Breaking news and health news on medicine, fitness, nutrition, health care

FDA Approves First Migraine Prevention Device

posted 19 Mar 2014 07:57 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014 07:58 ]

USA  Next Media -  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first nerve-stimulating device that can prevent the onset of migraines, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Cefaly provides an alternative to medication for migraine prevention,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a press release. “This may help patients who cannot tolerate current migraine medications for preventing migraines or treating attacks.”

A migraine episode is characterized by painful throbbing in a portion of the head. Symptoms, which also include nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound, can last from four hours to as long as three days.

The prescription device, known as Cefaly, is a battery-powered electric nerve stimulation headband worn across the forehead and atop the ears. Michael Solomita, vice president of the device's North American distributor, Roxon Medi-Tech Ltd. of Canada, said the device is currently sold at retail in Canada for roughly US$300.

The technology reportedly has the ability to stave off migraine pains, which are transmitted by the trigeminal nerve from the scalp to the brain stem. The approved device emits low energy electric signals to the trigeminal nerve via an electrode placed on the forehead. These signals counteract pain signals travelling down the nerve.

The device maker suggests users suffering from migraines wear the headband 20 minutes daily, during which the FDA says patients will experience a slight tingling sensation on the forehead.

In a clinical trial held in Belgium that involved 67 migraine patients randomly assigned to treatment using the device or to take a placebo, patients using the headband experienced fewer days of migraines each month.

The treatment, however, was unable to completely alleviate migraines or reduce the intensity of migraine pains.

SOURCES: Cefaly, FDA, Wall Street Journal

Researchers Cure Diabetes In Mice

posted 8 Mar 2014 07:19 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 8 Mar 2014 07:20 ]

  Researchers in California have turned skin cells in mice into insulin producing beta cells, effectively curing the animals of diabetes. They hope to achieve similar results in human cells, paving the way to an eventual cure for a disease that affects millions of people around the world. Ben Gruber has more.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, SURREY, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (REUTERS AND UCSF) - Just a few weeks ago this mouse had diabetes. But thanks to groundbreaking research taking place at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, the mouse is now disease free.

The research, led by Dr. Sheng Ding, uses a new method to decode and genetically modify skin cells into insulin producing beta cells. Director of the Institute, Dr. Deepak Srivastava says Dr. Ding's research paves the way to developing a new way to battle diabetes.


"He has been able to create a cell that is not a stem cell but is derived from, in this case, an animals' own cell and transplant it back into the animals and have it essentially cure its diabetes."

To accomplish this, the researchers extracted skin cells from the mouse and used a two phase process to reprogram them into what they call PPLC cells. And just eight weeks after these new cells were transplanted into the pancreas of the mouse, they matured into insulin producing beta cells that soon began regulating the animal's blood sugar levels, essentially curing it of diabetes.

Dr. Srivastava says his team are now testing the reprogramming protocol on human cells to see if they respond in the same way.


"I think this is a major step forward because we haven't has this type of success even in an animal model in the past. There will be many hurdles ahead to see of this works in humans and test all of the safety issues. But there is reason for a lot of hope for the millions of people out there suffering from diabetes."

Improving technologies are increasingly helping diabetics monitor glucose levels in their blood and manage their disease, but the Gladstone scientists believe that while there are years of research still ahead, they may be on track to produce a cure.

China Breaks Record For World's Thinnest Condom

posted 20 Feb 2014 08:38 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 20 Feb 2014 08:38 ]

A Hong Kong-funded firm breaks the World Guinness Record for the thinnest condom on February 20, 2014.

 HONG KONG, CHINA (FEBRUARY 20, 2014) (REUTERS) -  China broke the record for the world's thinnest condom when a Hong Kong-funded brand announced its latex rubber condom measuring at 0.036 millimetres on February 20.

The ultra-thin contraceptive tool is 0.002 millimetres thinner than the last iteration by Japanese maker Okamoto Industries which debuted a 0.038 millimetre-thick condom in early 2012.

"As long as there is demand for thinner, lighter condoms we will continue researching," Victor Chan, managing director of Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products, said. "Maybe one day we will have 0.02 mm and 0.01 mm thinness, who knows?"

The race for the thinnest condom may raise safety concerns, but Chan said the company has conducted countless stress tests on the product over a period of nine months.

"Safety is always a concern," Chan said. "But I can assure you the product is very safe as all (stress) tests were carried out by third-party laboratories. Guinness puts out a very stringent requirement when contestants attempt the record."

The condoms' retail price puts them at RMB 100 (9.9pounds;USD 16.4) for a box of 12 condoms.

Charles Wharton, records manager of greater China for Guinness World Records, attributes Asian companies competing to make the world's thinnest condom to the advanced technology in the region.

"A lot of the technology is very advanced now in Asia, especially in Japan and China," Wharton said. "Companies are competing not just across the condom industry but also across a wide range of industries."

But some Hong Kong residents are skeptical of the product. Mary Ann Chan, a 33-year-old business owner said: "I won't use the world's thinnest condom. I don't think the feeling is good. Some of my friends have told me they have tried (similar products) and they are not satisfied."

The AONI ultra-thin 001 natural rubber latex condom, which was announced as the world's thinnest condom on February 20, 2014, was verified on 2 December 2013.

3D Printed Hip Puts Teenager Back On Her Feet

posted 3 Feb 2014 09:16 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 3 Feb 2014 09:17 ]

A customised 3D-printed hip implant is expected to save a Swedish teenage girl from life in a wheelchair. The implant has been designed around a technology that doctors say, could revolutionise the treatment of debilitating bone disorders. For 16-year-old Fanny Fellesen, the results have been life-changing. Tara Cleary reports.

SWEDEN / ANIMATION (REUTERS / MOBELIFE / PRIVATE) - Fanny Fallesen is on the road to recovery.

Just two years ago, the 16-year-old was looking at a life in a wheelchair, due to a rare degenerative condition called Recklinghausen's disease, which causes skeletal deformities.


"I was very dependent on help from my parents and very dependent on my wheelchair and two crutches and I wasn't as free as I am now. I can do much more, I can cope more myself, be out with my friends and use my wheelchair less and less, walk longer distances."

The teenager's recovery is the result of a technological revolution.

Traditional treatments for Fallesen's degraded hip just weren't adequate.

So in 2012, her doctors recommended she be measured for customized 3D-printed hip implants, courtesy of Belgian company, Mobelife.

3D printing technology offers tailor-made body parts, ensuring an exact match with a patient's anatomy, unlike conventional implants says CEO Tim Clijmans.


"These cases are more and more common nowadays with revisions being more common, so there are more and more chances that implants have to be replaced, complex bone defects have to be resolved and complex tumour defects have to be resolved."

The printed implant is created using a specialized tomography scan, following the patient's specific bone anatomy.

Screw placement is also unique to each patient, based on bone quality.

Fallesen's surgeon, professor Urban Rydholm says Mobelife provided detailed instructions for the implants and even though the surgery was challenging, he believes it was his patient's only hope for a life without a wheelchair.


"We can handle severe bone loss in the hip in most cases with standard implants and supporting rings and things like that but this was, we could see no solution for her until we heard about this possibility with custom-made acetabular (hip ball-and-socket joint) implants from Belgium."

Currently 3D-printed implants are used only for very specialised cases but Clijmans thinks that will change in future.


"I think there are a lot of cases out there which are not that exceptional and complex as this one, where we can provide a lot of added value with this technology."

According to Rydholm, Fallesen's prognosis is positive but he says the disease will probably cause problems in her spine and lower left leg later on.

But for now, Fallesen is optimistic.


"I'm positive about a future when I can get rid of the crutches and walk without aid."

Former German Health Minister To Be Advisor On "Obamacare"

posted 2 Feb 2014 08:07 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 2 Feb 2014 08:08 ]

Former German health minister Daniel Bahr moves to the U.S. in order to advise on "Obamacare"

BERLIN, GERMANY (FEBRUARY 2, 2014) (REUTERS) - The German former health minister Daniel Bahr is expected to advise the US government on its controversial health care reform.

"As of the middle of February I will work for several month as a Senior Fellow at Think Tank "Center for American Progress" in Washington D.C.," Bahr wrote on his Facebook page. "In addition I will hold lectures about health care at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor."

The health care reform is the prestige project of U.S. president Barack Obama. Immediately after its launch the reform caused negative headlines because the governmental website which was intended to inform about health care insurances did not work properly.

Bahr was squeezed out from his post after his party Free Democrats (FDP) failed to make it into the German parliament and therefore ceased to be the junior coalition partner for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Additionally to his busy life in Washington, Bahr announced another challenge: he plans to run the Boston Marathon, according to his Facebook page.

Laser Technology Allows Parkinsonism Patients To Walk Again

posted 31 Jan 2014 06:14 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 31 Jan 2014 06:15 ]

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have developed a device that re-routes brain signals in Parkinsonism disorder patients, allowing them to regain mobility.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDAUNITED STATES (REUTERS) - With the help of a walkin frame equipped with laser technology, Wayne Puckett can get around on his own, something he couldn't do four years ago.

Puckett, 48, has a form of Parkinsonism, a neurological disorder that destroys the brain's ability to control motor skills. The syndrome shares many of the symptoms common in

people with Parkinson's Disease - which can be the underlying cause - but is also often related to other neurological conditions.

A former postal worker and father of five, Puckett remembers when the disorder took hold.

"I feel like I lost being a man. You lose your job, your occupation and it wasn't from a financial standpoint, it was from a health standpoint. And it is a hard thing to take and you feel like less of a person. You know, your kids, you are not able to do as much and they see it," he said.

In 2010, Puckett met Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time he was wheel-chair bound, but Dr. Van Gerpen told him he had a device that could get him back on his feet that same day.

"I thought he was crazy," said Puckett. "He told me that he has a little red line that was going to be able to make me walk. I was like ain't no way. And he said will you give this thing a try and I was like whatever. And he gave me this thing and I was like wow. And it worked," he added.

That little red line is generated by what Dr. Van Gerpen calls a mobilaser, a laserdevice attached to Wayne Puckett's walker. Dr. Van Gerpen says it helps unravel the neurological traffic jam in Puckett's brain caused by his disease, giving him control over his movements again.

"There is a part of the brain when you want to initiate walking in the prefrontal cortex in the basal ganglia and if those areas get damaged than those signals don't get to the primary motor cortex. That is the part of the brain that actually controls voluntary muscle movement," he said.

Van Gerpen says the laser line acts a visual queue, that prompts Puckett's brain to bypass the signal jam and use another route to connect the prefrontal cortex to motor cortex. When his patient focuses on stepping across the laser-generated line, he automatically utilizes the visual part of his brain rather than the damaged area that controls motor output.

"We are capitalising on the parts of the brain that are working quite well to help compensate for those that are not."

Wayne Puckett says the laser beam has given him back his life. He says he feels more independent and looks forward to facing the future, one step at a time.

Stem Cell "Major Discovery" Claimed

posted 30 Jan 2014 04:06 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 30 Jan 2014 04:07 ]

R Reports - It's being heralded as a major scientific discovery.....that has the potential to begin a new age of personalised medicine.

Scientists here in Japan have shown that stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid.

In a series of experiments, researchers show that cells plucked from animals can be turned into master cells simply by immersing them for half an hour.

Scientists then injected the cells into mouse embryos, showing that they could grow into tissues and organs.

Dr Haruko Obokata, from the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Japan, calls them Stap cells.


"Nobody believed me when I told them what I'd found. So one time when I was lying awake in bed at night, I told myself that I'd scrap the experiment completely if I didn't get results the next day. Well that 'next day' sort of turned into five years."

The study published in the journal Nature reported research is now with human blood.

The breakthrough is being hailed by scientists because attempts to make stem cells have long been fraught with difficulties.

They say if it can be applied to human tissue, it could make the technology cheaper, faster and safer, creating patient-matched stem cells that can repair damaged or diseased organs.

Justin Bieber Arrest Raises Questions Over Young Stars And Substance Abuse

posted 23 Jan 2014 18:53 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 23 Jan 2014 18:54 ]

19-year-old pop star Justin Bieber's arrest in Florida for drunk driving raises questions over the effects of fame on young celebrities.

MIAMI BEACHFLORIDAUNITED STATES (JANUARY 23, 2014) (REUTERS) -  19-year-old pop star Justin Bieber's arrest has raised questions over the effects of the limelight on young stars, especially whether or not it contributes to a pattern of substance abuse and run-ins with the law.

Bieber was released on bail on Thursday (January 23), after being arrested for drunk driving in Florida and could potentially face six months in jail, although most experts agree he will likely receive a lighter sentence for a first-time offense.

The Miami Beach Police Chief, Raymond Martinez, said that Beiber had also admitted to consuming prescription drugs.

"He was brought to the Miami Beach police station where a DUI investigation was conducted and it was determined that he was impaired. During the investigation Mr. Bieber made statements that he had consume some alcohol, that he has smoked some marijuana and that he had consumed some prescription medication," Martinez said.

Dr. Beverly Berg is a mental health therapist in Los Angeles and author of the book "Loving Someone in Recovery." She told Reuters that Bieber's arrest might end up benefitting the young star, by forcing him to admit that he has a problem.

"It would help if he could admit if he had a problem but if the law gets involved then the law makes you admit that you have a problem, whether you believe it or not, so sometimes it's the law that forces people into really taking a look at what's going on, and sometimes they just wake up to realizing that they're really in trouble," Berg said.

Bieber is not the first young star to find himself falling into a downward spiral of substance abuse and problems with law enforcement. In recent years, stars likeLindsay Lohan have faced similar problems, and in even worse cases, such as those of "Glee" star Cory Monteith and UK singer Amy Winehouse, who both died by overdosing on either drugs or alcohol.

"It's a very stressful existence, people glamorize it and they envy it and they wish they could have fame and, you know, be in the spotlight, but they do not understand how much of a 'stressor' it actually is, so a lot of celebrities end up medicating themselves from the stress using substances and it's very, very common," Berg said.

