In the news this November:
In Profile – Medical help from our animal friends
-What can animals teach us about human health?
-November sees an increase in the number of burn injuries in the UK
-An increased number of young people are applying to study medicine at University
-Major London trauma hospital investigates the most effective way to manage severe bleeding
-Don’t like vegetables? It’s not your fault!
Sterile Services News
-The challenge of antibiotic resistance
-Working with the NHS
News in Focus
What can animals teach us about human health?
A fascinating recent article in the Independent online has investigated how scientists and medical practitioners have used inspiration from the animal kingdom to find insights into human health.
The article points out that as humans have developed and evolved, we have found increasingly successful ways to improve health and prolong life. However, despite this, some diseases are increasing rather than decreasing; heart disease is particularly prevalent in the developed world, and other diseases like dementia are becoming increasingly common as we all live longer.
As living biological beings, our genetic make-up and the conditions that we experience can be surprisingly similar to our fellow creatures in the animal world. This is why scientists have looked at animal experiences when researching new cures for human ailments and diseases.
Chimpanzees and heart disease
Our understanding of heart disease, for example has been enhanced by studying chimpanzees.
Scientists have discovered that at some point in our evolutionary history, humans lost a specific gene which helps to protect against heart disease but chimpanzees have retained it. The existence of this gene opens up the future prospect of gene therapy or editing to help prevent or cure heart disease.
The naked mole rat lives a long and cancer-free life
Did you know that the very odd looking naked mole rat does not get cancer?
Naked mole rates are found in parts of East Africa and as well as being resistant to cancers, they also live considerably longer than many of their rodent counterparts. One naked mole rate which was raised in captivity lived for a whopping 32 years, compared to the 3-5 years of most rodents.
This longevity is thought to be linked to the unique metabolism of these fascinating creatures, so is of interest to researchers who are looking for ways to influence the aging process in humans and also to those investigating genetic methods to prevent or manage cancer.
The healthy joints of kangaroos
Most types of joint problems, including osteoarthritis, can be experienced by animals as well as humans. These conditions are very common and usually develop over time, often as a result of aging and wear and tear. Some primates suffer in a very similar way to humans.
Kangaroos, on the other hand, have joints which are under immense pressure much of the time. They use their very powerful back legs to jump up to 6 feet high and they can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. Despite the force experienced by their joints, they do not seem to deteriorate over time.
This means that the medical world has paid close attention to the physiology of kangaroo joints, and it turns out that a uniquely evolved combination of cartilage and ligaments helps them to continue bouncing without causing wear.
The structure of kangaroo joints has provided the medical profession with insight into how to repair or support human joints over time and also for the optimal approach to the design of artificial joints.
An eyeless fish which is resistant to diabetes
We have looked at stories related to diabetes a number of times in our blogs as this condition is a major and growing problem faced by healthcare systems throughout the developed world.
The Mexican Blind Cavefish is a fascinating little fish which lives in darkness so has evolved over time to have no eyes at all in order to save the energy that is necessary to maintain sight.
Because the Cavefish lives in an environment where this is limited access to food it has also developed an insatiable appetite, allowing it to eat endless amounts of algae which can then be stored as fat if necessary.
For most living creatures, constant eating would cause an unhealthy rise in blood sugar levels, but these fish have developed a resistance to insulin and therefore do not suffer any ill effects from the high levels of glucose in their systems. Scientists are studying cavefish to develop an understanding of how they might manage high blood sugar in humans.
The UK sees an increase in burns injuries in November
Certain times of the year are busier for the NHS. The winter months in particular see a sharp rise in colds and influenza, meaning that a lot more people seek treatment.
There are also certain celebrations and festivals which increase the workload of this already busy organisation. Guy Fawkes Night and the Hindu festival of Diwali coincidentally happen at around the same time of year and are both associated with fireworks.
In this period in 2018 fireworks were responsible for 35,000 searches on the NHS website by people looking for advice on how to manage burns and scalds. Most of these sorts of injuries can be treated at home – or at worse with a quick visit to A&E. However, over the past 5 years, the NHS has seen 1000 hospital admissions which are specifically related to fireworks. Nine out of 10 of these were males aged 20-34.
