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Health and Medical News Headlines Update on August 19, 2020

Headlines on August 19, 2020

Protein structural insights chart the way to improved treatments for heart disease. A team including Wei Liu, assistant professor in ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences (SMS) and the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Applied Structural Discovery, has published a paper in Molecular Cell that offers promising details for improved treatments for cardiac disease. These new results provide structural insights into the activation mechanism of Gs by β1-AR and offer extremely promising details for improved treatments for cardiac disease.

The secret of lymph: How lymph nodes help cancer cells spread. For decades, physicians have known that many kinds of cancer cells often spread first to lymph nodes before travelling to distant organs through the bloodstream. New research from the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) provides insight into why this occurs, opening up new targets for treatments that could inhibit the spread of cancer. The study: Lymph protects metastasizing melanoma cells from ferroptosis, published in Nature, found melanoma cells that pass through the lymph nodes pick up a protective coating, allowing them to survive high levels of oxidative stress in the blood and go on to form distant tumours.

First immune-evading cells created to treat type 1 diabetes. Salk Institute scientists have made a major advance in the pursuit of safe and effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, an illness that impacts an estimated 1.6 million Americans with a cost of $14.4 billion annually. Using stem cell technology, Salk researchers generated the first human insulin-producing pancreatic cell clusters able to evade the immune system, as detailed:  Immune-evasive human islet-like organoids ameliorate diabetes, in the journal Nature on August 19, 2020. These “immune shielded” cell clusters controlled blood glucose without immunosuppressive drugs once transplanted in the body.

Understanding the inner workings of the human heart. Researchers have investigated the function of a complex mesh of muscle fibres that line the inner surface of the heart. The study: Genetic and functional insights into the fractal structure of the heart, published in the journal Nature, sheds light on questions asked by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago and shows how the shape of these muscles impacts heart performance and heart failure.

Leading-edge technology unmasks protein linked to Parkinson’s disease. An elusive protein that many consider the key to fully understanding the causes of genetic Parkinson’s disease has come much more clearly into focus. University of California San Diego scientists using leading-edge technologies have produced the first visualizations of LRRK2 inside its natural cellular environment and the first high-resolution blueprint of the protein. They leveraged these depictions to describe how LRRK2 binds to cellular tracks called microtubules and acts as a roadblock for motors that move along these tracks. The findings are described in two research papers: Structure of LRRK2 in Parkinson’s disease and model for microtubule interaction, published in the journals Cell and Nature.

Prevention of heart disease can start before birth. Babies that experience low oxygen levels in the womb due to pregnancy complications often go on to develop heart disease in adulthood. A study: “Translatable mitochondria-targeted protection against programmed cardiovascular dysfunction”, using sheep has discovered that a specialised antioxidant called MitoQ can prevent heart disease at its very onset. The results are published today in the journal Science Advances.

Researchers examine the role of muscle strength in ageing cognitive health. Research is showing a strong link between handgrip strength, walking speed, and cognition, indicating how improved physical health could boost elderly minds. PhD student Ms Sophia Sui, from the Epi-Center for Healthy Aging in the Institute for Physical and Mental Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT) and Deakin’s School of Medicine, said her result from a study (Muscle strength and gait speed rather than lean mass are better indicators for poor cognitive function in older men) of men over 60 showed a strong relationship between handgrip strength and cognition, in particular psychomotor function. Similarly, usual walking speed, which is indicative of physical function, was associated with psychomotor function, attention, and overall cognition. In contrast, no association was found between muscle mass and cognitive function.

Facebook announces fastMRI—an AI enhancement for MRI machines. Facebook has announced on its blog (Facebook AI: FastMRI breakthrough shows AI-accelerated MRIs interchangeable with traditional MRIs) that its AI research team has been working with radiologists at NYU Langone Health to create an AI system that can speed up MRI machines. A paper is written by the team: Using Deep Learning to Accelerate Knee MRI at 3T: Results of an Interchangeability Study, describing the new technology is to be published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Honey found to be a better treatment for upper respiratory tract infections than traditional remedies. A trio of researchers at Oxford University has found that honey is a better treatment for upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) than traditional remedies. In their paper: Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis, published in BMJ Evidence-based Medicine, Hibatullah Abuelgasim, Charlotte Albury, and Joseph Lee describe their study of the results of multiple clinical trials that involved testing of treatments for upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and what they learned from the data.

