The Health News – 14 November 2016

Overview:
•  An elderly patient is recovering from a rare and potentially deadly strain of meningococcal on the Sunshine Coast. Queensland Health said it was the second case of the W strain this year in the Sunshine Coast health district, while in Queensland there had been 10 cases of W strain reported since January this year.

• Professor Peter Snyder, a neuroscientist from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital in the US, said the presence of retinal plaque on a person’s eyes could be a precursor to determine whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

• New Australian research has shown how the immune system avoids attacking its own tissues with antibodies – whilst still maintaining a strong defence against invaders. The findings, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney) and the John Curtin School of Medical Research (Australian National University), have just been published in the leading journal Nature Communications.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  14th of November 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-11/meningococcal-w-strain-confirmed-in-qld/8017904

An elderly patient is recovering from a rare and potentially deadly strain of meningococcal on the Sunshine Coast.

The meningococcal W strain was confirmed earlier this month.

Queensland Health said it was the second case of the W strain this year in the Sunshine Coast health district, while in Queensland there had been 10 cases of W strain reported since January this year.

Dr Andrew Langley, the director of Queensland Health’s Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit, said further cases were not expected.

“It is uncommon to acquire meningococcal infection from contact with a symptomatic case and we do not expect further cases related to this person,” he said in a statement.

“Consistent with national guidance, antibiotics were provided to close contacts to reduce the risk of further transmission of the bacteria.”

The president of the Australian Medical Association’s Queensland (AMAQ) branch, Dr Richard Kidd, said the number of W strain cases was increasing.

A federal vaccination program is in place for children against the C strain, which Dr Kidd said was considered the most common and most deadly, until now.

The Meningitis Centre of Australia’s chairman Bruce Langoulant said cases of W strain were expected to double in 2017.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-11/alzheimers-disease-eye-test-could-predict-development-of-disease/8016072

A simple eye test could determine if a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease decades before they show symptoms, a leading US medical scientist says.

Professor Peter Snyder, a neuroscientist from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital in the US, said the presence of retinal plaque on a person’s eyes could be a precursor to determine whether someone will develop the disease.

He said early research had been promising, but a diagnostic technology was still several years away.

“What I’m looking for are tiny, tiny inclusion bodies or plaques in the retina that seem to correlate with the amount of amyloid protein built up in the brain,” Professor Snyder said.

“By the time someone has symptoms, if the disease has been creeping up in the brain for 20 or 30 years, by the time they are showing symptoms, it may already be too late.

Professor Snyder’s research included testing 80 people with an average age of 61, and giving them brain scans.

Of those people, 20 had a build up of amyloid protein in the brain, which was already a confirmed identifier of Alzheimer’s disease, and almost all of those 20 people had signs of retinal plaque.

Professor Snyder said he understood some people might not want to know if they were likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

He said he found that once people realised they were at an increased risk, they looked after themselves better, but people who were found not at risk, did not.

https://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/die-another-day-how-the-immune-system-keeps-traitor-cells-in-lockdown

New Australian research has shown how the immune system avoids attacking its own tissues with antibodies – whilst still maintaining a strong defence against invaders. The findings, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney) and the John Curtin School of Medical Research (Australian National University), have just been published in the leading journal Nature Communications.

Our immune system is charged with the crucial task of keeping us safe from overwhelming infection. Time and again, our immune cells must decide very quickly whether they are looking at an invading microbe, which poses a threat, or a part of the body, which should be protected. Getting it wrong – and attacking ‘self’ – can lead to devastating autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

The researchers have shown how the immune system can stop ‘traitor’ cells – which could otherwise make damaging antibodies against the body’s own tissues (auto-antibodies) – in their tracks.

The findings have personal significance for Prof Goodnow, who in the late 1980s was the first to describe the presence of an anergic, unresponsive population of self-reactive B cells in mice.

The findings provide a new depth of understanding of the human immune system and are likely to help cancer researchers understand how B cells break out of their ‘holding pattern’ and multiply in common forms of leukaemia and lymphoma.

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