Category Archives: Early Disease Detection

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Lack of Vitamin D May Cause Multiple Sclerosis

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Lack of vitamin D may be a direct cause of multiple sclerosis, a new study has found.

MS, a potentially disabling auto-immune disease that damages nerve fibres, tends to be more prevalent in places that get less sunshine and sunshine triggering a chemical reaction in the skin is the primary source of vitamin D.

While previous studies have suggested an association between lower vitamin D levels and a higher risk of MS, this latest study has demonstrated a genetic correlation that points strongly to a causal link.

Scientists checked the DNA of nearly 34,000 people and identified variants in the genetic code that were closely associated with a vitamin D blood marker.

A comparison between thousands of MS sufferers and healthy individuals found that people whose genetic makeup was associated with a lack of vitamin D  were at least twice as likely to have multiple sclerosis.

Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, the authors, led by Dr Brent Richards from McGill University in Canada, wrote: “The identification of vitamin D as a causal susceptibility factor for MS may have important public health implications, since vitamin D insufficiency is common, and vitamin D supplementation is both relatively safe and cost-effective.

“The importance of these findings may be magnified in high-latitude countries, which have disproportionately higher rates of MS and also higher rates of vitamin D insufficiency.”

The finding provided “strong evidence in support of a causal role of vitamin D in MS susceptibility”, said the scientists.

They added: “Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay or prevent multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomized controlled trials.”

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Teenager Continues To Survive HIV Even Without Treatment For 12 Years

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HIV case remission 12 years

A rare case of someone diagnosed with HIV has been trending since the news broke out yesterday because of one significant detail: The patient has survived even without medication or therapy for 12 years.

The female patient, now 18 years of age, was born with the virus because her mother had HIV while carrying her in the womb. The first six years of the patient’s life involved antiretroviral therapy, as reported in a news release. Despite having stopped therapy at the request of the family, she has been in remission for the past 12 years.

Medical experts are surprised by these new findings, but say that it’s too early to say that a cure has been found. The French National Agency for Research on AIDS director Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said that this development “should not be equated with a cure.” In fact, the patient is still diagnosed as HIV-positive, based on progress monitoring over the years. “This young woman is still infected by HIV and it is impossible to predict how her state of health will change over time.”

What’s clear at this point, though, is the importance of immediate medical attention upon the discovery of HIV in a person’s body. “Her case, though, constitutes a strong additional argument in favor of initiation of antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after birth in all children born to [HIV positive] mothers,” added Delfraissy.

The discovery was revealed through a study by the Institut Pasteur in Paris as presented during the 8th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference.

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Early Disease Detection

Scientists Create Breathalyzer For Major Diseases

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The world of medical technology is set to welcome a breakthrough in detecting major diseases, as a group of Australian scientists are in the process of creating the unique device.

The research team from Australia’s University of Adelaide is currently developing a system that uses laser technology to detect diseases from a patient’s breath. The device uses laser spectrometry to analyze the components of a sample of gas — in this case, the person’s exhaled breath. “Rather than sniffing out a variety of smells as a dog would, the laser spectrometry system uses light to ‘sense’ the range of molecules that are present in the sample,” said study co-author Dr. James Anstie in a news report.

Disease detection using a breath analysis device is a much better technology because it is safe and non-intrusive. Analysis is accomplished fast and in real-time.

The researchers are hopeful that this new testing technology makes disease detection much more convenient, although fine-tuning is required to improve accuracy of results. “We now have a robust system to be able to detect the presence and concentrations of molecules in a sample. The next step is to work out how to accurately sample and interpret the levels which will naturally vary from person to person,” Anstie added. Still, the testing procedure is projected to be able to detect major diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

HIV Tests in the Future May be as Simple as Pregnancy Tests

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The HIV test of the future might be as hassle-free as a pregnancy test … and it was invented by a teenager.

Although still in development, a new HIV test may be able to detect the disease from a drop of blood as quickly as a week after a person contracts it. The test would also be disposable and easy to use in underdeveloped countries where HIV and AIDS runs rampant.

Nicole Ticea of Vancouver, BC, invented the early-stage HIV test for a science fair at York House School. She ended up taking home first place for the invention. With the help of Simon Fraser University researchers Professor Mark Brockman Gursev Anmole, the teen created the rapid blood analysis by developing an isothermic nucleic acid amplification system, which allows researchers to detect certain targets in DNA — in this case, HIV infection.

The test is a long way from mass production at this point, but if it is found to be as effective as the teen hopes it will be, it could help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in underdeveloped countries by quickly, easily and affordably alerting people that they have the infection.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

New Blood Test Could Predict Alzheimer’s Disease by a Full Decade

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A new blood test could predict if someone is going to develop Alzheimer’s disease by up to 10 years, scientists have announced.

British researchers have identified a single blood protein that acts as a warning sign for mild cognitive impairment – a disorder that is often the precursor to dementia.

In the largest study of its kind, the researchers measured more than 1,100 proteins in the blood of 106 pairs of twins. They tracked the 212 healthy adults over 10 years and found those whose thinking skills diminished the most had lower levels of an individual protein called MAPKAPK5.

The research is still at an early stage, but scientists hope that it might be developed into a test that can help identify those who are at risk of developing dementia.

Study author Dr Steven Kiddle, of King’s College London, said: “Although we are still searching for an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, what we do know is that prevention of the disease is likely to be more effective than trying to reverse it. The next step will be to replicate our finding in an independent study, and to confirm whether or not it is specific for Alzheimer’s disease, as this could lead to the development of a reliable blood test which would help clinicians identify suitable people for prevention trials.”