Black newborns three times more likely to die when cared for by white doctor: study. A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.S. has found that newborn Black babies are three times more likely to die just after birth when they are cared for by a white doctor, compared to the national average. In their paper: Physician-patient racial concordance and disparities in birthing mortality for newborns, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of Florida medical records and the race of doctors caring for newborns, and what they found.

Major weight loss—whether from surgery or diet—has the same metabolic benefits. Gastric bypass surgery is the most effective therapy to treat or reverse type 2 diabetes in severely obese patients. Many achieve remission of diabetes following surgery and no longer require diabetes medications. This observation has led to the theory that gastric bypass surgery has unique, weight loss-independent effects in treating diabetes, but this has remained a long-standing question in the field. Now, new research: Effect of diet versus gastric bypass on metabolic function in diabetes, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that weight loss after surgery, rather than the surgery itself, drives metabolic improvements, such as the remission of diabetes.

Study finds cancer-boosting culprit that multiplies with age. As our bodies convert food into energy, they produce debris that accumulates as we age. New research shows that one of these metabolic throwaways plays a potentially deadly role in the development of cancer. The finding adds to a body of knowledge about how the ageing process accelerates our chances of developing deadly cancers, but also offers potential avenues for blocking metastasising tumours. The study: Age-induced accumulation of methylmalonic acid promotes tumour progression, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, grew from work on metastasis, the process by which cancer cells detach from an initial tumour and former new tumours elsewhere in the body.

A small set of genes may provide unique barcode for different types of brain cells in worms. When it comes to brain cells, one size does not fit all. Neurons come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and contain different types of brain chemicals. But how did they get that way? A new study in Nature suggests that the identities of all the neurons in a worm are linked to unique members of a single gene family that control the process of converting DNA instructions into proteins, known as gene expression. The results of this study: Unique homeobox codes delineate all the neuron classes of C. elegans, could provide a foundation for understanding how nervous systems have evolved in many other animals, including humans. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Targeting a chronic pain gateway could bring relief. Something like a quarter of the world’s population suffers from chronic pain at some point in their lives. As opposed to acute pain—for example, the feeling after hitting your finger with a hammer—chronic pain may not even have a clear cause, and it can linger for years or lifetimes. The burden of chronic pain includes damage to mental and physical health, lower productivity and drug addiction. A new study: Importin α3 regulates chronic pain pathways in peripheral sensory neurons, led by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests an original approach to treating this affliction, by targeting a key gateway leading to the activation of genes in the peripheral nerve cells that play a role in many forms of chronic pain. The findings of this study were published today in Science.

High blood pressure during pregnancy may mean worse hot flashes during menopause. Women with a history of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy are more likely to experience bothersome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, according to a study published Wednesday, Aug. 19, in Menopause.

High blood pressure during pregnancy may mean worse hot flashes during menopause.

High blood pressure during pregnancy may mean worse hot flashes during menopause. Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Patients with recently discovered antibodies have more severe myasthenia gravis. A study of 181 patients at 16 sites across the country who test negative for two antibodies long known to cause muscle-weakening myasthenia gravis, found that about 15% test positive for one of two newly discovered antibodies that also attack the point of communication between nerves and muscle. About 13% tested positive for antibodies to both LRP4 and agrin, proteins critical to healthy nerve-muscle communication, investigators report: Clinical features of LRP4 /agrin‐antibody–positive myasthenia gravis: A multicenter study, in the journal Muscle & Nerve about the largest group of patients examined for the new antibodies.

Researchers identify a better classification system for adult idiopathic scoliosis. Researchers have designed a new X-ray classification system for adult idiopathic scoliosis that can more precisely define which parts of the spine need correction, an achievement that could enhance treatment, communication, and analysis of spinal deformities affecting older patients, according to a study published in Spine Deformity in August.

High blood pressure during pregnancy associated with more bothersome menopause symptoms. Women with high blood pressure during pregnancy are at an increased risk for chronic hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and early cardiovascular death. A new study suggests that they may also be at risk for more bothersome menopause symptoms, including hot flashes. Study results are published online in Menopause.

