August 13, 2017

Health Roundup: Breakthrough in CF, recovery from vegetative stroke, oxygen therapy and counter-productive drugs

'Breakthrough in treating cystic fibrosis

Vertex Pharmaceuticals scored a major win Tuesday with the release of data from three clinical trials testing three different triple combinations of cystic fibrosis drugs. Patients genetically resistant to all treatments now on the market showed unprecedented gains in lung function on all three experimental therapies - a 10 percentage point improvement, adjusted for placebo, in FEV1, an important measure of lung capacity. ....To put the 10 percentage point improvement in lung function in perspective, Vertex CEO Jeff Leiden points to the company’s first approved cystic fibrosis drug, Kalydeco, which demonstrates similar efficacy. “We have Kalydeco patients that call to tell us that they used to only be able to walk one block, but now they can run several miles, or they couldn’t walk up the stairs to their apartment and now they just run up and down those stairs every day,” he said. “This is life-changing for these patients.”

Vegetative stroke patient, 36, was able to speak and move just 16 DAYS after being given a Parkinson's disease drug

A vegetative stroke patient who was completely unresponsive to what was going on around her, regained complete consciousness just 16 days after being given a Parkinson's disease drug, a case report reveals. The unnamed woman, 36, who was only being kept alive by medical intervention, was able to speak in short sentences after being given the dopamine-boosting drug, known as amantadine. Unable to move, doctors thought her only option was to be admitted to a nursing home, yet the woman, believed to be from Berlin, can now eat and stand.

Experts believe the drug may have pushed the woman, who was diagnosed with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, 'above the threshold' for recovery. Amantadine is used to treat Parkinson's disease and 'flu. It is thought to increase levels of the 'feel-good' hormone dopamine in the brain which is involved in regulating movement.

Oxygen therapy revives brain of toddler who nearly drowned

In one of the first such confirmed cases, an Arkansas toddler who suffered severe brain injury after nearly drowning has had that brain damage reversed, using a new treatment. The treatment is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. It exposes a patient to pure oxygen within the confines of a carefully controlled pressurized chamber. During the therapy, the body gets three times the normal amount of oxygen, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The saga began with every parent's nightmare. Just one day shy of her 2nd birthday, Eden Carlson nearly drowned in the family pool. The little girl was found floating face down, unresponsive. Alive, but just barely.  The initial prognosis, noted Dr. Paul Harch, wasn't good. The little girl's heart had stopped beating.  "It took 100 minutes of CPR at both the house and the emergency room to get a return of circulation," he said. "And when they did, she had lab values that you rarely see in a living human being."  MRI scans revealed significant brain injury. Her brain had started to shrink. She was losing both gray matter -- critical to muscle control, sensory perception and speech -- and white matter, the network of central nervous system wiring that makes up the lion's share of the brain.Over the next two months, Eden progressively lost muscle control as well as her ability to speak, walk and respond properly to commands.

The tide only started to turn at the two-month mark, when under the guidance of Harch, Eden started undergoing HBOT, the therapy that he describes as the "most misunderstood therapy in the history of science."  One reason hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been met with skepticism is that it's been difficult to explain how this treatment works, he said. But several recent studies involving adult acute injury patients have indicated that even a single session of HBOT can have an immediate impact on the activity of thousands of genes critical to the promotion of tissue recovery, Harch explained. What that means, he said, is that "every time you [have HBOT], we are manipulating gene expression in a beneficial way, inhibiting cell death and inflammation while promoting tissue growth and repair."

And Eden's experience perfectly drives home that point.  He said Eden's mother reported that by the 10th round, her child appeared to be "near normal." "She was able to walk again," said Harch. "Her language development accelerated and ended up improving to the point that it was better than it had been before the accident." And subsequent MRI scans confirmed what Harch suspected: "The shrinkage of her brain had almost completely re-grown," he said.

Chemotherapy could cause cancer to SPREAD and grow back even more aggressive,

The drug is often regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients. But scientists at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution - and can be dangerous. While shrinking the tumors, it opens a gateway for tumors to spread.  Cancer becomes almost impossible treat once it spreads to other organs

Lead author Dr George Karagiannis says the findings, should not deter patients from seeking treatment, but suggests we could create a way to better monitor tumor movement in patients undergoing chemotherapy. 'One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumor tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy.'

Drugs used to treat osteoporosis could have the opposite effect and make you more prone to fractures

US health officials recommend that patients use bisphosphonates for no more than three to five years.  The study of 50 women aged 65 to 93 found using the drugs long-term can make bones more mineralized and harder. Older women were found to be most at risk of taking the cheap pills, which include Fosamax, Boniva and Reclast. Such pills protect millions of osteoporosis patients from potentially fatal fractures if they are taken daily.  The findings have potential implications for the treatment of osteoporosis which affects some 44 million in the US.
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 13, 2017 10:14 PM | Permalink