Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Breakthrough may impact flu vaccination

The various strains of influenza that have inf...

The various strains of influenza that have infected the human population in the 20th century. Data taken from figure 2 of Palese P (December 2004). “Influenza: old and new threats”. Nat. Med. 10 (12 Suppl) : S82–7. DOI:10.1038/nm1141. PMID 15577936. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breakthrough may impact flu vaccination

Excerpts from the 20 January 2015 Duke University press release

SINGAPORE, January 20, 2015 — An analysis of 10 years’ worth of data on human influenza B viruses has shed new light on the pathogen which can cause the seasonal flu. Findings from this study could help make flu immunization programs more effective; by better targeting vaccines or by eventually eliminating one of the flu lineages completely.

What are Influenza B viruses?

Influenza epidemics seriously affect populations worldwide, with an estimated three to five million cases of severe illness and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths, yearly. Four influenza virus lineages co-circulate in the human population to cause seasonal epidemics. Of the four, two are influenza A and two are influenza B virus lineages, named Victoria and Yamagata. To date, most studies have focused on the influenza A virus lineages because they are the more commonly circulating lineages in humans which have also caused occasional pandemics.

A new study, led by Assistant Professor Vijay Dhanasekaran and Associate Professor Gavin Smith from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS), has presented the largest comparative analysis of human influenza B viruses undertaken to date. Results were achieved using advanced computational methodologies to analyze genomic data of the pathogen taken from human hosts. Significantly, this study is also the first to integrate demographic information such as the host’s age.

Findings offer new insight into the evolution and epidemiology of this highly infectious virus, and reveal how the two influenza B virus lineages fundamentally differ from each other and from the influenza A virus lineages.

Flu Vaccine Implications

“Our research shows that school aged children are more susceptible than adults to influenza B virus lineages, especially the Victoria lineage,” explained first author Asst Prof Dhanasekaran from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS. “This younger population should be targeted for the use of the quadrivalent influenza vaccines.”

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging – University at Buffalo

One nanoparticle, six types of medical imaging – University at Buffalo.

Tomorrow’s doctors could use this technology to obtain a super-clear picture of patients’ organs and tissues By Charlotte Hsu

Release Date: January 20, 2015

University at Buffalo researchers and colleagues have designed a nanoparticle detectable by six medical imaging techniques. This illustration depicts the particles as they are struck by beams of energy and emit signals that can be detected by the six methods: CT and PET scanning, along with photoacoustic, fluorescence, upconversion and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

This transmission electron microscopy image shows the nanoparticles, which consist of a core that glows blue when struck by near-infrared light, and an outer fabric of porphyrin-phospholipids (PoP) that wraps around the core. Credit: Jonathan Lovell

“A patient could theoretically go in for one scan with one machine instead of multiple scans with multiple machines.”
Jonathan Lovell, assistant professor of biomedical engineering
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn’t yet exist.

Using two biocompatible parts, University at Buffalo researchers and their colleagues have designed a nanoparticle that can be detected by six medical imaging techniques:

  • computed tomography (CT) scanning;
  • positron emission tomography (PET) scanning;
  • photoacoustic imaging;
  • fluorescence imaging;
  • upconversion imaging; and
  • Cerenkov luminescence imaging.

In the future, patients could receive a single injection of the nanoparticles to have all six types of imaging done.

This kind of “hypermodal” imaging — if it came to fruition — would give doctors a much clearer picture of patients’ organs and tissues than a single method alone could provide. It could help medical professionals diagnose disease and identify the boundaries of tumors.

“This nanoparticle may open the door for new ‘hypermodal’ imaging systems that allow a lot of new information to be obtained using just one contrast agent,” says researcher Jonathan Lovell, PhD, UB assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “Once such systems are developed, a patient could theoretically go in for one scan with one machine instead of multiple scans with multiple machines.”

When Lovell and colleagues used the nanoparticles to examine the lymph nodes of mice, they found that CT and PET scans provided the deepest tissue penetration, while the photoacoustic imaging showed blood vessel details that the first two techniques missed.

Differences like these mean doctors can get a much clearer picture of what’s happening inside the body by merging the results of multiple modalities.

– See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/01/015.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Science360NewsServiceComplete+%28Science360+News+Service%3A+Complete%29&utm_content=Netvibes#sthash.uBpXDk8L.dpuf

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Travelling through blood: science fiction comes to life › Lindau Blog

Travelling through blood: science fiction comes to life › Lindau Blog.

Excerpts from the 19 January 2015 post at Sciblog

An artificial nanomotor makes its first successful “voyage” in human blood.

The fantastic notion of a team of doctors aboard a ship, shrunk so small that they can course through blood and perform critical surgeries, has pervaded science fiction writing and movies for decades. Mathematician Albert Hibbs proposed the “wild idea” of “swallowing the surgeon”, made famous by physicist Richard Feynman who articulated the challenge of fabricating miniature surgical robots in his hugely popular lecture, There’s plenty of room at the bottom. Now, scientists from IISc Bangalore have succeeded, for the very first time, to steer artificial nanostructures through undiluted human blood. Dubbed “nano voyagers” these tiny swimmers could open the doors to a fascinating range of biomedical applications from targeted drug delivery to microsurgery.

Physicist Ambarish Ghosh and his student, Pranay Mandal, from the Centre for Nanoscience and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, had previously studied the dynamics of helically shaped micro- or nano- sized swimmers in water. However, maneuvering these structures through unmodified human blood posed a number of new challenges. Other studies that have attempted to manipulate nanostructures either employ methods that are incompatible with living systems (using intense lasers or harmful chemicals) or, at best, work only in significantly diluted blood.