Influence of vitamin D supplementation on a baby’s gut microbiome. New research from the CHILD Cohort Study has shed light on the influence of vitamin D supplementation on a baby’s developing gut microbiome. The study: Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and early infancy in relation to gut microbiota composition and C. difficile colonization: implications for viral respiratory infections, published in the journal Gut Microbes, found that vitamin D supplementation is associated with compositional changes in a baby’s microbiome—notably a lower abundance of the bacteria Megamonas—at three months of age.

Combo therapy may prevent blood vessel complications in children with Kawasaki disease. Adding corticosteroids to standard intravenous (IV) immunoglobulin treatment for children with Kawasaki disease judged to be at higher risk of developing blood vessel complications made initial treatment more successful and prevented these complications, according to new research: Corticosteroids Added to Initial Intravenous Immunoglobulin Treatment for the Prevention of Coronary Artery Abnormalities in High‐Risk Patients With Kawasaki Disease, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers predict deficits in female birth numbers in India over the coming decades. Between 2017 and 2030, an estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded in India than would be by chance, due to sex-selective abortions, according to a new study: Probabilistic projection of the sex ratio at birth and missing female births by State and Union Territory in India, published August 19, 2020, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Fengqing Chao of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, and colleagues.

Biomedical research may miss key information by ignoring genetic ancestry. A new study (Genetic ancestry, skin color and social attainment: The four cities study) of Black residents of four distinct U.S. cities reveals variations in genetic ancestry and social status that underscore the inadequacy of using skin colour as a proxy for race in research. Dede Teteh of City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 19, 2020.

Is the risk of Alzheimer’s linked to specific sleep patterns? Disturbed sleep patterns do not cause Alzheimer’s disease but people who are at high genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease may be more likely to be a “morning person,” have shorter sleep duration and other measures of sleep disturbance and are less likely to have insomnia, according to a study published in the August 19, 2020, online issue of Neurology.

Can a healthy diet reduce the risk of Parkinson’s? While movement problems are the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, people with the disease often have non-motor symptoms such as constipation, daytime sleepiness and depression 10 or more years before the movement problems start. A new study suggests that eating a healthy diet in middle age may be linked to having fewer of these preceding symptoms.

People who suffer maltreatment in childhood have a higher chance of multi-morbidity in later life. People who suffer one or more forms of maltreatment in childhood have a higher chance of multimorbidity in later life. New research: Association between childhood maltreatment and the prevalence and complexity of multimorbidity: A cross-sectional analysis of 157,357 UK Biobank participants, led by scientists at the University of Glasgow, used UK Biobank data from more than 157,000 participants to examine the link between the four forms of childhood maltreatment—physical, sexual, emotional and neglect—and the presence of multiple health conditions, known as multimorbidity, later in adult life.

Dilated blood vessels in the lung may explain low oxygen levels in severe cases of COVID-19. A new pilot study: Pulmonary Vascular Dilatation Detected by Automated Transcranial Doppler in COVID-19 Pneumonia, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai suggests that COVID-19 is causing significant dilation of the blood vessels of the lung, specifically the capillaries. This vasodilation is contributing to the very low oxygen levels seen in COVID-19 respiratory failure and also helps explain why the disease behaves differently than classic acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Condoms are the best defence against rising sexually transmitted infections. Rates of sexually transmitted infections in Canada have increased dramatically over the past decade, despite earlier public health and sexuality education interventions that reduced the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Between 2008 and 2017, the rates of chlamydia increased by 39%, gonorrhoea 109% and infectious syphilis 167%, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Helping youth transition from pediatric to adult health care: Confidence is key. Approximately 90% of children diagnosed with chronic disease now live into adulthood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, A Systematic Review of Transition Readiness in Youth with Chronic Disease. However, many adolescents who age out of the often nurturing and supportive pediatric health care system struggle to identify a new adult health care provider, lack knowledge of their health history or have trouble navigating the complex adult health care system.

