E-skin 'can monitor body's oxygen level'

E-skin ‘can monitor body’s oxygen level’

  • 16 April 2016
  • From the section Health

E-skinImage copyright
University of Tokyo, Someya Group

Image caption

Researchers are working ways to create displays that light up to signal the health of the wearer

Scientists say they have developed ultra-thin electronic “skin” that can measure oxygen levels when stuck to the body.

The goal is to develop such “skin” to monitor oxygen levels in organs during surgery, say researchers in Japan.

Tests on volunteers found the “skin” provided stable measurements of oxygen concentration in blood.

The device contains micro-electronic components that light up in red, blue and green on the surface of the body.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo are working on ways to display numbers and letters on the skin for health monitoring purposes.

Wearable electronics are a future growth area in research, with interest in medical applications such as contact lenses that monitor glucose levels, or smart glasses.

The latest findings are revealed in Science Advances.

“The device unobtrusively measures the oxygen concentration of blood when laminated on a finger,” said lead researcher Tomoyuki Yokota and colleagues.

He added: “Ultimately, flexible organic optical sensors may be directly laminated on organs to monitor the blood oxygen level during and after surgery.”

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E-skin 'can monitor body's oxygen level'

E-skin ‘can monitor body’s oxygen level’

  • 16 April 2016
  • From the section Health

E-skinImage copyright
University of Tokyo, Someya Group

Image caption

Researchers are working ways to create displays that light up to signal the health of the wearer

Scientists say they have developed ultra-thin electronic “skin” that can measure oxygen levels when stuck to the body.

The goal is to develop such “skin” to monitor oxygen levels in organs during surgery, say researchers in Japan.

Tests on volunteers found the “skin” provided stable measurements of oxygen concentration in blood.

The device contains micro-electronic components that light up in red, blue and green on the surface of the body.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo are working on ways to display numbers and letters on the skin for health monitoring purposes.

Wearable electronics are a future growth area in research, with interest in medical applications such as contact lenses that monitor glucose levels, or smart glasses.

The latest findings are revealed in Science Advances.

“The device unobtrusively measures the oxygen concentration of blood when laminated on a finger,” said lead researcher Tomoyuki Yokota and colleagues.

He added: “Ultimately, flexible organic optical sensors may be directly laminated on organs to monitor the blood oxygen level during and after surgery.”

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Green light for muscular dystrophy drug

Green light for Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug

  • 15 April 2016
  • From the section Health

Archie Hill, 10, met David Cameron at 10 Downing St as part of the campaign to recommend the drug atalurenImage copyright
Chris O’Donovan

Image caption

Archie Hill, who has Duchenne, met David Cameron last year to appeal for his support for the campaign for Translarna

A drug for treating children aged five and over with Duchenne muscular dystrophy will be available for around 50 youngsters through NHS England.

The medicines regulator NICE has recommended that Translarna (also known as ataluren) be used to help children who will receive the most benefit.

The drug has the potential to delay the loss of the ability to walk in children with the muscle-wasting disease.

Families and charities say they are delighted by the decision.

NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – has announced that Translarna should be made available under a “managed access agreement” between the company who makes it, PTC Therapeutics, and NHS England.

This means that it can only be used to treat a small group of certain children – those with Duchenne caused by a particular mutation who are aged five years and over and who are still able to walk.

They will be treated for five years, allowing the company time to collect further data on the drug’s efficiency.

The company will now have to agree a cost for the drug which is acceptable to NHS England. Its list price is around £220,000 per year.

Extending walking time

NICE decided to recommend Translarna because there have been promising signs that it could delay the loss of walking for up to seven years.

In a recent clinical trial, none of the 47 children taking the drug lost the ability to walk over a period of nearly a year, compared with 8% of children on a placebo.

Children with the progressive disease typically become dependent on a wheelchair by the age of 12.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe progressive disease linked to the X-chromosome, affecting mostly boys.

There are 60 to 70 children born with the disease in England each year and around six to nine of them are affected by the “nonsense” mutation relevant to this drug.

Translarna works by allowing the body to ignore the mutation in the DNA and continue to produce the protein dystrophin, which protects the muscles from wasting.

