In the news this September:
In Profile – Pioneering new treatments from the NHS
-The NHS unveils two pioneering new treatments to help cure blindness and deafness in children
-Have doctors found a cure for the common cold?
–Babies born by Caesarean section have a different gut biome
-No more fillings?
-WHO World Patient Safety Day
-Last Chance to Buy!
Two new pioneering treatments for blindness and deafness in children
We are lucky to live in a time where medical developments are happening on an almost daily basis. Conditions which had previously caused lifelong disability can now be effectively managed and in some cases, even cured.
The UK also benefits from the work of the NHS which is one of the world’s most pioneering and forward-thinking medical organisations.
News of two radical new treatments has hit the headlines this month, both of which help children who experience certain types of blindness and deafness.
Bionic implants to treat deafness
Deaf teenagers will be able to have their hearing restored with a new bionic implant which was previously only offered to adults and which the NHS has now made available to young people.
The treatment uses a battery powered microphone and sound processor which are both surgically placed under the skin near the ear and are invisible once implanted. The bionic implants work on the middle ear and operate like a permanent hearing aid. This makes them different to cochlear implants which are external and can be switched on and off.
The treatment will be most beneficial to those who experience moderate to severe hearing loss and particularly for young people who find it difficult to wear hearing aids.
Gene therapy to restore the sight of babies
The NHS has also announced its intention to fund a revolutionary new gene therapy called voretigene neparvovec which can preserve sight in babies who are born with an inherited condition called retinal dystrophy disorder, a sight impairment which gets worse over time.
This condition prevents the eye from creating certain proteins which are needed to support normal vision. The innovative gene therapy is delivered by an injection and essentially recreates the process.
The NHS has reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical manufacturer Novatis to fund the treatment to help up to 100 patients a year from early 2020 onwards at a cost of £613,410 per person.
A cure for the common cold?
‘A cure for the common cold’ has long been the holy grail of medical research – and it now looks like scientists may have found the answer!
At least half of colds are caused by a rhinovirus and there are known to be 160 different types in circulation. This is why most of us will catch a selection of different colds during our lifetimes.
Rhinoviruses also mutate quickly meaning that if a cure was found for an individual virus, it is unlikely that it would be effective for very long. This is another reason why an effective cure has been so difficult to establish.
Medical scientists at Stanford and UCSE universities in the US may have solved this puzzle after recently completing a series of experiments where they were able to prevent certain types of virus from replicating by disabling a specific protein found in mammalian cells.
In their study published in Nature Microbiology in September they outlined how a process of elimination led them to one particular gene which is responsible for encoding an enzyme called SETD3. It was clear from their experiments that this enzyme is needed by viruses for successful establishment at the cellular level.
The next stage was to test mice which were bioengineered to not have any SETD3. The mice were found to be impervious to certain types of entovirus, yet still be fertile and healthy, confirming the theory that SETD3 is needed by Rhinoviruses in order to successfully replicate in cells.
The hope is that this finding will lead to the development of drugs to treat some of the more serious types of entovirus such as encephalitis as well as the more common cold.
The ultimate objective it so find ways to manage SETD3 without having to remove it entirely – meaning that one day we could take a single pill to treat the common cold!
Babies born by Caesarean section have a different gut biome
One of the most common surgical procedures undertaken in the UK is Caesarean sections. NHS figures show that nearly a third of babies born in the UK in March this year (29%) were delivered this way.
Outcomes for this sort of surgery are generally good for mothers and babies but researchers have now discovered that being born by c-section may have a potentially negative effect on the good bacteria that a baby absorbs at birth.
A story in the Sun and also Reuters News reports that babies born vaginally have been found to pick up their mother’s micro biome at birth. This is the range of good gut bacteria which helps humans to manage certain types of infection.
Scientists have also discovered that babies who are born by Caesarean section have different micro biomes which even include some environmental bacteria which have been linked to hospital infections.
The Wellcome Sanger institute which carried out the study has said that it is not clear exactly what impact the establishment of our early gut biome has on later life, but it could be a contributory factor to the increase in some illnesses in children which are related to the immune system such as allergies and type 1 diabetes.
Long term studies will be required to follow-up on the impacts on individual babies as they grow and develop.
No more fillings?
At Newtons Medical Supplies we provide products for lots of different medical requirements including our high quality dental product range.
Some of us feel a bit squeamish about the prospect of dental treatments and particularly fillings – so the invention of a gel which can repair tooth enamel is a likely to be a welcome development!
Enamel is the hard outer layer on teeth which has the potential to be damaged and worn away by the presence of acid in the mouth. Over time this wear can lead to cavities which until now could only be repaired by fillings.
The New Scientist has reported that researchers at Ruikang Tang at Zhejiang University in China devised a gel which contains the two main elements in enamel – calcium and phosphate.
They tested the gel on teeth that had been removed and were kept in a mouth-like environment and found that the gel stimulated the growth of a new layer of enamel on the teeth. It was much thinner than normal tooth enamel but the intention would be to build up a number of layers over time.
Previous efforts to try this treatment had produced enamel clusters that were too large and so ineffective. The next step will be further testing to turn this into a proper treatment.
Great news for anyone who has ever feared the dentist’s drill!
WHO World Patient Safety Day
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has held its first World Patient Safety Day to encourage good infection control in even the most difficult of circumstances faced by medical care providers around the world.
At Newtons Medical Supplies we are proud to support the work of surgical teams, so we are always interested in developments in decontamination and the strategies utilised by medical professionals to monitor and prevent the spread of germs, particularly in hospitals.
Effective management of bacteria can be extremely difficult even in the most sterile of environments, so preventing infection is particularly challenging in environments like conflict-related locations.
Healthcare professionals working in these regions face a wide range of problems including lack of vital equipment and supplies, including access to water and basic sanitation.
The WHO designated 16th September to be World Patient Safety Day in order to work with regional partners in areas where there is conflict to prevent avoidable contamination and infections.
The WHO has estimated that every day one in ten hospital patients develops an infection related to their healthcare so this issue requires constant action and vigilance throughout the world.
Two particular areas of focus for the WHO are Eastern Ukraine and NW Syria.
In Eastern Ukraine the organisation has trained over 250 healthcare professionals in Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and also funded the modernisation of sterilisation units in a number of hospitals.
In Syria work has involved assessing 30 health care units to determine their current levels of IPC and to find ways to improve them.
Last Chance to Buy!
Have you had a browse of our online shop? Our quality product selection includes a wide range of equipment and consumables to support medical professionals in their daily work.
The ‘Limited Stock’ section in our shop is a great place to grab a bargain and pick up a product before it is sold-out.
Why not have a look at what we have available today?
For more information about Newtons Medical Supplies or our products, please get in touch.