The quest for an HIV vaccine. The UNAIDS estimates that 38 million people currently live with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Combination antiretroviral treatment has had great success in saving lives but is also associated with numerous medical and public health challenges. Vaccination remains the best and most cost-effective option for controlling HIV infection across the world. Professor Tomáš Hanke jointly from the University of Oxford, UK, and Kumamoto University, Japan, designs vaccines and coordinates clinical programs testing the most advanced vaccine candidates developed by his team in the UK, Europe, U.S. and Africa.

Protein influences regeneration of vascular cells. Through their basic research: The RNA-binding protein hnRNPU regulates the sorting of microRNA-30c-5p into large extracellular vesicles, physicians at the Heart Center of the University Hospital Bonn have discovered how the communication between individual cells can be influenced with the help of a specific protein. These findings are an important approach to improving the treatment of diseases such as arteriosclerosis (calcified blood vessels), which causes heart attacks.

Top coma experts develop a three-part plan to improve patient outcomes. Leading coma experts have created an ambitious plan to help doctors better care for comatose patients and answer that most awful question: “Will my loved one wake up?”. The three-part plan outlines key steps physicians and researchers should take in the coming years to improve patient care and deepen our understanding of coma and other conditions that reduce consciousness. The plan: The Curing Coma Campaign: Framing Initial Scientific Challenges—Proceedings of the First Curing Coma Campaign Scientific Advisory Council Meeting, was developed by a blue-ribbon scientific advisory council as part of the Neurocritical Care Society’s Curing Coma Campaign, a major effort launched in 2019.

Casual eateries may provide cognitive benefits for older adults. When you think of fast food, you don’t normally think of good health, but places such as the Golden Arches and neighbourhood cafes may provide a small cognitive benefit to older adults during their golden years. A University of Michigan study: Fast-food for thought: Retail food environments as resources for cognitive health and wellbeing among ageing Americans? has found that older adults’ regular visits to eateries such as fast-food restaurants and coffee shops may be as protective of cognitive health as marriage.

Blocking copper uptake in tumour cells may be a clue to boosting the immune system, fighting the deadliest of cancers. Australian researchers have discovered that removing copper from the blood can destroy some of the deadliest cancers that are resistant to immunotherapy using models of the disease. Dr Orazio Vittorio and his team from Children’s Cancer Institute in Sydney and UNSW Sydney published the findings: Intra-tumoral copper modulates PD-L1 expression and influences tumour immune evasion., in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Alzheimer’s research strengthens the evidence for reanalyzing data in clinical trials that ‘failed’. New research on Alzheimer’s disease: CHRFAM7A: A human specific fusion gene, accounts for the translational gap for cholinergic strategies in Alzheimer’s disease, led by the University at Buffalo reveals strong evidence that clinical trials on drugs that appeared not to benefit patients with the disease should now be reanalyzed in light of discoveries about a human-specific gene that divides the population into a one-to-three ratio.

Melatonin linked to improved brain function in child concussion. Melatonin could improve brain functions related to sleep quality in children recovering from a concussion, according to a University of Queensland study: Neural signatures of sleep recovery following melatonin treatment for pediatric concussion.

Study finds ‘significant increase’ in child-to-parent violence in lockdown. 70% of parents who have experienced child and adolescent-to-parent violence, saw an increase in violent episodes during the lockdown, according to a report: Experiences of Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence in the COVID-19 Pandemic, from researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Manchester.

New study identifies a better treatment option for a common complication of dialysis. A Mount Sinai-led study has identified a better treatment option for a common complication of hemodialysis, bringing new hope to millions of patients who rely on dialysis to survive but often must undergo repeated hospital visits to make continued treatment possible. The study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, used drug-coated balloon angioplasty to treat arteriovenous fistulas, access points created by surgeons through which the patient’s blood can be removed, sent through the dialysis machine to have impurities filtered out, and returned to the patient’s body. Hemodialysis fistulas frequently become blocked and stop working. This has traditionally been treated by either inserting a stent to keep the fistula open or by standard angioplasty, in which a tiny balloon is threaded through the blood vessel and then expanded to force the fistula open. Both procedures are commonly used, but in many cases, they only can keep the vessel open for a few months.

