The Health News – 18 December 2015

Overview:
• A new system calls “dialysis for cancer” that dramatically lowers the cost of cancer treatment has been developed by Dr. Majid Warkiani and his team at the University of New South Wales.

• A Melbourne mental health patient Mr Daniels is suing a hospital and two doctors for assault, restraint of freedom of movement and trespass on his person after he claims they administered electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), once known as “shock therapy”, against his will.

• Spina bifida and related birth defects among Aboriginal babies in Western Australia have fallen by 68 per cent since the introduction of folate in bread, closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children a study by the Telethon Kids Institute.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th December 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/biochip-identifies-cancerous-cells/7039072

A new system that dramatically lowers the cost of cancer treatment has been developed by a team at the University of New South Wales.

The biochip filters the blood to identify and then remove cancer cells, in a system the team calls “dialysis for cancer”.

Initially the NSW University team was looking for a cheaper and less painful way to diagnose cancer.

At the moment, the way a tumour is identified in a body is with a scan and then a biopsy.

But solid cancers, which make up about 99 per cent of human cancers, also shed what are called circulating tumour cells into the bloodstream, which is how the cancer metastasizes, or spreads through the body.

Dr Majid Warkiani and his team at NSW University created a biochip that is able to separate the cancerous cells, which are larger and more flexible than healthy cells, and identify them.

The chip can be used to diagnose the cancer, and also to dramatically reduce the costs associated with treatment.

Patients usually need regular scans to check to see that their tumours are shrinking, which cost around $700 per scan.

But the biochip can be used instead to monitor the level of cancer cells in the blood, and Dr Warkiani estimates these tests will cost between $50-$100.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/mental-health-patient-sues-hospital-over-shock-therapy/7038740

A Melbourne mental health patient is suing a hospital and two doctors for assault, restraint of freedom of movement and trespass on his person after he claims they administered electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), once known as “shock therapy”, against his will.

The matter of patient Garth Daniels and Eastern Health will be heard at County Court when Mr Daniels attempts to stop Box Hill Hospital doctors from treating him with the therapy.

Mr Daniels is an involuntary patient at the locked psychiatric facility, Upton House, in Box Hill and has instructed solicitors to sue the hospital for unlawful trespass on his person after they administered 31 ECT treatments since August, without his consent.

Lawyers acting for Eastern Health told Judge Frank Saccardo, at a directions hearing into the matter on Thursday, that the case relied on Mr Daniels’ capacity and reliability as a witness, which they argue is diminished by his mental illness.

Professor Paul Katz, who oversees Mr Daniels’ care as executive clinical director of Mental Health at Eastern Health, told 7.30 that ECT was the only option available to treat Mr Daniels’ illness apart from the anti-psychotic drug, Clozapine, which Mr Daniels and his family have refused.

Mr Daniels’ father, Bernard, has pleaded with the hospital to stop subjecting his son to ECT.

Mr Daniels is also upset at the length of time his son has been placed in mechanical restraint during his stays in care.
At one stage this year, in another Eastern Health hospital, Mr Daniels spent more than 60 days straight in restraints.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/folate-reduces-birth-rate-defects-in-wa-aboriginal-community/7038454

Spina bifida and related birth defects among Aboriginal babies in Western Australia have fallen by 68 per cent since the introduction of folate in bread, closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, a report has found.

The study by the Telethon Kids Institute used data from the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies to examine each of the 52,919 Aboriginal births in the state between 1980 and 2014.

It found the federal government’s 2009 mandatory introduction of the vitamin folate in wheat flour used for bread had led to a dramatic fall in neural tube defects among Indigenous babies.

Telethon Kids senior principal research fellow Professor Carol Bower said it had generally brought the rate into line with the rest of the population.


When the neural tube does not close over it can cause the spinal cord to not form normally, leading to spina bifida, and the skull to not close over properly, meaning the brain does not develop as it should.

Folate helps the neural tube close early in pregnancy.

Professor Bower and fellow researcher Professor Fiona Stanley were instrumental in identifying the importance of folate in the 1980s.

She said prior to the introduction of folic acid in bread, 2.5 in every 1,000 Indigenous children were born with the birth defects, compared to 2 in 1,000 for the non-Aboriginal community.

Once the benefits of folate started being promoted in the 1990s, the rate in the non-Aboriginal community dropped by 30 per cent, but not among Indigenous people.

But new research found the fortification of wheat bread with folate had seen the rate plunge to less than 1 per 1,000 for Aboriginal people, roughly in line with the wider community.

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