TIME Research

Ann Romney Launches Center, Says Family ‘Done’ With Campaigning

“Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done”

As the political world speculates about a potential third Mitt Romney bid for president, Ann Romney has other things on her mind. On Tuesday, she launched a center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston aimed at solving some of the world’s most devastating neurological diseases.

Ann Romney also laid to rest any rumors that her husband might run again, the Los Angeles Times reported. “Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done. Done. Done. Done,” she said.

“By combining Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s unique assets with the world’s most advanced resources and minds, the center will accelerate life-giving breakthroughs,” the hospital’s president Betsy Nabel said in a press release.

Ann Romney said her personal experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) and the work of the doctors at Brigham and Women’s inspired the center.

“I know firsthand how terrifying and devastating these neurologic diseases can be, and I want to do everything in my power to help change outcomes for future generations,” she said in a press release. “The team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital gave me the gift of enduring hope and that is what this center is about.”

The center, planned to open in 2016, will focus on preventing and curing MS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Read next: The Pros and Cons of ‘President Grandma’

TIME ebola

Heathrow Airport Starts Screening for Ebola

Ebola screening to begin at London's Heathrow Airport
Passengers walk at Heathrow Airport in London on Oct. 14, 2014. Andy Rain—EPA

A health official says he expects a "handful" of cases to enter the UK

England’s Heathrow airport began screening passengers for Ebola Tuesday.

Arrivals from at-risk countries in West Africa will be subject to filling out a questionnaire and having their temperature taken before the process gets rolled out to other terminals within Heathrow and then other airports including Gatwick and Eurostar. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that although the UK’s Ebola risk is low, he expects a “handful” of cases to enter the region, the BBC reports.

Health officials said anyone suspected to have Ebola will be taken to a hospital, while those who are asymptomatic but high-risk, having reported prior contact with patients, will receive daily follow-ups.

Journalist Sorious Samura, who traveled back from Monrovia, Liberia, through Brussels and into Heathrow, told The Guardian that he underwent the screening — but noted that it was optional.

“I could have just come throughout without any screening. That is how scary it is,” he said. “They asked for various details, about the symptoms, whether you experienced any of the symptoms, did you experience headaches, vomiting and things like that, and then they did my temperature using the normal equipment that you put in someone’s ear.”

“[The screening] appears not to be a scientific decision but a political one,” Dr. Ron Behrens from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told The Telegraph, noting that it will benefit few but disrupt “large numbers of people.”

Health Secretary Hunt said that approximately 89% of people entering the UK from impacted regions would get checked, since some might take an indirect route in the airport that avoids the screening area. He added, “This government’s first priority is the safety of the British people.”

Read next: Ebola Health Care Workers Face Hard Choices

TIME Sex

Parents and Teens Aren’t Embarrassed by the Sex Talk Anymore

Condoms Teens Sex
Getty Images

But there's still a lot more conversations that need to happen, according to new data shared exclusively with TIME

Adolescence is an entirely new beast in the era of high-speed Internet and smartphones. People have never been so easy to chat with nor has content been so easy to download–and that adds a new layer to the parental ritual of having “the talk.” But new data shows that while parents and young people are perfectly willing to chat about sex, they may not be doing it as often as they should.

Planned Parenthood and and New York University’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,663 pairs of parents and their children, ages 9-21, to get a sense of how American families of all backgrounds are communicating about sex and healthy relationships. What the inquiry found was that eight out of 10 young people have talked to their parents about sexuality. Among those pairs, about half of the parents said they started having the talk with their kids by age 10 and 80% initiated the conversation by age 13.

While a high majority of parents (80%) talked to their kids about sexuality beyond the basics, like peer pressure and how to stay safe online, responses also revealed that they weren’t doing it all that frequently. Over 20% of parents said they’d never talked to their 15-21-year-olds about strategies for saying no to sex, birth control methods, or where to get accurate sexual health information, and over 30% hadn’t talked to their kids about where to get reproductive health services.

“The great news is that parents and teens are talking about these topics,” says Leslie Kantor, vice president of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Most parents and their children report starting these conversations before the age of 14, and they are talking about topics like peer pressure, puberty and staying safe online. The bad news is that people don’t necessarily have a lot of conversations, so [it] doesn’t become ongoing.”

