Promise of new vaccines
RESEARCHERS say there is the potential to develop 20 new or improved vaccines in the next decade, BBC News reports. Writing in The Lancet, the group of scientists identify AIDS and malaria vaccines as the most important areas for research, while adding that neglected tropical diseases, such as leprosy, should also be investigated. In a “call to action”, the scientists said: “We must also consider vaccines beyond classic infections, such as insulin-dependent diabetes, cancers and degenerative diseases”.

Patients denied public care
AMA Queensland says two patients have been told they would not be wait-listed for specialist care at the Gold Coast Hospital, the Brisbane Times reports. The patients were returned to their GPs with advice to seek care in the private sector or at other Queensland Health facilities. AMA Queensland president Dr Gino Pecoraro says the cases are evidence of a “monumental failure” of the Medicare system and Queensland’s health system.

Smart bandage
A SMART bandage that changes colour when a wound becomes infected has been developed by Melbourne researchers, The Age reports. “We’ve created a fabric that changes colour in response to temperature — showing changes of less than 0.5 of a degree”, said lead researcher Louise van der Werff, a CSIRO materials scientist and Monash University PhD student. The invention, which is still in its early stages, could lead to more effective treatment of chronic wounds such as leg ulcers and reduce the $500 million cost of chronic wound care in Australia.

New melanoma therapy
TWO new treatments, including therapy blocking a gene mutation occurring in half of melanoma patients, have been shown in clinical trials to prolong the lives of people suffering from the deadliest form of skin cancer, The Australian reports. Vemurafenib neutralises mutation of the key BRAF gene by inhibiting production of a protein which plays a major role in development of melanoma. Users of the experimental drug were 63% less likely to die than people taking chemotherapy, a study showed. The other treatment involves the monoclonal antibody ipilumumab, which stimulates the immune system. The studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Ovarian cancer treatment
AN international trial has identified a promising treatment for ovarian cancer, The Advertiser reports. Patients who received olaparib, a cancer inhibitor, stayed in remission after chemotherapy treatment for more than 8 months on average, almost 4 months longer than those who received an inactive placebo. The trial was conducted at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, as well as in Europe, Israel and the US. The findings were also presented at the meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Nicotine for weight loss
SCIENTISTS have discovered how nicotine causes weight loss, the ABC Science reports. The research, published in Science, found that mice given nicotine daily for 30 days reduced their food intake by 50 % and lost 15 %20 % of their body fat. The researchers found that a receptor, beta 4, was involved in the interaction between nicotine and feeding behaviour. They believe this will open up the possibility of designing appetite-suppressing drugs, without the addictive side effects of nicotine.

Posted 14 June 2011

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