The Health News – 12 January 2016

Overview:
• Australia is facing a critical shortage of donated tissue, including skin, bones, heart valves and tendons. “We’re short in everything, absolutely everything,” Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria senior scientist Kellie Hamilton said.

• The Big Red Kidney Bus, a mobile dialysis unit which visits holiday spots across Victoria hopes to expand, after giving more than 300 dialysis patients and their families the freedom to travel in its first year of operation.

• A team of Australian and international researchers have discovered how the use of nanomedicine could make it easier to detect cancer, deliver drugs to tumours and arm surgeons with greater accuracy when operating.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 12th January 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-11/critical-skin-donation-shortage-leaving-bushfire-victims-at-risk/7076680

Australia is facing a critical shortage of donated tissue, including skin, bones, heart valves and tendons.

“We’re short in everything, absolutely everything,” Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria senior scientist Kellie Hamilton said.

“We desperately need skin to be able to treat burns. We’re coming into bushfire season and that’s always a critical time for us.”

Kate Sanderson was racing in an ultra-marathon in Western Australia’s Kimberley four years ago when she received burns to 65 per cent of her body after becoming caught in a fire.

Ms Sanderson spent six months in hospital in Melbourne where she received dozens of life-saving skin grafts.

There was enough skin in Victoria to treat her burns, but fellow runner Turia Pitt was less fortunate.

Her doctors in NSW were forced to import skin from the USA which was then held up at the airport — putting her life at risk due to infection.

According to 2014 figures … only 165 people donated skin in Australia.

The Tissue Bank said they frequently ran out of skin.

Human skin, which is the best option for seriously burnt patients because synthetic tissue has no resistance to bacteria, is retrieved after a person has died and often it is the family who decides whether to donate.

Burns surgeon Heather Cleland said many people were reluctant to tick the box for skin donation because they thought they would be stripped of their skin.

She said donating involved removing a small patch of skin from the back and upper legs.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-11/big-red-kidney-gives-holidaying-victorians-on-dialysis-a-break/7076770

A mobile dialysis unit which visits holiday spots across Victoria hopes to expand, after giving more than 300 dialysis patients and their families the freedom to travel in its first year of operation.

The Big Red Kidney Bus, operated by Kidney Health Australia (KHA), is the only one of its kind, and its services are in high demand.

Located for six weeks in caravan parks in Victoria, KHA said it took 327 bookings from patients in its first year.

The bus, which contains three dialysis chairs for 12 people each week, is open for booking to all Australians on haemodialysis in hospital, satellite unit or on home haemodialysis.

Anne O’Brien from Sale in regional Victoria is one of 12,500 people across Australia with kidney disease who need dialysis treatment to stay alive.

For the past 15 years, she has visited a dialysis unit three times a week for treatment.

Ms O’Brien said relying on dialysis is a big impediment to travelling either to Melbourne, or visiting children interstate.

“A lot of units just cannot fit holiday patients in so this is an absolute bonus,” she said.

“It’s not an easy thing, and you have to be able to organise it well in advance”

Ms O’Brien visited the bus at the botanic gardens, and said the opportunity to come to Melbourne for a week was marvellous.

Some patients require dialysis three times a week for several hours a session to stay alive.

The idea for the bus came from a Gippsland dialysis patient, Vince Tripodi, who has since died – the bus’s licence plate, 1-Vince recognises his role.

Anne Wilson from KHA said there are plans to expand the program nationwide, but it is a complicated process.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-11/nanocrystals-could-change-the-way-cancer-is-treated/7079958

A team of Australian and international researchers have discovered how the use of nanomedicine could make it easier to detect cancer, deliver drugs to tumours and arm surgeons with greater accuracy when operating.

The use of nanocrystals offers clearer images of cancer cells, which helps to improve surgical procedures, but the targeted approach can also speed up the recovery time for patients.

A benefit of the technology is that a patient can swallow a magnetised nanocrystal, a tiny microscopic ball that can be filled with a drug, and a magnetic resonance scanner can then be used to direct the nanocrystals to a tumour.

After that an energy source, such as an ultrasound, can be used to break open the nanocrystal to release the drug so it can treat the cancer.

Unlike conventional chemotherapy, which spreads widely through[out] the body and damages healthy parts, ingesting the nanocrystal reduces leaching of the drug throughout the body and reduces the side effects.

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, a biopsy of a cell or tissue is needed to detect the disease.

The hope behind this research is that the highly sensitive nanotechnology could be applied to diagnose cancer through blood, urine or saliva – a much less painful and invasive procedure for the patient.

Professor Dayong Jin from the University of Technology in Sydney said one significant benefit of nanotechnology was the ability to produce clearer imaging in surgery to allow greater accuracy on the operating table.

At present surgeons operating on patients tend to cut out more than just the tumour, to prevent the recurrence of cancer.

“But at the same time, once you cut more normal cells, you significantly affect the patient’s immune system,” Professor Jin said.

Professor Jin described the use of bodily fluids to carry the molecular drugs as a liquid gold opportunity.

The researchers – including a student from Macquarie University … – now plan to work with medical teams to roll out the technology on a wider scale.

The team’s paper has been published in the Journal Nature Communications.