The future of medicine and health
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The future of medicine and health
all that concerns the rapid evolution of medicine and health
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Sensoria’s smart clothes send out an SOS if your ticker gets in trouble

Sensoria’s smart clothes send out an SOS if your ticker gets in trouble | The future of medicine and health |
Sensoria has announced a crowdfunding campaign to launch a new line of its heart-rate monitoring t-shirts and sports bras. A new app will also be launched which uses information from the smart clothing to identify if you might be about to suffer a cardiac arrest, and can even alert your nearest and dearest urging them to seek help.
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Gene Therapy Is Curing Hemophilia

Gene Therapy Is Curing Hemophilia | The future of medicine and health |
Earlier this spring, Bill Maurits sat in a waiting room in Philadelphia ready to have a trillion viruses dripped into his body through an I.V. “I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go. I can’t wait,’” he says.

Maurits has hemophilia B, which means his body doesn’t produce enough factor IX, a protein that clots blood. He’s at risk for bleeding and his joints are damaged from all the bruises. Since he was 10, he’s depended on injections of “ridiculously expensive” replacement protein. Lately, his left ankle has been killing him.

In April Maurits, an engineering designer, joined a study in which he was dosed with viruses packed with a correct version of the gene that codes for factor IX. Today at the European Hematology Association’s meeting in Copenhagen, the Philadelphia company that ran the gene-therapy study, Spark Therapeutics, is presenting results on four patients, him included.

In all four, factor IX activity has reached about 30 percent of average. That’s enough to prevent bleeding when you get hit by a baseball or twist your ankle. It’s also been enough to let Maurits go without factor IX replacements since April. “There’s no other explanation than ‘It worked,’” says Maurits.

Sure, gene therapy has been tried before. What’s different is that Spark’s therapy so far appears to work well every time it’s attempted—a consistency that’s eluded previous efforts. “Right now this looks very close to being as good as it gets,” says Edward Tuddenham, a hematologist at University College London, who led a competing study and consults with some of Spark’s rivals.
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Could a device tell your brain to make healthy choices? - Futurity

Could a device tell your brain to make healthy choices? - Futurity | The future of medicine and health |
New research suggests it’s possible to detect when our brain is making a decision and nudge it to make the healthier choice.

In recording moment-to-moment deliberations by macaque monkeys over which option is likely to yield the most fruit juice, scientists have captured the dynamics of decision-making down to millisecond changes in neurons in the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex.

“If we can measure a decision in real time, we can potentially also manipulate it,” says senior author Jonathan Wallis, a neuroscientist and professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “For example, a device could be created that detects when an addict is about to choose a drug and instead bias their brain activity towards a healthier choice.”

Located behind the eyes, the orbitofrontal cortex plays a key role in decision-making and, when damaged, can lead to poor choices and impulsivity.
While previous studies have linked activity in the orbitofrontal cortex to making final decisions, this is the first to track the neural changes that occur during deliberations between different options.
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Why do humans have an innate desire to get high?

Why do humans have an innate desire to get high? | The future of medicine and health |
It’s easy to explain the appeal of drugs like heroin and cocaine, which directly stimulate the brain’s reward centres. What’s less easy to explain is the appeal of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin that produce altered states of consciousness. After all, there’s no obvious reason why unusual patterns of thought and perception – typically, the symptoms of poisoning or illness – should be attractive. And yet, people not only pay money for these experiences, they even run the risk of being imprisoned or worse for doing so. Why is this?

One answer is that these drugs provide short cuts to religious and transcendental experiences that played an important role in human evolution. The logic behind this idea becomes clearer when we look at how human culture was shaped by religious ideas.

For some time, anthropologists have argued that religious people are more cooperative than nonreligious ones. For small groups, the effect of religion is negligible or even negative. However, as group size increases, it seems that religion plays an increasingly important role in creating bonds between strangers. In fact, some scholarship suggests that the emergence of the first city states in the Middle East nearly 12,000 years ago was made possible by belief in “Big Gods”, who supposedly oversaw all human action and guided human affairs.
Why does religion make people more cooperative? On the one hand, the belief that a morally concerned, invisible agent is always watching you makes you less likely to break rules for personal gain. This effect is quite powerful. Research shows that even something as trivial as a picture of a pair of eyes on an honesty box is enough to make people pay three times as much for their drinks.

