Tag Archives: medical

Good News Monday: Full Speed Ahead

No time for an original post today, but want to share this encouraging article from my daily New York Times email briefing:

A running start for a vaccine at Oxford

Here’s promising news in the worldwide race to develop a vaccine to ward off the coronavirus. The Jenner Institute at Oxford University has one that seems to work in lab animals and is ready to test its effectiveness in humans, if regulators approve.

The institute had a big head start, our correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick reports. Its scientists had an approach that they already knew was safe: They had proved it in trials last year for a vaccine to fight MERS, a respiratory disease caused by a closely related virus.

That has enabled the institute to skip ahead and schedule tests of its new Covid-19 vaccine on more than 6,000 people by the end of May, hoping to show not only that it is safe, but also that it works.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana got very good results when they tried out the Oxford vaccine last month on six rhesus macaque monkeys. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the coronavirus. After more than four weeks, all six were still healthy.

“The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,” said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test.

Immunity in monkeys doesn’t guarantee that a vaccine will protect people, but it’s an encouraging sign. If the May trials go well and regulators grant emergency approval, the Oxford scientists say they could have a few million doses of their vaccine available by September — months ahead of other vaccine projects.

“It is a very, very fast clinical program,” said Emilio Emini of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is helping to finance a number of competing efforts.

All in the genes: The Jenner Institute isn’t following the classic approach of using a weakened version of the disease pathogen. Instead, its approach starts with another familiar virus, neutralizes it and then genetically modifies it so that it will prompt the body to produce the right antibodies for Covid-19.

Researchers originally cooked up the technology in a quest to develop a vaccine for malaria, which is caused by a parasite. No luck there yet. But when the idea was borrowed to go after MERS, it worked well.

woman in blue tank top smiling

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An Ounce of Prevention

A friend passed along a medical professional’s advice that seems to be echoed by other sources. Couldn’t hurt and makes sense.

Introduction: The Chinese now understand the behavior of COVID-9, after analysis of multiple autopsies.  The virus obstructs respiratory pathways with thick mucus that solidifies and blocks the airways and lungs.

To apply medicine, you have to open and unblock the airways so treatment can be used, which takes several days.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO SAFEGUARD YOURSELF

  1. Drink lots of HOT LIQUIDS such as coffee, soup, tea and hot water.  Also, sip WARM water every 20 minutes because this keeps your mouth moist and washes any virus into the stomach, where gastric juices will neutralize it before it gets to the lungs.
  2. Once a day, GARGLE with an antiseptic in warm waer, such as lemon juice, vinegar or salt.
  3. The virus ATTACHES to clothes and hair.  Any soap or detergent kills it.  SHOWER or bathe IMMEDIATELY when you get in from the street.  Avoid sitting and go straight to the shower.  If you can’t wash your clothes daily, hang them in direct SUNLIGHT, which also neutralizes the virus.
  4. Clean METALLIC SURFACES especially carefully, because the virus can remain viable on these surfaces up to 9 days.  Be extra vigilant about cleaning hand rails, door handles etc., and regularly wipe down these surfaces at home.
  5. DON’T SMOKE!
  6. WASH HANDS every 20 minutes for 20 seconds with any soap that FOAMS.
  7. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Try to elevate your ZINC levels, not just VITAMIN C. Meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts and eggs are a few food sources.
  8. Animals do not spread the virus. It is passed on by PERSON TO PERSON contact.
  9. Try to AVOID catching the common flu, which will weaken your immune system, and also avoid cold foods and beverages.
  10. If you feel ANY DISCOMFORT in your throat, or a SORE THROAT coming on, attack it immediately using the above methods.  The virus ENTERS THIS WAY and remains 3-4 days before it passes into the lungs.

Best of luck to us all, and please don’t go out unless it’s absolutely necessary.  xx Alisa

Today’s COVID-19 Practical Tip: Painkillers

French authorities have warned the public to avoid widely used over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs that may worsen the coronavirus.

The country’s health minister, Olivier Véran, who is a doctor and neurologist, tweeted on Saturday: “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone … ] could be a factor in aggravating the infection.  In case of fever, take paracetamol.

If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs are a known risk for those with infectious illnesses because they tend to diminish the body’s immune system response.

The health ministry added that patients should choose paracetamol – which is known in the US by the generic name acetaminophen and commonly by the brand name Tylenol – because “it will reduce the fever without counterattacking the inflammation”.

Why Lies Spread Faster Than the Truth

It’s not your imagination. Misinformation travels faster than a speeding bullet — or a potentially deadly virus — , making this video worth a look.

Thanks to the EnlightenedMind blog for the timely reminder.

white plane on the sky

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Priorities

In the midst of gloom, doom and general mayhem, I read something yesterday that provided a glimmer of humor.

Apparently observed amidst the panicky consumers laying siege to groceries, pharmacies and big box stores: a man stocking up on 16 boxes of condoms and a large tub of coconut oil.