Affordable Care Act key to keeping people insured amid COVID 19-related job losses. Widespread layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to cut off millions of people from their employer-sponsored health insurance plans. But the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will protect many of these people and their families from losing coverage, according to a new study: Insurance Coverage after Job Loss—The Importance of the ACA during the COVID-associated Recession.

Single-dose radiotherapy is as good as conventional therapy for most women with early breast cancer. For most women with early breast cancer, a single dose of targeted radiotherapy during surgery is just as effective as conventional radiotherapy, which requires several visits to the hospital after surgery. The findings: Long term survival and local control outcomes from single-dose targeted intraoperative radiotherapy during lumpectomy (TARGIT-IORT) for early breast cancer: TARGIT-A randomised clinical trial, published by The BMJ today, show that intraoperative radiotherapy is associated with around an 80% chance of avoiding a full course of conventional radiotherapy, fewer side effects and no difference in survival or likelihood of cancer returning.

The combination of dementia and domestic abuse is all too often overlooked. Around the world, domestic abuse affects one in three women, and every three seconds, someone develops dementia. Yet despite the prevalence of both these issues, little attention is given to what happens when they are combined. As a result, older people living with dementia are often the forgotten victims of domestic abuse. The research found that dementia and domestic abuse coexist in many different relationships. These include either the caregiver or recipient being abusive or cases where an older person with dementia experiences abuse from an intimate partner or adult relative.

Researchers find a link between the gut microbiome and cancer treatment outcomes. Physicians at the City of Hope, working in collaboration with scientists at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), have found that greater gut microbial diversity in patients with metastatic kidney cancer is associated with better treatment outcomes on Food and Drug Administration-approved immunotherapy regimens. Their findings: Stool Microbiome Profiling of Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Receiving Anti–PD-1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, are outlined in a study published today in the journal European Urology.

Telemedicine may well outlast the pandemic, say mental health care staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about rapid innovation in mental health care, and the move to telemedicine is likely here to stay to at least some degree, but new research: Early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health care and on people with mental health conditions: framework synthesis of international experiences and responses, led by UCL and King’s College London cautions that serious barriers still need to be overcome.

Disorders in movement. Spinocerebellar ataxias are diseases of the nervous system associated with a loss of motor coordination. A European research alliance headed by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn has now registered whether and how symptoms of ataxia developed over the years in around 250 persons at risk, who initially did not show symptoms. This is the first study worldwide to investigate the onset of spinocerebellar ataxia directly and in a large group of individuals. The results: Conversion of individuals at risk for spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 2, 3, and 6 to manifest ataxia (RISCA): a longitudinal cohort study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology provides valuable data for prevention studies.

Too much tech use can cut into couple time, study shows. Sneaking peeks at your phone or doodling on your tablet, even just a little bit, may hurt your couple time, according to a new collaborative study: Daily technoference, technology use during couple leisure time, and relationship quality, involving the University of Alberta.

Conservative osteoarthritis therapy programme delays the need for knee and hips joint replacement surgery. With the implementation of conservative treatment methods like physiotherapy and individually tailored, adjusted exercises, quality of osteoarthritis care can improve and patients can delay the need for an artificial hip or knee joint. This has been demonstrated by a clinical study: Higher quality of care and less surgery after implementing osteoarthritis guidelines in primary care– long-term results from a cluster randomized controlled trial, from Norway that was recently presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR 2020) Online Annual Congress.

Toddlers who use touchscreens show attention differences. Toddlers with high daily touchscreen use are faster to find targets that stood out during visual search compared to toddlers with no or low touchscreen use—according to new research: Saliency-Driven Visual Search Performance in Toddlers With Low– vs High–Touch Screen Use.

New database could help lead to personalized treatments for breast cancer patients. All current breast cancer drugs were first tested in cell lines. Each cell line began as cancer in a patient. As such, each cell line is a surrogate for that patient’s disease. A new database of 40 breast cancer cell lines, developed by Medical University of South Carolina investigators, will help researchers deepen their understanding of these cell lines and speed the development of new gene-targeted therapies. In an article: Development and implementation of the SUM breast cancer cell line functional genomics knowledge base, recently published in npj Breast Cancer, Ethier and his team describe the implementation of a new resource for cancer researchers. The SUM Breast Cancer Cell Line Knowledge Base, or SLKBase, will push the field forward by providing easily navigable genomic, proteomic and other “omic” information on a total of 40 SUM and other patient-derived cell lines. The database could eventually contribute to the identification, development and implementation of truly personalized gene-targeted therapies for patients with breast cancer.

