October 28, 2017

New Med research and Tech: Pasta, diabetes Type 3c, blindness breakthrough, new pneumonia vaccine, OCD genes and more

Italian researchers have created a pasta that could help us survive heart attacks

In a newly published study, medical researchers at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa developed a special kind of pasta enriched with barley flour. The barley contains a substance called beta-glucan that is known to help the body form new blood vessels – which could serve as a “natural bypass” in the event of a heart attack, the researchers said.

Wanted: 1 million people to study genes, habits and health

U.S. researchers are getting ready to recruit more than 1 million people for an unprecedented study to learn how our genes, environments and lifestyles interact — and to finally customize ways to prevent and treat disease....The NIH's massive "All Of Us" project will push what's called precision medicine, using traits that make us unique in learning to forecast health and treat disease. Partly it's genetics. What genes do you harbor that raise your risk of, say, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes or various cancers? But other factors affect that genetic risk: what you eat, how you sleep, if you grew up in smog or fresh air, if you sit at a desk all day or bike around town, if your blood pressure is fine at a check-up but soars on the job, what medications you take.

Pilot testing is under way and if it  goes well, NIH plans to open the study next spring to just about any U.S. adult who's interested, with sign-up as easy as going online. It's a commitment. The study aims to run for at least 10 years.
The goal is to enroll a highly diverse population, people from all walks of life — specifically recruiting minorities who have been under-represented in scientific research. And unusual for observational research, volunteers will get receive results of their genetic and other tests, information they can share with their own doctors.

There's a Totally New Type of Diabetes And It's Being Misdiagnosed as Type 2

Type 3c diabetes might be surprisingly widespread.  Researchers from the University of Surrey studied medical records on people diagnosed with pancreatic diseases.  They found that most were misdiagnosed and actually had type 3c diabetes. The records used were taken from the Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Database (RCGP RSC). This database, mainly used for flu surveillance, contains the anonymized healthcare records of people of all ages for a sample of GP practices spread out across England..... In adults, type 3c diabetes was more common than type 1 diabetes. We found that 1 percent of new cases of diabetes in adults were type 1 diabetes compared with 1.6 percent for type 3c diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is where the body's immune system destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. It usually starts in childhood or early adulthood and almost always needs insulin treatment.  Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas can't keep up with the insulin demand of the body. It is often associated with being overweight or obese and usually starts in middle or old age, although the age of onset is decreasing. Type 3c diabetes is caused by damage to the pancreas from inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), tumors of the pancreas, or pancreatic surgery. The onset of type 3c diabetes could occur long after the onset of pancreas injury. In many cases more than a decade later. This type of damage to the pancreas not only impairs the organ's ability to produce insulin but also to produce the proteins needed to digest food (digestive enzymes) and other hormones.  However, our latest study has revealed that most cases of type 3c diabetes are being wrongly diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Only 3 percent of the people in our sample – of more than 2 million – were correctly identified as having type 3c diabetes.

FDA approves first blood sugar monitor for diabetics that DOESN'T need a finger prick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Abbott Laboratories' glucose monitoring device for adults with diabetes, allowing millions of people to track their blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers. The Abbott's FreeStyle Libre Flash uses small sensor wire inserted below the skin that continuously measures and monitors glucose levels throughout the day.  The device can be worn for up to 10 days before being replaced

Blindness breakthrough: Single gene injected into the back of the eye reverses retinitis pigmentosa

Scientists have used gene therapy to reverse one of the most common causes of blindness. A single gene injected into the back of the eye restores vision, by fixing a problem which stops the retina detecting light. The breakthrough, in mice experiments, saw the animals' blindness cured so that they again responded to beams of light and could see objects placed in their cage. Crucially, the eye continued to make a vital protein which restores sight for 15 months after the initial injection. Researchers at the University of Oxford says the gene therapy goes further than other work on retinitis pigmentosa. It could be available for patients in five to 10 years. The results lasted into old age, although trials on humans are needed to ensure the results are permanent, and are hoped to go ahead within five years.

Scientists may have found a cause of dyslexia

A duo of French scientists said Wednesday they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye.  In non-dyslexic people, the cells are arranged asymmetrically, allowing signals from the one eye to be overridden by the other to create a single image in the brain.  In non-dyslexic people, the blue cone-free spot in one eye -- the dominant one, was round and in the other eye unevenly shaped.In dyslexic people, both eyes have the same, round spot, which translates into neither eye being dominant, they found.

"The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities," said the study authors. Dyslexic people make so-called "mirror errors" in reading, for example confusing the letters "b" and "d". The team used an LED lamp, flashing so fast that it is invisible to the naked eye, to "cancel" one of the images in the brains of dyslexic trial participants while reading. In initial experiments, dyslexic study participants called it the "magic lamp," said Ropars, but further tests are required to confirm the technique really works.

In development - New Vaccine promises to wipe out pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis

The current pneumonia vaccine targets only 32 forms of bacteria, with others causing death.  The new jab destroys 72 of the 90 known strains, including the 32 most deadly. In many instances, the vaccine in development outperformed existing injections. Yet, the new vaccine does not target all of the gut's bacteria; therefore keeps healthy strains.  By targeting pneumonia bacteria, it protects against septicemia and meningitis. Study author Dr Blaine Pfeifer from the University at Buffalo, said: 'We can potentially provide universal coverage against bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other types of pneumococcal disease. It holds the promise of saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year."

Researchers Have Finally Discovered Genes That Are Linked to OCD

We were seeking ways to take advantage of information from other species in order to inform and focus the study in humans," says computational biologist Hyun Ji Noh from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Noh's team compiled a list of genetic associations observed in previous studies of human OCD, and also analyzed the results of research into compulsive behavior in mice, and in dogs, where it's called canine compulsive disorder (CCD).

They ended up with an array of around 600 genes that looked to be tied to OCD or its variants, which can urge people to do things like obsessively check or clean items around the house, or wash their hands – and, in animals like dogs, it provokes similarly compulsive acts.  "Dogs, it turns out, are surprisingly similar to people," one of the researchers, geneticist Elinor Karlsson told NPR.  This helped them to cull the list down to just four genes expressed in the brain – called NRXN1, HTR2A, CTTNBP2, and REEP3 – which, when they undergo mutations, are significantly associated with human OCD.

Teens who suffer concussions are 22% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis,

Scientists at Orebro University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied every person in the country who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) between 1964 to 2012.  They found 7,292 patients in the national database who were diagnosed with the autoimmune disease.  The findings showed that adolescents increased their risk of having multiple sclerosis as adults and adds to the growing evidence about the dangers of high-impact sports.

Evidence Is Mounting That The Drug Ketamine Can Actually Treat Chronic Migraines

The latest study focussed on 61 patients, all male, who had been suffering chronic migraines that did not respond to any of the treatments available. This type of migraine is known as a refractory headache or intractable migraine. Even though it only affects less than 1 percent of all migraine sufferers, this version tends to be an especially severe form, causing debilitating episodes that last for days at a time or even longer.  Using an intravenous ketamine infusion for stubborn migraines is not an entirely new concept, but it's considered to be a "last resort" treatment and is not widely available. It does make sense, though, because research has indicated that ketamine infusions can help with other stubborn pain conditions that don't respond to more conventional treatments.  Patients in this study all received ketamine infusions at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, a hospital that not only offers this option to patients, but also works to investigate its clinical benefits.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 28, 2017 11:28 AM | Permalink