The News – 18 September 2014

Overview

  • The New South Wales Government has announced a clinical trial of the medical use of marijuana, making its legal use one step closer in the state.
  • The international study used DNA from 29,000 children who had been diagnosed with developmental delay and compared it with DNA from nearly 20,000 normal adults.
  • George, a 10-year-old standard goldfish is recovering after delicate surgery to remove tumour on his head.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th September 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-16/nsw-government-announces-medical-marijuana-trial/5747882

The New South Wales Government has announced a clinical trial of the medical use of marijuana, making its legal use one step closer in the state.

A working group has been formed to set up the trial, which will look at ways to address issues of supply and distribution, and report back by the end of the year.

The Government is also moving to formalise police guidelines so that people who possess small amounts of cannabis will not be charged if their name is on a register of terminally ill patients.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has told Parliament he was touched by the plight of terminally ill Tamworth man Daniel Haslam.

Mr Haslam’s mother Lucy has been leading a campaign to have medicinal cannabis legalised for her son.

Daniel Haslam was diagnosed with bowel cancer and the 24-year-old found cannabis offered some relief to the harsh effects of chemotherapy.

Mrs Haslam said she was elated when the Premier told her of the Government’s decision this morning.

Mr Baird said NSW is leading the way on an issue that should now be on the national agenda.

… the Government is also formalising police guidelines to ensure registered terminally ill patients will not be charged for possessing small amounts of cannabis.

Nationals MP Kevin Anderson had been drafting a private members bill to legalise medical marijuana.

He said he now hopes the State Government will be able to take a firm plan on the issue to the next state election.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/09/15/4086678.htm

Charting parts of the genome likely to contain faulty genes is enabling researchers to home in on genes involved in developmental delay and possibly ones behind psychiatric disorders too.

The international study used DNA from 29,000 children who had been diagnosed with developmental delay and compared it with DNA from nearly 20,000 normal adults.

Seven Australian researchers took part in the study, which is reported today in Nature Genetics.

Children with developmental delay reach their milestones – such as making eye contact, sitting and talking – later than other children, explains Professor Jozef Gécz, of the University of Adelaide, one of the Australians involved.

Their developmental delay may be the first sign of intellectual disability or an autism spectrum disorder, he says.

Missing chunks of DNA

Such children are usually seen in a specialist clinic, where genetic testing is run, says Professor Evan Eichler of the University of Washington, USA, the leader of the study.

These tests look for chunks of the genome, usually containing several genes, which are either missing altogether (deletions) or erroneously repeated. These errors, consisting of absent or duplicated DNA chunks, are known as ‘copy number variants’ or CNVs.

This enabled them to discover 10 genes which had point mutations, rendering them faulty and, as a result, were associated with developmental delay.

One of these genes, ZMYND11, was particularly interesting says Eichler. Children with a mutation in this gene “are higher functioning so they have only mild developmental disability and we know that most of the males… have neuropsychiatric features in addition, such as severe aggression, rage and bipolar disorder.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-16/goldfish-on-the-mend-after-undergoing-tumour-surgery/5746316

Writer Anatole France once said, “until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”.

If that is the case, the soul of the woman who owns George the fish is fully alert after her beloved pet underwent brain surgery this week.

George, a 10-year-old standard goldfish, began to experience unpleasant side effects secondary to a tumour on his head.

Worried for his “quality of life” his owner presented George to Tristan Rich, a Melbourne vet.

Having worked with many unusual pets, Dr Rich has developed what his vet clinic calls “a lateral approach to creating effective theatre set ups”.

This lateral approach meant an innovative anaesthetic technique involving three buckets of water.

In a technique not entirely different to that used on human patients, one bucket held the “knock out dose” of anaesthetic, another the maintenance dose and the third served as a “recovery unit” with clean water in which George could wake up post-surgery.

The water in the maintenance bucket was oxygenated and washed over his gills, while a narrow tube from that bucket was fed into George’s tiny mouth.

The tumour was successfully excised, although a large wound meant closure was difficult and bleeding ensued.

“It was quite fiddly as you can imagine and you have to control any blood loss. You can only lose half a millilitre,” Dr Rich said.

“Obviously it was high risk but everything went well in the end.”

Dr Rich, who has performed similar surgeries before, said he knew of goldfish that had lived almost 30 years.

He said George’s owner was “quite attached” to her pet and spent “a few hundred dollars” on George’s surgery.

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