Although most parents and young people said they didn’t feel embarrassed to talk about sex, nor felt they needed to rely on schools to do it, sometimes parents weren’t very clear about their stance on virginity. For instance, 61% of parents want young people to wait to have sex until they can handle the responsibility (45% advocated waiting for marriage), but only 52% of parents talked to their kids about sexual values, regardless of their beliefs.

Experts suggest that starting the conversation may be the trickiest part. “Young people are dealing with some different contexts than in the past,” says Kantor, citing the pervasiveness of social media. “When was I was growing up, I couldn’t meet up with someone by meeting them on a game online. These things didn’t used to happen.”

Kantor says parents are learning to deal with circumstances they never experienced themselves, and therefore feel like they can’t keep up, or don’t really know where to start when it comes to sexuality in the digital age.

Sometimes, using the same technologies can be the best way to ensure positive learning opportunities–an idea Planned Parenthood has adopted. If young people are getting a lot of sex education from the media other online sources—more than 75% of primetime programming contains sexual content—then parents and educators can harness that for the good.

Planned Parenthood has set up chat and text sex education programs that allow young people to chat in realtime with a PP staffer about everything from STD to morning-after pill questions. In September alone, there were 10,974 conversations, and since the launch in May this year, there have been a total of 393,174. The organization also has an Awkward or Not app that takes young people through an online quiz that gives them the chance to send their parents a text to start a conversation about dating and sex.

“We are very committed to ensuring that parents are the primary sex educators of their own kids,” says Kantor. “Use TV as an opportunity. Even if the show is sending a terrible message, it gives you a chance to get in there with something else. For example, asking, ”Is this what people look like at your school? Not everyone is size two.'”

Ultimately, 90% of parents surveyed said they think that sex ed should be taught in both middle school and high school, which is telling in a country where abstinence-only education is still a mainstay and often sex ed is reserved to a brief health or gym class period—or in some places is entirely non-existent. There’s a lot of incomplete or incorrect information out there when it comes to sexuality, and if parents and young people really don’t feel that embarrassed to have these conversations, then it’s time to break the ice.

Read next: How Nudity Became the New Normal

TIME ebola

German Hospital: U.N. Worker Dies of Ebola

He was the third Ebola patient flown to Germany for treatment

(BERLIN) — A United Nations medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died despite “intensive medical procedures,” a German hospital said Tuesday.

The St. Georg hospital in Leipzig said the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight of the infection. It released no further details and did not answer telephone calls.

The man tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 6, prompting Liberia’s UN peacekeeping mission to place 41 staff members who had possibly been in contact with him under “close medical observation.”

He arrived in Leipzig for treatment on Oct. 9 where he was put into a special isolation unit.

The man was the third Ebola patient to be flown to Germany for treatment.

The first patient, a Senegalese man infected with Ebola while working for the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone was brought to a Hamburg hospital in late August for treatment. The man was released Oct. 3 after recovering and returned to his home country, the hospital said.

Another patient, a Ugandan man who worked for an Italian aid group in West Africa, is undergoing treatment in a Frankfurt hospital.

TIME ebola

Los Angeles Bus Passenger Yells ‘I Have Ebola’

A Los Angeles bus rider is either sick with Ebola or playing a sick joke

Los Angeles authorities are investigating what is being treated as a terrorist threat, after a masked passenger on a local bus yelled, “Don’t mess with me, I have Ebola!”

The driver of the bus has been quarantined, and the vehicle has been pulled out of service, the Los Angeles Times reports. Meanwhile, the passenger fled the scene and has not yet been identified, according to the newspaper.

Officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told the Times they doubt the passenger has the virus and suspect his claim was hoax. Still, metro officials said the incident is being investigated as a possible terrorist threat and are working with authorities to identify the man through onboard surveillance footage.

The U.S. has been on heightened alert for Ebola, the virus besieging West Africa, since a Dallas nurse last week became the first person to contract the virus on U.S. soil, after treating a Liberian man who arrived in Texas with the disease.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Autism

Broccoli-Sprout Compound Could Help With Autism, Study Suggests

The study was "interesting and important" but ultimately too small to make a clear link, one medical researcher said

A broccoli sprout compound may help with behavioral problems in some people with autism, a new study suggests.

Though the short-term study was small and did not see improvements in a third of the participants, it was still “promising” according to the lead researcher, CBS reports.