The charity Muscular Dystrophy UK has been fighting for the drug to be made available on the NHS for some time.

Image copyright
chris o’donovan

Image caption

Archie met the prime minister to ask for his support in making Translarna available on the NHS

‘Clearer picture’

Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said the announcement was “wonderful news and a true victory for the families”.

And he said the agreement would allow them “to gain a clearer picture of the full potential of Translarna, and, crucially, to buy precious time for other promising potential treatments to reach licensing stage. It is a chance to transform childhoods”.

However he said he was concerned that it could take months for NHS England to implement the agreement and get the drug to clinic, having already waited 18 months for the decision.

He said: “We call on NHS England to act with the urgency and resolve that these children and their families deserve.”

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said the decision had been considered carefully because of the costs involved.

“NICE acknowledges that it represents a significant cost to the NHS at a time of increased pressure on funding and has considered this carefully against the uncertainties of its potential long-term benefits.

“This is why the committee has recommended the drug be made available for an initial period of five years, under strict conditions, to allow more data to be gathered on its efficacy, before the guidance is reviewed and a further decision made on whether funding should be continued.”

No commitment

Dr Peter Jackson, chair of the NICE highly specialised technologies evaluation committee, said the next five years would be crucial.

“The committee could not have recommended the drug without the agreement to limit its use to five years while more data is gathered.

“If the data shows that the drug is less effective in the longer term and doesn’t provide good value, the NHS is not committed to funding the drug in the long-term.”

Final guidance from NICE on Translarna will be published towards the end of May 2016 and NHS England then has three months to make it available to its patients.

Recently, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) denied automatic access to the drug through the NHS in Scotland.

In 2014, Translarna became the first drug addressing a genetic cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy to be approved in the EU.

It has been available to families in a number of European countries for over a year.

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New AbbVie hepatitis C regimen shows high cure rates: studies

A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid


An experimental once-daily combination hepatitis C treatment being developed by AbbVie Inc demonstrated very high cure rates across a wide range of disease genotypes, according to data presented on Saturday, likely giving the company a more competitive product if approved.

Cure rates of 97 percent to 100 percent over either eight or 12 weeks of treatment were achieved in the clinical trials with the one pill, once-a-day combination of ABT-493 and ABT-530, which use different methods to block virus replication.

The combination would provide greater convenience for a wider variety of patients than AbbVie’s Viekira Pak, improving chances of making inroads into the market domination currently enjoyed by Gilead Sciences Inc.

Viekira Pak, which is approved for genotype 1, the most common form of the serious liver disease in the United States, consists of four drugs and involves taking three pills in the morning and one in the evening. It currently has only about 5 percent of the market, with Gilead owning about 90 percent.

Another AbbVie product treats genotype 4, which is most common in Egypt and other parts of Africa.

The new one pill combination proved effective across the spectrum of genotypes 1-6 in the midstage studies presented at a European liver disease meeting in Barcelona.

In patients without cirrhosis who were not helped by an older regimen, 97 percent of those with genotype 1 and 98 percent of those with genotype 2 had no detectable hepatitis C virus in the blood 12 weeks after completing eight weeks of therapy, which is considered cured.

Patients with genotype 3 and no cirrhosis receiving treatment for the first time had a 97 percent cure rate with eight weeks of therapy.

Cure rates of 100 percent were achieved with 12 weeks of treatment in genotype 3 patients with cirrhosis, and in non-cirrhotic patients with genotypes 4, 5 and 6.

“These new data show us the potential of ABT-493 and ABT-530 in genotype 3 patients new to therapy even with the added complication of compensated cirrhosis,” Dr. Paul Kwo, one of the lead investigators and professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Cirrhosis, a form or severe scarring, is an indication of advanced disease that can lead to diminished liver function or liver failure.

The most common side effects were fatigue, headache, nausea and diarrhea, the company reported.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Bernard Orr)


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New AbbVie hepatitis C regimen shows high cure rates: studies

A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid


An experimental once-daily combination hepatitis C treatment being developed by AbbVie Inc demonstrated very high cure rates across a wide range of disease genotypes, according to data presented on Saturday, likely giving the company a more competitive product if approved.

