Lex News: What’s Happening in the Medical World?

Curated by Dr. Lavanya Patnala and Madhav Bansal

1.New Drug in HER2 Positive Breast Cancer in Goa Medical College

Breast cancer patients seeking treatment at Goa Medical College, Bambolim, will have free access to the fixed dose Pertuzumab-Trastuzumab. This injectable drug is administered to HER2 positive breast cancer patients subcutaneously, with intravenous chemotherapy. It enhances patient comfort and ensures a more efficient delivery. Health minister Vishwajit Rane said Goa is the first state in India to incorporate this drug into the treatment protocol. The state has screened one lakh women over the past two years for breast cancer using the non-invasive and radiation-free iBreast exam, of which 52 were detected with cancer. Now, the state has set a target to scan 1.5 lakh more women over the next one and a half year.

2. India Receives ‘Measles and Rubella Champion’ Award for Remarkable Disease Prevention Efforts

India has been given the honor of the esteemed ‘Measles and Rubella Champion’ Award by The Measles and Rubella Partnership, in recognition of the nation’s unwavering dedication to public health and exemplary leadership in combating infectious diseases. The award was presented at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington D.C., USA, on March 6th, 2024, and acknowledges India’s remarkable strides in curbing the spread of measles and rubella, particularly among children. Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington D.C., accepted the award on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

3. Vaccine Trial for Early Bowel Cancer

A ground-breaking vaccine to treat early bowel cancer will go on trial run by the Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Southampton in collaboration with our Trust and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia. Dr Tony Dhillon, chief investigator of the trial said “This is the first treatment vaccine in any gastrointestinal cancer and we have high hopes that it will be very successful.” The vaccine will be used to treat patients before surgery, in the hope that it will cause the body to attack the cancer. It would mean any surgery would be less invasive. It is also hoped that the strength of the vaccine could support the immune system to respond if there is a relapse and the cancer returns later on.

4. Karnataka’s Health Department bans Hookah

According to the report of the World Health Organization, hookah is an addictive substance that contains high amounts of nicotine or tobacco and molasses or flavouring substances containing the chemical carbon monoxide, which is very dangerous to health. Earlier in February, Karnataka health department issued a notification banning the sale and consumption of hookah with immediate effect. The state health department highlighted the consumption of hookah spreads infectious diseases like herpes, tuberculosis, hepatitis, Covid-19 and other diseases through the mouth, it said.

5. FDA Approved Drug for Severe Food Allergies

Based on a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of children (at least 1 year of age or older) and adults who were allergic to peanuts and at least two other foods, including milk, eggs, wheat, cashews, hazelnuts, or walnuts, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved omalizumab injection (Xolair, Genentech) to reduce IgE─mediated severe allergy. A higher proportion of patients taking omalizumab vs placebo were able to consume at least 1000 mg of cashews (42% vs 3%), milk (66% vs 11%), or eggs (67% vs 0%) without experiencing moderate to severe allergic symptoms. The most common side effects were injection site reactions and fever. Omalizumab comes with certain warnings and precautions such as anaphylaxis, malignancy, fever, joint pain, rash, parasitic (worm) infection, and abnormal laboratory tests

6. FDA Removes Harmful Chemicals From Food Packaging

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the removal of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from food packaging on February 28, 2024 in an attempt to eliminate the major source of dietary exposure to PFAS from food packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out paperboard containers, and pet food bags. The FDA’s announcement came just 2 days after the Endocrine Society issued a new alarm about the human health dangers from environmental EDCs including PFAS. Studies have found that some PFAS disrupt hormones including estrogen and testosterone, whereas others may impair thyroid function.

7. Increasing incidence of oral transmission of Chagas disease

Oral ingestion of Trypanosoma cruzi through contaminated food and beverages is increasing. Unlike vector transmission, oral transmission of Chagas disease entails high lethality in pediatric and adult populations. In regions where the parasite circulates in the environment, people are consuming foods, fruit juices, and possibly wild animal meat that may be contaminated. The exacerbated signs and symptoms of oral infection including fever, ECG changes, facial edema and edema of lower extremities in immunocompetent hosts are attributed to the high parasite loads in contaminated food and beverages. It can cause fulminant myocarditis and heart failure, meningoencephalitis, or potentially fatal shock due to parasitemia.

8. Judge Won’t Overturn Invalidated USMLE Scores

A federal judge has rejected a plea to temporarily restore the scores of 832 medical graduates from Nepal who are suspected of cheating on the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Giri, an international medical graduate (IMG) from Kathmandu,  sued NBME earlier this month claiming the board discriminated against Nepali medical graduates when it invalidated hundreds of exam scores linked to the country. In court documents, NBME argued that it did not invalidate the scores because the examinees were Nepali but because staff concluded that there was “a good faith basis for questioning the validity of the scores.”


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