Clinical Trial

This Simple Blood Test Can Predict Cancer as Accurately as a Lump in The Breast

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A common blood test has shown to be just as accurate in predicting any type of cancer as a lump is for breast cancer, and researchers say it’s the most promising detection method for cancer in 30 years.

A high number of platelets (tiny blood cells that help wounds clot) have been linked to an increased risk of all forms of cancer, and scientists are now urging doctors to consider thrombocytosis – a condition where too many platelets are produced in the body – as a detection method for patients who are yet to show symptoms.

“Our findings on thrombocytosis show a strong association with cancer, particularly in men – far stronger than that of a breast lump for breast cancer in women,” says one of the team, Willie Hamilton from the University of Exeter in the UK.

“It is now crucial that we roll out cancer investigation of thrombocytosis. It could save hundreds of lives each year.”

Thrombocytosis affects around 2 percent of people over the age of 40, and it’s been linked to cancer before. What this new study does is establish a stronger link across all ages and genders, and with cancer in all areas of the body.

The researchers looked at 31,261 records of patients in the UK with a high platelet count (thrombocytosis), and 7,969 records of patients whose platelet count was normal.

They found that 11.6 percent of males with thrombocytosis went on to be diagnosed with cancer within a year, compared to 4.1 percent of those without. For females, cancer developed in 6.2 percent of those with thrombocytosis, compared to 2.2 percent without.

If a second high platelet count was recorded within six months, those risks went even higher: 18.1 percent for males and 10.1 percent for females.

A lump on the breast turns out to be cancerous in around 8.5 percent of cases for women aged 50 to 59 years, by comparison.

The researchers report that Lung and colorectal cancer were the types most commonly linked to thrombocytosis.

What’s more, one-third of those with lung or colorectal cancer had no other symptoms of the disease apart from thrombocytosis – which means this could be a very important indicator in the future for cases when cancer wouldn’t otherwise be spotted so soon.

The team says this the first new indicator of cancer to have been clearly identified in the last three decades, with the potential to identify thousands of cancers earlier and save hundreds of lives a year.

While early diagnosis is just one of many factors that affect the chances of someone getting better, it’s known to improve survival rates across all types of cancer.

“We know that early diagnosis is absolutely key in whether people survive cancer,” says one of the team, Sarah Bailey.

“Our research suggests that substantial numbers of people could have their cancer diagnosed up to three months earlier if thrombocytosis prompted investigation for cancer. This time could make a vital difference in achieving earlier diagnosis.”

The research has been published in The British Journal of Medical Practice.


GST to allow easy access for medical devices

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Goods and Services Tax (GST) places medical device companies in a better position to transport its products to any part of the country. This would also help reduce warehouse and transportation costs, said Chander Shekhar Sibal, head, medical division, Fujifilm India.

Other steps in the right direction by the government are the notified Medical Devices Rules, 2017 to be enforced from January 1, 2018 to standardise the imported product manufacture and stop anti dumping. A concept like the Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) at Visakhapatnam is seen to bolster the Make in India programme, he added.

The government has also initiated screening programmes and is keen to open cancer centres. It is here that Fujifilm will scout for collaborations to support the initiatives like mobile van for screening which would in turn help the company increase its marketing presence in tier 2 and tier 3 towns for radiology, Sibal told Pharmabiz.

With an intent to drive preventive healthcare, the government is looking to equip hospitals with technology. Digitization has improved workflow quality which increases efficiency in hospitals and advanced medical technology enables doctors to treat more patients.

In India, Fujifilm deals with radiology products which facilitates digitizing of x-rays to store and retrieve images. Its Image Intelligence ensures consistent high quality output of x -ray films and dry laser imagers. In addition. the company deals with endoscopy machines and point of care ultrasound: Sonosite. It is engaged with few Indian companies to integrate its Fujifilm technology in x- ray machines and its mobile MicroSkan DR is manufactured by the Mysuru-based Skanray, he added.

Its India focus is on digital mammography because of the rising incidence of 1.50 lakh new breast cancer patients and 50 percent succumbing to it. To spur early detection of breast cancer, the company has already supplied over 20 FFDM (Full filled digital mammography) across hospitals, medical colleges and diagnostic centres including Tata Memorial Hospital, Amulet Innovality at Batra hospital in Delhi, Tata ATREC, NM Medical in Mumbai, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai and Mahajan Imagimg. With over 25,000 installations, Fujifilm caters to almost 50% of the market here. Specific to digital radiology, it has around 400 systems installed in India accounting for 40% of market share.

According to Sibal, imaging technology is critical for India. With an acute shortage of radiologists to report images of CT scan, MRI, x-rays, there is a huge need for a tele radiology infrastructure. The present government spend on imaging technology is a mere 1.5% and needs to raise it to 2.5%. Electronic medical records and digitization would allow faster storage and retrieval of scanned images for speedy diagnosis. In tier 2 and tier 3 towns efforts for medical digitization are on. But most of the time, government projects are delayed, hampering public- private partnership

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Repeated Brain Zapping Has Helped Minimally Conscious Patients Communicate Again

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Scientists have used electrical stimulation of the brain to give minimally conscious patients the ability to communicate for up to a week, after a repeated series of treatments.