On the other hand, religion connects people with a reality larger than themselves. This might be the social group that they belong to, it might be life after death, or it might even be the cosmos as a whole. The connection is important because it makes people more willing to cooperate when the results of doing so are not immediately beneficial. If I believe myself to be at one with my tribe, my church or the universe itself, it’s easier to accept others getting the benefits of my hard work.

It is probably this second aspect to religious cooperation than explains the appeal of psychedelic drugs. By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants. This does not mean that humans evolved to take psychedelic drugs. But it does mean that psychedelic drug use can be explained in evolutionary terms as a “hack” that enables transcendent states to be reached quickly.
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High cholesterol 'does not cause heart disease' new research finds, so treating with statins a 'waste of time'

High cholesterol 'does not cause heart disease' new research finds, so treating with statins a 'waste of time' | The future of medicine and health |

cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time, an international group of experts has claimed.

A review of research involving nearly 70,000 people found there was no link between what has traditionally been considered “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease.

Published in the BMJ Open journal, the new study found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level lived longer.

The authors have called for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”.

The results have prompted immediate scepticism from other academics, however, who questioned the paper’s balance.

High cholesterol is commonly caused by an unhealthy diet, and eating high levels of saturated fat in particular, as well as smoking.

It is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins and has been traditionally linked to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aortic disease.

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Air pollution now major contributor to stroke, global study finds

Air pollution now major contributor to stroke, global study finds | The future of medicine and health |
Air pollution has become a major contributor to stroke for the first time, with unclean air now blamed for nearly one third of the years of healthy life lost to the condition worldwide.

In an unprecedented survey of global risk factors for stroke, air pollution in the form of fine particulate matter ranked seventh in terms of its impact on healthy lifespan, while household air pollution from burning solid fuels ranked eighth.

Valery Feigin, director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at Auckland University of Technology, said that while he expected air pollution to emerge as a threat, the extent of the problem had taken researchers by surprise.

“We did not expect the effect would be of this magnitude, or increasing so much over the last two decades,” he said. “Our study is the first to demonstrate a large and increasingly hazardous effect of air pollution on stroke burden worldwide.”

The result is particularly striking because the analysis is likely to have underestimated the effects of air pollution on stroke, as the impact of burning fossil fuels was not fully accounted for. Emissions from fossil fuels are more harmful to the cardiovascular system than the fine particulate matter the team analysed, Feigin said.

Scientists in the field said the “alarming” finding, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, showed that harm caused by air pollution to the lungs, heart and brain had been underestimated.

About 15 million people a year suffer a stroke worldwide. Nearly six million die, and five million are left with permanent disabilities, such as loss of sight and speech, paralysis and confusion.
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SkinGun shoots burn victims with their own stem cells

SkinGun shoots burn victims with their own stem cells | The future of medicine and health |
Guns are often thought about for their destructive nature, but a new kind of gun is set to help heal rather than harm. Called the SkinGun, the device applies stem cells to the site of a burn in a novel way, helping increase both treatment and recovery time over standard methods. New tests show that it delivered a healing spray with 200 times more coverage than traditional methods.

When a patient is taken into an emergency room with burns, time is critical. Yet grafting procedures can often take hours and the recovery time can be lengthy and painful. Using stem cells to help a patient heal and regrow their own skin is steadily proving to be a better solution, but applying the stem cells properly is vital.

Tests on the SkinGun from RenovaCare carried out by scientists at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT), showed an extensive coverage area of the stem cells. In an 8-cm diameter surface area (about 3.15 inches), the SkinGun shot out over 20,000 droplets, versus only 91 by conventional methods, which involve depositing the cells using a syringe.

What's more, the SkinGun uses an extremely gentle spray method, so that cells aren't damaged as they're expelled from the device. According to RenovaCare, tests showed that 97.3 percent of the cells remained viable after being applied by the SkinGun.
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Dietary fiber has biggest influence on successful aging, research reveals | KurzweilAI

Dietary fiber has biggest influence on successful aging, research reveals | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health |
Eating the right amount of dietary fiber from breads, cereals, and fruits can help us avoid disease and disability into old age, according to an open-access paper published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences by scientists from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia.

