(Reuters) – People in hospice are less likely to die in a hospital or nursing home, and less likely to get costly and intensive care, than terminally ill patients who don’t opt for hospice care, according to a new study of older Americans with cancer. Hospice patients endured fewer invasive procedures and fewer hospital stays at the end of their lives. Discussing hospice as an option for the terminally ill may prevent that intensive care, the study’s lead author said.
(BBC) – Hundreds of health workers involved in treating Ebola patients have gone on strike at a clinic in Sierra Leone. The staff are protesting about the government’s failure to pay an agreed weekly $100 (£63) “hazard payment”. A few are still assisting at the clinic. The clinic, in Bandajuma near Bo, is the only Ebola treatment centre in southern Sierra Leone. In Mali, a nurse and a patient became the second and third people thought to have died from Ebola there.
(Nature) – Although correlations have been noted between the composition of the gut microbiome and behavioural conditions, especially autism neuroscientists are only now starting to understand how gut bacteria may influence the brain. The immune system almost certainly plays a part, Mazmanian says, as does the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the digestive tract. Bacterial waste products can also influence the brain — for example, at least two types of intestinal bacterium produce the neurotransmitter ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
(Washington Post) – The Ebola crisis has incited a massive global response, and it’s not easy to figure out who is running the whole operation. But one key figure is Rajiv “Raj” Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID is in charge of the U.S. response, partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and receiving support from the Pentagon. The agency, a creation of the Kennedy administration, boasts a $20 billion budget and 9,600 employees around the globe, and in recent years has responded to the Haiti earthquake, Pakistan floods, the Philippines typhoon, famine in Africa and the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq.
(Vox) – Scientists have been making amazing advances in bionic technology in recent years: robotic exoskeletons that help people walk, artificial eyes that help blind people see. Some of these technologies are meant as medical aids to help people regain function. But some of this research — by, say, the military — is meant to help give people superhuman capabilities. And that raises all sorts of thorny ethical questions. Is there any point at which human augmentation is just wrong? Or are these just tools like any other — and part of our inevitable future?
(Medical Xpress) – An outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Portugal that has killed five people in less than a week constitutes a “major public health emergency”, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday. The UN health agency said Portugal had notified it of a “large outbreak” of Legionnaire’s disease in the Vila Franca de Xira suburb of Lisbon, voicing concern about the public health implications. The disease is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person, but can multiply in water and air conditioning systems, including humidifiers, whirlpools and spas.
(News-Medical) – New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that HIV-infected adults are at a higher risk for developing heart attacks, kidney failure and cancer. But, contrary to what many had believed, the researchers say these illnesses are occurring at similar ages as adults who are not infected with HIV. The findings appeared online last month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
(National Journal) – Super strong mechanical appendages and brain implants are common fixtures of a science-fictional future. More and more, American veterans are arriving at that future before the rest of us. As a result of military-funded programs, vets are becoming the research platform for cybernetic technologies that are decades beyond commercial state of the art and that could one day elevate humanity beyond its natural biological limitations.
(Medical Xpress) – A University of Queensland study has found nurses play a crucial role in decisions surrounding treatment of terminally ill patients. UQ School of Social Science Associate Professor Alex Broom said dying patients who were told further treatment would be futile often turned to nurses for emotional support. “The transition to end-of-life care has traditionally been the doctor’s decision,” Dr Broom said.
(Business Standard) – A new study has revealed that regulation of a single, specific gene in a brain region can help control drug addiction and depression. The study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai focused on epigenetics, the study of changes in the action of human genes caused, not by changes in DNA code we inherit from our parents, but instead by molecules that regulate when, where and to what degree our genetic material is activated.
(Nanowerk) – Gene therapy has great potential to treat intractable diseases such as cancer, arterial sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Successful gene therapy requires a gene vector that can deliver the therapeutic gene selectively to the target site. However, the concern is that conventional gene vectors can cause non-selective transfection to normal organs, whereby genetic material infiltrates healthy cells and leads to unfavorable side effects.