Cure rates of 97 percent to 100 percent over either eight or 12 weeks of treatment were achieved in the clinical trials with the one pill, once-a-day combination of ABT-493 and ABT-530, which use different methods to block virus replication.

The combination would provide greater convenience for a wider variety of patients than AbbVie’s Viekira Pak, improving chances of making inroads into the market domination currently enjoyed by Gilead Sciences Inc.

Viekira Pak, which is approved for genotype 1, the most common form of the serious liver disease in the United States, consists of four drugs and involves taking three pills in the morning and one in the evening. It currently has only about 5 percent of the market, with Gilead owning about 90 percent.

Another AbbVie product treats genotype 4, which is most common in Egypt and other parts of Africa.

The new one pill combination proved effective across the spectrum of genotypes 1-6 in the midstage studies presented at a European liver disease meeting in Barcelona.

In patients without cirrhosis who were not helped by an older regimen, 97 percent of those with genotype 1 and 98 percent of those with genotype 2 had no detectable hepatitis C virus in the blood 12 weeks after completing eight weeks of therapy, which is considered cured.

Patients with genotype 3 and no cirrhosis receiving treatment for the first time had a 97 percent cure rate with eight weeks of therapy.

Cure rates of 100 percent were achieved with 12 weeks of treatment in genotype 3 patients with cirrhosis, and in non-cirrhotic patients with genotypes 4, 5 and 6.

“These new data show us the potential of ABT-493 and ABT-530 in genotype 3 patients new to therapy even with the added complication of compensated cirrhosis,” Dr. Paul Kwo, one of the lead investigators and professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Cirrhosis, a form or severe scarring, is an indication of advanced disease that can lead to diminished liver function or liver failure.

The most common side effects were fatigue, headache, nausea and diarrhea, the company reported.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Bernard Orr)


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India's ITC says to resume cigarette production amid health warning row

A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata September 4, 2012.

Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri


India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC Ltd said it would resume production at its factories “consequent upon” a favorable court order, two weeks after it decided to shutter its plants over the government’s stringent new packaging rules.

India ordered that from April 1, 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface had to be covered in health warnings, up from 20 percent, but cigarette firms halted production saying the policy was not clear.

India’s $11 billion tobacco industry is up in arms against the new rules and has taken the government to court. Industry estimates show the production halt has already cost $850 million and risks the livelihood of millions of farmers.

In a statement to the Indian stock exchange late on Friday, ITC, part-owned by British American Tobacco, said: “Consequent upon a high court order passed in favor of the company, the company will soon resume manufacture of cigarettes in its factories”.

An ITC spokesman declined on Saturday to elaborate on ITC’s statement to the stock exchange. Its statement gave no details of its court appeal or any subsequent orders.

The company also did not address whether it would print bigger health warnings on its packs. ITC said earlier this month it was not ready to print bigger, “excessive” health warnings. It also said the government was implementing new rules despite a parliamentary panel report that called for the size of the warnings to be reduced.

But the panel’s report is not binding on the government, and health ministry officials have maintained that manufacturers must comply with the new rules.

Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, according to BMJ Global Health. The World Health Organization says tobacco-related diseases cost the country $16 billion annually.

(This version of the story was refiled to drop extraneous word “it” from the headline)

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Eric Meijer)


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India's ITC says to resume cigarette production amid health warning row

A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata September 4, 2012.

Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri


India’s biggest cigarette maker ITC Ltd said it would resume production at its factories “consequent upon” a favorable court order, two weeks after it decided to shutter its plants over the government’s stringent new packaging rules.

India ordered that from April 1, 85 percent of a cigarette pack’s surface had to be covered in health warnings, up from 20 percent, but cigarette firms halted production saying the policy was not clear.

India’s $11 billion tobacco industry is up in arms against the new rules and has taken the government to court. Industry estimates show the production halt has already cost $850 million and risks the livelihood of millions of farmers.

In a statement to the Indian stock exchange late on Friday, ITC, part-owned by British American Tobacco, said: “Consequent upon a high court order passed in favor of the company, the company will soon resume manufacture of cigarettes in its factories”.

