in Bridgehampton, New York. (His Trump Tower apartment was apparently not valuable enough to make the cut.) But life in Florida will follow strict guidelines, seeing as Mueller's team views Manafort as a serious flight risk. For one, Manafort must "stay away from transportation facilities, including airports, train station, bus stations, and private airports," the documents stipulate.
Manafort additionally must obtain permission from the court for "any other domestic travel" and is "subject to electronic GPS monitoring," the judge ordered. He also has a curfew of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is stricter even than what is recommended for most high schoolers. As "teen parenting expert and clinical psychologist" Jerry Weichman recommends to Mom.me, "For juniors, [a curfew] between 11 and midnight, and between midnight and 1 a.m. for seniors."
Read the full documents below. Jeva Lange
Judge Jackson approves ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's release pending trial to his Palm Beach County, Fla. home on $10M bond, secured by 4 homes, under nightly curfew, GPS monitoring pic.twitter.com/G6NWgec0Rs
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) December 15, 2017
GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), a holdout on his party's tax reform plan, flipped to a "yes" vote Friday, essentially sealing sufficient support for the bill to pass. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another hesitant vote, confirmed his "yes" earlier Friday.
"This bill is far from perfect, and left to my own accord, we would have reached a bipartisan consensus on legislation that avoided any chance of adding to the deficit," Corker wrote, but nevertheless "I believe that this [is a] once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive."
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have had health problems that have kept them from voting in recent days. The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate for the tax legislation to pass. Read Corker's full statement below. Jeva Lange
JUST IN: Sen. Bob Corker announces support for GOP tax reform bill pic.twitter.com/Fp7v8wQ18F
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) December 15, 2017
Researchers in Germany have zeroed in on a new cancer-fighting tool: magnetic sperm.
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research found that when sperm carrying a common chemotherapy drug were outfitted with what New Scientist described as "tiny, four-armed magnetic harnesses" and released near cervical cancer cells, the supercharged swimmers were able to eliminate 87 percent of the malignant cells they encountered in just three days. The harnesses "allowed [the sperm] to be guided by magnets," New Scientist explained, and thus more effectively reach the cancerous cells and deliver the medication.
New Scientist noted that sperm are a particularly convenient vessel for fighting illnesses associated with the female reproductive tract — like cervical cancer — because they have biological familiarity with the area. The researchers additionally hope sperm could be outfitted with medicines to combat endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies.
The most important takeaway though, per New Scientist, is that the use of these magnetized "spermbots" could make chemotherapy more effective and less painful for cancer patients, as more targeted drug delivery could reduce the amount of healthy cells lost to collateral damage — a common issue for people undergoing chemotherapy. Watch a video of the spermbots at work below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
In an effort to protect children from sexual abuse, Australia has put forth an interesting proposal: Catholic priests should no longer be forced into involuntary celibacy.
BBC reported that the Australian Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, a public inquiry panel convened to examine how children are exploited and abused within society frameworks like churches and schools, published that recommendation Friday as part of its final report after a five-year study. The panel claimed involuntary celibacy could contribute to "psychosexual immaturity" in Catholic clergy, which could in turn put children at risk.
Although the commission is careful not to claim that Church-sanctioned virility is the ultimate solution to ending child sex abuse, the report does note that celibacy "contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors." The commission also recommended mandatory reporting of abuse by those who work as early childhood workers, registered psychologists, and religious ministers.
The commission received over 40,000 phone calls and 1,300 written accounts of child sexual abuse from the public, as well as reviewed more than 8,000 cases since 2013. The commission found schoolteachers and religious ministers were the most common perpetrators of child sex abuse, and that Catholic priests accounted for over 60 percent of reported abusers in the religious community.
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, said in a statement that child abuse was part of "a shameful past, in which a prevailing culture of secrecy and self-protection led to unnecessary suffering for many victims and their families."
Republicans made last-minute changes to their tax overhaul legislation Friday to win over holdouts like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), CNBC News reports. Rubio told reporters Thursday he wouldn't support the legislation unless it increases the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) confirmed the party will increase the refundable portion to $1,400, up from $1,100. "I believe that we're in a good spot and we should be able to earn his support," Noem said.
A spokesperson for Rubio's office said they hadn't seen the update, "and until we see if the percentage of the refundable credit is significantly higher, then our position remains the same." The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate. Jeva Lange