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Health Bulletin


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  1. #551
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    GSK aims to market world's first malaria vaccine after successful trials

    British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will seek marketing approval for the world's first malaria vaccine next year after trial data showed the shot significantly cut cases of the disease in African children.

    The vaccine known as RTS,S was found, after 18 months of follow-up, to have almost halved the number of malaria cases in young children in the trial, and to have reduced by around a quarter the number of malaria cases in infants.

    "Based on these data, GSK now intends to submit, in 2014, a regulatory application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA)," GSK, which has been developing the vaccine for three decades, said in a statement.

    It added that the United Nations health agency, the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), has indicated it may recommend use of the RTS,S vaccine from as early as 2015 if EMA drugs regulators back its licence application.

    Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, mainly babies in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and scientists say an effective vaccine is key to attempts to eradicate it.

    Yet hopes that RTS,S would be the final answer were dampened last year when results from a final-stage trial with 6,537 babies aged six to 12 weeks showed the shot provided only modest protection, reducing episodes of the disease by 30 percent compared to immunisation with a control vaccine.

    MALARIA CASES FILL HOSPITAL WARDS

    Tuesday's latest readout from the malaria trial, which is Africa's largest ever clinical trial involving almost 15,500 children in seven countries, were presented at a medical meeting in Durban, South Africa.

    GSK is developing RTS,S with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to MVI.

    "Many millions of malaria cases fill the wards of our hospitals. Progress is being made with bed nets and other measures, but we need more tools to battle this terrible disease," said Halidou Tinto, a lead investigator on the RTS,S trial from Burkina Faso.

    Previous data sets released from earlier parts of the trial showed the vaccine's efficacy was 65 percent in babies analysed six months after vaccination, and only around 50 percent in five to 17 month-olds.

    And further data released earlier this year found RTS,S's effectiveness wanes over time, with the shot protecting only 16.8 percent of children over four years.

    Despite these drawbacks, David Kaslow, vice president of product development at PATH, said RTS,S would serve as a useful additional tool alongside other malaria control measures such as mosquito nets, insecticides and anti-malaria drugs.

    "Given the huge disease burden of malaria among African children, we cannot ignore what these latest results tell us about the potential for RTS,S to have a measurable and significant impact on the health of millions of young children in Africa," he said in a statement.

    "This trial continues to show that a malaria vaccine could potentially bring an important additional benefit beyond that provided by the tools already in use."

    If approved, the vaccine is unlikely to be anything other than neutral for GSK's bottom line. GSK has promised that if RTS,S is given the market go-ahead, it will be priced at cost of manufacture plus a 5 percent margin, and the margin would be reinvested in malaria research.


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  2. #552
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Paediatrician to launch patient info online

    Be it immunisation schedules or developmental milestones, parents have zillions of questions born either out of curiosity or concern. While there’s plenty of information available on the Internet, reliability is a big question.
    Keeping parents in mind, paediatrician and specialist in adolescent medicine, Dr Pr*iya Chandrasekhar will lau*nch her website http://ww*w.ind*irach*ildcare.com on October 13. “A lot of young parents, even older ones, look for information. With incre*ase in nuclear families, pa*rents* raise many questions, in*c*luding basic ones, and I get calls from anxious parents that my phone is on throughout the day,” says Dr Cha*ndr*asekhar.

    Be it choking or administering vaccines, parents have many doubts. “The website will have links to CPR, choking, nose bleeding and also video links among others that will help parents. Also, there are many vaccines that parents have doubts about whether they are all needed.,” she said.
    The website will answer all queries related to newborn or adolescents.

    “Recently, I got a call from a parent who said the child swallowed a portion of dentures. A special child used a mosquito repellant instead of toothpaste. Parents of adolescents have questions about mood swings, odours, skin issue, physical and emotional.

    They might have doubt whether cervical cancer vaccine should be administered to their 15-year-old daughter,” she said, adding that actor Jyotika will launch the website.


  3. #553
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Aircraft noise linked to higher risk of heart disease and stroke

    Exposure to high levels of aircraft noise near busy international airports has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and strokes in two separate studies from Britain and the United States.

    Researchers in London studied data on noise and hospital admissions around London Heathrow airport while a separate team analysed data for more than 6 million Americans living near 89 US airports in 2009.