Microscopy approach poised to offer new insights into liver disease. Researchers have developed a new way to visualize the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in mouse models of the disease. The new microscopy method provides a high-resolution 3-D view that could lead to important new insights into NAFLD, a condition in which too much fat is stored in the liver. In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Biomedical Optics Express: Intravital longitudinal imaging of hepatic lipid droplet accumulation in a murine model for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Kim and colleagues report their new imaging technique and show that it can be used to observe how tiny droplets of fat, or lipids, accumulate in the liver cells of living mice over time.

Research delivers new insights into how skin can regenerate after severe burns. People who suffer severe burns or extensive skin injuries are often left to live with extreme scarring, disfigurement, and skin that feels chronically tight and itchy. That’s because the body’s healing processes have evolved to focus on preventing infection by quickly closing up wounds, rather than regenerating or restoring normal skin tissue. New research: Distinct Regulatory Programs Control the Latent Regenerative Potential of Dermal Fibroblasts during Wound Healing, led by Dr Jeff Biernaskie, Ph.D., has made an exciting leap forward in understanding how skin heals, which could lead to drug treatments to vastly improve wound healing. The study, published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, was co-led by Dr Sepideh Abbasi, Ph.D., Sarthak Sinha, MD/PhD candidate and Dr Elodie Labit, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow.

Study sheds new light on the certainty of opinions. Researchers for years have understood how attitudes held with certainty might predict behaviour, but a series of new studies: Documenting individual differences in the propensity to hold attitudes with certainty., led by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests there may be a more general disposition at work that predicts the certainty of newly formed evaluations, just as they do for pre-existing opinions.

Researchers find a way to speed up nerve regrowth for trauma patients. A University of Alberta researcher has found a treatment that increases the speed of nerve regeneration by three to five times, leading to much better outcomes for trauma surgery patients. In their latest work: Conditioning Electrical Stimulation Accelerates Regeneration in Nerve Transfers, on CES, Webber’s group examined animal models with foot drop, a common injury that affects patients’ quality of life by impeding their ability to walk normally. Previously, the only treatments for foot drop were orthotics that affect a patient’s gait or surgery.

Probiotic bacteria were shown to suppress the growth of tumours in colorectal cancer. New research has revealed that probiotic bacteria could control the development and progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). The study: A Novel Lactic Acid Bacteria Mixture: Macrophage-Targeted Prophylactic Intervention in Colorectal Cancer Management, published recently in the journal Microorganisms, was led by Dr Andrew Foey from the University, in collaboration with Dr Vlasta Demeckova of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice, Slovak Republic.

New mechanism for stroke treatment shows successful proof-of-concept. Many people who suffer a stroke are permanently disabled. Stroke remains the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Paralysis of one side of the body, speech and language problems, vision problems and memory loss are some of the major consequences of stroke injury. Recently, UConn School of Medicine researchers published a paper: Neuroprotective and neuro-rehabilitative effects of acute purinergic receptor P2X4 (P2X4R) blockade after ischemic stroke, in Experimental Neurology showing how they successfully inhibited an important receptor implicated in post-stroke damage and recovery.

Is your pet’s food making you sick? Study finds many don’t know the risk. Each year, more than 50 million Americans develop gastrointestinal issues that lead them to question the safety of their most recent meals. It’s entirely possible that their distress could be caused not by the food they have eaten, but the meals served to their furry friends. A study led by Purdue University’s Yaohua ‘Betty’ Feng, an assistant professor of food science, showed that many Americans don’t wash their hands after feeding or playing with their cats and dogs and aren’t aware of the risk of contracting a foodborne illness from those activities.