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Study Links Celiac Disease with Increased Risk of Nerve Damage

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People who have the digestive disorder known as celiac disease appear to be at an increased risk for nerve damage, a new study by Swedish researchers suggests.

The researchers looked at more than 28,000 people who have celiac disease and a control group of more than 139,000 people who do not have celiac disease. Those with celiac disease were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with nerve damage than those without it. Nerve damage is medically known as neuropathy.

However, the researchers pointed out, the risk of nerve damage is still low and the study, published online May 11 in the journal JAMA Neurology, does not show a cause-and-effect relationship.

“We found an increased risk of neuropathy in patients with celiac disease that persists after celiac disease diagnosis,” Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues wrote.

“Although absolute risks for neuropathy are low, celiac disease is a potentially treatable condition with a young age of onset. Our findings suggest that screening could be beneficial in patients with neuropathy,” the researchers concluded.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, they develop problems in their small intestine.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

School With No Sex Ed. Class Suffers Chlamydia Outbreak

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Showing that sexual education is incredibly important, a Texas high school that does not have a sexual education class is now suffering an outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia among high school students.

Crane High School, part of the Crane Independent School District, has confirmed 20 cases of the common sexually transmitted disease and has sent a letter home to parents explaining the situation. The school district learned of the problem after the Texas Department of State Health Services received a significant number of reports about students with the STD.

Although the school’s student handbook for the 2014-15 school year states, “Crane ISD does not offer a curriculum in human sexuality,” the school district plans on meeting with the School Health Advisory Committee to discuss the school’s lack of sex education and if one should be implemented in the future to avoid similar incidents from happening again.

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Early Disease Detection

Italian Doctors Say They’ve Trained Dogs to Sniff Out Prostate Cancer

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Detecting prostate cancer may go to the dogs.

Italian researchers say they’ve trained two female German shepherd dogs to sniff out prostate cancer and the canines have greater than 90% accuracy.

The research team from the Humanitas Clinical and Research Center in Milan, Italy collected urine samples from 362 men diagnosed with prostate cancer at various stages of the disease. They also collected urine samples from 418 men and 122 women who were either healthy, had a different kind of cancer or who had a different health condition.

They then trained Zoe and Liu, three-year-old bomb detection dogs who worked with the Italian armed forces, to detect specific volatile organic compounds in urine associated with prostate cancer.

After the dogs were retrained, they were tested using batches of six urine samples from the men with prostate cancer, positioned at random among the non-prostate cancer urine samples.

One dog correctly identified all of the prostate cancer urine samples and misidentified seven of the non-prostate cancer samples, or 1.3%. The other dog correctly identified 98.6% of the prostate cancer urine samples and misidentified 13 of the non-prostate cancer samples, or 3.6%.

The researchers say the study, published in the Journal of Urology, demonstrates that a rigorously trained dog could sniff out prostate cancer samples with high accuracy. But, more tests are needed to see how well the dogs perform when faced with urine samples collected from men who are being examined for possible prostate cancer.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Stem Cell Treatment For Type 2 Diabetes Yield Positive Results on Mice

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Months ago, we featured stem cells as a possible key to curing Type 1 diabetes. This time, a new research sheds light into the possibility of doing the same for Type 2 diabetes.

Lab tests done on mice with Type 2 diabetes revealed that glucose metabolism improved after transplanting stem cells from the pancreas combined with drugs that sensitize insulin. The tests were also conducted to assess the impact of stem cells on obesity, which yielded promising results. “Our data suggest that transplanted human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived insulin-producing cells thrive following chronic exposure to high-fat diets, at least in immunodeficient mice… Thus, stem cells are candidates for restoring functional beta cells in an insulin-resistant, obese setting,” according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

The scientists conducted several tests to check which insulin-sensitizing drug could maximize the effect of stem cells on diabetes and obesity. “The reversal of hyperleptinemia in both sitagliptin- and metformin-treated transplant recipients also suggests a more robust reversal of the obesity phenotype in these groups as compared with the high-fat diet transplant recipients treated with rosiglitazone or without drugs,” the researchers said in a news release.

The study was co-authored by Timothy J. Kieffer, who works as Diabetes Research Group Leader and professor of the university. The research paper was published in the Stem Cell Reports journal.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

New App Claims to be Able to Diagnose Ear Problems

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San Francisco startup CellScope has created a case that slides over the iPhone and transforms it into an otoscope, the device doctors use to peer into patients’ ears. The gadget, which is already selling in California, comes with a lens that enables the smartphone to film quality videos of the ear canal and eardrum.hearing loss

Once users have filmed their ear, using CellScope’s secure app, they can then e-mail the videos to a doctor and get a diagnosis back within two hours.

The company believes its on-demand service will appeal to parents whose children wake up with mysterious earaches in the middle of the night. More than 75% of children get ear infections, most commonly between the ages of 6 to 11 months.

“We realized that there was a huge gap, a huge need,” said Amy Sheng, co-founder of CellScope. “Parents were taking time off work and trying to squeeze in a last-minute visit to the pediatrician’s office or on weekends or after hours. We decided, let’s build something for families to use.”

With its app and device, collectively known as the Oto and priced at $79, CellScope joins a growing number of startups that want to make health care more digital, efficient, accessible and inexpensive.