News Flash! Last Month in Medicine

What’s happening in the Medical World??

Written by Sai Lavanya Patnala & Madhav Bansal

  1. The Kerala government has approved an ordinance to provide harsher penalties for acts of violence against healthcare workers.

The development came a week after Vandana Das, a medical intern on duty at the Kottarakkara Taluk Hospital in Kollam, was stabbed to death by a man she was treating in early May. The amendment to a 2012 Act grants protection to paramedical students, security staff, helpers, ambulance drivers and managerial staff at hospitals. The ordinance now states that a police officer ranked not less than an inspector will investigate the cases under the Act and have to complete the probe within 60 days of the registering of the first information report.

  1. WHO warns against the prescription of valproic acid for women and girls of childbearing potential

WHO issued a safety statement is being issued to alert stakeholders to the revised guidance that Valproic acid should not be prescribed to women and girls of childbearing potential because of the high risk of birth defects and developmental disorders in children. Instead, lamotrigine or levetiracetam should be offered as first-line monotherapy for both generalized onset seizures and focal onset seizures.

  1. WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control

Based on the findings of a systematic review which suggests that the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) like acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, and stevia derivatives does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children, WHO has released a new guideline that recommends against the use of NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.

  1. Air pollution contributes independently to bone damage in postmenopausal women

A new analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and location-specific air particulate information from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests that poor air quality may be a risk factor for bone loss and both particulate matter and gases may adversely impact BMD and that nitrogen oxides may play a critical role in bone damage and osteoporosis risk.

  1. New Drug- Sotagliflozin for Heart Failure approved by FDA

Sotagliflozin, a novel agent that inhibits sodium-glucose cotransporter (SGLT) 1 as well as SGLT2 came to be known for reducing the risk for cardiovascular death, hospitalization and urgent heart failure visits in patients with heart failure is ready for market release by Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, who wish to target patients discharged after an episode of acute heart failure decompensation to prevent near-term rehospitalizations in them.

  1. First Anti-Psychotic drug for agitation in Alzheimer’s Disease approved by FDA

US FDA  has approved the antipsychotic brexpiprazole (Rexulti, Otsuka and Lundbeck) for agitation which is one of the most common and challenging aspects of care among Alzheimer’s patients, making it the first FDA-approved drug for this indication

  1. Management of Depression by psychotherapy significantly Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

Results of a large cohort study conducted in the United Kingdom published in the European Heart Journal showed that the improvement in depression was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk for cardiovascular diseases and the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) was 11% lower, risk for stroke was 12% lower and all-cause mortality was 19% lower.

  1. “Sepsis sensors” with magnetic nanoparticles rapidly detect bacterial pathogens.

Empa researchers have now developed “sepsis sensors” with magnetic nanoparticles that detect bacterial pathogens within a short period of time and identify suitable candidates for antibiotic therapies. The team is developing a diagnostic procedure that can detect life-threatening blood poisoning caused by staphylococcus bacteria rapidly. This is because staphylococcal sepsis is fatal in up to 40 percent of the cases. An infection with the spherical bacteria may have started as a local skin disease or pneumonia. Once the staphylococci have swarmed into the bloodstream in the course of sepsis, severe complications can arise. In such situations the pathogens must be identified as quickly as possible and appropriate antibiotics selected for treatment.

  1. Common diabetes drug could be repurposed as a treatment for autoimmune disorders.

Academics at the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science have found that the drug, ‘canagliflozin’ could be used to treat autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus as it targets T-cells, which form an essential component of the immune system. Canagliflozin is a drug that controls blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes however, researchers have found an unexpected role for the drug involving the human immune system.

  1. Cortisol levels in late pregnancy can predict sleep health of infants.

Results of a recent study show that newborns with higher levels of cortisol in their hair samples took longer to fall asleep at 7 months of age. Neonatal hair cortisol is a measure of fetal cortisol in the last trimester of pregnancy. The findings suggest that there may be prenatal implications on sleep health early in life, highlighting the need to better understand what variables might set the foundation for better sleep health in infancy and beyond.

  1. Study identifies six odour categories associated with migraine attacks.

Increased sensitivity to odour is considered a specific symptom of migraine, which is frequently observed in 95% of migraine patients. Mechanistically, odour signal is received by the brain through the olfactory bulb, and studies have shown that odours trigger migraine by activating different brain regions. In the current study, scientists have categorised migraine-associated odours and determined their correlation with clinical characteristics: factor 1, fetid odor; factor 2, cooking products; factor 3, oil derivatives and others; factor 4, shampoo and conditioner; factor 5, cleaning products; factor 6, perfumes, insecticides, and rose. The study, conducted by Imai et al. was published in Scientific Reports and can be read here.

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