Lex News: Last Month in Medicine – What’s Happening in the Medical World??

Curated By- Dr. Sai Lavanya Patnala & Madhav Bansal

  1. New COVID strain tracked, may evade existing vaccines

The CDC is tracking a newly discovered strain of COVID-19 called BA.2.86 after a case of BA.2.86 was detected at a laboratory at the University of Michigan. A case was also detected in the United Kingdom, reportedly. The World Health Organization is also tracking BA.2.86 and has classified it as a “variant under monitoring.” This strain is of particular concern because of its more than 30 mutations. “BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines,” the CDC risk assessment stated. CDC and WHO caution that more data is needed to truly understand the threat posed by BA.2.86

  1. New research on  long COVID or neurological post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (Neuro-PASC)

So far it has been estimated that up to one third of people who survive acute SARS-CoV-2 infection suffer a post-viral syndrome with lingering neurologic and other symptoms. A new research at Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center in Chicago suggests that the number may be underestimated and found that significant proportion of patients who had never tested positive for COVID-19 but who were having symptoms of long COVID nevertheless showed evidence of immune responses consistent with previous exposure. The researchers found that three-quarter patients of their small study harbored anti-nucleocapsid and 50% harbored anti-spike responses.

  1.  Live worm found in a woman’s brain by Australian surgeon

In a world first, scientists say an 8cm (3in) worm has been found alive in the brain of an Australian woman. The 64 year old had for months suffered symptoms like stomach pain, a cough and night sweats, which evolved into forgetfulness and depression. She was admitted to hospital in 2021, and a scan later revealed “an atypical lesion within the right frontal lobe of the brain”. Dr Hari Priya Bandi pulled out a “string-like structure” from the patient’s damaged frontal lobe during surgery 2022. Her case is believed to be the first instance of a larvae invasion and development in the human brain, researchers said in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. Australian parasitology expert Mehrab Hossain said she suspected the woman became an “accidental host” after using the foraged plants – contaminated by python faeces and parasite eggs – for cooking. Researchers warn the case highlights the increased danger of diseases and infections being passed from animals to people. Ophidascaris robertsi roundworm is common in carpet pythons – non-venomous snakes found across much of Australia.

  1. Atopic Dermatitis May Be a Risk Factor for GBS Colonisation in Pregnancy

Pregnant women with atopic dermatitis (AD) are more likely to be colonised with group B streptococcus (GBS), compared with other pregnant women, results from a large cross-sectional study by the department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia suggest. A possible explanation given by the researchers postulates that those with AD frequently receive antibiotics as part of their treatment which might alter their resident microbiome. Carriage rates may be enhanced by the inhibition of an important barrier protein called filaggrin (FLG) and FLG loss of function genetic variation is known to decrease barrier proteins thought to inhibit the colonisation of S. aureus and other pathogens,” the researchers wrote.

  1. Mohs Found to be more effective in Localized Merkel Cell Carcinoma

A study published in JAMA Dermatology by dermatologists at at NYU Langone Health, New York found that, in patients with pathologically confirmed, localised T1/T2 MCC, treatment with Mohs Micrographic surgery (MMS) was associated with an approximately 40% reduction in hazard of death compared with Wide local excision (WLE). The results suggested that treatment of localised, early-stage MCC with MMS may result in the most optimal patient survival outcomes.

  1. Sleep quality found to predict risk of suicidal ideation

Previous research has found multiple aspects of sleep disturbance are linked to elevated SI, including insomnia symptoms, both short and long sleep duration, nocturnal wakefulness, and nightmares. A study published in Psychiatry Research showed that sleep disturbance is a promising modifiable risk factor for acute changes in suicide risk. Overall, nightmares had a significant, positive effect on passive SI, but no significant effect on active SI. Sleep latency showed a significant, positive effect on passive and active SI.

  1. Study reveals biological mechanism behind the impact of fathers’ early teenage smoking on offspring.

A new study suggests boys who smoke in their early teens risk damaging the genes of their future children, increasing their chances of developing asthma, obesity and low lung function. Research published on 31st August 2023 in Clinical Epigenetics is the first human study to reveal the biological mechanism behind the impact of fathers’ early teenage smoking on their children.

  1. Global team of experts outlines roadmap for human skin cell atlas.

Dermatology experts call for a reference guide to single-cell composition of normal human skin, which is still lacking. A grassroots movement to establish a Human Skin Cell Atlas is taking shape, as reported in a review in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, published by Elsevier. A global team of experts has outlined a roadmap as a first step towards creating a comprehensive and inclusive reference work on this important topic.To perform its numerous functions and to maintain prominent regional specificity, skin consists of several distinct cell types, which in turn, each contain numerous cell states. Using single-cell RNA-sequencing technology, researchers can study gene expression signatures of many individual cells in tissues and then bioinformatically evaluate how they work together to perform tissue functions. Responding to this critical need, the Human Cell Atlas is an international grassroots effort to generate a comprehensive single-cell reference of every human organ.

  1. Y chromosome fully mapped for the first time.

What was once the final frontier of the human genome – the Y chromosome, has just been mapped out in its entirety. Led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and many other organisations used advanced sequencing technologies to read out the full DNA sequence of the Y chromosome, a region of the genome that typically drives male reproductive development. The results of a study published in Nature demonstrate that this advance improves DNA sequencing accuracy for the chromosome, which could help identify certain genetic disorders and potentially uncover the genetic roots of others.

  1. WHO convenes first high-level global summit on traditional medicine to explore evidence base, opportunities to accelerate health for all

The World Health Organization (WHO) convened the Traditional Medicine Global Summit on 17 and 18 August 2023​ in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Co-hosted by the Government of India, the Summit explored the role of traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine in addressing pressing health challenges and driving progress in global health and sustainable development.The Summit also explored ways to scale up scientific advances and realise the potential of evidence-based knowledge in the use of traditional medicine for people’s health and well-being around the world.

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