Using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study, a benchmark population-based study that examined a cohort of more than 1,600 adults aged 50 years and older for long-term sensory loss risk factors and systemic diseases, the researchers found that out of all the factors they examined — including a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake — it was, surprisingly, fiber that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed “successful aging.”

Successful aging was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.

Fiber, or roughage, is the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes through the digestive system, absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements.

According to lead author of the paper, Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath, PhD, from the Institute’s Centre for Vision Research, “Out of all the variables that we looked at, fiber intake —- which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest — had the strongest influence,” she said. “Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up. That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability.”

While it might have been expected that the level of sugar intake would make the biggest impact on successful aging, Gopinath pointed out that the particular group they examined were older adults whose intake of carbonated and sugary drinks was quite low.

Although it is too early to use the study results as a basis for dietary advice, Gopinath said the research has opened up a new avenue for exploration. “There are a lot of other large cohort studies that could pursue this further and see if they can find similar associations. And it would also be interesting to tease out the mechanisms that are actually linking these variables,” she said.

This study backs up similar recent findings by the researchers, which highlight the importance of the overall diet and healthy aging.
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US bid to grow human organs for transplant inside pigs - BBC News

US bid to grow human organs for transplant inside pigs - BBC News | The future of medicine and health |
Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.

They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.

The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.

The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.

The human-pig chimeric embryos are being allowed to develop in the sows for 28 days before the pregnancies are terminated and the tissue removed for analysis.

The BBC's Panorama was given access to the research for Medicine's Big Breakthrough: Editing Your Genes.
Creating a chimera

Creating the chimeric embryos takes two stages. First, a technique known as CRISPR gene editing is used to remove DNA from a newly fertilised pig embryo that would enable the resulting foetus to grow a pancreas.

This creates a genetic "niche" or void. Then, human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells are injected into the embryo. The iPS cells were derived from adult cells and "dialled back" to become stem cells capable of developing into any tissue in the body.

The team at UC Davis hopes the human stem cells will take advantage of the genetic niche in the pig embryo and the resulting foetus will grow a human pancreas.
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Synthesizing human genome in lab could lead to "ultrasafe" cell line

Synthesizing human genome in lab could lead to "ultrasafe" cell line | The future of medicine and health |
Since the human genome was completely sequenced in 2003, the field of genetics has zipped along at a mind-boggling pace, helping us do everything from detecting cancer earlier to offering new hope to diabetics. Now we can even cut-and-paste sequences of DNA in our own kitchens. So the just-announced project to chemically produce an entire human genome in a lab seems like a logical next step – even if it could one day lead to lab-made humans with no biological parents.

The project is called Human Genome Project-Write or HGP-Write and, although leaked last month, was just officially announced today with the publication of an article in the journal Science.

"The primary goal of HGP-write is to reduce the costs of engineering and testing large (0.1 to 100 billion base pairs) genomes in cell lines by over 1000-fold within 10 years," write the group of 25 authors in the paper. "This will include whole-genome engineering of human cell lines and other organisms of agricultural and public health significance, or those needed to interpret human biological functions – i.e., gene regulation, genetic diseases, and evolutionary processes."
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Stem cell treatment reawakens limbs in wheelchair-bound stroke victim

Stem cell treatment reawakens limbs in wheelchair-bound stroke victim | The future of medicine and health |
While new tools have emerged to help rehabilitation along, the road back to a healthy life after suffering a stroke can be a long and challenging one. In research that could one day significantly cut recovery times for victims of these debilitating brain injuries, scientists have injected modified stem cells into the brains of patients and brought about substantial improvements to motor function, with one even regaining control of her limbs and leaving her wheelchair behind.

Around 15 million people suffer a stroke each year, according to the World Stroke Organization. The majority of these are classed as ischemic, which means that a clot has formed in a vessel carrying blood to a section of the brain to cut of its supply.