    Both studies, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ)on Wednesday, found that people living with the highest levels of aircraft noise had increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

    Stephen Stansfeld, a professor at Queen Mary University of London who was not part of either research team but provided a commentary on their findings, said the results suggested that "aircraft noise exposure is not just a cause of annoyance, sleep disturbance, and reduced quality of life" but may also increase sickness and death from heart disease.

    City and town planners "need to take this into account when extending airports in heavily populated areas or planning new airports," he said.

    Other experts said the studies raised important issues about aircraft noise and health, but did not establish a causal link.

    "Both of these studies are thorough and well-conducted. But, even taken together, they don't prove that aircraft noise actually causes heart disease and strokes," said Kevin McConway, a professor of applied statistics at Britain's Open University.

    The British research team set out to investigate the risks of stroke and heart disease in relation to aircraft noise among 3.6 million people living near Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world.

    They compared hospital admissions and death rates due to stroke and heart disease from 2001 to 2005 in 12 areas of London and nine further districts to the west of London.

    Levels of aircraft noise for each area were obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and factors that could have affected the results, such as age, sex, ethnicity, social deprivation, smoking, air pollution and road traffic noise were also taken into account.

    Their results showed increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease - especially among the 2.0 percent of the study population exposed to the highest levels of daytime and night time aircraft noise.

    The researchers noted that discussions on possible expansion plans for London's airport capacity have been on and off the table for many decades, with demand for air travel expected to double in Britain to 300 million passengers per year by 2030.

    "Policy decisions need to take account of potential health related concerns, including possible effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular health," they wrote.

    In a second study also published in the BMJ, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health looked at data for some 6 million Americans aged 65 or over living near 89 US airports in 2009.

    The research - the first to analyse a very large population across multiple airports - found that, on average, zip codes with 10 decibel (dB) higher aircraft noise had a 3.5 percent higher cardiovascular hospital admission rate.

    The results showed that people exposed to the highest noise levels - more than 55 dB - had the strongest link with hospitalisations for heart disease, and the link also remained after adjustment for socioeconomic status, demographic factors, air pollution, and proximity to roads.

    Conway said that because of the kind of data used, the studies could only "suggest very strongly that we should find out much more about aircraft noise and circulatory disease".


  4. #554
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Chennai doctors remove cancerous kidney through belly button

    A team of doctors from the urology department at the Madras Medical Mission (MMM) has removed a cancerous kidney of a patient through the belly button.

    Since the patient was anaemic, doctors had to come up with a way to minimise blood loss. The solution was a laparoendoscopic single site surgery (LESS), which is minimally invasive. While the usual surgical procedure leaves a big scar and takes longer time to heal, LESS decreases pain, blood loss and shortens the recovery period without a scar.

    The 45-year-old patient from Kerala approached doctors at MMM two weeks ago with signs of renal failure. The patient was put on dialysis and just when he was being prepped for a renal transplant, doctors detected a cancerous mass in his right kidney.

    Dr Abraham Kurien, chief of urology, said, "Normally we do a laparoscopic surgery which involves multiple incisions. But since the patient was anaemic we decided to do a minimally invasive procedure. LESS was performed a week ago."

    The doctors used the regular equipment used to perform a laparoscopy, but instead of making multiple entries, they inserted all the equipment through his belly button. "We used the grasper and held on to the kidney and disconnected it from the other organs. Then we used a clipper to clip the blood vessels and placed the kidney in a specimen retrieval bag and pulled it out through his naval," said the doctor. The kidney measuring 5cm and the mass was taken out as a whole and not broken as the tissue was cancerous and it had to be sent for pathological tests.

    Conventionally doctors do open surgeries which leave bigger incisions through which they used their hands to pull the kidney out. Advancement in technology has made it less invasive, making the patient's stay in the hospital shorter. "This procedure has great cosmetic value as it leaves no scar and the patient can leave in two days. Since the same equipment is used as in a regular laparoscopy surgery, the cost of the procedure is the same but the benefits are much higher," said Dr Kurien.

    The doctor pointed out that a laparoscopic procedure provides magnified vision so the accuracy level is much higher and there is minimized muscle damage. Additionally, the technique also has no limitations in bending, kneeling or stooping after recovery, compared to the multi-incision method.


  5. #555
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Basal insulin therapy can tackle type 2 diabetes, expert says

    India has a huge diabetic population and though most of them suffer from type 2 diabetes, type-1 diabetes is slowly on the rise as well, say experts.

