Melanoma drug approved
THE Therapeutics Goods Administration has approved the drug ipilimumab (Yervoy) to treat patients with inoperable melanoma who have not responded to conventional therapies or who cannot tolerate other drugs, The West Australian reports. A global study of 676 patients with previously treated advanced melanoma showed almost half given the drug were still alive after a year and more than 20% survived at least 2 years. Australia is the first country to register Yervoy since it was given US Food and Drug Administration approval in March this year.

STIs high in over 40s
NEW US research has found that Trichomonas vaginalis is twice as common as previously thought and has a higher infection rate among women aged over 40 years than in younger women, the Courier Mail reports. The research, published in Sexually Transmitted Infections, used new genetic assay technologies and found the overall infection rate among US women was 8.7%, compared to previous findings of about 4%. Women in their 40s showed an 11% infection rate.

Home birth best option
WOMEN in the UK should no longer assume they will give birth in hospital with a doctor on hand, the Daily Mail reports. Leading medical experts declared that mothers should be given more opportunity to have babies at home because a maternity ward is not necessarily the “safer option”. A report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests as many as a third of all women should give birth “without a doctor going anywhere near them”. The report states that only women most at risk of suffering complications such as those expecting twins or triplets, the obese, those with diabetes or those in their 40s should have to give birth in hospital.

Bionic eyewear
AN Australian neuroscientist has developed the first pair of bionic glasses, which could help thousands of legally blind people, The Age reports. Video cameras attached to the rim of the glasses capture information about the distance and dimension of objects, and send them to a computer processor in the wearer’s pocket, which interprets the object as a pattern of dots. Small LEDs built into the lenses then light up in the shape of the pattern. The glasses would be ideal for elderly people with macular degeneration.

E-health card starts
UP to 150 000 residents of the Canberra region will soon have access to their health records under the federal government’s personally controlled electronic health records program, the Canberra Times reports. Several organisations have been chosen to lead the introduction of electronic patient records under the program. Patients will be issued with electronic cards containing key clinical information generated by hospitals, GPs and other health professionals. The records will initially be created for palliative and aged care patients who will decide which health professionals have access to the information, although the records will not contain all of the patient’s clinical data.

HIV prevention pills
TWO new studies by US researchers have found that taking a daily pill containing one or two HIV medications can be a highly effective prophylaxis against HIV, the New York Times reports. The Partners PrEP study, conducted in Kenya and Uganda on 4758 serodiscordant couples (in which one partner is HIV positive but the other is not), showed that participants taking a daily pill containing a mix of tenofovir and emtricitabine had a 73% lower chance of getting infected. Participants who took only tenofovir had a 62% reduced chance. The second study conducted in Botswana on 1200 sexually active young adults found those taking the mixed pill had a 63% lower chance of infection.

Posted 18 July 2011

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