Today’s top health stories: 18 February

Children of teenage fathers are more likely to inherit birth defects

Image source: TE.com

Teenage fathers have 30 percent higher rates of DNA mutation, according to a study by the University of Cambridge.

The study, which examined 2,400 parents and their children, discovered that teenage fathers carry a similar amount of DNA mutations as middle-aged fathers. Although scientists are uncertain why teenage fathers are at such high risk, the results explain why the children of young fathers are at an increased risk for disorders with a genetic link, such as autism, schizophrenia and spina bifida.

The study rejects previous assumptions that DNA mutations in germ cells increases with age, with scientists saying the new discoveries could force textbooks to be rewritten.

Source: The Telegraph

 

Drug Companies withdrawing funding from dementia research due to repeated failures

Image source: University of Bath

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has reported that drug companies are investing significantly less amounts of money into dementia compared to other major diseases following a series of “repeated and costly failures”.

Despite the huge burden that dementia imposes on international economies, the WISH report is lamenting a “funding fatigue”. Experts say that as resources shrink, dementia research is becoming more conservative, with limited unconventional strategies and parallel drug discovery opportunities.

The WISH report lists solutions that different countries are carrying out to combat the small amount of drug company investment into dementia, with one solution coming from 2013 when the UK named a World Dementia Envoy and established the World Dementia Council. One of the World Dementia Council’s three stated priorities is to increase financial resources for dementia research and drug development.

Source: The Independent

 

GPs encouraged to highlight colleagues who prescribe unwarranted number of antibiotics

Image source: Telegraph

The NHS are to encourage GPs to question and inform colleagues who they believe are giving out too many antibiotics.

Calls for GPs to self-regulate antibiotic prescriptions amongst their own field come following a report suggesting that 97% of patients who ask for antibiotics receive them. The draft guidance, written by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has been created to counter increasing concern over the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics in the Western world has been cited as a reason for the growing resistance of antibiotics.

NICE’s draft guidance points to the fact that it is often the patient themselves who demand antibiotics rather than being a suggestion from GPs.

Source: Telegraph

Today’s top health stories: 12 January

NHS patients to be offered self-referral cancer tests

Image source: The Guardian

As part of the NHS’s target to diagnose 10% more people with cancer at its early stages than in 2014, patients are to be given the option of booking referral appointments directly with hospitals and testing units instead of first visiting a GP.

The NHS believe that a 10% increase in early stage cancer diagnosis would mean that the number of patients alive five years after diagnosis would increase by 8,000.

As well as introducing self-referral bookings to patients, other NHS initiatives under the same scheme are:

  • Tests for different types of cancers at the same time and day of original appointments
  • Fast-tracking of patients through community pharmacists when cancer symptoms are suspected and ongoing
  • GPs to send patients for cancer tests without having to first refer to a cancer specialist

Source: BBC News, The Independent

National Obesity Forum warn that treating obesity could ‘break the NHS’

Image source: Locally Healthy

In a bid to slow the increasing cost of obesity on the NHS, the National Obesity Forum has stated their desire for annual weight monitoring of every adult.

Obesity costs the NHS £45 billion per year, with the National Obesity Forum warning that the costs could ‘break the NHS’. In the last two decades obesity levels have doubled, with 67% of men now overweight or obese. This week is also National Obesity Awareness Week.

Highlighting the obesity epidemic in Europe and the Western hemisphere, last week the American Medical Association voted to classify obesity as a disease.

Sources: The Daily Mail, Prevention

WHO: e-learning for doctors and nurses as effective as traditional training

Image source: Thrivase

The World Health Organization has advised that electronic education for some healthcare professionals can be just as successful as face-to-face education. It is hoped that the WHO’s approval will go towards encouraging more people to train in healthcare, helping to plug the 7.2 million shortfall of healthcare professionals worldwide.

The study, conducted at Imperial College London, found that distance learning and electronic education enables greater access to teaching. However, barriers still exist at places where electronic media and the Internet are not regularly available.

Source: Reuters

 

Today’s top health stories: 08 January

Pharma companies threaten legal action over NHS England’s decision to halt access to expensive drugs

Image source: The Guardian

Pharma companies have expressed their discontent at NHS England’s expected plans to remove access to a range of medicines due to their high prices.

NHS England’s Cancer Drugs Fund, which was set up to allow patients access to drugs regardless of their cost and has been used by 55,000 people, is set to be £100m over budget by the end of the financial year.

Medicines which will be no longer paid by the fund include breast cancer drugs Eisai’s Halaven (eribulin, breast cancer), Sanofi’s Zaltrap (Aflibercept, bowel cancer) and Roche’s Kadcyla (Trastuzumab emtansine, bowel cancer).

Chief executive of Myeloma UK, Eric Lowe, believes that the Cancer Drugs Fund is unsustainable and a “policy anomaly”.

Sources: Financial Times, BBC News

 

Scientists discover 25 new antibiotics in clinical study

Image source: Institute for Creation Research


Following a three-year gap since the last clinical discovery of antibiotics, a novel approach to cultivating bacteria has led to a yield of 25 new antibiotics.

These new antibiotics, described by the researchers as the “tip of the iceberg” in their published journal in Nature, could potentially revive antibiotic discovery.

Recent decades have seen microbes become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, leading to so-called ‘super bugs’ which have caused media stirs.

Source: BBC News

 

Signs that Ebola is slowing in Sierra Leone

Image source: MarketWatch

Although 248 new confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in Sierra Leone during the past week, the spread of Ebola in the country appears to be slowing according to the World Health Organisation.

Ebola cases in Sierra Leone far outstrip those of any other country, with almost 10,000 cases and 3000 deaths. Ebola cases are still underreported throughout western Africa.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, head of the United Nations Ebola response team, is warning against complacency in Sierra Leone against the continual threat of Ebola:  “It is only at this moment of optimism and relative success that sometimes we are worried of a sense of complacency”.

Sources: Reuters, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention