New Study Unveils Unique Gene Variant That Can Potentially Resist Alzheimer’s Disease

Several previous studies have revealed significant association between gene variants and an enhanced risk of Alzheimer’s disease till date, with one of the best known gene variants being APOE3. A group of researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), owned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have reportedly come up with a new research, which explains that a gene variant, known as APOE3ch (APO3 Christchurch),holds the ability to resist the very debilitating Alzheimer’s disease.

In the latest research, a particular woman was found to be carrying a genetic variant that is believed to result in the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, she did not exhibit any symptoms of the disease until she entered her 70s –nearly thirty years after the expected age for the disease’s onset. According to the researchers, early-onset Alzheimer’sis found to be quite rare, and in fact, affects only about ten percent of all Alzheimer’s patients. In general, this form of the disease occurs in patients between their 30s and mid-60s.

It was discovered in the study that the woman carried two copies of the APOE3ch gene variant. For the record, the variant was named after Christchurch, which is located in New Zealand, where it was identified for the first time. It was hence observed that the extended family the woman belonged to carried a rare gene mutation called PSEN1 (Presenilin 1) E280A, and moreover had a 99.9 percent risk of developing the early-onset Alzheimer’s condition. The woman thus carried the PSEN1 E280A mutation, besides carrying the two copies of APOE3ch, which were not carried by any other affected family member.

Richard J. Hodes, the Director of NIA, elaborated, “Sometimes close analysis of a single case can lead to discovery that could have broad implications for the field. We are encouraged that as part of our wide array of studies, this research in the unique genetic makeup of an exceptional individual can reveal helpful information.”


Gunshot Survivors Are Traumatized for Years, Study Finds

The findings of a new study involving gunshot survivors are unlikely to surprise you—but they aren’t any less depressing. It suggests that many survivors are left physically and mentally devastated by their experience, even years later.

For their new work, published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery, the researchers conducted phone interviews with more than 180 gunshot survivors who had been treated at a local trauma center sometime after January 2008. Most were men and in their 20s at the time of being shot. On average, the patients were contacted around six years after their injury.

While this isn’t the first study to examine the long-term health of trauma survivors, the authors say there’s been relatively less focus on gunshot survivors specifically. And fewer studies still have relied on patient interviews.

Compared to their lives before being shot, they found, people were more likely to be unemployed and to be using alcohol and other drugs. Nearly half also screened positive for having post-traumatic stress disorder. And compared to the general population, the survivors were overall in worse physical and mental health.

“Moreover, these consequences do not appear to improve with time, nor are they limited to those with critical injuries requiring hospital or ICU admission,” the authors wrote.

Sobering as these findings are, they do come with some limitations. The team initially tried to reach over 2,500 patients, but only got on the phone with 263. This group was then further whittled down to only include assault victims, while no victims of self-harm, accidental or not, were interviewed at all.

It’s possible that non-responders might be different in important ways to those who were willing to be interviewed. And the researchers weren’t able to get information on people’s socioeconomic status or educational level, both factors that can obviously influence how easily someone might recover from a traumatic event like being shot.

But it’s clear, the authors wrote, that the “long-term outcomes of firearm injury reach beyond mortality and economic burden.” Many survivors could benefit from long-term care to improve their odds of recovery following injury, the team said.

As a result of their research, the authors also say they’ve created a program in their local trauma clinic to identify and follow-up with gunshot survivors. The program is designed to make it easier to track people’s health over time and to provide them ongoing physical and mental health support.


Plague in China confirmed as 2 cases of highly-infections disease treated in Beijing

Beijing — Two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague, a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated. The two individuals were being treated Tuesday at a hospital in China’s capital city, which is home to more than 21 million people, local authorities said.

Pneumonic plague can prove fatal within 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form of plague,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous.

The patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding that the “relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented.”

The Beijing government did not respond to AFP’s calls for comment, but the WHO confirmed that Chinese authorities had notified them about the plague cases.

“The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases, and increasing surveillance,” said Fabio Scano, coordinator at WHO China.

Scano told AFP that “the risk of transmission of the pulmonary plague is for close contacts and we understand that these are being screened and managed.”

According to the WHO website, the lung-based pneumonic plague is very contagious and “can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air.”

Symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.

On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, Chinese censors scrubbed the hashtag “Beijing confirms it is treating plague cases” as they tried to control discussions – and panic – around the disease.

“I just want to know how these two came to Beijing??” posted one user. “By train, airplane, or did they drive themselves?”

“Bird flu in the year of the rooster…swine fever in the year of the pig,” wrote another. “Next year is the year of the rat…the plague is coming.”

The plague germ Yersinia pestis can be transmitted to humans from infected rats via fleas.

In 2014, a man died of the plague in northwestern Gansu province in China and sparked the quarantine of 151 people.

The 30,000 people living in Yumen, the town where the man died, were also prevented from leaving, with police at roadblocks placed on the town perimeter.

According to China’s National Health Commission, a total of five people have died from the plague between 2014 and September of this year.

In May, a couple in neighboring Mongolia died of the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot kidney, triggering a quarantine that left tourists stranded in a remote region for days. The ethnic Kazakh couple died in Nogoonnuur soum, which borders Russia and China.

Plague, sometimes known as the Black Death, wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages during widespread outbreaks the mid-1300s. It is estimated to have claimed the lives of 60 percent of the European population, with some estimates placing the human death toll that century at 200 million.

Though cases are rare today, it is a common misconception that the plague has been wiped out. Cases have even been known to occur in the U.S., transmitted primarily through contact with wild rodents in western states.


Congolese journalist who helped raise awareness of Ebola killed in attack, officials say

A journalist from Congo who was helping to raise awareness about the fatal Ebola outbreak among his communitywas attacked and killed at his home on Sunday, said officials.

The unidentified journalists, who also was serving as one community healthcare worker, had been attacked at his Lwemba home in DR Congo. In the attack, his wife endured serious injuries and was left with several wounds, as per a media release from health officials of Congo.

The intention behind the attack isn’t known yet.

The journalist worked for a radio station located in Lwemba as well as helped shed light on the nation’s 10th Ebola outbreak among his community, as per the release.

The authorities have initiated a probe into his killing and are trying to determine if at all the attack has a connection with the prevailing Ebola response. Meanwhile, two suspects associated to his murder have been arrested, as per the media release.

The United Nations and the government of DR Congo both have condemned the fatal attack, saying that any violent act against those involved with Ebola response is not acceptable. It compromises with the healthcare workers’ ability to offer assistance to the communities affected by the destructing effects of the disease, they further said.


‘Game changing’ tuberculosis vaccine a step closer

Researchers have introduced a ‘game changing’ vaccine to treat tuberculosis.

It is being hoped that the new vaccine could offer long-standing protection against tuberculosis, which claims the life of 1.5mn people across the globe every year.

Tuberculosis is an extremely contagious disease which is caused due to bacteria and the present BCG vaccine isn’t very effective to treat the disease.

But, while the initial trials of the vaccine have been successful, we will still have to wait for a couple of years for it to receive a license.

An international researchers team unveiled the vaccine that comprises of protein derived from bacteria that stimulate a response from the immune.

The vaccine has cleared one crucial clinical trials phase already and has been tested upon over 3500 adults residing in tuberculosis endemic areas of Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, said the researchers.

The vaccine is ‘revolutionary’ as it was found to be effective among adults that were infected with the causative TB agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis already, said TB expert David Lewinsohn.

As most adults infected with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis don’t get TB, the researchers believe that the infection offers a certain level of protection. This is the reason why it’s really fascinating that the vaccine showed improvements in such natural immunity.

Notably, the vaccine was revealed at one global summit held on human lung health on Tuesday in Hyderabad, India.


Fentanyl leads as deadliest drug in U.S., but in Louisiana meth is even deadlier

According to CNN, reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reveal that though fentanyl is still the deadliest drug in America, some parts of the U.S. see more fatalities from methamphetamine.

The report states that in 2017, fentanyl was associated with 38.9% of all drug overdose deaths, an increase from 2016, when it was associated with 29% of all fatal overdoses.

Despite this, methamphetamine was the drug most associated with overdoses in the western half of the country.
According to the CDC,  the number of people dying from overdoses involving psychostimulants (such as methamphetamine and cocaine) rose above 10,000 in 2017. This was a 37% increase from what it had been in 2016.

Methamphetamine was the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada and Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Typically, fentanyl, along with white powder heroin, has been more common east of the Mississippi River, and Mexican black tar and brown powder heroin has been more commonly found west of the Mississippi.


Feds link cannabis to numerous deaths in vaping cases

People who died as a result of a mysterious outbreak of vaping-related lung injury often used products exclusively containing THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, according to new numbers released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among 19 such deaths with data available on what substances had been vaped, 63% reported exclusive use of products containing THC, 84% reported any use of these products, 37% reported vaping products containing nicotine, and 16% said they’d only vaped nicotine-containing products.

Those who died tended to be older than the wider group of those affected by the outbreak. Just 2% of cases, but almost a quarter of deaths, happened among people over 65. Of 29 deaths analyzed in the new report, the median age was 45, and 59% were male. The youngest death was 17, and the oldest 75.

In total, there have been 36 vaping-related deaths identified in 24 states and Washington, DC: three each from California, Indiana and Minnesota; two each from Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon and Tennessee; and one each from Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington, DC.

As of October 22, there are 1,604 lung injury cases associated with e-cigarette products in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands, according to the CDC. That’s an increase from the week before, when there were 1,479 cases of vaping-related lung injuries.

According to the CDC, these patients “are mostly young, white males.” The vast majority with available data — nearly 80% — have been under 35. Roughly the same percentage have been identified as non-Hispanic white. Seven in 10 are men.

Roughly half of all cases, including two of the deaths, have impacted people under 25 years old.

“It is evident from today’s report that these lung injuries are disproportionately affecting young people,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement Monday. “As CDC receives additional data, a more defined picture of those impacted is taking shape. These new insights can help bring us a step closer to identifying the cause or causes of this outbreak.”

Previous reports have highlighted the prevalence of THC-containing products among the outbreak. According to the latest numbers, based on 867 patients with available data on what they had vaped, 86% reported using products containing THC, 64% reported using products containing nicotine, 52% said they had used both kinds of products, 34% said they used only THC-containing products, and 11% said they used only nicotine-containing products.

“The data do continue to point towards THC-containing products,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director, told reporters Friday. “But I’d like to stress that we don’t know what the risky material or substance is. THC may be a marker for a way that cartridges were prepared or way that the devices are producing harm.”

Mitch Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the US Food and Drug Administration, cautioned that these data largely rely on self-reports, which may be unreliable.

“It’s the person saying, ‘I only used the nicotine-containing products,’ ” Zeller told reporters Friday, adding that some of these reports may come from teens or people in states where products like THC are illegal.

In addition, the new report says some patients may not have known exactly what was in the substances they vaped, “and methods used to collect substance use data varied across states.”

The CDC is recommending “that you do not use e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC,” as the specific cause or substance implicated in the outbreak is still unknown.

The agency says “the only way to assure that you are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette and vaping products. Adults addicted to nicotine using e-cigarettes should weigh all risks and benefits, and consider utilizing FDA approved nicotine replacement therapies. They should not turn to or resume using combustible tobacco.

“There is no safe tobacco product.”


Heat-cam exhibit alerts tourist to breast cancer

Bal Gill, 41, caught the disease in its early stages following her visit to the Camera Obscura attraction in May, which prompted her to consult a doctor.

When the British woman stepped in front of a thermal-camera display that shows which parts of the body are hot and cold, she saw one of her breasts was glowing yellow, the museum said.

“I noticed a heat patch coming from my left breast. We thought it was odd and having looked at everyone else they didn’t have the same,” she said in a statement, describing the experience as “life-changing”.

Gill took a picture of the thermal scan on her phone and sought medical advice after she returned home to Slough, west of London, which led to her diagnosis.

She has since had a mastectomy and has been told she will not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy after another operation next month, the BBC reported.

Camera Obscura’s general manager, Andrew Johnson, said the museum “did not realise” its exhibit could detect signs of cancer in this way.

The tourist attraction houses a Victorian observatory as well as various other exhibits including a hall of mirrors.

Thermal cameras are sometimes used by doctors to screen patients for breast cancer.

However, the non-invasive method is not as effective in spotting tumours as mammograms, a type of X-Ray, according to the charity Breast Cancer Now.