The News – 22 August 2014

Overview

  • The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Roche Sequencing today announce a collaboration to develop new technologies for targeted epigenomic analysis using DNA sequencing.
  • The bottom of Sydney Harbour has been contaminated by widespread microplastic pollution which could be entering the food chain, scientists say.
  • AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, YESTERDAY called on the Government to dump its seriously flawed GP co-payments proposal and adopt the AMA model, which exempts the most vulnerable patients from extra cost burdens for their health care.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 22nd August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/garvan-partners-with-roche-sequencing-to-develop-genomics-technologies-for-targeted-epigenomic-analysis

Media Release: 19 August 2014

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Roche Sequencing today announce a collaboration to develop new technologies for targeted epigenomic analysis using DNA sequencing. Genomics is a rapidly evolving field with a focus on realising the potential use of sequencing information in patient diagnosis and treatment.

More recently, epigenetics – the heritable changes in gene expression that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence or genetic code, but rather involve secondary chemical modifications of the DNA and the structural proteins in chromosomes – is being recognised as playing an important role in a host of biological processes and their role in cancer has been increasingly investigated. Due to the myriad of epigenomic events responsible for influencing expression of genes in chromosomes, more advanced methods are being sought to accurately analyse these changes.

Under the terms of the two-year discovery agreement, Garvan and Roche will collaborate to develop new methods to analyse regions of the epigenome accurately. The collaboration brings together Garvan’s world-leading genomics expertise and infrastructure and the best-in-class products for target enrichment from Roche NimbleGen, part of the Roche Sequencing Unit.

Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-21/microplastics-found-in-sydney-harbour-floor/5686472

The bottom of Sydney Harbour has been contaminated by widespread microplastic pollution which could be entering the food chain, scientists say.

Professor Emma Johnston from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science said the microplastics, or fragments of plastic less than five millimetres long, represented the “emergence of new contaminants in our harbours and waterways”.

In the first study of its kind, 27 sites were tested across the harbour, with researchers discovering up to 60 microplastics per 100 milligrams of sediment.

The environmental effects of the contaminants are largely unknown, but there have been moves to ban their use in products overseas.

Professor Johnston said some of the microplastic contamination was coming directly into the harbour.

A PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, Vivian Sim, said several hotspots were identified and the worst-affected area was in the pristine-looking waters of Middle Harbour.

In Middle Harbour, microplastic threads were more common than flakes or balls, but it was unclear where they came from.

It was not clear what impact microplastics were having on the organisms that were eating them, but Professor Johnston said some contained materials such as flame retardants.

Ms Sim was looking to complete her research this year, but the Sydney Institute of Marine Science said the broader investigation would probably take four years.

Around the world, cosmetic manufacturers are responding to concerns about microplastics and several are phasing out the use of artificial cleansing beads.

Unilever said it would stop using them worldwide by January 2015.

https://ama.com.au/media/ama-model-protects-vulnerable-patients-co-payment-pain

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, YESTERDAY called on the Government to dump its seriously flawed GP co-payments proposal and adopt the AMA model, which exempts the most vulnerable patients from extra cost burdens for their health care.

A/Prof Owler said the AMA has vigorously opposed the Government’s proposal since Budget night and has worked to produce an alternative model that is fairer and more equitable.

“The AMA has produced a health policy, not an economic policy,” A/Prof Owler said.

“Our model is based on the realities of day-to-day medical practice, and our objective is to provide higher quality primary care for all Australians.

“The AMA co-payment model protects vulnerable patients in the community, values general practice to encourage quality care and support prevention and chronic disease management, and it also sends a price signal for non-concession patients.

“We propose a minimum $6.15 co-payment (which aligns with the current bulk billing incentive) that applies to all patients, but the Government will pay the co-payment for concession card holders and patients under 16 years of age.

“Under our model, there will be no cut to the Medicare patient rebate, and there is an incentive for general practices to collect the co-payment.

“The AMA has long supported well-designed and well-intentioned co-payments, and that is what we are releasing today.

“Co-payments already exist. About 20 per cent of GP visits currently attract a co-payment.

“The AMA co-payment model allows GPs the opportunity to spend more time with their patients, provide preventive health care and chronic disease management, and place a value on the essential service they provide.

A guide to the AMA model can be found at https://ama.com.au

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