Health and Fitness

OdoReader Could Save Health Services Millions By Sniffing Out Stomach Bugs

Testing has begun on a device that can sniff out the presence of disease by smell, thanks to a 1.3 million pound award from the Wellcome Trust. OdoReader, developed by Chris Probert from the University of Bristol and Norman Ratcliffe from the University of the West of England, uses pioneering technology to rapidly diagnose Clostridium difficile, by 'reading' the odour of stool samples. Clostridium difficile may cause severe diarrhoea, especially amongst hospitalised patients. With the help of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, the technology enables gasses emitted from faeces to be analysed in under an hour, leading to a rapid and inexpensive diagnosis. Such early detection could reap real health benefits for millions of people and help prevent the spread of infectious disease. Gastro-intestinal diseases afflict over four billion adults and children each year. Delays in diagnosis can lead to patients being ill for longer, some may die, many will cost more to treat and infections may spread to other people.

U.N. Taps Bill Clinton To Lead Haiti Rebuilding; 200,000 People Died In Quake, Haitian PM Says

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday asked former President Bill Clinton, currently the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, to oversee aid and rebuilding efforts in Haiti, CNN reports (2/3). Ban "specifically asked President Clinton to assume a leadership role in coordinating international aid efforts from emergency response to the reconstruction of Haiti, " U.N. spokesperson Martin Nesirky said, Reuters reports. "There's an awful lot of goodwill out there, an unprecedented flow of aid and good intentions and cash, and the idea is to ensure that that comes together in the right way, " Nesirky said. In this role, Clinton will be charged with coordinating the work of NGOs, private groups, governments and U.N. agencies, according to the U.N. "Clinton said he was 'pleased to take on an expanded role in the recovery efforts' and would learn from disasters like the 2004 Asian tsunami, " the news service writes (Worsnip, 2/3). He said "the challenges are great" and there are "a lot of emergency problems to deal with, " CNN writes (2/3).

New Report Finds Low Adult Vaccination Rates For Pneumonia In U.S.

A new report, Adult Immunization: Shots to Save Lives, released by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) found that more than 30 percent of adults ages 65 and older had not been immunized against pneumonia in 36 states as of 2008. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts recommend that all seniors should be vaccinated against pneumonia, which is a one-time shot for most individuals, since seniors who get the seasonal flu are at risk for developing pneumonia as a complication. Nationally, 33.1 percent of seniors had not been immunized against pneumonia, and even in the state with the highest immunization rate - Oregon - more than one quarter (26.8 percent) of seniors were not immunized. Washington, D.C. had the lowest number of seniors immunized, with nearly half (45.6 percent) of seniors not immunized. Overall, the Adult Immunization report found millions of American adults go without routine and recommended vaccinations each year, which leads to an estimated 40, 000 to 50, 000 preventable deaths, thousands of preventable illnesses, and $10 billion in preventable health care costs each year.

New Research Uncovers Molecular Firing Squad Through Which Overeating Destroys Normal Metabolism And Sets Stage For Diabetes

Overeating in mice triggers a molecule once considered to be only involved in detecting and fighting viruses to also destroy normal metabolism, leading to insulin resistance and setting the stage for diabetes. The new study, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), specifically links together the immune system and metabolism, a pairing increasingly suspected in diseases that include - in addition to diabetes - heart disease, fatty liver, cancer, and stroke. Understanding how to regulate the molecule through targeted drugs or nutrients could eventually change the way these diseases are prevented and treated in humans. The study will publish in the February 5, 2010, issue of Cell. "When mice eat a normal diet, this molecule called PKR is silent, " said senior author GГ khan Hotamisligil, chair of the HSPH Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases. "However, if a cell containing PKR is bombarded with too many nutrients, PKR grabs other immune system molecules that respond to this food attack and organizes a firing squad to shoot down normal processes, leading to insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction.

Bacteria Toxic To Wound-Treating Maggots

Bacteria that infect chronic wounds can be deadly to maggot 'biosurgeons' used to treat the lesions, show researchers writing in the journal Microbiology. The findings could lead to more effective treatment of wounds and the development of novel antibiotics. Scientists from the Copenhagen Wound Healing Centre, Statens Serum Institut and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark showed that maggots applied to simulated wounds heavily infected with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, were unable to treat the wound and were left dead after 20 hours. Chronic wounds, such as leg ulcers, affect 1% of the Western population and are painful and difficult to treat. Use of maggots to disinfect wounds is an ancient practice that regained popularity in the early 1990s. Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT) is now a standard procedure at wound care centres all over the world, in which sterile larvae from the green bottle fly Lucilia sericata are applied to the wound either directly or contained within a sealed nylon bag.