She also emphasized the dangers of thrusting young teenagers into the media spotlight, and how that can potentially cause problems down the road.

"You know you're taking kids off of normal developmental tracks, you're arresting their development and putting them in a position of having to be more focused on the outside rather than their own development as a human being, and, again I don't want to demonize the entertainment industry, because I love the movies I love television, I love popular culture, but at what cost, at what expense of human development, and I do think that it's overly stimulating for a child to be having the world's eyes on them all the time," Berg said.

As for Bieber, his recent arrest is his most serious run-in with the law during a year in which his problems have ranged from allegations of speeding through his gated community near Los Angeles to a felony investigation into whether he pelted a neighbor's house with eggs.

His once meteoric career has also showed signs of distress. A year ago, he became the youngest artist with five No. 1 albums, but in March he collapsed on aLondon stage and in December hinted he might be ready to retire after releasing a compilation album and a film about his life.

Taste Simulator To Jolt Damaged Taste Buds Into Life

posted 22 Jan 2014 07:03 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 22 Jan 2014 07:04 ]

Researchers in Singapore are developing taste-simulation technology to help people suffering from cancer and other illnesses regain their appetite. By applying electric current to the tongue, they have managed to simulate bitter, salty, and sour tastes and are working to reproduce a broader range of complex flavours to stimulate damaged taste buds. Ben Gruber reports.

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Most people take their sense of taste for granted. But some, like cancer patients undergoingchemotherapy, lose their ability to taste..and in turn, their appetite as well.

A team led by Ellen Do from the Keio National University in Singapore say they are developing a solution for those people.


"They need to be encouraged to eat more food, or protein or other things but nothing tastes good. So they think even if we give them sourness, or bitterness or saltiness, it may increase their appetite."

Do and her team are building what they call a taste simulator, a system that simulates different taste sensations on the tongue using electric currents.

The currents are delivered by a silver electrode connected to a utensil or water bottle at one end and a power source at the other, effectively jolting diminished taste receptors on the tongue into action. Do says that by combining different levels of current and varying the temperature of the electrode, different tastes can be reproduced.

Mahrunisa Fathiyah gave the taste simulator a try.


"I don't think it felt artificial, I felt as if I was drinking salty water, or sour liquid, I didn't really feel any electric shock, or something similar in those lines. But the drinking part, it felt more like I was touching metal plates which tasted sour or bitter."

Do says her team can reliably produce bitter and sour tastes but are still working on the sensations of sweet and salty.


"So we got lots of requests, people want to have (flavours of) Coke, chocolate, or cheese or something, we cannot do that yet, but we thought we are at least exploring the primary tastes."

And once those tastes have been fully developed, the team hopes to produce more complex flavours...using the simulator to revitalise the appetites of people who need it most.

Ultra-Thin Circuits Could Pave Way For 'Smart' Contact Lens

posted 14 Jan 2014 06:43 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 14 Jan 2014 06:43 ]

'Smart' contact lenses which monitor the health of patients' eyes could become a reality, according to scientists who have devised flexible, electronic circuits 50 times thinner than a human hair.

 ZURICHSWITZERLAND (RECENT) (ETH ZURICH) -  Ultra-thin, flexible, electronic circuits which can be wrapped around a single hair without breaking have been unveiled by researchers at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich(ETH Zurich). The team, led by researchers Niko Münzenrieder and Giovanni Salvatore, say these types of components could be woven into textiles to make 'smart' objects, or be applied to the skin as unobtrusive sensors that monitor body functions.

The components have a maximum thickness of 0.001 mm, making them 50 times thinner than a human hair. The clear, flexible electronic circuitry is so thin it can sit upon the surface of a contact lens. Münzenrieder and Salvatore think the technology could eventually be used to create a 'smart contact lens' to monitor intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients' eyes, or to support implantable medical devices.

The circuits are created on a substance called parylene, an insulator traditionally used as a protective coating for electronic devices and components. As well as being able to withstand high temperatures, parylene is transparent, bio-compatible, and extremely flexible.

Münzenrieder believes the technology could also be applied to "smart" textiles for sports trainers or in hospitals to monitor body temperature and other physiological factors.

In tests, researchers attached the thin-film transistors to standard contact lenses which they placed on an artificial eye, proving the circuits could withstand the bending radius of the eye without becoming damaged. The team has also shown that the membrane can self-adhere to a wide range of surfaces, including a ficus leaf which, for demonstration purposes, they submerged in water containing pieces of the shiny metallic membrane. On lifting the leaf, the film had stuck like glue.

The team is also working on integrating the components with elastic materials, possibly to create a smart skin for robots or prostheses, although they say the technology is unlikely to be ready for commercial use for at least five years.

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