“This is just one study, and it’s a preliminary study,” said Dr. Kanwaljit Singh from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

44 boys and men with autism between the ages of 13 and 27 took part in the study. Some received sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and other vegetables that has previously been studied for its health benefits, while others received a placebo.

The compound was chosen because it can help trigger a heat-shock response, a series of biological events that protect cells from stress during fevers; some people with autism have been known to see improvement in regard to repetitive behaviors, for example, during fevers. Around 80 percent of the participants had a history of experiencing the “fever effect.”

Within four weeks of the 18-week study, parents were already seeing improvements in areas of communication, hyperactivity and irritability. Researchers, unaware of which participants were receiving a placebo, noticed similar changes. By week 18, roughly half of the sulforaphane participants had better social interactions, and, four weeks after the study and the sulforaphane stopped, such improvements were less apparent.

The head of medical research for the organization Autism Speaks, Dr. Paul Wang, said the study was “interesting and important” but ultimately too small to tell for sure whether the compound can help with autism treatment.

[CBS]

TIME Infectious Disease

About 70 Hospital Staffers Cared for Ebola Patient

(DALLAS) — They drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhea. They analyzed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.

About 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized, including a nurse now being treated for the same Ebola virus that killed the Liberian man who was visiting Dallas, according to medical records his family provided to The Associated Press.

The size of the medical team reflects the hospital’s intense effort to save Duncan’s life, but it also suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus during Duncan’s time in an isolation unit.

On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the infection of the nurse means the agency must broaden the pool of people getting close monitoring. Authorities have said they do not know how the nurse was infected, but they suspect some kind of breach in the hospital’s protocol.

The medical records given to the AP offer clues, both to what happened and who was involved, but the hospital says the CDC does not have them.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who studies mental health epidemiology, said the apparent breach is a grave concern that she compared to “a puddle of gasoline that is spreading out, and the match could be lit at any time.”

Until now, the CDC has been actively monitoring 48 people who might have had contact with Duncan after he fell ill with an infection but before he was put in isolation. The number included 10 people known to have contact and 38 who may have had contact, including people he was staying with and health care professionals who attended to him during an emergency room visit from which he was sent home. None is sick.

The CDC has not yet established a firm number of health care workers who had contact with Duncan.

“If this one individual was infected — and we don’t know how — within the isolation unit, then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “We do not today have a number of such exposed people or potentially exposed health care workers. It’s a relatively large number, we think in the end.”

Caregivers who began treating Duncan after he tested positive for Ebola were following a “self-monitoring regimen” in which they were instructed to take their temperatures regularly and report any symptoms. But they were not considered at high risk.

Typically, the nurses, doctors and technicians caring for a contagious patient in isolation would be treating other people as well and going home to their families after decontaminating themselves. The hospital has refused to answer questions about their specific duties.

The 1,400-plus pages of medical records show that nurses, doctors and other hospital employees wore face shields, double gowns, protective footwear and even hazmat suits to avoid touching any of Duncan’s bodily fluids. Ebola spreads through direct contact with those fluids, usually blood, feces and vomit. The virus has also been detected in urine, semen and breast milk, and it may be in saliva and tears.

CDC officials said there were chinks in that protection at Texas Presbyterian, but they have not identified them and are investigating.

A CDC spokesman did not dispute that the agency did not have the medical records, and said he would double check. It’s unclear why those reports are not in the hands of federal health investigators.

“Patient had large, extremely watery diarrhea,” a nurse wrote in a report filed the day Duncan tested positive.

Another nurse noted that Duncan’s urine was “darker in color with noted blood streaks.”

It was unclear from the records released to the AP how many of the approximately 70 individuals involved in Duncan’s care had direct contact with his body or fluids.

Dr. Aileen Marty, a World Health Organization doctor who recently returned to Florida International University after a month fighting Ebola in Nigeria, said no amount of protection is going to help if hospital workers do not put on and take off their protective layers carefully.

“The first thing in caring for someone with Ebola is to do everything in your power to never become a victim,” she said.

And tracking all contacts, even within the medical setting, is complicated.

Generally, the first step in locating care providers for isolated infected patients is a personnel log on the door, “that should have everyone going in and out, signing in and out,” said Dr. Lisa Esolen, Geisinger Health System’s Medical Director of Health Services and Infection Prevention and Control. Medical records indicate the Dallas hospital had a log.