Immediate treatment to dissolve the clot in an ischemic stroke will boost the chances of a full recovery, but with only three or four hours to get to a hospital to have the clot-busting drugs administered, many victims miss this critical window and wind up sustaining lifelong disabilities.

In search of a way to improve the lives of these sufferers, scientists at Stanford University conducted a trial involving 18 stroke victims and mesenchymal stem cells, which are natural precursors to muscle fat, bone and tendon tissues, and can mature into multiple types of specialized cells in the body. These cells were modified to boost their ability to restore brain function.
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Trained immune cells raise prospect of universal cancer vaccine

Trained immune cells raise prospect of universal cancer vaccine | The future of medicine and health |
Engineering immune cells to attack cancer is a form of treatment that is showing great promise, but it is complex because it involves extracting and modifying T cells before injecting them back into the body. Scientists have now demonstrated a way to not just arm immune cells while still inside the body, but equip them with the ability to fight any kind of cancer, providing an early proof-of-concept for a cheap, universal vaccine for the deadly disease.

Known as adoptive immunotherapy, the idea that our immune cells can be engineered to fight cancer has been explored by scientists since the 1980's. Some seriously encouraging advances have been made in the last few years, most recently through a trial involving patients with advanced blood cancer that yielded unprecedented response rates of more than 93 percent.

The technique works by harvesting the body's T cells, which play a central role in the immune response, and arming them with cancer-recognizing molecules through gene transfer. Known as chimeric antigen receptors, these molecules give the modified cells the ability to spot proteins on cancer cells once they are injected back into the body, at which point they latch on and start to kill them off.

While hugely promising, this method relies on the unique properties of blood cancer for the modified T cells to lock onto their target. Scientists have been unable to apply this approach to solid tumors where such clear markers aren't readily available, meaning the immune cells have trouble distinguishing healthy cells from cancerous ones.
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What will happen when antibiotics stop working?

What will happen when antibiotics stop working? | The future of medicine and health |
A golden era of antibiotics shifted the leading causes of death away from infection to cancer and cardiovascular disease. At the moment, we can still treat most infections as only a few are resistant to what is currently the last line of antibiotics – the colistins. But history shows us this will change and colistin resistance is already growing in China and the United States.

While prizes are being awarded for new research to combat resistance, farmers are slammed for overuse of antibiotics in livestock, doctors chided for unnecessary prescriptions and pharmaceutical companies criticised for a lack of investment.

Meanwhile, new antibiotic discoveries are rare if not non-existent and exciting new methods aren’t seen by many as enough to avert doomsday. Some believe technology – and even a revivial of older treatments – might save us. Others have already laid out what we need to do now to save ourselves.

We aren’t in the post-antibiotic era yet, but what would the world be like if no antibiotics were available? We only have to go back 70 years, before the “golden era” of antibiotic discoveries of the 1940s to 1960s, to experience infectious disease as the predominant cause of human death. These diseases are still around and some are more virulent – complicated by multiple antibiotic resistances, which evolved through many factors, but mostly driven by our overuse.
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Pacemaker for the tongue helps apnea patients breathe normally

Pacemaker for the tongue helps apnea patients breathe normally | The future of medicine and health |
For years, one of the primary ways to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea was through the use of a device known as a continuous positive airway pressure – or CPAP – machine, which forces air through the nasal passages to interrupt dangerous pauses in breathing while sleeping. For people can't tolerate the machine, a new chest implant that sends electrical pulses to a nerve in the tongue promises healthier rest, as reported in a new University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) study.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition wherein the muscles in the throat relax so much during sleep that they block the airway and cause breathing to intermittently stop and start through the night, making it impossible to get a good night's rest. The condition can strain the cardiovascular system due to restricted oxygen intake, and can cause general daily fatigue according to the Mayo Clinic. Some cases of OSA can be cured with a mouthpiece or the CPAP machine, but in other cases, more serious intervention is called for – which is where the implant comes in.