The NHS has released these figures to highlight the importance of safety around fireworks and to help prevent painful accidents.
More young people want to become doctors
There was good news in a recent report in the Independent Online which said that record numbers of students have applied to study medicine in the current round of university applications for students starting their degrees in 2020.
The admissions body UCAS has reported a 6% increase in those applying to study medicine at university. This has also been the third year in a row that more places have been offered by universities. Good news for our supply of future doctors.
Managing life-threatening bleeding following trauma
The Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, East London is one of the capital’s major trauma centres and treats 150 ‘code red’ admissions every year. This means people who are bleeding critically – often from stab wounds.
In an effort to improve outcomes for these casualties, Medics worked with researchers from Queen Mary University to establish the most effective treatment to manage life-threatening bleeding.
They made an important discovery which was that one of the common treatments for these emergencies, which involves giving intravenous clear fluids, could be counterproductive because the actual injury reduces the body’s natural ability to clot and adding extra fluids could exacerbate this.
Instead it was found that the most effective method of treatment was to provide a combination of real blood plus additional clotting agents. After introducing this new approach the number of deaths of patients with traumatic bleeding has been reduced by almost half.
Don’t like vegetables? It’s not your fault!
If you aren’t keen on vegetables, recent news will reassure you that this may not be about fussiness, but instead down to your genes.
According to a recent article on Fox News, researchers at the University Of Kentucky School Of Medicine have found that some people may have no control over their sensitivity to bitter vegetables like sprouts and cabbage.
Humans are all born with two TAS2R38 taste genes, one from each parent, and for those who also have two variants called AVI, they will not experience any sensitivity to bitter flavours.
However, if you inherit one AVI variant and one different type called PAV, this leads to you being a ‘supertaster’ meaning you will find that some foods taste unbearably bitter. The researchers used questionnaires to establish that the supertasters were much less likely to eat their recommended level of vegetables.
It is hoped that the results can help scientists to find other sources of vegetable and nutrients to help ensure that we all get our 5 a day!
Sterile Services News
The challenge of antibiotic resistance
At Newtons Medical Supplies we are proud to support the NHS and other medical practitioners with a range of high quality surgical products which are focused on helping healthcare professionals to maintain a sterile environment.
We have seen two recent updates from the US and the UK related to drug resistant infections which are a major cause of concern for hospitals which are taking care of people in environments where there are naturally lots of germs.
The US report was issues by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and one of its most notable findings was that the number of Americans who die from drug resistant infections has actually dropped.
The figure was 36,000 deaths in 2017 down from the estimated 44,000 in 2013. The bad news was that the number of non fatal infections grew from 2.6 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2017. Scientists have blamed the overuse and misuse of antibiotics for the emergence and/or evolution of bugs which have adapted antibiotic resistance.
The reduction in deaths was attributed to hospitals introducing more rigorous treatment and infection management, which is a positive, but at the same time it was noted that the battle to deal with these bugs is ongoing and definitely not yet won.
The UK perspective
Meanwhile back to the UK and Public Health England is also addressing the issue of antibiotic-resistant infections with a report with the rather long winded name ‘English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance’ (ESPAUR) Report.
The report showed that there were an estimated 61,000 antibiotic resistant infections recorded in England during 2018. This was a 9% rise from the previous year.
The government has launched a campaign called ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ to educate the public and encourage them to follow the advice that they are given by their healthcare provider when it comes to antibiotics. These drugs should not be used for viral conditions or any ailment that is likely to get better on its own.
Efforts so far have been successful in reducing the number of GP issued antibiotics by 17% between 2014 and 2018. There is no evidence that this has led to people developing more serious infections.
Working with the NHS
At Newtons Medical Supplies we are delighted to work directly with our partners in the NHS to provide them with high quality medical supplies which have been approved for NHS use.
The clients who we work with include King’s College Hospital and the Royal London Hospital (please see our story above about managing trauma).
We offer the NHS high quality products and also a reliable supply chain as well as great service and excellent prices. We understand that the NHS is under constant pressure to improve efficiency and make cost savings so we do our very best to support this and are available at all times to provide detailed advice and guidance.
For more information about Newtons Medical Supplies or our products, please get in touch.