Five Most Fascinating Stories In Recent Medical News

by from Medelita | Monday, Sep 14, 2015

Every few weeks we try to bring you the top five most compelling stories in recent medical news. Keep reading to learn about about a new liquid biopsy, how digital health can help Hepatitis-C victims, and more!


1. Liquid Biopsy To Test For Cancer

Surgical biopsies have been the established standard for detecting the presence of cancer cells in patients, but a revolutionary new blood test could provide a cost-effective, noninvasive alternative that would save patients and doctors time and money. The test works by detecting three cancer-specific gene mutations in the blood stream and is expected to be most useful for lung and colorectal cancer patients. Biopsies on average cost $14,634 per patient, whereas this new test would cost only a few hundred dollars. The wait time for results is a few days, much shorter than the usual wait time for a traditional biopsy. A trial led by Eric Lim of the Royal Brompton & Harefield National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust accurately diagnosed almost 70% of lung cancer cases, proving that this new diagnostic tool holds tremendous potential in early detection of cancer. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299307.php]  

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at freedigitalphotos.net   

2. Altering Of Parasitic Genes May Lower Global Malaria Rate

In Africa, nearly half a million children die annually from the parasitic Malaria disease, despite the global fight to eradicate the disease. There are tools to prevent and treat malaria, but the effectiveness of these treatments are hindered by the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the parasite, which have been on the rise. A new technique, reported by Yale University in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, targets the parasite’s RNA expression in such a way that it disrupts the parasite’s development within blood cells of the infected individual. The team at Yale was able to demonstrate that this technique, which is relatively simple and straightforward, slowed the development of malaria even in drug-resistant strains, concluding that this treatment “presents a possibility for their use in large-scale genome functional analyses and possibly in malaria therapy.” [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299207.php]    

3. New Residency Programs Designed To Reduce Physician Burnout

Its no secret that physician burnout is on the rise, with results that range from a desire to leave the profession, to medical errors, to physician suicide. To respond to this growing rate of dissatisfied medical residents, resident programs are beginning to promote physical activity, nutrition, social engagement, and self-reflection—all of which are crucial for residents to maintain a balanced life and reduce burnout. The University of Toledo’s Department of Family Medicine in particular has developed a “resiliency program’ for residents which focuses on time management, coping skills, and social connections in and outside of medicine, among other life-work balance topics. Feedback from residents in this program has been overwhelmingly positive, and other resident programs, such as UCSD have implemented similar approaches to addressing resident burnout. UCSD’s Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Program gives residents workshops on yoga, nutrition counseling, and life training, all of which are designed to help residents maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid the plague of resident/physician burnout. [Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/849543]  

Image courtesy of iosphere at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of iosphere at freedigitalphotos.net

4. Digital Simulation Analyzes Hepatitis-C Enzyme

NS3 is an enzyme that plays a huge role in helping hepatitis-C viruses replicate, but until now, scientists have had a very narrow understanding of how it works. Thanks to a new computer simulation, researchers can now watch the enzyme work in a way that mirrors moving film—a huge improvement from the crystallized still-images that were previously used to study the enzyme. NS3 helps unravel the RNA of the hepatitis-C virus for replication, and understanding the process by which the enzyme works is crucial for scientists to develop drugs that target the enzyme and inhibit its behavior. This computer simulation, created by the International School of Advanced Studies, is a huge step forward for scientists to broaden then understanding of NS3 and hopefully provide better treatment for the 130-150 million people across the world who suffer from hepatitis-C. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299384.php]  

5. Arthritis Linked To Poverty

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia have analyzed survey data from 2007-2012, coming to the conclusion that individuals who are inflicted with rheumatic diseases and conditions are more likely to fall into poverty. This refers to both income poverty and multi-dimensional poverty, in which health and education access is taken into account as well as income. The disparity is most starkly seen in women with arthritis, who are 87% more likely to fall into multi-dimensional poverty as compared to those who do not contract rheumatic disease. In populations of men with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions, there is a 29% increase in the risk of falling into multi-dimensional poverty. The researchers of the study claim, "Given the high prevalence of arthritis, the condition is an overlooked driver of poverty." This new report has massive implications for clinicians treating patients with arthritis, as they must take into account the high risk of poverty since affordability of out-of-pocket costs will be a huge factor for rheumatic health outcomes. While a causal link has not been identified, it is impossible to ignore the correlation between rheumatic conditions and poverty. [Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299208.php]  

Image courtesy of Photokanok at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Photokanok at freedigitalphotos.net