Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

When Pat (now 71) was in her 40s, her vaginal dryness became so severe that the vaginal tissue would flare with even a gentle wipe. She’d been exposed to a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol) when she was in utero, which caused myriad health issues as she grew up, and was likely behind the dryness. For her, coconut oil made a huge difference. “If only I had known I was not alone with this personal issue,” she says. Vaginal dryness is likely more common than you think. It can affect women of any age, but is especially prevalent among those who…

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On May 10, 2021 Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine had been granted emergency-use authorization for kids ages 12 to 15. Since then, lower doses of the shot have been authorized for children aged 6-11. Many children have received the vaccinations, but a large population of children without the shots remains, as officials report a new variant could cause a small, but noticeable new wave of cases soon. With the FDA reviewing data from Moderna’s trials and Pfizer extending its trial to include a third shot in hopes of coaxing a more robust immune response in children 6 months to…

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None of the COVID-19 vaccinations guarantee immunocompromised people much protection from the disease, but now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an antibody engineered to protect you from getting COVID-19.  Only 27% of transplant recipients, for example, who are severely immunocompromised,  mounted a sufficient antibody response after two doses of an mRNA vaccine, made by Moderna and Pfizer. The immunocompromised state is due to drugs prescribed to prevent their immune systems from rejecting a new organ.  The FDA lists the following conditions as likely to leave you moderately or severely immunocompromised: Active treatment for solid tumor and…

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A new chemotherapy drug promises to treat some patients with pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who have been unable to take the other two other chemo medicines because one can cause allergic reactions and the other is frequently in short supply.  This summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fast-tracked the approval of Rylaze, a newer version of the chemo drug Erwinaze to treat ALL, made by Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which was previously distributed Erwinaze. The agency approved Rylaze based on an ongoing Phase 2/3 trial of about 102 patients, with an average age of 10.  The rare disease ALL affects…

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May 26 Update: Only 62.6% of patients taking methotrexate, an immunosuppressant drug used in some cancer patients, mounted an effective antibody response to Pfizer’s vaccine, according to a study Stephanie, a Stage 4 endometrial cancer patient who has undergone both chemotherapy and immunotherapy since 2019, has been especially cautious throughout the pandemic. “We know how deadly this virus is, especially for older people and those who are immunocompromised,” like herself, she says. “And if not lethal, the complications for Covid-19 survivors are severe.”  The jury is still out on how exactly the COVID-19 vaccine affects cancer patients. Yet some studies point…

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MedShadow is introducing a weekly news feature called Quick Hits: brief summaries of recent news items related to our mission. Light therapy is under investigation as a way to ease the fatigue and depression that people with cancer often suffer from. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City conducted a series of clinical trials examining whether regular exposure to bright white light from a light box could improve their symptoms. In the latest trial, cancer patients exposed to the bright white light saw their depression symptoms subside much more than a control group…

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