Words used to describe alcohol intoxication may give clues to drinking habits. People have always used different words to describe the inebriating effects of alcohol, from ‘blotto’ in the 1920s to ‘honkers’ in the 1950s. Now, new Penn State research suggests the language young adults use to describe the effects they feel from drinking may give insight into their drinking habits. A team of researchers led by Ashley Linden-Carmichael, assistant research professor, examined the language young adults use to describe different levels of inebriation. The team was able to not only discover the language young people are using, but also discovered four distinct ‘classes’ of drinkers: happy drinkers, relaxed drinkers, buzzed drinkers and multi-experience drinkers. Linden-Carmichael said the results: The language of subjective alcohol effects: Do young adults vary in their feelings of intoxication?, recently published in the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology—can not only give insight into the drinking habits of young adults but could also help researchers and clinicians fine-tune their language during interventions and research studies.

A new study calculates the alarming lifetime risk of death from firearms and drug overdoses in the US. A new study: Lifetime Risk of Death From Firearm Injuries, Drug Overdoses, and Motor Vehicle Accidents in the United States, appearing in The American Journal of Medicine calculates the lifetime risk of death from firearms and drug overdoses in the United States. The lifetime risk of death from firearms is about 1%, meaning that approximately one out of every 100 children will die from firearms if current death rates continue. The lifetime risk of death from drug overdoses is 1.5%, meaning that one out of every 70 children will die from an overdose.

In 2018, 5.1% of adults engaged in heavy drinking. In 2018, about 5% of U.S. adults engaged in heavy drinking during the previous year, according to an August data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

USPSTF urges behavioural counselling to prevent STIs. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends behavioural counselling interventions for preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in adolescents and adults at increased risk. These recommendations form the basis of a final recommendation statement published in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Antibiotics might lower the effectiveness of the birth control pill. Doctors have long suspected it, but a comprehensive new study provides more evidence that antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Homelessness tied to higher readmission rates. Homelessness is associated with significantly higher 30- and 90-day readmission rates even when adjusting for other demographic and clinical factors, according to a study: Association of Homelessness with Hospital Readmissions—an Analysis of Three Large States, recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Pandemic means financial hardship for many with diabetes. People with diabetes face a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, but a new survey reports they have also suffered more economic fallout from the pandemic.

Birth control pill could cut women’s risk of asthma. Could birth control pills build a bulwark against asthma? A study of more than half a million women in the United Kingdom found that those who used hormonal contraceptives—be it pills or patches or shots—had a significantly lower risk of developing asthma than women who did not.

The observational study identifies drug that improves survival in sickest COVID-19 patients. Researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, have utilized its statewide observational database of more than 5,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients to show that a drug normally used in rheumatoid arthritis and cancer treatments, tocilizumab, improves hospital survival in critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The findings: Tocilizumab among patients with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit: a multicentre observational study, were published in The Lancet Rheumatology on Aug. 14, and Hackensack Meridian Health researchers have updated the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national leaders of the findings to potentially accelerate improved outcomes.

New contraceptive approved by the FDA, offers an additional option for women. A first-of-its-kind contraceptive developed at the University of Illinois Chicago has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Potential link for Alzheimer’s disease and common brain disease that mimics its symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia, and while most people might know someone who is affected by it, the genetic factors behind the disease are less known. A new study: Genetics of Gene Expression in the Aging Human Brain Reveal TDP-43 Proteinopathy Pathophysiology, by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital uncovered a group of closely related genes that may capture molecular links between Alzheimer’s disease and Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy, or LATE, a recently recognized common brain disorder that can mimic Alzheimer’s symptoms. LATE is often combined with Alzheimer’s disease to cause a more rapid cognitive decline. The study’s results are published in Neuron.

Older adults with existing depression show resilience during the pandemic. A study: Experiences of American Older Adults with Pre-existing Depression During the Beginnings of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multicity, Mixed-Methods Study, involving older adults with pre-existing major depressive disorder living in Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, and St Louis found no increase in depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cardiovascular disease researchers consider leaving the sector, survey warns. Research by Monash University and the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance has painted a concerning outlook for the sector with many scientists considering leaving due to lack of job and financial security. The research, published today in the Heart, Lung and Circulation journal is disturbing given that cardiovascular disease (CVD) – Australia’s biggest killer—causes one death every 12 minutes and also leads to significant disability from the after-effects of stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

Building a wearable that can catch you when you stumble. Tripping over clutter or missing a stair-step can be much more than an annoyance. For older adults, especially, the consequences of stumbling and falling can be costly on every dimension. Indeed, the direct medical costs of falls have been estimated as high as $50 billion per year. One promising solution is an AI-based robotics system to predict and prevent falls.

Detecting epilepsy with entropy. Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder wherein the abnormal firing of neurons in the brain leads to seizures. It can abruptly disrupt the health and life of those people it affects. Its diagnosis can limit certain aspects of everyday life, particularly if not fully treated. People with the condition, for instance, are often precluded from driving or operating hazardous machinery to reduce the risk of injury and harm should they have a seizure while doing so. Seizures are commonly associated with loss of consciousness and severe muscle spasms. A new, non-invasive approach: Epileptic seizure detection in EEG using improved entropy, to epilepsy detection is reported in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology that uses a fuzzy entropy algorithm to examine electroencephalograms (EEG).

Telehealth bridges and highlights rural health disparities. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted health care systems to expand their use of virtual medical visits, yet access to care remains out of reach for many rural residents due to a lack of broadband internet access. The expanded use of telehealth technology by medical professionals has the potential to produce healthier outcomes, but it also is exposing the disparities in health status that still exist in rural areas, wrote Kelly Hirko, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, in a commentary: Telehealth in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic: Implications for Rural Health Disparities, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Bisexual people up to six times more likely to self-injure. Bisexual people are up to six times more likely to engage in non-suicidal self-injury compared to other sexual orientations, according to University of Manchester researchers. The study of self-injury—a common problem that can include cutting, hitting, burning or scratching yourself—used data from 24 independent studies, and is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Castration-resistant prostate cancer at high risk of metastasis: Enzalutamide has added benefit. In 2018 and 2019, the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) already investigated whether the drug enzalutamide has an advantage in comparison with the appropriate comparator therapy, i.e. in comparison with watchful waiting while maintaining ongoing conventional androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), for adult men with high-risk non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Based on the first and the second data cut-offs of the PROSPER study, an added benefit was not proven. Since the study was not yet completed, the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) limited its corresponding decision. After expiry of the decision, IQWiG reassessed the drug based on the third data cut-off of the study, which had been completed in the meantime. There is now a hint of considerable added benefit—in particular, due to the longer overall survival under treatment with enzalutamide.

Electronic consultations between primary providers and radiologists improve patient care. According to ARRS’ American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR): Electronic Consultation Between Primary Care Providers and Radiologists, electronic consultation not only offered primary care providers (PCPs) easy access to expert opinions by radiologists, it promoted collaboration between physicians that improved patient care, including avoiding unnecessary imaging tests.

Researchers say young gay men’s health care needs not being met. Young gay men who are uncomfortable discussing sexual issues with their primary care providers and experience health care discrimination are less likely to seek coordinated care, leading to missed opportunities for early diagnosis of chronic and mental health issues, according to Rutgers researchers. The study: Healthcare usage and satisfaction among young adult gay men in New York City, published in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, examined the types of health care facilities that young gay men use, their preference for coordinated health care and their satisfaction with the care provided.

Mayo Clinic Q&A: Understanding ‘golfer’s elbow. Dear Mayo Clinic: About a month ago, I began experiencing pain in my elbow. I experience this almost constantly, but it is worst whenever I try to lift anything, no matter how heavy. The pain moves from my elbow down my inner forearm, and if I twist or turn my wrist or arm, it worsens. I am an avid weekend golfer, but I haven’t played now for a few weeks. I’m wondering what I may have done and how I can get back to golf.

Symptoms, treatment and prevention of swimmer’s itch. Swimmer’s itch is an itchy rash that can occur after you go swimming or wading outdoors. Also known as cercarial dermatitis, swimmer’s itch is most common in freshwater lakes and ponds, but it occasionally occurs in saltwater. Swimmer’s itch is a rash usually caused by an allergic reaction to parasites that burrow into your skin while you’re swimming or wading in warm water. The parasites that cause swimmer’s itch normally live in waterfowl and some mammals. These parasites can be released into the water. Humans aren’t suitable hosts, so the parasites soon die while still in your skin.