The Health News United Kingdom January 21 2018

  • Nicola Sturgeon has been included on a new global task force set up to examine what governments can do to try to curb obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption. The Scottish First Minister has been appointed to the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health after the Scottish Government won a legal battle to allow it to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. The policy will come into force on May 1, 2018– some 6 years after after MSPs at Holyrood first voted for the legislation, which was delayed by a legal challenge.
  • Health experts have said the number of flu cases in Scotland may have now peaked despite a further increase in the rate last week. Figures showed that 114 people per 100,000 were reported as having a flu-like illness last week. This was a small increase from 107 per 100,000 the previous week, and 5 times that in the same week last year.
  • A robot using artificial intelligence has helped scientists discover an ingredient in toothpaste with properties that could fight drug-resistant malaria. The “robot scientist”, called Eve, is able to screen ten thousand compounds a day — “learning” which work best as testing progresses, and excluding those known to harm humans.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st of January 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/nicola-sturgeon-appointed-to-global-health-task-force-36504698.html

Nicola Sturgeon has been included on a new global task force set up to examine what governments can do to try to curb obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption. The Scottish First Minister has been appointed to the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health after the Scottish Government won a legal battle to allow it to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. The policy will come into force on May one, two thousand eighteen – some six years after after MSPs at Holyrood first voted for the legislation, which was delayed by a legal challenge.

World Health Organisation global ambassador and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new group along with Lawrence Summers, who served as an adviser to US President Barack Obama. The task force brings together politicians and health leaders from across the globe to look at how fiscal policy can help prevent non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
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Together, such diseases kill forty million people a year across the world, making up seventy percent of all deaths, with Mister Bloomberg stating: “Noncommunicable diseases are a growing global crisis, especially in low and middle income countries.”
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Miss Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government has worked tirelessly to develop and implement bold and innovative policies to address public health challenges, including the negative effects of tobacco, excess alcohol consumption and obesity.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-42738619

Health experts have said the number of flu cases in Scotland may have now peaked despite a further increase in the rate last week. Figures showed that one hundred fourteen people per one hundred thousand were reported as having a flu-like illness last week. This was a small increase from one hundred seven per one hundred thousand the previous week, and five times that in the same week last year.

The health secretary said it was encouraging that the figures had not risen as sharply as in the previous weeks. The flu rate had doubled in each of the first two weeks of the year, but the latest Health Protection Scotland report said that “the rate of change in influenza-like illness has now slowed considerably”.

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The report also said that a further thirteen people with influenza were confirmed to have died after being admitted to intensive care units, bringing the total to twenty one out the eighty flu patients who have needed ICU treatment this winter.

It said that the ICU death rate was “within normal seasonal levels”, but that the contribution of flu to a high overall mortality rate in the first two weeks of the year would be the subject of further investigation. Health Secretary Shona Robison again said the virus had put a strain on the country’s health and social care services, and thanked staff for their hard work.
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The country’s deputy chief medical officer, Doctor Gregor Smith, said the flu vaccine is a good match against the current most common strains, and urged everyone eligible to have one.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/robot-scientist-discovers-toothpaste-can-help-cure-malaria-a3743221.html

A robot using artificial intelligence has helped scientists discover an ingredient in toothpaste with properties that could fight drug-resistant malaria. The “robot scientist”, called Eve, is able to screen ten thousand compounds a day — “learning” which work best as testing progresses, and excluding those known to harm humans.

Cambridge University researchers revealed that Eve had established that triclosan, an antibacterial agent often found in toothpaste and soap, inhibits the growth of a key molecule in the malaria parasite. Malaria, which is passed by mosquitos, kills more than five hundred thousand people a year, mainly in Africa and South-East Asia. A number of medicines are used to treat the disease but the parasites are becoming more resistant, raising the spectre of untreatable malaria.

Eve is the younger partner of Adam, which in two thousand nine became the first machine to independently discover new scientific knowledge. The robots speed up the drug discovery process and make it more economical — especially in fields such as tropical diseases, where profits can be too low to interest the pharmaceutical industry.

Professor Steve Oliver of Cambridge University, said: “Eve exploits its artificial intelligence to learn from early successes in her screens and select compounds that have a high probability of being active against the chosen drug target. This reduces the costs, uncertainty, and time involved in drug screening, and has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.” The research, published in Scientific Reports, suggests triclosan — which prevents the buildup of plaque bacteria when used in toothpaste — will work on parasites in the liver and in blood.

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