The News – 1 September 2014

Overview

  • AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, today called on the Government to urgently reconsider its higher education reforms amid concerns that the changes, particularly the deregulation of university fees and the reduced subsidy (of around 20 per cent) for Commonwealth Supported Places, will have a devastating and lasting effect on the size, shape, and distribution of the future medical workforce.
  • Endocrinologist Professor Lesley Campbell worked with genetics of lipodystrophy experts in Cambridge to solve a mysterious case of diabetes from the past.
  • Garlic can have large numbers of viruses in it and that’s exactly what we found,” says plant virologist Dr Steve Wylie of Murdoch University.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 1st September 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

https://ama.com.au/media/government’s-higher-education-reforms-‘ticking-time-bomb’-future-medical-workforce

28/08/2014

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, …called on the Government to urgently reconsider its higher education reforms amid concerns that the changes, particularly the deregulation of university fees and the reduced subsidy (of around 20 per cent) for Commonwealth Supported Places, will have a devastating and lasting effect on the size, shape, and distribution of the future medical workforce.

A/Prof Owler said the reforms are a ‘ticking time bomb’ that would price a medical degree out of the reach of kids from working Australian families, burden medical graduates with debt in excess of $250,000, discourage students from pursuing lower-remunerated medical specialties, and rob rural, regional, and outer-suburban communities of much-needed doctors.

The AMA has raised its concerns with Minister Pyne, and … wrote to the Senate crossbenchers explaining the harms that could be caused by the reforms.

“There is a real danger that significantly higher fees and student debt will force graduates to pursue their careers in the highest-paid specialties in the capital cities.

“This would rob rural and outer-suburban communities of much-needed medical specialists to meet growing demand for these services.

…A/Prof Owler said.

Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has also published medical workforce projections through until 2025. While these show that, by 2025, the overall medical workforce will be very close to being in balance, there will be geographic shortages as well as shortages in specific specialties.

Encouraging doctors to work in these areas and specialties will be much more difficult if they are saddled with high levels of debt …

The key Budget changes

· University fees to be deregulated from 1 January 2016 …

· The Commonwealth’s contribution towards course fees for new students will be cut by an average of 20 per cent…

· Graduates will begin to repay their HELP debt when they start earning over $50,638* …

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/gastric-by-pass-surgery-2018curative2019-in-very-unusual-cases-of-diabetes

Media Release: 27 August 2014

A Sydney endocrinologist worked with genetics of lipodystrophy experts in Cambridge to solve a mysterious case of diabetes from the past.

Professor Lesley Campbell, Director of Diabetes Services at St Vincent’s Hospital and a senior member of the Diabetes and Obesity Clinical Studies group at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research has always believed that the clinic and the laboratory should be as closely allied as possible.

So when a patient was referred to her 15 years ago with a very puzzling group of symptoms, she had the foresight to take all the measurements and biopsies she could (freezing blood, tissue and fat samples) in the hope that one day new technologies would enable her to diagnose the condition.

That day came a couple of years ago when a team from the Metabolic Research Laboratories at the University of Cambridge, led by Dr David Savage, teamed up with Professor Campbell to identify the genetic anomalies underlying the case.

The patient Professor Campbell saw in 1998 was a 41 year old woman with a ten-year history of type 2 diabetes complicated by damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy), extremely high triglycerides that were causing recurrent pancreatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hypertension and increasingly prominent muscles which were relatively weak. Despite taking unusually high doses of insulin (over 500 units daily), the woman’s diabetes was poorly controlled.

The patient’s daughter and eldest son suffered from a similar condition, and although Professor Campbell did not treat the daughter, she received permission to take blood and tissue samples.

It was obvious that members of the family suffered from a heritable form of lipodystrophy (a rare cluster of disorders, associated with metabolic syndrome, that feature unusual body composition).

Professor Campbell recommended in 2005 that the mother undergo ‘Roux-en-Y’ gastric by-pass surgery – which had a remarkably curative effect. She lost 20 kg, her insulin requirements dropped from 500 to 100 units per day, her triglyceride profile improved and her heart health improved dramatically. 

The patient’s daughter also had the surgery with even more remarkable results – a 55 kg weight loss and no further need for insulin.

The findings are described in the journal Diabetes, now online.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/08/29/4075435.htm

Next time you plant the garlic that’s sprouted in your kitchen cupboard you could be contributing to the spread of exotic viruses, say researchers.

So suggests a new study published in PLOS ONE.

“Garlic can have large numbers of viruses in it and that’s exactly what we found,” says plant virologist Dr Steve Wylie of Murdoch University.

Garlic is particularly susceptible to plant viruses because it propagates vegetatively and does not go through a seed stage.

Year after year, garlic accumulates viruses and Wylie and colleagues wondered what viruses might by hitching a ride into Australia on imported garlic.

Wylie and colleagues …collected 11 bulbs of garlic including those from Australia, China, the US, Mexico, Argentina, Spain. They then used high-throughput sequencing technology as a means of detecting viruses in the bulbs.

“Every bulb had viruses,” says Wylie.

While the plant viruses don’t affect humans they can hit the local garlic industry, says Wylie.

In addition, he says, native orchids can be infected by some of the viruses that infect garlic.

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