What We're Reading: Infant Mortality Levels Off; AI Predicts Kidney Injury; CRISPR Patent Battle

August 1, 2019

Infant mortality rates in 2017 were not statistically different from those in 2016; a Google algorithm can predict sudden kidney deterioration 2 days in advance; the patent battle over the use of CRISPR genome editing continues.

Infant Mortality Unchanged From 2016

Algorithm Can Predict Those At Risk of Kidney Condition

CRISPR Patent Battle Continues

In 2017, there were a total of 22,341 reported infant deaths in the United States, representing an infant mortality rate of 5.79 infant deaths per 1000 live births, according to new CDC data. This was not statistically different from the rate of 5.87 infant deaths per 1000 live births in 2016. Mortality rates ranged from a low of 3.66 in Massachusetts to a high of 8.73 in Mississippi in 2017. Infants of non-Hispanic black women had the highest mortality rate (10.97), as did infants born to women under the age of 20. The 5 leading causes of death of infants in 2017 were congenital malformations (21%), disorders related to short gestation and low birthweight (17%), maternal complications (6%), sudden infant death syndrome (6%), and unintentional injuries (6%).DeepMind Health Laboratories, Google’s artificial intelligence unit, has developed an algorithm that can predict sudden deterioration of kidney function 2 days in advance with 55.8% accuracy. For patients with more severe kidney injuries, like those that later required dialysis, the algorithm’s accuracy was closer to 90%, according to findings published in Nature. Some healthcare technology experts have warned that the algorithm needs further testing before it could be applied in a hospital, which sees a wide array of patients, reported The Wall Street Journal.In the latest development in the 4-year patent battle over the use of CRISPR genome editing in animal cells, attorneys for the University of California and its partners are alleging that the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard lied about who created the technology, and that the institute’s lead CRISPR scientist Feng Zhang knowingly made false statements to the patent office, reported STAT News. The legal documents claim the institute tried to “deceive the Office” in order to win patents on CRISPR, that another scientist made a false statement about when Zhang’s lab got the technology to work, and that Zhang didn’t know what molecules the technology needed until reading a rival’s paper, all of which make his work “unpatentable.”