When the apocalypse comes?

silhouette photo of man leaning on heart shaped tree

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Good News Monday: Free Pain Relief

Take a deep breath: it’s an easy, free way to combat pain, insomnia, and nausea. Try these wacky-seeming techniques and let me know if any of them work for you.

PAIN 

closeup photography of two teal and three pink inflated balloons

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WHAT TO DO

Most of us inadvertently hold our breath when we experience pain. Shallow breathing can make things worse by releasing the stress hormone cortisol instead of relieving the stress itself.

  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply from your belly.
  2. Picture oxygen filling the painful areas with comfort as you inhale
  3. Picture the pain being pushed out as you exhale.  This supposedly stimulates the vagus nerve, which calms the fight-or-flight response.

INSOMNIA 

white bed comforter

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WHAT TO DO Try a technique called 4-7-8 breathing instead of medication. Keeping the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth, follow these steps:

  1. Exhale through your mouth with a gentle “whoosh”.
  2. Close your eyes and inhale through your nose for a count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for seven counts.
  4. Exhale with an eight-count “whoosh” through your mouth.

Repeat three times or until you fall asleep from boredom.  Caveat: Warn your partner that you’re about to make weird noises!

NAUSEA

man on gray concrete staircase

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WHAT TO DO Controlled breathing is said to help suppress the gag reflex and encourage peristalsis, the muscle contractions that move food into the stomach. Picture yourself walking barefoot down a long, stone staircase.

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four as you imagine how the cool stone feels underfoot.
  2. Exhale with your lips closed for a count of eight as you imagine stepping down.
  3. Repeat until you stop feeling queasy.

 

 

Good News Monday: 11 Medical Breakthroughs

Look for these promising new initiatives to become more widely used in the next couple of years.

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1. Tecnic Symfony, a newly approved, first-in-class lens replacement for cataracts, can now provide an extended depth of focus.  We’ll no longer have to choose between optimal close-up or distance vision, and a tiny stent is now available to treat people with glaucoma.

 2. Drones are distributing medicine to isolated areas. In 2016, a start-up company used drones to deliver medicine to Rwanda. This practice has since become routine and it’s estimated that even more areas will benefit.

3. Gene editing is helping prevent disease. A new technique to “edit” embryos (CRISPR Technology) may help future generations avoid retinal degenerative disease and inherited  diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia.

4. ALS patients will soon be able to communicate with their thoughts. New technology may help decode the thoughts of people with functional brain activity who have a completely paralyzed body resulting from a stroke, traumatic injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

5. Diabetics can be helped by an artificial pancreas. Diabetes is caused when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin. In May 2017, it was reported that the first artificial pancreas systems (the Hybrid Close-Loop Insulin Delivery System) were beginning to be distributed, helping diabetics regulate their insulin levels.

6. Reduction of LDL cholesterol. When powerful cholesterol drugs — known as PCSK9 inhibitors — were approved by the FDA in 2015, experts hailed it as a huge breakthrough, but more studies were needed to see whether this would result in medications with fewer side effects than statins.

Since then, new studies have reported good news – earlier in 2017, a 20% reduction in LDL was reported in a study group of 25,982 patients. These new cholesterol meds should become increasingly available.

7. Enhanced post-surgery recovery. Traditional surgery protocol involves no eating or drinking beforehand, feeling nauseous or groggy afterwards, and being prescribed pain medication to help with recovery, which can lead to opioid dependence.

New research has been evaluating the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol, which recommends various methods including post-operative nutrition plans and alternatives to pain medication, to speed up the recovery process.

8. More targeted and precise breast cancer therapies. Treatments such as chemotherapy fight cancer cells but don’t always have the desired outcome. In the near future, according to Breastcancer.org, expect to see treatments for breast cancer that are designed to target specific cancer cell characteristics, such as the protein that allows cells to grow in a malignant way, .

9. Improved treatments for sleep apnea. Treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is often invasive and uncomfortable, involving the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP). This machine blows air into your nose via a nose mask, keeping the airway open and unobstructed.

But a less invasive method was approved by the FDA in October, 2017. The Remede sleep system is an implanted device that treats central sleep apnea by activating a nerve that sends signals to the diaphragm to stimulate breathing.

Following successful trial studies, this may become the treatment of choice.

10. Next-generation vaccines. New techniques include freeze-drying, which allows vaccinations to be transported to remote areas. Companies are also investigating faster ways to manufacture vaccinations to make them more readily available.

11. The first human head transplant! Italian scientist Sergio Canavero and Chinese surgeon Xiaoping Ren are developing a plan to transplant a human head — and yes, it involves neck bolts and electricity! The goal is to help patients with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.

The surgeons have already performed the procedure on mice, rats and a dog, all of which survived surgery and even regained some motor function. Is that cool or what?!

Have a GOOD week! xx