An ITC spokesman declined on Saturday to elaborate on ITC’s statement to the stock exchange. Its statement gave no details of its court appeal or any subsequent orders.

The company also did not address whether it would print bigger health warnings on its packs. ITC said earlier this month it was not ready to print bigger, “excessive” health warnings. It also said the government was implementing new rules despite a parliamentary panel report that called for the size of the warnings to be reduced.

But the panel’s report is not binding on the government, and health ministry officials have maintained that manufacturers must comply with the new rules.

Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, according to BMJ Global Health. The World Health Organization says tobacco-related diseases cost the country $16 billion annually.

(This version of the story was refiled to drop extraneous word “it” from the headline)

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Eric Meijer)


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Taking antibiotics in early childhood can disrupt immune system function lifelong

Scientists want to know whether taking antibiotics early in life can disrupt your immune system function lifelong.

Regardless of our age, antibiotics at least temporarily wipe out many of the good gut bacteria, or microbiota, that help us digest and use food and eliminate waste. That may be particularly problematic for children because, up to about age 3, this useful group of bacteria also is helping educate their immune system about what to ignore and what to attack, said Dr. Leszek Ignatowicz, immunologist in the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

That means early antibiotic use may also have a lasting impact on the diversity of children’s immune cells, specifically their T cells, that do both, potentially increasing their lifelong risk of inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and more, said Ignatowicz, principal investigator on a new $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will help parse the impact.

“There has to be that balance, and we think that in the early stage of life, balance is achieved by the microbiota dynamically educating plenty of peacekeeping regulatory cells,” Ignatowicz said.

The grant is enabling scientists to give commonly used, broad-spectrum antibiotics to younger and older mice, look at what that does to the diversity of the T cells in the gut, how long any impact lasts and whether the long-term result is a host of potential diseases that can result from an overactive or underperforming immune system.

“We hypothesize that adult mice with a well-developed immune system will quickly rebuild their diversity as the flora rebuilds,” he said. “But we propose that in younger mice, this will not occur as completely as it does in adults. That could mean that in young children, instead of millions of different bacteria in the gut, their T cells only interact with say 100,000, which will impact their diversity,” Ignatowicz said.

T cells have the ability to call the immune system to action or keep it nonresponsive. The healthy gut has more of the peacekeeping regulatory T cells to ensure control of the more aggressive effector cells. Ignatowicz notes this does not make the immune system centered in the gut weak, just balanced, both poised to attack invaders and ignore useful guests, like the gut microbiota.

T cell education is supposed to work this way in the gut: Another type of immune cell, dendritic cells, literally holds up pieces of the bacteria mix – both from the individual and his/her environment, which essentially enables the immune system to grow accustomed to and accepting of the gut microbiota.

Related Stories

Without a diverse microbiota, T cells may never learn to ignore these common environmental triggers, so rather than helping prevent inflammation – an early sign of attack – T cells will be more likely to promote inflammation that can result in a host of so-called autoimmune diseases, where the body essentially attacks itself, including Crohn’s, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

However, an ample microbiota can even help convert some T cells that learned to be effectors in the thymus gland – where T cell education begins – to regulatory cells, he said.

In fact, another primary aim of the new studies is to determine what percentage of the regulatory cells come directly from the thymus and how many get converted to peacekeepers in the gut. There is conflicting data, but Ignatowicz thinks most come from the thymus, a tiny gland behind the breastbone, but still have plenty to learn when they get to the gut.

The fetus’ gut is sterile, so microbiota begin to populate with the act of birth. In fact babies born by C-section start out with a different colony of microorganisms than those who came through the reproductive tract since there are different bacteria in the two locales. The microbiota further develop based on what touches the baby and vice versa, even kisses, as well as the bacteria on the food the baby eats and in his environment.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which might be given for anything from a skin infection to bronchitis and tonsillitis, are notorious for wiping out the microbiota, which is why they often cause temporary diarrhea even in adults.

