The News – 13 August 2014

Overview

  • Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has revealed the Government is considering exempting the elderly from the Medicare co-payment proposal.
  • US scientists have constructed 3D brain-like tissue that can live for more than two months and allows real-time research on brain trauma, disease and recovery.
  • Young children who stutter may have stronger language ability than their peers, according to an Australian study.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 13th August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-12/government-mulls-exempting-elderly-from-medicare-co-payment/5665856

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has revealed the Government is considering exempting the elderly from the Medicare co-payment proposal.

The Government does not have enough support to get its proposed $7 GP fee through the Senate.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has given the Government an alternative co-payment model, which … would exempt some groups, including pensioners.

Mr Dutton says the Government is negotiating with the AMA about its plan and costings while also consulting crossbench senators.

He says some senators have taken “strategic positions” opposing the co-payment plan.

He says the AMA have put forward an alternative plan “which changes the way in which our co-payment works”.

“We’re seriously having a look at what their suggesting but some of the other crossbench senators have had suggestions to make as well.

“I believe that we can negotiate this … we want to have a strong Medicare and if we don’t make the changes now, I just don’t think, that we can expect to have a world class health system in 10 or 20 years’ time.”

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey yesterday said he would forge ahead with plans for the co-payment after rejecting advice from former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello to scrap it.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/08/12/4065561.htm?site=science&topic=latest

US scientists have constructed 3D brain-like tissue that can live for more than two months and allows real-time research on brain trauma, disease and recovery.

The scientists discovered they could grow rat neurones in the tissue and then watch how it responded to an injury incurred by dropping a weight on the tissue, they report the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The tissue was manufactured from two biomaterials: a spongy scaffold made out of silk protein, and a softer, collagen-based gel.

Researchers took neurones from rats and anchored them onto the scaffold, and the gel encouraged growth.

Over a period of several weeks, the researchers conducted experiments to determine the health and function of the neurones growing in the 3D brain-like tissue compared to neurones grown in collagen gel-only environment or in a 2D dish.

While previous researchers have succeeded in making cultures made of collagen or hydrogel alone, the 3D tissue was different because it lived longer and showed mechanical properties that were similar to real brain tissue.

While it was far from a replica of a complete, thinking brain, the tissue did respond the way a brain might to a traumatic brain injury when a weight was dropped on the tissue from various different heights.

The neurones showed changes in their electrical and chemical activity, similar to what researchers have previously observed in animal studies of traumatic brain injury.

For example, researchers said they observed “high levels of the chemical glutamate, a neurotransmitter known to be emitted by cells following brain damage,” after the weight fell.

They also documented transient electrical hyperactivity consistent with post-trauma responses observed in vivo,” they report.

A key advantage of the new tissue is its capacity to live up to nine weeks, much longer than previous forms of brain-like lab tissue.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/08/12/4053179.htm

Young children who stutter may have stronger language ability than their peers, according to an Australian study.

The finding, published in the International Journal of Speech Language Pathology , adds to the debate over the impact of stuttering on language development.

Co-author Amy Watts, a doctoral student at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, says the study aimed to investigate whether the communication and language skills of children who have a history of stuttering are, as a group, different from children who do not stutter.

She says views on the impact of stuttering on language development range from those who believe it leads to language deficits, to studies suggesting children who stutter have normal or even advanced language development.

“You have the whole spectrum of views,” says Watts, who is also attached to the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne.

Watts and colleagues analysed data collected from two pre-existing longitudinal studies, the Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS) and the ELVS Stuttering Study.

Data from these studies show the stuttering group scored higher on language ability than the non-stuttering group, the researchers found.

She says the finding is “reassuring” as it suggests that language “does not appear to be a factor that’s likely to influence the onset and progression of stuttering”.

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