The News – 3 June 2014

Overview

  • Indigenous children in Mount Isa have recorded some of the highest rates of lung infections in the world, a report has found.
  • A new treatment involving the drug exemestane can reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer in young women by more than a third, a study has found.
  • A team of neuroscientists has manipulated brain cells to both erase and then restore a memory, a finding that could help with treatment of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or PTSD.


Stories Discussed
The news on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 3rd June 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

Indigenous children with lung infections, breast cancer and studies impacting Alzheimers and PTSD feature in today’s news.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/lung-infections-indigenous-children-mt-isa-among-worlds-worst/5493760?section=qld

Indigenous children in Mount Isa have recorded some of the highest rates of lung infections in the world, a report has found.

The author of a study looking at respiratory issues in the town’s children said figures showed the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children was growing.

Between 2007 and 2011, of the 276 children admitted to Mount Isa Hospital with an acute lower respiratory tract infection, 77 per cent were Indigenous.

The results have been published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.

Lead author Dr Elisabeth Janu, from the University of Western Sydney, said the figures also showed multiple admissions during the period.

“One child was admitted six times for pneumonia, two were admitted four times, one was admitted three times, and 17 were admitted twice,” Dr Janu said.

She said overall rates were climbing.

… “Vaccination rates are sometimes lower in Indigenous children than in non-Indigenous children.”

She said the figures were comparable to the Northern Territory, which is also among the worst in the world.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/breast-cancer-hope-for-young-women-exemestane-peter-maccallum/5493216?section=vic

A new treatment involving the drug exemestane can reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer in young women by more than a third, a study has found.

The global study into the use of exemestane by women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer has been presented at a conference in the United States.

The study found that 92.8 per cent of the pre-menopausal woman who took the drug were free of breast cancer after five years, compared with 88.5 per cent who were taking the standard treatment, tamoxifen.

Associate Professor Prue Francis, from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, one of the lead authors on the study, said the findings had the potential to change treatment for young women worldwide.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/06/02/4017055.htm

In recent years, researchers studying the brain have implanted false memories, caused patients to hallucinate while sleeping, and even tricked the brain into hearing sounds that don’t exist.

Now, a team of neuroscientists has manipulated brain cells to both erase and then restore a memory, a finding that could help with treatment of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or PTSD.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, a team at the University of California, San Diego created a memory in a rat and then erased it by stimulating the connections, or synapses, between nerve cells at different frequencies.

The first step was to create a memory. They did this by stimulating a group of nerves in the rat’s brain (which equated to the sound of a tone) that had been genetically modified to respond to light, while shocking the animal’s foot at the same time.

From the rat’s perspective, the sound of the tone (done by stimulating the nerve cells) was equated with the fear of getting a mild shock.

Then the team weakened the connection between the brain cells, which had the effect of erasing that memory.

Malinow says the finding could open the door to manipulating the creation of memories in humans as well. In PTSD, memories of certain traumatic events cause severe anxiety, depression and other problems in patients, while Alzheimer’s disease causes us to lose our memories.

A post-doctoral student in Malinow’s lab, Sadegh Nabavi, conducted the experiments and is the lead author on the Nature paper.

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