The News – 23 July 2014

Overview

  • Results of an international study show a new combination of drugs means that drug-resistant TB can be cured in as little as four months, instead of two years.
  • Scientists say they are now able to wake up hidden reservoirs of HIV in patients, leading to hopes the virus could one day be eradicated.
  • Health authorities are building a new cancer treatment centre in Burnie to cut long travel times for cancer patients in Tasmania’s north-west.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 23rd July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-21/major-breakthrough-in-tuberculosis-treatment–researchers-say/5610308

Researchers say they have made a major breakthrough in treating tuberculosis.

Results of an international study show a new combination of drugs means that drug-resistant TB can be cured in as little as four months, instead of two years.

The drug combination, known as PaMZ, killed more bacteria than standard treatment and was effective in treating drug-resistant TB.

“This shows its potential to shorten therapy … for drug-sensitive and some forms of multi-drug-resistant TB,” said Dr Mel Spigelman, chief executive of the TB Alliance.

The results have been released at the International AIDS conference in Melbourne. Around the world, TB remains the largest killer of people with AIDS.

Researchers say the newer therapy can be delivered more cheaply, safely and simply than current standard therapy.

TB remains a serious public health issue in Papua New Guinea. There are fears the country is on the brink of an epidemic.

About 15,000 new cases of tuberculosis are recorded each year in PNG. The World Health Organisation says nearly a quarter of those cases prove fatal.

UNAIDS PNG coordinator Stuart Watson says cases of drug-resistant and extra-drug-resistant TB are increasing.

Australia has also promised to support the development of new TB treatments as part of the Global Partnership for TB drugs.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/waking-up-hidden-hiv-is-one-step-closer-to-curing-disease/5614022

Scientists say they are now able to wake up hidden reservoirs of HIV in patients, leading to hopes the virus could one day be eradicated.

Results presented at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne show an anti-cancer drug can kick the virus out of where it is hiding in the body.

“It’s called the kick and kill approach,” said Dr Ole Schmeltz Sogaard from Aarhus University in Denmark.

He gave the anti-cancer drug Romidepsin to six patients – five men and one woman – who were HIV positive.

The patients had been on antiretroviral medications for an average of nine-and-a-half years, and were given three infusions of the Romidepsin over 14 days.

The study showed the drug increased the virus production in HIV-infected cells more than three times above normal so it could be traced.

The findings are convincing, says Professor Steven Deeks, from the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California in San Francisco.

The hope is that by activating the dormant cells, researchers can then eradicate them through existing treatments or vaccines which are being trialled.

That could mean the end of antiretroviral treatments, which keep patients well, but have side effects.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-17/construction-begins-for-a-life-changing-cancer-treatment-centre/5605558?section=tas

Health authorities are building a new cancer treatment centre in Burnie to cut long travel times for cancer patients in Tasmania’s north-west.

The closest centre is currently located in Launceston almost two hours drive away.

The final slab of the $32 million cancer care centre in Burnie was poured today.

It is being built beside the Burnie Hospital and it is hoped that the burden of long travel times will soon be eased for cancer sufferers.

Penny Egan from the Cancer Council said the development is lifting sprits for sufferers in the area.

“Currently we’re transporting about 107 patients to over 2,300 treatment appointments in Launceston,” she said.

Chief radiation oncology physicist Darryl Pleace said it is a long drive, made worse by the after-effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Researchers said having a centre closer to home does improve the quality of treatment patients recieve.

Karen Linegar, from the North West Tasmanian Health Organisation said research showed a link between long distances to treatment and higher death rates from cancer.

The north-west community fought for more than a decade to secure funding for the centre.

The new centre will open its doors to patients in 2016.

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