First clinically trialed in 2010, and approved by the FDA in April 2014, the implant is from a company called Inspire and is basically a pacemaker for the tongue.
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Interview with the inventor: Nura's adaptive headphones turn our understanding of hearing on its head

Interview with the inventor: Nura's adaptive headphones turn our understanding of hearing on its head | The future of medicine and health |
Your perception of sound and mine are very, very different. That's why my favorite headphones sound tinny and awful to you, and yours sound woofy and messy to me. People's ears vary so much in physiology that it's like we each get a randomized graphic equalizer at birth, with up to 20 decibel swings each way as we go up and down the audible frequency spectrum. Even your left and right ear are different from one another. Nura's adaptive headphones measure these differences with a short test, then tune themselves so that they sound amazing for every listener. We had a chance to pass them around the Gizmag office and speak with Nura co-founder Kyle Slater. And while it wasn't a surprise that they sounded fantastic, what really blew us away was how terrible they sounded when we tried each other's sonic profiles.
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Obesity boom 'fuelling rise in malnutrition' - BBC News

Obesity boom 'fuelling rise in malnutrition' - BBC News | The future of medicine and health |
Malnutrition is sweeping the world, fuelled by obesity as well as starvation, new research has suggested.

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report said 44% of countries were now experiencing "very serious levels" of both under-nutrition and obesity.

It means one in three people suffers from malnutrition in some form, according to the study of 129 countries.

Being malnourished is "the new normal", the report's authors said.

Malnutrition has traditionally been associated with children who are starving, have stunted growth and are prone to infection.

These are still major problems, but progress has been made in this area.

The report's authors instead highlighted the "staggering global challenge" posed by rising obesity.

The increase is happening in every region of the world and in nearly every country, they said.

Hundreds of millions of people are malnourished because they are overweight, as well as having too much sugar, salt or cholesterol in their blood, the report said.
'Totally unacceptable'

Professor Corinna Hawkes, who co-chaired the research, said the study was "redefining what the world thinks of as being malnourished".

"Malnutrition literally means bad nutrition - that's anyone who isn't adequately nourished.

"You have outcomes like you are too thin, you're not growing fast enough… or it could mean that you're overweight or you have high blood sugar, which leads to diabetes," she said.
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I Quit Showering, and Life Continued

I Quit Showering, and Life Continued | The future of medicine and health |
12,167 hours of washing our bodies.

That’s how much life you use, if you spend 20 minutes per day washing and moisturizing your skin and hair (and you live to be 100, as we all surely will).

That adds up to nearly two entire years of washing every waking hour.

Not to mention water usage and the cost of cosmetic products—which we need, because commercials tell us to remove the oil from our skin with soap, and then to moisturize with lotion. Other commercials tell us to remove the oils from our hair, and then moisturize with conditioner.

That’s four products—plus a lot of water and time— and few people question whether it’s anything short of necessary.

It’s not just the fault of advertising, but also because most of us know from personal experience that if we go a few days without showering, even one day, we become oily, smelly beasts.

But what if you push through the oiliness and smelliness, embrace it, and just go forward?

Out of curiosity—not laziness—I tried it.

At first, I was an oily, smelly beast. The odor of bodies is the product of bacteria that live on our skin and feed off of the oily secretions from the sweat and sebaceous glands at the base of our hair follicles. Applying detergents (soaps) to our skin and hair every day disrupts a sort of balance between skin oils and the bacteria that live on our skin. When you shower aggressively, you obliterate the ecosystems. They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and tend to favor the kinds of microbes that produce odor.

But after a while, the idea goes, your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad. I mean, you don’t smell like rosewater or Axe Body Spray, but you don’t smell like B.O., either. You just smell like a person.

Because, evolutionarily, why would we be so disgusting that we need constant cleaning? And constant moisturizing and/or de-oiling? If we do more to allow our oil glands and bacteria to equilibrate, the theory goes, skin should stop fluctuating between oily and dry.
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Most antidepressants not working for children and teenagers – study

Most antidepressants not working for children and teenagers – study | The future of medicine and health |
Most available antidepressants do not help children and teenagers with serious mental health problems and some may be unsafe, experts have warned.

A review of clinical trial evidence found that of 14 antidepressant drugs, only one, fluoxetine – marketed as Prozac – was better than a placebo at relieving the symptoms of young people with major depression.

