MAY 2018 HEALTH NEWS ROUND UP
What is making news in the health world? Read and find out as Your Health Attitude again brings you MAY 2018 HEALTH NEWS ROUND UP.
MAN WITH THE ‘GOLDEN ARM’ WHOSE RARE BLOOD HAS SAVED MORE THAN 2 MILLION BABIES
James Harrison became known as the “Man with the Golden Arm” for his unprecedented volume of blood donations, which have also earned him a Guinness World Record and a Medal of Order in Australia.
The 81-year-old man donated blood for 60 years and made his final donation on Friday, May 11, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Harrison donated blood more than 1,100 times, and it’s estimated that his donations helped save the lives of 2.4 million babies in total, the Australian Red Cross said.
Harrison’s blood contains a rare antibody that’s used to make a medication called anti-D immunoglobulin, also known as Rh immunoglobulin. This medication is given to mothers who are at risk for something called “Rh incompatibility” with their fetus, meaning the mothers’ immune system may attack and destroy the fetus’s red blood cells.
When this happens, “you end up with a situation where a lot of these babies would have a significant amount of their red cells broken down while they were in the womb,” said Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. This can lead to serious complications for the newborn, including brain damage, jaundice or even stillbirth, Aftab said.
However, treatment with Rh immunoglobulin, which is made from the blood plasma of “special” blood donors like Harrison, can prevent these complications.
To prevent problems from Rh incompatibility, doctors first test a woman’s blood early in pregnancy or before pregnancy. If she turns out to be Rh negative, she’ll likely be given Rh immunoglobulin. About 15 percent of the population in the United States is Rh negative.
It is rare for people to have the type of antibody in their blood that’s used to make Rh immunoglobulin. In Australia, the country’s Rh immunoglobulin is made from a pool of only about 200 blood donors, according to the Australian Red Cross.
Harrison likely developed the antibody when he was given a large blood transfusion at age 14. Following that transfusion, “his immune system revved up a high concentration of antibodies” against Rh-positive blood cells, said Aftab, who has not treated Harrison.
Harrison needed to stop donating blood because he is past the age limit for blood donors in Australia, and the Australian Red Cross said he should stop donating to protect his health.
CHICKEN BONE STUCK IN MAN’S LUNG FOR 5 DAYS REMOVED BY DOCTORS
Doctors have saved the life of a man after a chicken bone was discovered to be lodged in his airways after being unnoticed for five days. The 78-year-old choked on a piece of chicken and went straight to hospital as he was worried there was something stuck in his throat.
His fears were initially settled when two X-rays revealed no sign of anything suspicious in his system and doctors in Clayton, Victoria sent him home.
But five days later, he returned to the same emergency department with shortness of breath and a high pitched sound when he inhaled.
A CT scan then revealed a chicken vertebra bone stuck in the unnamed man’s right main stem bronchus – which branches into the lung.
The man was discharged three days after recovering well from surgery to remove the chicken bone.
THE FIRST HUMAN CORNEAS HAVE BEEN 3D-PRINTED BY SCIENTISTS
Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK say they’ve created the first 3D-printed human corneas. Using a combination of their unique “bio-ink” and cornea stem cells, they can print the corneas in under ten minutes.
They have been able to do this by using a new gel formulations that “keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer.”
There is a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant, with 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder,” wrote the researchers. “In addition, almost 5 million people suffer total blindness due to corneal scarring caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion or disease.”
The corneas take ten minutes to print on a cheap 3D printer, a vast improvement on previous efforts. Further, the gel can keep stem cells alive for days, allowing you to print a few corneas over the course of a week.
If their methods gain medical approval, 3D-printed corneas could greatly benefit the millions of people in need of corneal transplants and those suffering from vision impairment due to corneal injury.
COCKROACH MILK COULD BE THE NEXT BIG ‘SUPER FOOD’
Yes, the insects are creeping back on the trendy food list after a new study said the “milk” crystals they secrete to feed their embryos are bursting with nutritional benefits.
A team of scientists from different health institutions across Europe and United States looked at the benefits offered by cockroaches. They mainly looked at the Pacific beetle cockroach and examined its milk.
This milk was found to be very rich in nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, fats and sugars. They write that one single crystal of cockroach milk “is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy milk.”
This milk comes from the brood sac of the cockroach where it receives the eggs. Their babies feed on the yellow, pale liquid that is secreted from the sac. The scientists found that humans too could benefit from this secretion.
There are quite a few hurdles before cockroach milk can reach our breakfast tables though. Studies are needed to find if the milk is actually healthy and safe for human consumption.
Now the real question is, what would inspire you to drink cockroach milk? I can’t think of any reason.
FIRST DRUG DESIGNED TO PREVENT MIGRAINES APPROVED BY FDA
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug developed to prevent migraines.
The drug, called Aimovig, was jointly developed by the pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Novartis. It works by using antibodies to block the effect of a protein molecule that plays a key role in triggering and sustaining migraines, known as calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP.
In the three Phase III clinical trials that sealed the drug’s approval, people treated with Aimovig were found to experience anywhere from one to two-and-a-half fewer days of migraines per month than a placebo group, with no added side effects.
Migraines, which are markedly more painful and last longer than a headache, are estimated to regularly affect more than 10 percent of the population, according to the FDA. Women are three times more likely than men to have migraines, and poor, elderly, and disabled people also experience them more often. The causes of migraines remain unclear, but for some people, there seem to be consistent environmental triggers, like certain foods or stress.
The long-term safety of Aimovig, also known as erenumab, hasn’t been tested, and Amgen plans to track outcomes in women who become pregnant while taking it.
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