The Health News Australia August 3 2017

Overview

  • In a surprising discovery, a research team led by Oregon Health and & Science University (OHSU) reported embryos can help fix themselves if scientists jump-start the process early enough. It is laboratory research only nowhere near ready to be tried in a pregnancy  but it suggests scientists might alter DNA in a way that protects not just one baby from a disease that runs in the family, but his or her offspring as well.
  • Authorities in the US warned Australia 17 years ago that a toxic chemical called perfluorooctane sulfonate (Pfos) that was using at defence bases, fire stations, and airports, risked “severe, long-term consequences” to human health and the environment. Australia’s decades-long use of the chemical, which shares a probable link with cancer, has now prompted investigations at about one hundred sites across the country, including two where residents have launched class actions against the federal government.
  • Hunter Valley health officials say an internal investigation is underway after another suicide at a Newcastle mental health centre. The ABC has been told a woman is the latest Mater Mental Health Centre patient to take their own life.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 3rd of August 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health New

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-03/first-embryo-gene-repair-holds-promise-for-inherited-disease/8769416

In a first, researchers have safely repaired a disease-causing gene in human embryos, targeting a heart defect best known for killing young athletes — a big step towards one day preventing a list of inherited diseases. Embryos cured themselves of a heart-weakening disease and affects about one in five hundred people. In a surprising discovery, a research team led by Oregon Health and Science University reported embryos can help fix themselves if scientists jump-start the process early enough. It is laboratory research only — nowhere near ready to be tried in a pregnancy — but it suggests scientists might alter DNA in a way that protects not just one baby from a disease that runs in the family, but his or her offspring as well.

And that raises ethical questions, with many researchers in agreement that this technique is still in its infancy. Melissa Little, a program leader at Stem Cells Australia and a professor of paediatrics at the University of Melbourne was not involved in the research, but pointed out modifying human embryos in this fashion “is not legal here or in most countries”.

Today, couples seeking to avoid passing on a bad gene sometimes have embryos created in fertility clinics so they can discard those that inherit the disease and attempt pregnancy only with healthy ones, if there are any.In theory, gene editing could rescue diseased embryos, but so-called “germline” changes — altering sperm, eggs or embryos — are controversial because they would be permanent, passed down to future generations.

The experiments were privately funded since US tax dollars are not allowed for embryo research. Genetics and ethics experts not involved in the work said it is a critical first step, but just one step, towards eventually testing the process in pregnancy, which is currently prohibited by US policy.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/03/us-warned-australia-over-toxic-firefighting-chemical-17-years-ago

Authorities in the US warned Australia  seventeen years ago that a toxic chemical it was using at defence bases, fire stations, and airports, risked “severe, long-term consequences” to human health and the environment. An email from the US environmental protection agency, obtained by Guardian Australia, shows senior Australian officials were urged to eliminate the use of the chemical, perfluorooctane sulfonate or Pfos, years before they first took action.

“It appears to combine persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree,” the United States Environmental Protection Agency wrote on May sixteen two thousand.

“We agree that continued manufacture and use of Pfos represents an unacceptable technology that should be eliminated to protect human health and the environment from potentially severe long-term consequences.” Australia’s decades-long use of the chemical, which shares a probable link with cancer, has now prompted investigations at about one hundred sites across the country, including two where residents have launched class actions against the federal government. The email was sent from the EPA’s office of pollution, prevention, and toxics director, Charles Auer, to a deputy secretary of Australia’s environment department, and a senior official within the national occupational health and safety commission, which has since been superseded by Safe Work Australia.

The EPA promised to send internal testing results, conducted by the chemical’s manufacturer ThreeM, which included “very unusual” observations about the reproductive effects on rats.

It said its view was a “rapid phase-out is necessary and appropriate”.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-02/another-suicide-at-newcastle-mental-health-clinic/8768338

Hunter Valley health officials say an internal investigation is underway after another suicide at a Newcastle mental health centre. The ABC has been told a woman is the latest Mater Mental Health Centre patient to take their own life. It comes after the death of eighteen-year-old Ahlia Raftery in two thousand fiffteen, and the death of thirty-year-old Tyson Matthews just days after he was released in two thousand thirteen. The State Government has just announced a series of community consultation sessions as part of a review into seclusion, restraint and observation practices at its mental health facilities. There will be a consultation in Newcastle on August fourteen. Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies has been informed of the recent death. A spokeswoman for Hunter New England Health said the matter had been referred to the coroner.

“In the interest of the patient’s privacy and the coronial process, we are unable to provide any further information at this time,” she said.

The State Opposition’s mental health spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk told the ABC she wanted answers. She said that the community needs assurances that NSW mental health units are adequately resourced and it is most concerning that we hear about these tragic deaths occurring in our mental health units in our hospitals.

“There’s no point in doing internal reviews if in the end our communities are not receiving the assurances that they should be that these mental health units are proving a high standard of care,” Mihailuk said.

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