Weekly Health News

Weekly handpicked health news from 6 – 12 Sep 2020

Note: I do not write/own any of the health news bits (and cover picture) given here. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. The content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

Genome Sequencing Accelerates Cancer Detection

Source: European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Bioinformatics Institute

Recent cancer studies have shown that genomic mutations leading to cancer can occur years, or even decades, before a patient is diagnosed. Researchers have developed a statistical model that analyses genomic data to predict whether a patient has a high or low risk of developing oesophageal cancer. The results could enable early detection and improve treatment of oesophageal cancer in future.

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First ‘Plug and Play’ Brain Prosthesis Demonstrated in Paralyzed Person

Source: University of California – San Francisco

In a significant advance, researchers working toward a brain-controlled prosthetic limb at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences have shown that machine learning techniques helped a paralyzed individual learn to control a computer cursor using their brain activity without requiring extensive daily retraining, which has been a requirement of all past brain-computer interface (BCI) efforts.

Original written by: Nicholas Weiler

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How Birth Control, Girls’ Education Can Slow Population Growth

Source: University of Washington

Widespread use of contraceptives and, to a lesser extent, girls’ education through at least age 14 have the greatest impact in bringing down a country’s fertility rate. Education and family planning have long been tied to lower fertility trends. But new research from the University of Washington analyzes those factors to determine, what accelerates a decline in otherwise high-fertility countries.

Original written by: Kim Eckart

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Method to Derive Blood Vessel Cells from Skin Cells Suggests Ways to Slow Aging

Source: Salk Institute

Salk scientists have used skin cells called fibroblasts from young and old patients to successfully create blood vessels cells that retain their molecular markers of age. The team’s approach, described in the journal eLife on September 8, 2020, revealed clues as to why blood vessels tend to become leaky and hardened with aging, and lets researchers identify new molecular targets to potentially slow aging in vascular cells.

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Findings by Physicist Rana Ashkar Upend Understanding of Cholesterol’s Effects on Cellular Membranes

Source: Virginia Tech

For more than a decade, scientists have accepted that cholesterol – a key component of cell membranes – did not uniformly affect membranes of different types. But a new study led by Assistant Professor Rana Ashkar of the Virginia Tech Department of Physics finds that cholesterol actually does adhere to biophysical principles.

Original written by: Andrew Tie

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More Cats Might Be COVID-19 Positive Than First Believed, Study Suggests

Source: Taylor & Francis Group

A newly published study looking at cats in Wuhan, where the first known outbreak of COVID-19 began, shows more cats might be contracting the disease than first believed. Researchers from Huazhong Agricultural University, in the Chinese city, took blood samples from 102 cats between January and March 2020, following the first outbreak. Nasal and anal swabs were also collected.

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COVID-Stress May Be Hard to Beat Even with Exercise

Source: Washington State University

In a study of twins led by Washington State University researchers, people who reported increasing their physical activity after the start of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those whose activity levels stayed the same.

Original written by: Sara Zaske

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COVID-19 Patients Suffer Long-Term Lung and Heart Damage but It Can Improve with Time

Source: European Lung Foundation

COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage but, for many, this tends to improve over time, according to the first, prospective follow-up of patients infected with the coronavirus, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

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Researchers Draw More Links between Vaping, Smoking, Young People, and Coronavirus

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

What do vapers, smokers, and non-smokers with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes have in common? They all are at higher risk for COVID-19. The scientific explanation behind this is complex and not yet certain — but it may boil down to an enzyme known as ACE2, that lives on the surface of many cells in the lungs and serves as the entry point for the coronavirus.

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New Immunotherapy to Beat Cancer

Source: Université catholique de Louvain

Cancer immunotherapy is the manipulation of the immune responses naturally present in the human body to fight cancer. Often, these immune responses are blocked by cells or molecules that prevent them from killing cancer cells, and the tumour is able to establish itself and grow.

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COVID Ventilator Patients Can Have Permanent Nerve Damage

Source: Northwestern University

Severely ill COVID-19 patients on ventilators are placed in a prone (face down) position because it’s easier for them to breathe and reduces mortality. But that life-saving position can also cause permanent nerve damage in these vulnerable patients, reports a newly accepted study from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Original written by: Marla Paul

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