The News – 30 March 2015

Overview

  • Free whooping cough vaccinations for pregnant women in Western Australia have been approved after the death of a four-week-old baby earlier this month.
  • Police have fired tear gas at an angry crowd in Sierra Leone after they threw stones at officials during a three-day national lockdown that the government hopes will accelerate the end of the Ebola epidemic, residents said.
  • Australian researchers have found that so-called ‘triple-negative breast cancers are two distinct diseases that likely originate from different cell types. This helps explain why survival prospects for women with the diagnosis tend to be either very good or very bad.





News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 30th March 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-29/free-whooping-cough-vaccinations-for-pregnant-women/6356546

Free whooping cough vaccinations for pregnant women in Western Australia have been approved after the death of a four-week-old baby earlier this month.

Federal authorities granted the approval after the State Government plan was announced on March 19.
The move followed the death of Riley John Hughes at Princess Margaret Hospital.
He was the first person to die from whooping cough in the state since 2011.
Babies cannot be given vaccinations to prevent the disease in the first few weeks of their life, but significant medical evidence suggests by vaccinating women late in their pregnancy infants can be protected.
The disease, also known as pertussis, is particularly serious in infants under six months who are too young to be fully vaccinated.
Riley’s parents issued a plea for others to vaccinate their children against the disease and said they hoped his death would not be in vain.
Whooping cough vaccinations are now free to women in WA in their third trimester of pregnancy.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-29/police-fire-tear-gas-in-sierra-leone-during-ebola-lockdown/6356340

Police have fired tear gas at an angry crowd in Sierra Leone after they threw stones at officials during a three-day national lockdown that the government hopes will accelerate the end of the Ebola epidemic, residents said.

Sierra Leone has reported nearly 12,000 Ebola cases and more than 3,000 deaths since the worst epidemic in history was detected in neighbouring Guinea a year ago.
New cases have fallen sharply since a peak of more than 500 a week in December but the government said the lockdown, its second, was necessary to identify the last cases and to buck a worrying trend towards complacency.
Officials have ordered the six million residents to stay inside on pain of arrest as hundreds of health official go door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the haemorrhagic fever.
Hundreds of people left their homes in the Devil Hole neighbourhood outside the capital to gather at a food collection point.
Some residents complained they had not received food and fighting broke out until police arrived to scatter the crowd.
Elsewhere in the dense slums of eastern and central Freetown, residents defied the lockdown rules and wandered out onto the streets in search of supplies.

One man wandered out to bathe in a sewer, a Reuters reporter said.
Some charities have criticised lockdowns and quarantines as heavy-handed and counter-productive, pointing to riots in neighbouring Liberia’s capital last August in which a teenaged boy was killed.

Guinean president Alpha Conde on Saturday declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions in the west and south-west of the Ebola-hit nation in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly disease.

http://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/news/the-switch-that-might-tame-the-most-aggressive-of-breast-cancers

Australian researchers have found that so-called ‘triple-negative breast cancers’1 are two distinct diseases that likely originate from different cell types. This helps explain why survival prospects for women with the diagnosis tend to be either very good or very bad.



The Sydney-based research team has found a gene that drives the aggressive disease, and hopes to find a way to ‘switch it off’.

The aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer appears to arise from stem cells, while the more benign form appears to arise from specialised cells. 

Stem cells have many of the same features as cancers. They are plastic and flexible, and have the ability to proliferate and spread into other tissues – deadly traits in cancers.

Previous studies have shown that breast stem cells are needed for breast growth and development during puberty and pregnancy, although how they evolve from stem cells into specialist cells has been unclear. 


The new study has shown that a gene known as ‘inhibitor of differentiation 4’ (ID4) determines whether a stem cell remains a stem cell, or whether it differentiates into a specialist cell. 

Notably, when the high levels of ID4 in a stem cell are ‘switched off’, other genes that drive cell specialisation are ‘switched on’.

Drs Alex Swarbrick and Simon Junankar from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research spearheaded this large interdisciplinary study,2 which links the development of the mammary gland in mice with human breast cancer. Its main finding, that ID4 not only ‘marks’, but appears to control, the highly aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer is published online … in Nature Communications.



The next step for Dr Swarbrick and his team will be to study the biochemistry of ID4 in a cell – to determine how best to block it in people. 



This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!