40 Per Cent Of Cancers Are Preventable: Message For World Cancer Day

This year, the message for World Cancer Day, 4th February, is "Cancer can be prevented too", with experts suggesting that 40 per cent of the 12.4 million cancers diagnosed and 7.6 million cancer deaths worldwide could be prevented if we applied what we know about avoiding infections and changing lifestyles. The International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) who are marking World Cancer Day, said such reductions could be within our reach were we to apply "evidence-based cancer prevention strategies". If someone came up with a single vaccine or drug that was proven to cure 40 per cent of all cancers we would all be dancing in the streets, yet in effect this is what we have says the UICC, except it isn't in one tablet, it's in lots of different bits of knowledge and strategies, we just need to apply them effectively and comprehensively. The UICC said cancer prevention strategies include simple things like: Quitting use of tobacco and avoiding second-hand smoke, Limiting consumption of alcohol, Avoiding too much sun, Keeping to a healthy weight through healthy diet and exercise, and Protecting against infections that cause cancer.

News From The US Department Of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory February 2010

HEALTH CARE - Maximizing mammography. .. .. . Mammograms could conceivably save more lives with a technology being developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Chicago. The proposed system would allow doctors to quickly identify trends specific to an individual patient and also match images and text to a database of known cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. "Our goal is to develop a decision and support system that helps doctors and patients, " said Robert Patton of ORNL's Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. "There is a wealth of existing information that doctors could be using but with time and resource constraints it is virtually impossible." So far, researchers have studied 60, 000 mammograms of 12, 000 patients. This project, which makes use of the lab's ultra-scale computing, is funded through ORNL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. CYBERLAND - Advanced attack analysis. .. .. . Intrusion detection systems used by governmental agencies, large companies and others who want to prevent cyber attacks could soon be turbocharged with a highly sophisticated tool being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Welch Foundation Honors Orth As 'Rising Star'in Chemistry

Dr. Kim Orth, associate professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has been honored with the 2010 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research for pioneering work focusing on the mechanisms bacteria use to cause disease. The Houston-based Welch Foundation, one of the nation's oldest and largest sources of private funding for basic research in chemistry, presents the award annually to honor up-and-coming scientists at Texas institutions. Recipients are recognized for expanding the frontiers of chemistry through their innovative research. First bestowed in 2002, the award pays tribute to the late Norman Hackerman, a noted scientist and longtime chairman of the foundation's scientific advisory board. At a luncheon on the UT Southwestern campus, Dr. Orth received the $100, 000 award and a crystal sculpture. Dr. Orth has discovered new mechanisms by which invading bacteria hijack and deregulate a cell's signaling systems, cutting off the cell's ability to communicate with other immune-system cells that are needed to fight off disease.

Study Finds Association Between Genes That Regulate Maternal Inflammatory Response, Bacterial Vaginosis And Preterm Delivery

In a study presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting™ in Chicago, researchers showed the use of haplotype tagging (hap-tag) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to study the relationship between genetic predispositions, an environmental factor - bacterial vaginosis, and preterm birth. Studies previously demonstrated that genetic variation within genes that regulate the maternal inflammatory response are associated with an increased risk of spontaneous preterm delivery (SPTD). The new study sought to determine if an environmental exposure associated with maternal inflammation, bacterial vaginosis (BV), modifies these genetic susceptibilities. The March of Dimes notes that babies born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy are called premature, and in the United States, about 12.8 percent of babies (more than half a million a year) are born prematurely. The study that was conducted was a prospective cohort study in which maternal DNA samples were collected from 744 women, and demographics and outcomes data were recorded.

Antimicrobial Treatment For Buruli Ulcer Is Effective In Early, Limited Disease

New research shows that two different antimicrobial regimens for treating buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection) are effective at treating early, limited disease. This is the conclusion of an Article published Online First ( http://www.thelancet.com ) and in an upcoming edition of The Lancet -written by Professor Tjip S van der Werf, University Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands, and colleagues. Buruli ulcer is classed a neglected tropical disease. The early stage of infection is characterised by a painless nodule, with lesions developing on the skin, and occasionally in adjacent bone, as the disease progresses. Surgery was the standard treatment for Buruli ulcer disease until WHO issued provisional guidelines in 2004 recommending treatment with antimicrobial drugs (streptomycin and rifampicin) in addition to surgery. In this study, the authors investigated the efficacy of two regimens of antimicrobial treatment in early-stage M ulcerans infection. In this randomised trial undertaken in two sites in Ghana, patients were eligible for enrolment if they were aged five years or older and had early (duration clarithromycin (7в 5 mg/kg once daily), both orally, for 4 weeks (4-week streptomycin plus 4-week clarithromycin group;

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