Microbiota also quite literally take up important gut space, leaving less room for invaders, such as the feces-borne bacterium C. difficile, which is often spread by touch and in health care settings, causing diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. In fact, taking an antibiotic is one of the more common reasons hospitalized patients get C. difficile. In a laboratory setting at least, scientists have shown mice missing their normal microbiota will even colonize with flora from the lake or soil, Ignatowicz said. While the mice live with their new flora, there are problems with an underdeveloped immune system.

Source:

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

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Neonatal circumcision does not reduce penile sensitivity in men, study finds

Few data are available concerning the consequences of neonatal circumcision on penile sensitivity in adults. New research indicates that there are no differences in penile sensitivity for a variety of stimulus types and penile sites between circumcised and intact men. Additionally, this study challenges past research suggesting that the foreskin is the most sensitive and, in turn, most sexually relevant, part of the adult penis.
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Sauce firm defends 'once a week' advice

Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s firm Mars defends limit on products

  • 15 April 2016
  • From the section UK

A Dolmio lasagne kitImage copyright
Mars

The company behind Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s sauces has defended its “bold” advice that some products should only be consumed once a week due to high salt, sugar or fat content.

Mars Food said it would distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” items on packs and on its website.

It said the move was “right”, as some foods were higher in salt, sugar or fat to give an authentic taste.

Some experts welcomed the move, while others said it did not go far enough.

Once a week “occasional” items include Dolmio lasagne sauces, pesto, and carbonara and macaroni oven kits, and Uncle Ben’s oriental sauces.

‘Higher standard’

Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars’s food department, said: “Whenever you step up to the plate and do something bold there is the chance that headlines don’t capture the whole story – which often gets in the way of companies doing the right thing.”

She said Mars was holding itself to a “much higher standard” and based its recommendations on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).

She added that by 2021 it hoped to reduce salt content across its products by an average of 20% and added sugar in its sauces by 2018.


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Mars said its website would be updated over the next few months with the list of products to be eaten not more than once a week, and “everyday” ones.

The products the advice applies to are to be reformulated over the next five years.

Adults are recommended to have 70g fat a day, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar and 6g salt. per day.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, a charity that raises awareness about the condition, described the move as “hugely unusual” but “very imaginative”.

He said: “Mars signposted their direction of travel towards healthier products several years ago and are now putting their money where their mouth is.”

The move comes after Chancellor George Osborne announced a sugar tax, with the aim of tackling childhood obesity, in his recent Budget.

And Ben Reynolds, deputy co-ordinator of food and farming alliance Sustain, said companies were “trying to scramble to show they can be good and do the right thing”, before the government releases its childhood obesity strategy later this year.

Media captionThe Victoria Derbyshire programme looks at products affected and hears from healthy eating campaigner Jenny Rosborough from Action on Sugar

He added: “The truth of it is that anything that comes out of a packet, comes out of a jar, that has been processed, is not going to be particularly healthy for you.

“Whether you’re making a quick pasta meal or a Sunday roast, the cheapest and healthiest way is from fresh ingredients.”

Nutritionist Jenny Rosborough from Action on Sugar told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “It’s great that they are pushing forward this responsible labelling and raising awareness.

“But the challenge we have with it is that only the health conscious will look at the labels in the first place.”

Nutritionist Laura De La Harpe told BBC Radio 5 live it should not be difficult to reduce the sugar content.

“What would concern me would be if they start adding sweeteners, artificial sweeteners to replace the sugar,” she said.


Analysis

Image copyright
Thinkstock

By Helen Briggs, BBC News

Whose responsibility is it to make sure we eat healthy food and shouldn’t the sugar tax apply to all foods, not just soft drinks?

These are some of the questions being asked following the announcement by Mars that some of its products – such as pasta sauces and pesto – should be eaten only occasionally.

A tax on sugary soft drinks will take effect in two years’ time – giving food manufacturers a nudge towards cutting sugar.

But in the food sector the government relies on industry to self-regulate. According to campaign group Campaign for Action on Salt reformulation is key, but while it remains voluntary many companies are failing to do this.

One of the UK’s leading nutrition experts, Prof Tom Sanders, says the Mars move sounds like “Martian spin” as there’s no need to add large amounts of salt to cook-in sauces – and these foods should be everyday foods not treats.


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