In the news this month:
In Profile – Nobel Prize for Medicine Announced
– The 2020 winners were jointly responsible for discovering Hepatitis C
– People with different blood groups may react differently to the coronavirus
– Dogs can be used to sniff out the virus
– The NHS plans to open neighbourhood One Stop Shops
– Continuing efforts to persuade people to eat less sugar
– The time of day that we exercise may be important
– Highly effective hygiene consumables in our online shop
News in Profile
2020 Nobel Prize for Medicine winners announced
Never has there been a year when health and medicine have been more at the forefront of people’s minds. 2020 has been the year that has really reinforced the importance of medical research and development.
This year’s Nobel Prize winners for medicine have been announced and there are three joint winners; the British scientist Michael Houghton and US researchers, Harvey Alter and Charles Rice.
The three are jointly responsible for discovering the disease Hepatitis C, a breakthrough which the Nobel panel believe has saved many lives. Scientists have known about the existence of the liver diseases Hepatitis A and B since the 1960s. Despite this, people receiving blood transfusions in the latter half of the 20th century still sometimes became ill as a result of a mystery liver disease.
The first step in discovery was when researcher Harvey Alter identified a distinct and separate illness which he referred to as ‘non-A, non-B’ hepatitis. The next step involved Michael Houghton who worked for the pharmaceutical company Chiron and managed to isolate the genetic sequence of the disease in 1989, and identify that it was a virus. He gave it the name Hepatitis C. Finally Charles Rice completed the process at Washington University in St Louis when he was able to genetically engineer the virus and introduce it to the livers of chimpanzees to prove that it could lead to hepatitis,.
This joint work led to the development of an effective treatment and a way to safely screen blood before transfusion, protecting many lives around the world.
Dogs can help us to sniff out the coronavirus
Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend and they can be trained to do many jobs which support humans. A recent story from the Star online has highlighted that our canine companions may also be helpful in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hanover University of Veterinary Science in Germany has been carrying out experiments to determine whether dogs can literally sniff out the coronavirus.
The team published a study in July after training eight 8 sniffer dogs from the German Armed Forces to identify the smell of coronavirus in humans. After just one week of training, in the majority of cases the dogs were able to spot false or negative examples of the virus, even before people had developed symptoms. The virus itself does not have a smell but the dogs can identify changes in human cells which happen as a result of contracting the disease.
In Helsinki in Finland dogs are already being used to sniff out the virus on arrivals at the airport for passengers who volunteer to provide a sample. The technology is not one hundred percent proven yet so the samples picked by the dogs are then sent for further testing.
It is hoped that over time the process can be fine tuned so that dogs can regularly be used to identify the virus in public places, as one of the strategies that we will need to help open-up society again.
COVID-19 and different blood groups
Do you know your blood group? Many of us don’t but scientists trying to understand more about COVID-19 have identified that those people with blood type O seem to be less likely to experience severe complications if they contract the virus.
There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O.
O is the most common, making up almost half of the population (48%). Recent research has indicated that those with A and AB blood have the potential to experience worse effects from the coronavirus. Two studies were carried out; one in Denmark and the other in Canada. Both studies found a more severe effect for those with A or AB blood and a study from China from earlier this year looked at the blood types of 2000 coronavirus patients. Of the 206 who died, 85 had blood type A which represented 41% of total deaths.
Scientists have discovered the link but do not yet know the cause, or what it might mean for treatment of people with the virus. This is one more piece of information that helps to increase our understanding of the disease and how we may be able to manage it over the longer term.
NHS announces new ‘One Stop Shops’
In its ongoing efforts to improve patient care, the NHS is planning to overhaul the way that it carries out a range of diagnostic tests. The plan is to set up community based hubs which are near to where people live and work, in places like shopping centres or retail parks.
In past blogs we have looked at the NHS Long Term Plan. Improving the diagnosis of a range of conditions is an important element of the plan.
The tests will include procedures like MRIs, CT scans, colonoscopies and routine blood tests. It is hoped that this approach will be quicker and safer than unnecessary visits to hospital and an added benefit is that the hubs can be kept COVID-19 free more easily than conventional hospital departments.
Setting up the One Stop Shops will require an increased number of imaging and support staff and it is hoped that this strategy will lead to better outcomes for patients in the longer term.
Cutting back on sugar
As we have often discovered in our blogs, ensuring that we eat well has a fundamental impact on our health and wellbeing.
To try and keep us healthier, the government and the NHS advise that most of us need to cut down on sugar. Over consumption can lead to diabetes as well as obesity, which is a key factor in a number of life-threatening conditions including heart disease and some types of cancer. The NHS estimates that it spends around £1.6 billion a year on managing obesity related ill health.
To help reduce the nation’s sugar consumption the government has asked the food and drink industry to abide by a voluntary code to cut the amount of sugar that is included in manufactured foods and beverages by 20%, with a particular focus on foods favoured by children.
Public Health England has recently published an update on progress. The report shows an overall average reduction in sugar content in soft drinks, yoghurts, cereals and confectionery of just 3%, so this could be better.
Positive news was that the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) which requires extra to be charged for drinks above a certain sugar threshold, has led to a 44% reduction in sugar for those drinks included.
PHE will continue to lobby the food and drink industry to reduce sugar in food and drink. Obese people are also more prone to complications from COVID-19, meaning it is even more important to tackle this national health challenge.
Does the time of the day that we exercise affect our health?
In the same way that most of us know that we should cut down on sugar, we also understand that our health is likely to be improved by getting more exercise. A new study from the International Journal of Cancer has highlighted that the time of day that we do our exercise may be instrumental in protecting against cancer.
Scientists have understood for some time that recreational exercise can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. They also know that an individual’s circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle) can be linked to health problems as people who work night shifts are more prone to certain types of cancer.
Exercising during the day can improve your circadian rhythm so the scientists hypothesised that the time the exercise is done may be important.
A research study was carried out in Spain on 2795 participants between 2008 and 2013. After three years the researchers followed up with those in the study who had developed breast or prostate cancer. They ascertained that exercising in the morning between 8am and 11am had the strongest potential beneficial effect on reducing the risk of developing these cancers.
Their model showed a potential 25% lower risk of breast cancer for morning exercisers and similar for prostate cancer BUT the researchers have stressed that this is indicative only and far more research is needed into the phenomenon, particularly as the study did not take all health and environmental factors into account.
A good time to stock up on hygiene supplies
The end of October means the half term holiday so children are off school. And as some parts of the country experience greater restrictions under the new government tier system, hygiene protection becomes even more important.
In our consumables shop you will find a great range of products which can help, including our Back to School packs as well as face masks, wipes and gels.
Our pack of 10 3 Ply Quality Masks, with a melt blown middle layer is just £3.50.
We also have packs of KN95 Masks with BFE Filtration 95% (non medical).
Antibacterial and antimicrobial wipes
And if you need wipes, we have Sleepy antibacterial and antimicrobial wipes which are ideal for everyday commercial and domestic use.
Made from low-lint fabric they trap dirt and kill bacteria leaving every surface safe and grime-free. What’s more, the unique formula of these wipes means they are fast acting and effective in even the most challenging environments.
Shop online today
All of our products are easy to order and can be bought online from the medical consumables section of our shop where you will also find our full range of hygiene related products.
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about our product or stock.