The Health News – 23 July 2015

Overview:

• British doctors have given Ray Flynn, a 80-year-old man a new bionic eye in a procedure which could go on to help millions of people suffering from the most common cause of sight loss.

• University of Queensland scientists said new antibiotics that were unlikely to develop resistance were urgently needed to combat the rise of superbugs — drug-resistant bacteria, the bacteria’s own sugar. And according to Professor Matt Cooper the compound was not sucrose, but instead a unique type of sugar.

• Researchers say a new type of short-pulse Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) could treat thousands of Australians who suffer from severe and treatment-resistant depression more effectively than standard procedures.

Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 23rd July 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-22/doctors-perform-breakthrough-bionic-eye-operation/6639106

British doctors have given an 80-year-old man a new bionic eye in a procedure which could go on to help millions of people suffering from the most common cause of sight loss.

While he is not the first to benefit from the technology, Ray Flynn was the first bionic eye recipient with dry age-related macular degeneration — a condition affecting millions of people worldwide.

He told the BBC the disease left him with only some peripheral vision, severely limiting what he could do.

“I can’t use the cash machines. I’d like to be able to go shopping and find[ing] things, and doing my own PIN number in the bill,” Mr Flynn said.

In a four-hour procedure, a surgical team at Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital wrapped a retinal implant around the back of his right eye.
The implant communicates wirelessly with a pair of special glasses equipped with a video camera.

Visual information is sent to the implant’s electrodes that stimulate the retina’s remaining healthy cells — signals that are then sent to the brain to interpret.
Two weeks after surgery, the device was turned on and Mr Flynn was almost immediately able to detect images.

Ophthalmologist Professor Paulo Stanga, who led the operation, said the device created new possibilities for the further development of the technology, something that could bring benefit to millions worldwide.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-22/super-sugar-hope-for-new-antibiotics-in-fight-against-superbugs/6638716

A team of Queensland scientists has found a way to fight superbugs using the bacteria’s own sugar.

University of Queensland scientists said new antibiotics that were unlikely to develop resistance were urgently needed to combat the rise of superbugs — drug-resistant bacteria.

The new compound acts as a Trojan horse, disguising itself as a bacteria’s own sugar, before stopping the bacteria from the inside.

Professor Matt Cooper from the University of Queensland said the compound was not sucrose, but instead a unique type of sugar.

Professor Cooper said researchers had taken the sugar that the bacteria made and changed it chemically so it actually “turned into a weapon against the bacteria in the cells”.

He said a new compound then did an inside job.

“It was just like a Trojan horse — the bacterium was expecting to find its own sugar … which it could use to build its wall, but when it finds our compound, it stops the enzyme working and the brickies’ labourer goes on strike.”

While the substance was far from finished, Professor Cooper said it was a promising step.

The research has been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-22/shorter-electroshock-treatment-has-fewer-side-effects/6638302

Researchers say a new type of short-pulse Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) could treat thousands of Australians who suffer from severe and treatment-resistant depression more effectively than standard procedures.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, has been described as one of the most significant developments in depression treatment in decades.

The first analysis of a new type of ultra-brief ECT has found the shorter procedure is effective and has fewer cognitive side effects than standard ECT.

Professor Colleen Loo from the University of New South Wales said the procedure changed the balance of brain activity.

“While a person is under a general anaesthetic and asleep we are carefully stimulating selected parts of the brain with this electrical stimulus,” she said.

“It penetrates deep into the brain and stimulates some of those deep centres and then change[s] the whole balance of activity throughout the brain.”

The ultra-brief ECT delivers shorter pulses, meaning the stimulation of brain tissue is reduced by a third.

Researches are hoping the results will encourage more people with severe depression to consider ECT.

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