The Health News – 30 January 2017

Overview:
• Ambulance Victoria develops a new app that allows anyone who is trained in giving first aid to respond to emergency calls involving a suspected cardiac arrest. When a triple-0 call came in, the app will pinpoint the person’s location.

• Scientists have successfully created the first human-pig hybrid embryo, which hints a possibility to grow human organs inside other animals for use in transplants in the future.

• Alan Mackay-Sim urged politicians to think beyond the political cycle when it comes to research funding as he accepted his Australian of the Year award. Australia’s share of world health and medical research output has risen to 3.8 per cent (as of 2012).

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  30th of January 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-28/ambulance-victoria-app-triple-0-000-doctors-cardiac-arrest/8219704

Members of the public trained in first aid will be able to respond to triple-0 emergencies with the help of a new app being developed by Ambulance Victoria.

The technology would allow off-duty paramedics, medical professionals and members of the public with first aid training to respond to emergency calls involving a suspected cardiac arrest.

When a triple-0 call came in, the technology would pinpoint the person’s location using their phone location through the app.

The responder would then be dispatched along with the closest ambulance.

Ambulance Victoria’s Ian Patrick said providing CPR as early as possible improved the patient’s chance of survival.

Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy has given her full support to the initiate, which is out to tender.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-27/human-pig-embryo-a-breakthrough-for-organ-transplant-future/8216580

It may be possible one day to grow human organs inside other animals for use in transplants, as scientists successfully create the first human-pig hybrid embryo.

The embryo contains genetic information from both species, pig and human.

The results were published in the journal Cell, but scientists warn any such technological and scientific applications are still far away.

Dr Jun Wu, from the Salk Institute in the US and the lead author of the research, said it was the first time they had successfully generated a human-pig chimeric embryo.

“What that means is that we used the human stem cells, and saw the human cells can survive and differentiate into early stages of tissues inside a live pig embryo,” he said.

“Prior to our study, we were really not sure whether the human cell had the ability entering in to the pig development, because pig and human are very distant species …”

Previous studies had shown getting the genetic material of one animal to grow in another was possible.

In 2010, researchers grew a rat/mouse chimera, but both those animals are far more genetically similar than humans and pigs.

The researchers said it was a major finding to show that the cells of two large mammals, humans and pigs, were compatible.

… while their discovery was a major step forward, the end goal of growing human organs in other animals was still a long way off.

… the research held hope for finding a solution for meeting the demand for human organs for transplant.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-26/australias-medical-research-funding-by-the-numbers/8215016

When Alan Mackay-Sim accepted his Australian of the Year award, he urged politicians to think beyond the political cycle when it comes to research funding.

So where does Australia sit in comparison with the rest of the world when it comes to medical research funding?

According to a Deloitte Access Economics report for the Australian Society for Medical Research, the nation’s share of world health and medical research output has risen to 3.8 per cent (as of 2012).

That is up from 2.5 per cent in 2002.

At the same time, the number of medical researchers in the workforce has increased by more than 5,000 in the last decade.

The problem is that funding for project grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) — a key source of money for researchers — has remained largely static. The council is funded by the Federal Government.

More workers + similar pot of money = fewer successful applicants. That means it is harder for health and medical researchers to stay in the industry.

Late last year, research by the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) found that almost one in four scientists were “uncertain” about whether they would be employed next year because it was so difficult to get research funding.

The report found 15 per cent of Australia’s scientific workforce had already left, which the organisation said was “the tip of the iceberg”.

In 2010, the NHMRC spent $383 million on project grants and 683 of the 2984 (22.8 per cent) applicants were successful.

In 2016, only 539 of the 3550 (15.1 per cent) applicants received a share of the $451 million of NHMRC project grant funding.

Funding for research usually lasts between one and five years, before researchers are forced to reapply.

Many researchers feel the huge amount of work needed to constantly prepare grant applications that may or may not get funded is unsustainable and ultimately discouraging them from applying.

It is a point that Professor Mackay-Sim has already discussed with the Prime Minister.