In the news this month:
In Profile – A treatment or a vaccine for the corona virus?
– Medical researchers are racing to establish effective treatments and a workable vaccine
– Innovative new cancer drug funding announced
– Have you ever been bitten by a crocodile??
– Hay fever season is back
– Sleep and vitamin D
Medical technology news
– Medical monitoring in your clothing
– Product update
In profile: A treatment or a vaccine for the corona virus?
Everyone in the UK is only too aware of our current lockdown situation which has been put in place to prevent the physical spread of the corona virus.
At the same time, scientists are also working hard on a further two important strands of scientific research to look for both an effective treatment and also for a vaccine.
The BBC has reported on some of the work that is ongoing to find a successful treatment. Broadly speaking there are three approaches to finding the right drugs to treat COVID-19:
- Antivirals that will prevent the virus from acting on the body
- Drugs which calm down the immune system. It is thought that an extreme immune response is responsible for the severe symptoms experienced by some patients
- The third is to use antibodies from those who have already had the virus – to attack it within the body
There are individual trials happening in lots of countries around the world and the WHO has endeavoured to create a global coordinated approach with the ‘solidarity trial’ which is aimed at assessing and comparing the most promising treatments worldwide.
The UK has also launched the ‘recovery’ trial which is claimed to be the world’s largest trial with hundreds of patients taking part. The objective is to look at existing medicines which may help:
- Lopinavir-Ritonavir – currently used to treat HIV
- Dexamethasone – a type of steroid which reduces inflammation
- Hydroxychloroquine – a treatment for malaria
Research is ongoing and it is not yet clear when an effective treatment will be available. However, scientists do think that a treatment may be found more quickly than the development of a vaccine.
Is a vaccine on the horizon?
And on the subject of a vaccine, this is also a focus for the global medical research community.
There are a number of major studies taking place in the UK including one at the University of Oxford which is actively seeking volunteers to take part in a trial in London Bristol and Southampton.
Although scientists are working extremely hard, it may be many months before a vaccine can be effectively rolled out.
For all of the latest updates on COVID-19, please see the UK government online resource for the public which is regularly updated.
An innovative new cancer treatment from the NHS
Despite the overwhelming current focus on the Covid-19 outbreak, the vitally important everyday work of the NHS still needs to continue even under such difficult circumstances.
The NHS reported this month that it has managed to strike a deal to purchase an innovative new cancer therapy.
The drug is called ‘Larotrectinib’ and is for children, young people and some adults.
This drug targets tumours based on each individual’s genetic makeup, rather than where the tumour originated in the body. This type of treatment is referred to a ‘tumour agnostic’ and the approach offers real hope for some previously difficult to treat forms of cancer. Personalised cancer care like this is thought to be the future of treatment.
NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) has approved the use of this cutting edge treatment to add to the many innovative cancer treatments available and from the NHS.
Have you ever been bitten by a crocodile?
If you thought that the NHS already had enough on its plate, recently released figures for hospital admissions during 2018-19 make interesting reading!
According to an article in the Mail Online, NHS Digital has compiled information on 1.1 million A&E admissions during this period and the list includes many rather unlikely injuries. Here are just a few examples:
- 5 people had been bitten or struck by an alligator or crocodile
- 5 people were stung by scorpions
- 59 had contact with venomous snakes or lizards
- 1 admission was for feeling unwell following a ‘prolonged stay in a weightless environment’ – thought to relate to a zero-gravity space simulation flight
- 15 people were struck by lightning
It is helpful to have a good understanding of the potential dangers which could result in a trip to hospital! Have a read of the Daily Mail article for a full overview!
Hay fever and sleep news
Two stories about common health conditions caught our eye in the Express Online this month.
Hay fever season returns
The months from March to September are the worst for hay fever sufferers in the UK. Although the nation is focused on other medical matters at the moment, this is a condition which makes daily life uncomfortable.
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen which is released by lots of different plants throughout the spring and summer months, with the worst effects coming from grass pollen.
The pollen count goes up and down day to day and week to week and can also alter at different times during the day. An accumulation during the day means that levels are often higher at night so sufferers may feel worse in the evening.
Hay fever can also get worse from one year to another, depending on individual allergies e.g. the oak tree has a cycle where it releases larger amounts of pollen every 5 years.
Can vitamin D help us sleep?
According to the article, a team of researchers at a university in Brazil carried out a sleep pattern study on 657 patients, 60% of whom were found to have a deficiency in Vitamin D. A similar study at the University of Quingdao in China also appeared to show a link between low vitamin D levels and poor sleep.
It is believed that Vitamin D (which most of us get from sunshine) helps to regulate the body’s circadian clock.
This internal body clock controls when we should be asleep or awake. Darkness, which is the natural signal for the human body to go to sleep causes the hypothalamus to release melatonin which makes us feel naturally tired. Vitamin D is thought to affect 3 of the genes involves in the circadian clock process.
So scientists need to do more research but it could be that by more sunshine during the day, a vitamin D supplement or foods like fatty fish which contain the vitamin could help sleep patterns.
With all of us spending less time outdoors at the moment – this could be even more pertinent in current times.
Medical technology news
Medical monitoring in your clothing
As you know we like to bring you all of the latest technological developments in the world of medicine in our monthly Newtons Medical News.
Researchers at MIT in the US have developed a way to incorporate electronic sensors into fabric which when worn close to the body, can accurately monitor people’s health including temperature, respiration and heart rate.
Their paper was authored by Irmandy Wickasono and published in the journal npg Flexible Electronics.
Each sensor is a flexible strip which is woven into channels in fabric. The study used a prototype shirt with 30 different sensors, which measures movement, heart rate and breathing rate – with the data then being transmitted to a smart phone.
The sensors can be adapted for clothing of different shapes and sizes, all of which is machine washable.
This is an excellent way for medical professionals to monitor patients from a distance as they go about their daily lives.
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We also have stocks of versatile large 40 roll packs of 3 ply toilet tissue:
Please continue to visit our online shop to find out which products we have in stock.
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