On the day before Duncan died, records indicate that at least nine caregivers entered and exited the room.

A spokesman for Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, said the CDC probably has a log from the room door that would list everyone who got close to Duncan.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, who heads Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s infectious-disease department and has worked with the CDC in the past, said the expanding monitoring “is an abundance of caution that’s probably beyond what needs to be done” because medical caregivers will notice if they’re getting a fever, and they’re not contagious until that point.

“You start to know when you get those body aches and headaches, most people know that,” he said. “It’s not like you’re surprised by it. Most people can figure out what to do when that happens.”

TIME health

Ebola: The First Glimpse of a Virus

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Transmission Electron Micrograph (TEM) of the Ebola virus, taken by Frederick Murphy Murphy /CDC—Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM

The first researcher to see the Ebola virus under a microscope reflects on the moment

On Oct. 13, 1976, exactly 38 years ago Monday, Frederick A. Murphy, a CDC virologist and expert in photographing viruses peered into a microscope and saw what he describes today as a “dark beauty — [a] horror.”

It was the Ebola virus — and it had never been seen until that moment.

Just a few days earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been delivered a box of specimen from Zaire, where an outbreak of what was thought to be Marburg virus was occurring. The tubes containing the blood and specimens of infected patients had shattered, but Patricia Webb, a CDC virologist, put on gloves and managed to squeeze a drop of the fluid from cotton that had been surrounding the specimens into a tube of monkey kidney cells. A few days later, the monkey cells looked damaged, and Webb gave Murphy a drop of the fluid to process under the microscope.

“My memory is full of that day,” says Murphy who is now a professor of pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “As soon as I looked in the microscope I saw the filamentous virus particles everywhere. This is the weirdest virus we have ever seen.” At the time, Murphy was the only expert at CDC who had looked at another virus called Marburg — only three people had been allowed to study it because it was so dangerous, and two had left the agency. Murphy at first thought the virus might be Marburg, since no other viruses looked like what he was seeing. (Marburg and Ebola are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers; many viruses are typically rounder in shape.)

Murphy called Webb and Karl Johnson, head of CDC Special Pathogens (who would later fly to Zaire and lead a team in containing the outbreak) to come look at the virus. “They were just as flabbergasted as I was,” Murphy recalls. “That’s when the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.”

“The appearance of the virus particles themselves is extraordinary. The pathology of the disease is extraordinary — it’s so damaging and so quick. Then you add the mystery that for 30 years we didn’t know where it lived in nature,” says Murphy. “What’s going on today in Africa just adds to the horror of it.”

Murphy shot some images of the virus in the microscope. Those pictures are still the most commonly available images of the virus, including the photo included in this post and a brightly colored version he created. The trio immediately took the prints past the various levels of bureaucracy and straight to the director of the CDC at the time, Dr. David Sencer. After a couple of hours and additional tests, Webb came in and confirmed that the virus was not Marburg, but something entirely new — what would eventually become known as Ebola, named after the Ebola River in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

“In my years at CDC, which I am proud of, we were looking at infectious diseases and agents that could have caused serious illness or death. It proved that we were not butterfly collectors,” says Murphy, who says that he agrees with NIH director Francis Collins that if it were not for budget cuts, a vaccine would already by ready. “I don’t understand what it takes to get the public’s attention.”

The current Ebola virus has been raging for around seven months now. So far it has infected 8,011 people and killed 3,857 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

See TIME’s complete coverage of Ebola here

TIME neuroscience

This Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Could Be a Game Changer

Scientists recreated what goes on in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients in a 3D culture dish that could speed development of new drugs for the disease

Researchers have overcome a major barrier in the study of Alzheimer’s that could pave the way for breakthroughs in our understanding of the disease, a new report shows—and that new understanding could, in turn, pave the way for drugs that treat or interrupt the progression of the neurodegenerative condition.

For decades, animals have been the stand-ins for studying human disease, and for good reason. Their shorter lifespans mean they can model human conditions in weeks or months, and their cells can be useful for testing promising new drug treatments.

