National News

The benefits of developing an Ebola vaccine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 02:00

This week, the National Institutes of Health begins testing an Ebola vaccine in humans. Given the need to quickly stem the deadly outbreak in West Africa, global health officials hope to push a vaccine to market.

While there's currently a market for an Ebola vaccine, it’s small, and Ebola isn’t a disease that keeps popping up year-after-year. 

“It’s not all about economics,” says Dr. Carlos Del Rio, chair of the Department of Global Health at Emory University. He says developing the vaccine is also about building good PR for a company. “There’s a value to that publicity, right?”

Right, says Kenneth Kaitin, director of the Center for Drug Development at Tufts University. But Kaitin says there is also the potential for a huge payoff, especially for smaller companies. 

Think of it as a pharmaceutical version of “Cap and Trade.”

“A program that the FDA put in place several years ago gives a priority review voucher to any company developing a product for a neglected or tropical disease,” says Kaitin.

Ebola is a perfect exampleThat pharma company can sell the voucher to another drug maker. The “golden ticket” gets the purchaser a fast track to federal regulators for any other drug in its portfolio.

One voucher recently sold for more than $67 million.  

How Facebook helps advertisers target ads in India

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-09-02 02:00

The social media giant Facebook has well over 100 million users in India, a nation that could overtake the U.S. as the top Facebook market as early as next year.

To capitalize in emerging countries like India, Facebook is now providing advertisers with data on cell reception and connection. The information helps match ads to user technology. For example, Coca Cola could send a video ad to people in cities with 4G LTE, or turn it into a text ad for people in rural areas where connections are spotty and data networks are limited.

It’s a way to help advertisers better reach the population they’re addressing, says Anne Nelson, who specializes in international media development at Columbia University.

This is important because most users in places like India are on pay-as-you-go data plans, says Nathan Eagle, the CEO of Jana, a mobile marketing platform.

“Advertising for most people in these emerging markets ultimately is taking money out of their pockets,” he says.

With over a billion potential Facebook users in India, that's probably not the best way to make a first impression.

 

FBI, Apple Investigate Claims Nude Celebrity Photos Posted Online

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 21:32

The FBI is looking into allegations that online accounts of several celebrities had been hacked. Apple says it is determining whether its online photo-sharing service had been hacked.

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U.S. Military Forces Targeted Extremist Network In Somalia

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 21:10

A day after an Islamic-extremist group launched an attack in Somalia, U.S. military forces have struck back. A Pentagon spokesman says the results of the operation are being assessed.

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Can tablets really help kids learn to read?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-01 19:15

Can tablets and apps help children learn to read? It feels like a simple question, but the answer is complicated.

For starters, technology is moving fast, and there hasn't been time for solid scientific consensus to develop on whether and how devices like tablets should be used to help children improve their reading skills.

That hasn't stopped school systems around the country from buying in, and we heard this week about tablets in schools from Marketplace's LearningCurve reporter Adriene Hill.

But beyond schools and teachers, what about parents who want their children to have top notch reading skills in a changing environment?

Jason Boog is the author of "Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age." Boog says that there is some agreement in the scientific community on a few important points.

Click the media player above to hear Jason Boog in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

One thing neuroscientists seem to agree that kids shouldn't be playing with tablets and smartphones until they're over two years of age. Another is that whatever apps or technology we use to try and improve our kids' reading skills, there is no real alternative for a real human being reading with and to a child. 

 

NATO To Create New 'Spearhead' Force For Eastern Europe

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 18:49

NATO leaders are expected this week to set up a rapid-response force to defend against potential Russian aggression.

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