(BBC) – A nurse left paralysed in Nanjing, a doctor with his throat slashed in Hebei and another beaten to death with a pipe in Heilongjiang. Three separate incidents all of which took place in China over the past two weeks. They are, of course, savage and shocking in their own right. Even more troubling though is the fact that they are not isolated cases but the latest in a growing crisis of violence at the heart of China’s healthcare system. It is leaving a trail of bereavement in its wake.
(New Scientist) – PANCREATIC cancer’s deadliest trick could be its undoing. Despite each person’s tumours having very different genetic mutations, they all cause the same metabolic changes that help it grow. What’s more, drugs already exist that can block the process. Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all common cancers – 95 per cent of people die within five years of diagnosis. One reason it is so deadly is that no two cases are genetically the same.
(ABC News) – The first soccer player to be diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has drawn attention to the possibility that a sport formerly thought of as “safer” than football or hockey can still result degenerative effects on the neurological system. Patrick Grange died at age 29 in 2012 from a degenerative motor-neuron disease likely related to his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After his death, Grange’s brain was found to have signs of the degenerative neurological disorder called CTE.
(Nature News) – The United Kingdom today inched closer to legalizing a controversial method of reproduction, known as mitochondrial replacement, or ‘three-parent IVF’. The Department of Health announced a public consultation of draft legislation that would allow the procedures, which are intended to prevent children from inheriting diseases caused by faulty mitochondria. The consultation, which runs until 21 May, is an early step toward amending the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which would allow the mitochondrial replacement procedures.
(Medical Xpress) – A single injection of stem cells into degenerative discs reduced low back pain for at least 12 months according to results of a 100-patient, phase II, international clinical trial that included researchers at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. W. Jeremy Beckworth, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehab Medicine, was part of the trial that used injections of bone marrow stem cells called mesenchymal precursor cells (MPCs) to reduce pain. On average researchers found a pain reduction greater than 50 percent at 12 months.
(Medical Xpress) – Max Ortiz Catalan, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, has developed a new method for the treatment of phantom limb pain (PLP) after an amputation. The method is based on a unique combination of several technologies, and has been initially tested on a patient who has suffered from severe phantom limb pain for 48 years. A case study shows a drastic reduction of pain.
(Medical Xpress) – Cincinnati Cancer Center (CCC) and UC Cancer Institute researchers have found that a vaccine, targeting tumors that produce a certain protein and receptor responsible for communication between cells and the body’s immune system, could initiate the immune response to fight cancer. These findings, published in the Feb. 27 online edition of the journal Gene Therapy, build on previously reported research and could lead to new treatments for cancer.
(Korean Times) – The Supreme Court Thursday upheld a suspended jail term of one year and six months for two years issued to stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk after he was convicted on charges of embezzlement and violation of the Bioethics Law. “The appellate court’s judgment that Hwang had concealed and used research funds invested on his research project was justifiable,” the top court said in its ruling. It added that Hwang had violated the Bioethics Law by deducting sterilization fees for women who donating ova during his research.
(New York Times) – Recently one of us attended a daylong retreat designed to help doctors communicate more effectively with patients. The course was taught by a colleague with whom we had consulted in the past on patient-related matters but who was known better by his reputation, which was almost laughably stereotypical: brilliant technically, but stunted when it came to interacting with people.
(Medical News Today) – UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers created new nerve cells in the brains and spinal cords of living mammals without the need for stem cell transplants to replenish lost cells. Although the research indicates it may someday be possible to regenerate neurons from the body’s own cells to repair traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers stressed that it is too soon to know whether the neurons created in these initial studies resulted in any functional improvements, a goal for future research.
(BBC) – Medical charity MSF has warned its work in South Sudan is being jeopardised as a result of “brutal” attacks on medical facilities in which patients and its hospital staff have also been targeted. Hundreds of thousands of people have been effectively denied lifesaving assistance, MSF says in a new report. Fighting between the government and rebels since mid-December has displaced about 860,000 people, the UN says.
(The Telegraph) – Doctors should stop prescribing statins and blood pressure drugs to over 80s because they have little effect and many older people would rather be allowed to die naturally, a health expert has warned. More than two million people over 80 in Britain are currently prescribed pills to prevent strokes and heart attacks with many drugs causing debilitating side-effects. Dr Kit Byatt, a specialist in geriatric medicine at The County Hospital, Hereford, claims many older people ‘see death as the next natural event’ and do not want the burden of medication.
(New York Times) – At a news conference late last week, an Egyptian Army doctor confidently announced that the country’s military had developed a cure for the virus that causes AIDS, as well as hepatitis C, one of Egypt’s gravest public health threats. The doctor, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Abdul Atti, said the cures were the result of 22 years of his own study. At some point, he added, military intelligence had taken on his research as a secret project.
(New York Times) – In an unusual joint paper being published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency said that assertions by some researchers that the drugs could cause pancreatic inflammation and pancreatic cancer were “inconsistent with the current data.” The drugs in question have billions of dollars in collective sales. They include Januvia, sold by Merck; Victoza, sold by Novo Nordisk; and AstraZeneca’s drugs Onglyza, Byetta and Bydureon.
(BBC) – A wide range of disorders and problems in school-age children have been linked to delayed fatherhood in a major study involving millions of people. Increased rates of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems were all reported. The study, in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests mutated sperm were to blame.
(Associated Press) – As deaths from heroin and powerful painkillers skyrocket nationwide, governments and clinics are working to put a drug that can reverse an opiate overdose into the hands of more paramedics, police officers and the people advocates say are the most critical group – people who abuse drugs, and their friends and families.
(Los Angeles Times) – It’s billed as a faster, safer and more accurate way of screening expectant mothers for fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome, and proponents say it has already become the standard for prenatal care. But as a handful of California companies market their DNA-testing services to a growing number of pregnant women, some experts complain that the tests have not been proven effective in the kind of rigorous clinical trials that are required of new drugs.
(Wired) – Billy Boyle is cofounder and president of operations at Owlstone Nanotech, whose sensors can be programmed to filter out and quantify chemicals by odour. The technology has the potential to “sniff out” illnesses such as lung and colon cancer, similar to how dogs sniff out drugs or explosives at airports. Boyle will be speaking at Wired Health on 29 April.
(Fox News) – U.S. medical advisers are considering whether there is scientific justification for allowing human studies of a controversial procedure known as “three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF),” a technique supporters say could prevent horrific genetic defects but that critics believe could lead to designer babies. During two days of public hearings starting on Tuesday, scientists were scheduled to present their research to outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
(Los Angeles Times) – The seasonal flu has met its enemy, and it’s calculus. A theoretical physicist and computational biologist analyzed the genetic code of thousands of strains of Influenza A that occurred over a 44-year period to create a model that accurately predicts which strain will prevail in the pitched evolutionary battle between human antibodies and the rapidly mutating virus. Their method proved more accurate for selecting an appropriate vaccine than the current method used by public health officials, according to a report published online Wednesday in the journalNature.