The Health News – 28 June 2016

Overview:
• A new braille printer is ensuring students at Australia’s only government-run school for the vision-impaired can continue to read and study almost any book. School librarian Lauren Fountain said the new printer made it easier for the schools to print different books.

• Plans for a high-risk home birth, after which the baby died, were not acted on due to a lack of community service staff, a coronial inquest on the New South Wales north coast has heard. The court heard the parents planned to deliver the child themselves, despite the foetus lying in a transverse, or sideways, position. 

• The Garvan Institute’s cancer and immunology divisions are collaborating to harness the amazing power of the human immune system to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Focusing on the area of ‘cancer immunotherapy’, the teams aim to identify and develop new and more effective cancer therapies, prevention strategies, and perhaps even discover biomarkers that will pave the way for new diagnostic tests.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  28th of June 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-27/sa-vision-impaired-students-benefit-new-braille-printer/7546678

A new braille printer is ensuring students at Australia’s only government-run school for the vision-impaired can continue to read and study almost any book.

The SA School for Vision Impaired in Adelaide’s south has 27 fulltime students, but supports more than 200 in other schools across South Australia.

School librarian Lauren Fountain said the new printer made it easier for the schools to print different books.

“Compared to our last embosser, it cuts the time in half for brailing our books, it enables us to do bigger sizes, different layouts and tactile pictures as well,” Ms Fountain said.

“We print textbooks, from maths, science, anything that primary or high school kids use, as well as fiction and tactile books.

“My main role is to make sure our students have everything they need, in an accessible format, so they can be at the same level as their peers in a mainstream school.”

The printer was not cheap, at a cost of more than $30,000, but in an era of computer-assisted technology the braille language remains vital.

“Audio is a fantastic option, but in general day-to-day life, audio is not always accessible,” Ms Fountain said.

“Braille is a worldwide accessible format for our users, you have braille on buses and in elevators.

“If you can’t read braille, your ability to get around is not going to be as good, so having the braille skills our students will be able to function in higher education as well as day to day life.”

Principal Sheila Klinger said the dedicated school campus provides its students with a great start in life.

“I think it’s vital our school be known to people, as the only vision-impaired, department-run school in Australia,” Ms Fountain said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-27/concerns-over-risky-home-birth-not-acted-upon/7546270

Plans for a high-risk home birth, after which the baby died, were not acted on due to a lack of community service staff, a coronial inquest on the New South Wales north coast has heard.

The inquiry, which will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of a baby born on a property near Nimbin in February 2015, has begun in Lismore.

The court heard the parents planned to deliver the child themselves, despite the foetus lying in a transverse, or sideways, position.

Counsel assisting the deputy coroner, Sasha Harding, said in her opening statement the couple’s GP outlined his concerns but they were ignored.

A report was made to the Child Wellbeing Unit, and the matter referred to Lismore Community Services.

The court heard that due to the number of referrals received from the Child Protection Helpline, the centre was unable to allocate 75 per cent of matters classified as being “risk of serious harm”.

The baby’s parents have both denied planning a home birth, despite not making arrangements to have the child delivered at any local hospitals, the court also heard.

The baby had a pulse but was not breathing when he was born.

He was taken to Nimbin Hospital and initially seen by registered nurse Petria Maher.

The court heard Ms Maher approached the car and found the baby lying between his parents, who were having a conversation about the placenta.

The little boy was given ventilatory support and transferred to Lismore Base Hospital, then the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital intensive care nursery.

Life support was turned off three days after the birth.

The court heard an expert report by obstetrician and gynaecologist Doctor John Mutton classified the birth as an incomplete breech presentation.

Dr Mutton said babies in such a position should always be delivered by caesarean section.

The baby’s parents will give evidence later this week as the inquiry continues.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news/news/inter-disciplinary-approach-to-medical-research-changing-the-way-we-think-about-cancer-treatment

Scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research are looking beyond their specialty areas and taking an inter-disciplinary approach that is changing the way we think about the treatment of cancer.  This is considered to be the beginning of a paradigm shift in drug development that could truly transform healthcare.

The Garvan Institute’s cancer and immunology divisions are collaborating to harness the amazing power of the human immune system to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Focusing on the area of ‘cancer immunotherapy’, the teams aim to identify and develop new and more effective cancer therapies, prevention strategies, and perhaps even discover biomarkers that will pave the way for new diagnostic tests.

Professor Stuart Tangye, head of the Garvan Institute’s Immunology Division says that by understanding the immune system, and how it influences cancer development and progression, a relatively new approach to the treatment of cancer is evolving.

“Most traditional cancer drugs target the tumour. This exciting new approach to cancer treatment involves creating drugs that target cells of the immune system, not the cancer. Basically, we are taking the immune system – something that exists naturally in the body – and strengthening it to protect against, or attack a specific tumour type,” explains Professor Tangye.

Professor Tangye says, “Instead of focusing on a single specialty, such as immunology or neuroscience, many researchers are now making significant breakthroughs by taking a inter-disciplinary approach.  …”

The current state of funding for Australian medical research means that this collaborative approach is also born of necessity.