    Dr Satish Kumar Garg, director of adult diabetes programme at the Barbara Davis Centre for Childhood Diabetes, USA, elaborated on the latest development in tackling type 2 diabetes.

    The doctor, who was conferred with the Dr Mohan's diabetes specialties centre (DMDSC) gold medal award recently, pointed out that basal insulin therapy helps in effective management of type 2 diabetes and is often used in conjugation with oral agent therapy.

    Basal insulin therapy is normally prescribed to a patient who needs insulin to work slowly while delivering long-acting diabetes control. It works day and night to control blood sugar and is taken once or twice a day at the same time every day, often with the evening meal or at bedtime, to provide 24-hour insulin coverage. "Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can have adverse reactions if not attended to on time and it is also the prime cause of defensive eating and obesity. So insulin therapy is of utmost importance," he said.

    The doctor said that the future of basal insulin therapy was quite promising but only time would tell how effective it was on patients.

    New insulins like degludec, pegylated insulin lispro and glucose responsive insulin which are still in the development stage have the capacity of reducing the burden on the diabetics.

    "Degludec is truly a 24-hour insulin as it maintains the insulin level throughout the day unlike the current round the clock insulin that lasts only for 18 hours," he said. Normally, insulin therapy results in weight gain for the patients but pegylated insulin aids in weight reduction. "Glucose responsive insulin is an exciting development as it will eject insulin only when the blood sugar is low," said Dr Garg.

    Dr Mohan, chairman of DMDSC said, "About 2 to 3% of all diabetics have type 1 diabetes and 95% suffer from type 2 diabetes. After 15 years, almost 80% of the type 2 diabetics will also require insulin for blood sugar control. So such developments show a positive trend in diabetes treatment."


  6. #556
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, 'peanut butter' test to help diagnose Alzheimer's

    Your favourite sandwich spread - peanut butter - can also be used to confirm diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer's disease!

    University of Florida researchers have come up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity in dementia patients.

    The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline.

    Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the UF McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, was working in Dr Kenneth Heilman's clinic, the James E Rooks distinguished professor of neurology and health psychology in the UF College of Medicine's department of neurology when she came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test patients for their sense of smell.

    In the study, patients who were coming to Heilman's clinic for testing also sat down with a clinician, 14 g of peanut butter - which equals about one tablespoon - and a metric ruler. The patient closed his or her eyes and mouth and blocked one nostril.

    The clinician opened the peanut butter container and held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally.

    The clinician then moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimetre at a time during the patient's exhale until the person could detect an odour. The distance was recorded and the procedure repeated on the other nostril after a 90-second delay.

    The clinicians running the test did not know the patients' diagnoses, which were not usually confirmed until weeks after the initial clinical testing.

    They found that patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease had a dramatic difference in detecting odour between the left and right nostril - the left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 centimetres closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

    This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia; instead, these patients had either no differences in odour detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odour than the left one.

    Of the 24 patients tested who had mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes signals Alzheimer's disease and sometimes turns out to be something else, about 10 patients showed a left nostril impairment and 14 patients did not.

    "At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis. But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer's disease," Stamps said.

    The findings are published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.


  7. #557
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Smoking can knock 10 years off your life: Study

    Ten years go up in smoke! Smoking may cut at least 10 years from your life, the first ever long-term Australian study has found.


    The study shows the damage from even light tobacco smoking is more severe — and associated with a higher risk of premature death — than previously thought.

    The four-year analysis of smoking data has found that two-thirds of deaths in current smokers can be directly attributed to smoking — much higher than international estimates of 50%.

    The study looked at health records from more than 200,000 people participating in the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study and found current smokers were cutting at least 10 years off their lifespan.

    "We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but until now we haven't had direct large-scale evidence from Australia about just how bad it is," said study leader and scientific director of the 45 and Up Study, Professor Emily Banks.

    "We've been relying on evidence from other countries," said Banks.

    With Australian smoking prevalence peaking in 1945 for men and 1978 for women, the country was now experiencing a "mature epidemic" where the full impact of smoking on health is only just being realized, Banks said. The study found that over the four year follow-up period, current smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never smoked


  8. #558
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Smoking can knock 10 years off your life: Study

    Ten years go up in smoke! Smoking may cut at least 10 years from your life, the first ever long-term Australian study has found.