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release]Link found between pain during or after sexual intercourse and mode of delivery | EurekAlert! Science News

From the 20 January 2015 press release at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Women who have a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum extraction are more likely to experience persisting pain during sex in the year after childbirth than women who have a vaginal birth.

The findings from a longitudinal study by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute showed that women who had an emergency caesarean or vacuum extraction were twice as likely to experience pain during sex at 18 months postpartum, compared to women who had a vaginal birth with no medical intervention.

The vast majority of women (86%) experienced pain the first time they had sex after childbirth. Women who had a caesarean section or vacuum extraction experienced pain for a longer period.

According to lead author Doctor Ellie McDonald, the unexpected finding dispels the common myth that caesarean section results in fewer sexual problems after childbirth.

“Almost all women experience some pain during sex following childbirth,” Doctor McDonald said. “Our findings show that this was equally true whether couples resumed sex at six weeks or six months postpartum.”

For most women pain does resolve over time, but for around one in three women having a caesarean section or vacuum extraction pain persists to 18 months postpartum.

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] A ‘birth lottery’ still determines who gets to live longest, healthiest life

A ‘birth lottery’ still determines who gets to live longest, healthiest life | joe rojas-burke.

From the 16 June 2014 post at JOE ROJAS-BURKE- Science Writer

The latest data suggest that lack of social mobility remains as significant a problem as it was decades ago. In the generation entering the U.S. workforce today, those who started life in the bottom fifth of income distribution have about a 9 percent chance of reaching the top fifth. That compares with an 8.4 percent chance for kids born in 1971, according to research by economists Raj Chetty of Harvard, Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues.

What’s astonishing are the huge differences in mobility depending on where you grow up, The odds of escaping poverty and gaining prosperity are less than 3 percent for kids in many places across the South and Rust Belt states. But in some parts of the Great Plains, more than 25 percent of kids born to the poorest parents move into the upper-income strata as adults, the economists found. The datasets are available here.

The probability that a child born in the bottom fifth of the income distribution will reach the top fifth of the income distribution, based on data for those born from 1980-85. (Source:   Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez)

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the places on this map with the lowest social mobility also tend to have the worst health outcomes. Lack of mobility is strongly correlated with worse segregation, greater income inequality, poor local school quality, diminished social capital, and broken family structure – factors that are also linked to poor health.

Even when poor children manage to escape poverty, a “birth lottery” may still determine who gets to live longest and healthiest. Exposure to adverse conditions during fetal development and early infancy appears to be capable of causing irreversible consequences decades later, such as increased vulnerability to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and premature death.

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imprisonment and Public Health | thefeverblog

Imprisonment and Public Health | thefeverblog.

Excerpt from the 8 December 2014 post

Mass incarceration in the United States goes beyond the logistical issues of overcrowded prisons. A shallow mindset wouldn’t identify the connection between mass incarceration and public health, but it’s prevalent and significance is being recognized. An article published in the New York Times briefly discusses the impact mass incarceration has on public health. It touches on a report published by the Vera Institute of Justice, which is an organization that focuses on making justice systems fairer through research and innovation. Most people in prisons come from impoverished communities, and therefore have low health-status.  Specifically, people in prisons have higher rates of chronic disease, mental illness, and substance abuse.

But that’s really the obvious part of the mass incarceration-public health relationship. Overcrowding exacerbates health problems, especially communicable diseases such as flu and other viral infections. In a previous post, I shared how social reform in Russia led to mass incarceration and in turn one of the largest outbreaks of tuberculosis in history. Mental illness  and substance abuse are major problems in jails, and the problem isn’t being addressed adequately. Although over 45% of incarcerated people have a mental illness and over 68% have substance abuse issues, only 15% receive proper treatment.

But that’s not even the  real problem. [My emphasis] Our justice system is focused on penalizing, so vulnerable people coming out of prison are unable to receive any assistance because their actions have removed their eligibility. On first glance, the conservative argument would be that felons shouldn’t be privy to housing, medical, and financial assistance. But the whole picture has to be taken into consideration. Families can be easily torn apart by a family member being incarcerated, especially when parents are taken away from children.

 

Mass incarceration in the United States goes beyond the logistical issues of overcrowded prisons. A shallow mindset wouldn’t identify the connection between mass incarceration and public health, but it’s prevalent and significance is being recognized. An article published in the New York Times briefly discusses the impact mass incarceration has on public health. It touches on a report published by the Vera Institute of Justice, which is an organization that focuses on making justice systems fairer through research and innovation. Most people in prisons come from impoverished communities, and therefore have low health-status.  Specifically, people in prisons have higher rates of chronic disease, mental illness, and substance abuse.

But that’s really the obvious part of the mass incarceration-public health relationship. Overcrowding exacerbates health problems, especially communicable diseases such as flu and other viral infections. In a previous post, I shared how social reform in Russia led to mass incarceration and in turn one of the largest outbreaks of tuberculosis in history. Mental illness  and substance abuse are major problems in jails, and the problem isn’t being addressed adequately. Although over 45% of incarcerated people have a mental illness and over 68% have substance abuse issues, only 15% receive proper treatment.

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Do drug seekers in the ER make you burst out in song? It did here.

Do drug seekers in the ER make you burst out in song? It did here.. From the 19 January 2015 post at KevinMD.com

January 22, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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