But they haven’t been so helpful in studying Alzheimer’s disease. Two factors contribute to the neurodegenerative condition — the buildup of sticky plaques of the protein amyloid, and the toxic web of another protein, tau, which strangles healthy nerve cells and leaves behind a tangled mess of dead and dying neurons. Despite attempts by scientists to engineer mice who exhibit both factors, they haven’t been able to generate the tau tangles that contribute to the disease.

Now, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi and Dr. Doo Kim at the Mass General Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, have devised a work-around that doesn’t involve animals. They have developed a way to watch the disease progress in a lab dish.

“In this new system that we call ‘Alzheimer’s-in-a-dish,’ we’ve been able to show for the first time that amyloid deposition is sufficient to lead to tangles and subsequent cell death,” said Tanzi in a statement.

MORE: Blood Test for Alzheimer’s

While autopsies showed evidence of both amyloid and tau in the brain, Alzheimer’s experts have been debating for years which came first — do amyloid plaques trigger the formation of tau tangles, or does the presence of tau cause amyloid to get stickier and bunch together in the brain? Tanzi and his colleagues showed definitively for the first time that amyloid is the first step in the Alzheimer’s process, followed by tau tangles. When he blocked the formation of amyloid in the culture with a known amyloid inhibitor, tau tangles never formed.

The disease-in-a-dish model is an emerging way of understanding conditions that either can’t be recapitulated accurately in animals, or diseases that make it difficult to study and test in human patients. In recent years, for example, scientists have successfully recreated the process behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, using stem cells from patients and allowing them to develop into the motor neurons that are affected by the disease. The technique led to a breakthrough in understanding that a certain population of nerve cells known as glial cells poison the motor neurons and impede their normal function. Now experts are focusing on finding ways to control the glial cell activity as possible treatment for ALS.

MORE: How Moodiness and Jealousy May Lead to Alzheimer’s

Tanzi and his team are hoping that something similar will come from their model of Alzheimer’s.

While the genes responsible for the inherited form of Alzheimer’s differ slightly from those involved in the more common form that affects people as they age, the end result — the build up of amyloid plaques and tau tangles — are the same. So now that they can see both the clumps of amyloid and the tau tangles, form, they can start to tease apart the processes that link the two processes together.

That will open the way toward finding drugs or other ways of interrupting the process more quickly than they could working with animals. It took six to eight weeks for the cells in the dish to form plaques and then tangles, compared to a year or so in mice. “We can now screen hundreds of thousands of drugs in this system that recapitulates both plaques and tangles…in a matter of months,” Tanzi said. “This was not possible in mouse models.” The system also makes it possible to test these drug compounds at one-tenth the cost of evaluating them in mice, he said. And that means that finding a way to prevent Alzheimer’s may come both faster and cheaper than scientists had expected.

TIME ebola

CDC Chief Urges U.S. Hospitals to ‘Think Ebola’

Tom Frieden
Dr. Tom Frieden the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speaks at a news conference on Oct. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. John Amis—AP

"Even a single infection is unacceptable"

Hospitals across the United States need to increasingly “think Ebola” while the outbreak in West Africa is ongoing, a top health official said Monday, one day after a second diagnosis in the U.S. was confirmed.

(PHOTOS: See How A Photographer Is Covering Ebola’s Deadly Spread)

“Stopping Ebola is hard, but we are working together to make it easier,” Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference. “Even a single infection is unacceptable.”

Frieden said the health agency has doubled down in Dallas with an even larger team on the ground, helping to track down all health care workers who cared for the first Ebola patient and reiterating the importance of meticulousness in processes like getting in and out of personal protective equipment. Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived from Liberia on Sept. 20, died last week. A nurse who treated him, identified as Nina Pham, 26, was confirmed Sunday to have Ebola.

Frieden insisted his words were misunderstood on Sunday, when he said there was a “breach in protocol,” and that he wasn’t pointing fingers. “People on the frontlines are protecting us. The enemy here is Ebola, not a person, not a hospital,” he said. “We need to all take responsibility for improving the safety on the front lines. I feel awful a health care worker was infected.”

The CDC told TIME that it will continue over the next days and weeks to press importance of its recommendations for hospitals to be prepared for Ebola, and maintain its offering of webinars and trainings for health workers as well as support for hospitals. One new recommendation is that hospitals have a lead person in charge of making sure procedures are followed carefully.

Read next: 5 Ways U.S. Hospitals Need to Get Ready For Ebola

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