Another drug, venlafaxine, was associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

But the authors stressed that the true effectiveness and safety of antidepressants taken by children and teenagers remained unclear because of the poor design and selective reporting of trials, which were mostly funded by drug companies.

They recommended close monitoring of young people on antidepressants, regardless of what drugs they were prescribed, especially at the start of treatment.

Professor Peng Xie, a member of the team from Chongqing Medical University in China, said: “The balance of risks and benefits of antidepressants for the treatment of major depression does not seem to offer a clear advantage in children and teenagers, with probably only the exception of fluoxetine.”

Major depressive disorder affects around 3% of children aged six to 12 and 6% of teenagers aged 13 to 18.

In 2004 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against the use of antidepressants in young people up to the age of 24 because of concerns about suicide risk.
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New treatment can 'halt' multiple sclerosis, says study - BBC News

New treatment can 'halt' multiple sclerosis, says study - BBC News | The future of medicine and health |
Aggressive chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant can halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), a small study has suggested.

The research, published in The Lancet, looked at 24 patients aged between 18 and 50 from three hospitals in Canada.

For 23 patients the treatment greatly reduced the onset of the disease, but in one case a person died.

An MS Society spokeswoman said this type of treatment does "offer hope" but also comes with "significant risks".

Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS, which is an incurable neurological disease.
'No relapses'

The condition causes the immune system to attack the lining of nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Most patients are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.

One existing treatment is for the immune system to be suppressed with chemotherapy and then stem cells are introduced to the patient's bloodstream - this procedure is known as an autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).
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New antimicrobial material joins fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

New antimicrobial material joins fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria | The future of medicine and health |
Last month, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance warned of a possible future in which emerging superbugs render current antibiotics ineffective, and called for more research into developing new drugs to help prevent that scenario. Thankfully, we've seen some promising developments in recent years and now scientists in Singapore have contributed to the effort with the creation of a new material that not only kills microbes quickly, but prevents antibiotic-resistant bacteria from growing in their place.

The material, which is called imidazolium oligomers, was developed by scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), a branch of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. Impressively, the compound has been shown to kill 99.7 percent of E. coli bacteria within 30 seconds.

But it's not just a quick killer, it's an effective one to boot. Thanks to a chain-like molecular structure, imidazolium oligomers is able to penetrate and destroy the cell membrane of bacteria, keeping new antibiotic-resistant strains from springing up. Other antibiotics will kill the microbes, but neglect to clean up after themselves.

Its effectiveness against other antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans, was demonstrated as well, with the compound killing 99.9 percent of these microbes in under two minutes.
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'New era' of personalised cancer drugs, say doctors - BBC News

'New era' of personalised cancer drugs, say doctors - BBC News | The future of medicine and health |
Cancer is entering a "new era" of personalised medicine with drugs targeted to the specific weaknesses in each patient's tumour, say doctors.

Precision medicine is one of the big themes at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Doctors say "breath-taking" advances in the understanding of tumours are being used to unlock new treatments.

But there are also concerns that patients are not getting access to the precision medicines we already have.

The premise of precision medicine is that cancers are not all the same - even those in the same tissue - so a tailored approach is needed.

It is the same approach as in football - you modify your tactics to face Barcelona, Newcastle United or Skegness Town.
DNA clues

Cancers are normal cells that have become corrupted by mutations in their DNA that leads to uncontrolled growth.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy kill everything, including healthy tissue.

The idea of precision medicine is to test every patient's tumour, find the mutations that have become essential for it to survive and then select a targeted drug to counter-act the mutation - killing the tumour.

This concept is not new. Women with breast cancer already have their tumours analysed to decide on treatment.
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If you can't imagine things, how can you learn?

If you can't imagine things, how can you learn? | The future of medicine and health |
Never underestimate the power of visualisation. It may sound like a self-help mantra, but a growing body of evidence shows that mental imagery can accelerate learning and improve performance of all sorts of skills. For athletes and musicians, “going through the motions,” or mentally rehearsing the movements in the mind, is just as effective as physical training, and motor imagery can also help stroke patients regain function of their paralysed limbs.