    The study shows the damage from even light tobacco smoking is more severe and associated with a higher risk of premature death than previously thought.

    The four-year analysis of smoking data has found that two-thirds of deaths in current smokers can be directly attributed to smoking much higher than international estimates of 50%.

    The study looked at health records from more than 200,000 people participating in the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study and found current smokers were cutting at least 10 years off their lifespan.

    "We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but until now we haven't had direct large-scale evidence from Australia about just how bad it is," said study leader and scientific director of the 45 and Up Study, Professor Emily Banks.

    "We've been relying on evidence from other countries," said Banks.

    With Australian smoking prevalence peaking in 1945 for men and 1978 for women, the country was now experiencing a "mature epidemic" where the full impact of smoking on health is only just being realized, Banks said. The study found that over the four year follow-up period, current smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never smoked


  9. #559
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    20% of Indians aged above 60 suffer from mental health problems, experts say

    Epidemiological studies carried out in urban and rural Lucknow in north India with the support of Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR) revealed that 17.3% urban and 23.6% rural people aged 60 years and above suffer from mental health problems.

    The average prevalence of mental health problems, both in rural and urban communities, indicates that 20.5% of the older adults suffer from one or another problem. Translating the prevalence data over the current population, it is estimated that 1.71 crore people above 60 years suffer from psychiatric disorders.

    The studies were conducted by S C Tiwari and Nisha M Pandey of department of geriatric mental health, Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, said assistant professor (psychiatry) of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (Jipmer) Vikas Menon while giving a presentation on 'mental health in elderly, Indian scenario' during the World Mental Health Day observation by the college of nursing Jipmer on October 10.

    Epidemiological studies in Uttar Pradesh by Tiwari and Pandey reported that 43.3% of the elderly suffer from one or other mental health problems as against 4.7% adults while a study by K C Premarajan and three others found 17.4% of older adults suffer from psychiatric disorders. These studies were published in Indian Journal of Psychiatry.

    Menon said the most frequently encountered disorders were dementia and mood disorders, particularly depression. Other disorders include anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, delirium and psychosis.

    The country has a very few hospitals with geriatric units and geriatric outpatient department services available only at tertiary care centres in cities. Moreover, the country does not cover mental illness under health insurance sector.

    Tiwari and Pandey said the country needs 7.2 lakh geriatric mental health beds as per the norms laid down by the Mental Health Act, 1987. In addition to that, the country requires 7,200 qualified psychiatrists and equal number of mental health professional assistants (clinical) psychologists or psychiatric social worker, 14,400 qualified medical officer, 72,000 staff nurses and 1.44 lakh attendants.

    According to Menon, the country is in the process of demographic transition. He pointed out that elderly population that accounted for 7.1% of the total population in 2001 would touch 10% in 2021.

    Life expectancy rose from 32 years in 1947 to 63.4 years in 2011. The overall population in India is projected to grow by 55% between 2000 and 2050 whereas the aged population of 60 years and above is projected to increase by 326% and those in the age group of 80 and above by 700%.

    He said the government should evolve policies and pass legislations targeting geriatric mental health.


  10. #560
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Newly created material could help in knee cartilage treatment

    Researchers have created a material that can be used for the controlled release of a substance when it's subjected to cyclic mechanical loading.

    This work offers a potential treatment method for specific tissues like knee cartilage.

    In order to regenerate, knee cartilage, paradoxically, needs to be placed under mechanical stress, as happens whenever we take a step and our knees take our weight.

    When stimulated in this way, the cartilage cells develop receptors that are sensitive to the growth factors produced by the organism. It is also at this very moment that they would be most receptive to medication.

    Working on this basis, Dominique Pioletti and Harm-Anton Klok from EPF have claimed to create a material takes the form of a hydrogel matrix, liposometype nanoparticles and, finally, a payload - in this case a dye. When subjected to cyclic mechanical loading, the hydrogel matrix heats up. Once subjected to heat, the diameter of the liposomes shrinks significantly.

    This frees up space in the matrix, increasing its permeability and facilitating the release of the dye from the matrix.

    The researchers then wanted to verify that it was actually the heating process resulting from the repetition of the mechanical loading that caused the dye to be released.

    During an initial experiment, the material was subjected to cyclic mechanical loading but the heat produced was evacuated in order to prevent any local temperature increase in the material.


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