The News – 4 June 2014

Overview

  • Immunotherapy has made great strides against cancers like melanoma that were once believed incurable, though scientists still do not understand why it works well in some cases but not others.
  • People who have to sell their house to fund their aged care could end up paying higher fees than those who can afford to keep their home, under an overhaul of the system beginning next month.
  • Dairy farmers are outraged by a campaign launched by animals rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which links dairy consumption with autism.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th June 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

Immunotherapy, aged care and autism feature in today’s news.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/

Immunotherapy has made great strides against cancers like melanoma that were once believed incurable, though scientists still do not understand why it works well in some cases but not others.

The technique, hailed as Science’s breakthrough of 2013, involves training the immune system to attack tumours.

In some cases, the approach disarms the tumour’s defenses, in other cases it selects a patient’s toughest immune cells, growing them in a lab and reinjecting them to bolster the body’s assault on cancer.

According to research published late last year, 40 per cent of patients with advanced melanoma who were treated with immunotherapy were showing no signs of cancer seven years later.

The results of three clinical trials released this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago may bolster this number.

One of them, an early phase one study of patients with inoperable melanoma, led to an unprecedented median survival of three and a half years in a cancer that usually kills within about one year.

Solid tumours are found in most cancers, including cervical cancer, which is the latest breakthrough in immunotherapy.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health reported that a new technique to lift immune cells from a tumour and then grow billions of them in the lab for reinfusion into the patient succeeded in two of nine patients.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-03/wealthy-aged-care-residents-benefit-from-means-testing-changes/5496828

People who have to sell their house to fund their aged care could end up paying higher fees than those who can afford to keep their home, under an overhaul of the system beginning next month.

The changes, announced by the former Labor Government two years ago and broadly agreed to by the Coalition, mean that from July, daily care fees at nursing homes will be means tested on assets and income, rather than just income.

Crucially, the family home will be included in the means test if a spouse or dependent child doesn’t live in it, but its value will be capped at $154,179.

Those who are forced to sell their home will have the proceeds of the sale subject to a means test.

The changes will not affect anyone already in residential care, but are likely to mean that for most home-owning pensioners, aged care fees will be higher if they enter care after July, than before.

Work by specialist in aged care planning, financial planner Simon Boylan, from Zenith Financial Planning, shows one scenario, where someone with a $600,000 home could end up paying a higher means tested fee than someone with a $3 million home (see table).

A leading aged care provider says the new system is inequitable and the government should address it.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-03/petas-war-on-dairy/5496958

Dairy farmers are outraged by a campaign launched by animals rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which links dairy consumption with autism.

On its website, PETA claims the ‘gastrointestinal problems so often caused by dairy products cause distress and thus worsen behaviour in autistic children’.

“These claims have no fact or basis at all. It’s certainly a slur on our product,” said dairy farmer Phil Depiazzi, from Western Australia’s south-west.

The ad has also sparked outrage on social media.

Comments on Facebook and Twitter accuse PETA of creating deceptive campaign to spread misinformation and fear.

The ad caused an uproar a few years ago in the United States, resulting in the billboard company that was hosting the posters to cancel the partnership.

But it has resurfaced recently and PETA hasn’t retracted it, with the information page detailing the alleged link still available on its website.

PETA cites two scientific studies to back up its campaign, but the studies have been criticised for their small sample size.

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.

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