For most of us, visual imagery is essential for memory, daydreaming and imagination. But some people apparently lack a mind’s eye altogether, and find it impossible to conjure up such visual images – and their inability to do so may affect their ability to learn and their educational performance.

Firefox co-creator Blake Ross recently described how it feels to be blind in your mind, and his surprise at the revelation that other people can visualise things. “I can’t ‘see’ my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on ten minutes ago,” he wrote on Facebook. “I thought ‘counting sheep’ was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamned mind.”
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If we know so much about disease, where are all the cures?

If we know so much about disease, where are all the cures? | The future of medicine and health |
We know so much about the genes that cause disease, so why are we not approaching an age of Star-Trek-like medicine in which a doctor can wave a handheld device over a patient, claim to have sequenced the genes of the offending pathogen, then move rapidly to a cure? How can we know so much about the causes and progression of disease, yet do so little to prevent death and incapacity? The answer to these questions may lie in the scientific disciplines of genomics and the challenges of its application in personalised medicine.

Scientific buzzwords such as “genomics” and “big data” sound grandiose but they simply relate to the study of an organism’s DNA blueprint, the collection of genes that enables life to exist, from the smallest viruses to the complex human species. This code can be represented as a string of four letters with various combinations of these letters controlling the building and maintenance of a living organism.

The English alphabet of 26 letters allows authors to weave complex stories or historians to document the entire human history. By comparison, genomics deals with just four letters. Surely it should be easy to decode the messages written in genes to provide new cures for disease? Not so. The messages hidden within the DNA are complex and difficult to interpret.

The main problem is the shear quantity of information that needs to be interpreted. There are around three billion letters in human DNA and sequencing of the first human genome took 13 years to complete – although advancements in technology now allow a patient’s genes to be mapped in just a few hours.

The speed by which we can now gather information linking DNA sequences to disease is phenomenal with vast amounts of new information on the causes of disease being produced daily. Bacteria and viruses have much smaller genomes, but we should not forget the value in sequencing their genes as a wealth of knowledge on pathogen diagnosis and target identification for drug discovery is hidden within them.
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Big Data Sleuths Uncover Clues to the Roots of Depression

Big Data Sleuths Uncover Clues to the Roots of Depression | The future of medicine and health |
Scientists will never find a single gene for depression—nor two, nor 20. But among the 20,000 human genes and the hundreds of thousands of proteins and molecules that switch on those genes or regulate their activity in some way, there are clues that point to the roots of depression. Tools to identify biological pathways that are instrumental in either inducing depression or protecting against it have recently debuted—and hold the promise of providing leads for new drug therapies for psychiatric and neurological diseases.

A recent paper in the journal Neuron illustrates both the dazzling complexity of this approach and the ability of these techniques to pinpoint key genes that may play a role in governing depression. Scientific American talked with the senior author on the paper—neuroscientist Eric Nestler from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York. Nestler spoke about the potential of this research to break the logjam in pharmaceutical research that has impeded development of drugs to treat brain disorders.
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Forget about fats – it's processed food we should be worried about

Forget about fats – it's processed food we should be worried about | The future of medicine and health |
Last week, the National Obesity Forum caused a furore by claiming that eating fat, including saturated fat, will help cut rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Public Health England hit back, calling NOF’s advice “irresponsible”.

There’s wide agreement that modern diets have led to a rise in illnesses such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Like most research, the recent controversy focuses on whether specific nutrients are the cause.

I’m not qualified to decide whether fat is good for you or will help you lose weight. But as a philosopher, and someone who has studied diet and health-related behaviours, I am curious about the question. What we ask determines what sorts of answer make sense. Does it make sense to focus on nutrients such as fat or carbohydrates, for example, or should we reframe the question?

There are many ways to think about the dietary changes in Western societies over the past century or so. Of course, we can think in terms of nutrients: more sugar, more refined carbohydrates, more animal fats, more oils. Another change is in terms of agriculture and animal husbandry: new fertilisers and pesticides, new ways to feed and breed animals, new ways to hasten their growth. A third sort of change starts with an organisational revolution: large corporations now dominate our food supplies.

These corporations are armed with factories and laboratories, with brands and trademarks and marketing departments. And they have created a new sort of food: the ultra-processed variety.
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