The Health News – 14 December 2015

Overview:
• A Queensland first surgery has given a child her Christmas wish.New technology has helped Brisbane doctors remove the cause of four-year-old Rowena Alexander’s severe epilepsy, allowing her to head home to her family in Charters Towers in northern Queensland.

• Thousands more children will be able to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after the Federal and South Australian governments ended a funding dispute and pledged to provide $50 million each to a transition period.

•  International team led by University of Exeter Medical School, King’s College London and Cardiff University, including Dr Ruth Pidsley of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, showed for the first time that genetic differences between people can affect DNA methylation in the brain as it develops.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 14th December 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-11/special-electrodes-childs-brain-queensland-surgery-epilepsy/7022670

A Queensland first surgery has given a child her Christmas wish.

New technology has helped Brisbane doctors remove the cause of four-year-old Rowena Alexander’s severe epilepsy, allowing her to head home to her family in Charters Towers in northern Queensland.

Powerful MRI technology showed doctors a tiny lesion was causing the problem.

The lesion was also dangerously close to the language and motor areas of her brain.

Special electrodes were inserted into the brain to map the lesion’s exact location and the surgeon safely removed it.

It was the first time it has been performed on a child in Queensland.

Paediatric neurologist Dr Stephen Malone, who was part of her treatment team at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH), said she was having seizures up to ten times an hour prior to the surgery.

“We’re confident that her epilepsy will be much improved if not cured,” Dr Malone said.

Before this, Queensland kids would have to go to Melbourne or Sydney for surgery.

Now it is hoped kids like Rowena will be able to stay in their home state.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-11/disability-scheme-gets-$100-million-transition-boost-in-sa/7022012

Thousands more children will be able to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after the Federal and South Australian governments ended a funding dispute and pledged to provide $50 million each to a transition period.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and SA Premier Jay Weatherill have signed a bilateral funding agreement in Sydney that will cover the full rollout of the NDIS, which is now expected to be complete in the state in 2019, several months behind schedule.

Federal Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said the new funding agreement would result in both governments providing an additional $50 million over the NDIS transition period.

“This means that children aged zero to 14 in South Australia that have not yet accessed the NDIS will be able to do so from February 2016,” he said.

Those aged 15 to 17 will transition into the scheme from July 2017, while services for adults will be gradually rolled out by geographical area.

South Australia first signed onto the NDIS in 2013, pledging to act as a trial site for children up to the age of 13.

But Disability SA executive director David Caudrey said authorities underestimated the number of children who would be covered by the scheme.

“When we signed onto the trial we anticipated about 5,000 children would be eligible to become participants under the age of 14,” he said.

“It’s turned out that there’s been many more children with developmental delay, many more children with autism.

“About 48 per cent of the children have autism and that was not anticipated when it was designed.”

It is expected that up to 5,000 additional children may join the trial.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/schizophrenia-and-dna-methylation-in-the-developing-brain

An international team of researchers, including Dr Ruth Pidsley of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, has shed new light on how DNA sequence variation can influence the developing brain. The team, which was led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School, King’s College London and Cardiff University, showed for the first time that genetic differences between people can affect DNA methylation in the brain as it develops.

DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification – a chemical addition to DNA that can control how genes are switched on and off. The researchers’ findings, which werepublished last week in Nature Neuroscience, suggest that DNA methylation is the mechanism by which variations in genetic sequence can influence whether the brain develops abnormally. In particular, the researchers found that many of the genetic signals associated with DNA methylation in the developing brain are from genes that leave people at higher risk of schizophrenia.

The study includes data generated by Dr Pidsley during her PhD at King’s College London, in which she measured DNA methylation in post-mortem brain samples from individuals with and without schizophrenia. It also uses a freely available software package that Dr Pidsley developed whilst at King’s to process the highly complex methylation data.

In addition, the study’s conclusions support earlier work by Dr Pidsley and others, published last year in Genome Biology, which showed that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disease that may be underpinned by changes in DNA methylation.

The data from the study have been made publicly available and can be used by researchers to help interpret genetic information relating to other neurodevelopmental disorders.

[See news and events for the link on www.garvan.org.au for more information]