The new technique gives hope to patients and families affected by consciousness disorders, suggesting that there are ways for them to stay connected for days at a time, despite severe damage to the brain.

Minimally conscious states are different from more severe consciousness disorders like persistent vegetative states or locked-in syndrome, because patients can still follow very simple commands, and have purposeful behaviours.

Back in 2014, researchers discovered that running a mild current through the brains of people in a minimally conscious state could help them communicate for up to 2 hours after treatment.

This new study, led by physiotherapist Aurore Thibaut from the University of Liège in Belgium, followed up that earlier research, by applying transcranial direct current stimulations (tDCS) to 16 patients in a double blind, randomised experiment.

Patients were all diagnosed as minimally conscious after some form of brain trauma, oxygen deprivation, or stroke had left them with only low levels of awareness of their surroundings for sustained periods.

Those receiving the treatment had electrodes placed on their scalps and a mild, 2-milliamp current run across their left prefrontal cortex for 20 minutes over five consecutive days.

The control version of the treatments was similar, with the current only being applied for 5 seconds.

As in the previous study, those patients receiving tDCS showed various levels of significant improvement in the scores used to determine their consciousness for up to seven days after the last session, which included consistently responding to commands, recognising the positions of objects, automatic motor responses and following movements with their eyes.

Two patients had improved to the point where they were able to functionally communicate.

“They couldn’t speak, but we could ask questions, such as, “Is your name David?” and they answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by moving a part of their body, like their tongue or their foot,” Thibaut told New Scientist.

While four patients responded after the first treatment, reflecting a similar fraction who responded to the single treatment in the 2014 study, other patients took up to four days to show signs of improvement, suggesting that repeated exposure could help treat additional patients.

“The increased effects of tDCS over the sessions could be due to an increase in NMDA receptor excitability, which could improve and strengthen cortical excitability within the stimulated area,” the researchers write in their report.

This might not be a cure, but it is a considerable step up from current treatments, including an anti-viral drug typically used to treat Parkinson’s disease called amantadine, which has been linked with epileptic seizures,

According to the researchers, TDCS has no reported side effects if used properly.

In fact, in other experiments, this form of electrical stimulation has been shown to improve cognition in healthy research subjects by boosting maths scores, and is even being considered by the military as a way to help personnel concentrate under pressure.

While experts say there are good reasons to remain cautious about its commercialisation, under medical conditions, tDCS appears to be a low risk way for those with disorders of consciousness to awaken to some small degree.

Further studies are needed before anybody can say for certain that it can be considered completely safe for daily use over the long term, or if the treatment’s effectiveness might decrease over time.

“We need to see what happens when we use it for perhaps 5 hours a day, or what happens if we apply it daily for three months. We need to be really careful,” said Thibaut.

But given the potential, and the fact tDCS devices can be easily used at home, these are some promising signs.

This research was published in Brain Injury.

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Indian Council of Medical Research Will Implement UN Standards On Clinical Trials

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Indian Council of Medical Research Will Implement UN Standards On Clinical Trials









The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) along with some of the leading healthcare bodies and other trusts has decided to adopt UN health agency’s recommendations to register and publicly disclose results of all clinical trials they fund or support. The participating bodies have all agreed to develop and implement policies within the next 12 months that require all trials they fund, co-fund, sponsor or support to be registered in a publicly-available registry. They also agreed that all results would be disclosed within specified timeframes on the registry or by publication in a scientific journal.

“We need timely clinical trial results to inform clinical care practices as well as make decisions about allocation of resources for future research,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“We welcome the agreement of international standards for reporting timeframes that everyone can work towards,” Swaminathan said.

Currently about 50 per cent of clinical trials go unreported, according to several studies, often because the results are negative. These unreported trial results leave an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of the risks and benefits of vaccines, drugs and medical devices, and can lead to use of suboptimal or even harmful products.

“Research funders are making a strong statement that there will be no more excuses on why some clinical trials remain unreported long after they have completed,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation at World Health Organisation

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The signatories to the statement also agreed to monitor compliance with registration requirements and to endorse the development of systems to monitor results reporting

In 2015, WHO published its position on public disclosure of results from clinical trials, which defines timeframes within which results should be reported, and calls for older unpublished trials to be reported. That position builds on the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki in 2013.

This agreement by some of the world’s major research funders and international NGOs will mean the ethical principles described in both statements will now be enforced in thousands of trials every year. Most of these trials and their results will be accessible via WHO’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, a unique global database of clinical trials that compiles data from 17 registries around the world.

Besides the Indian Council of Medical Research the other participating bodies include the Norwegian Research Council, the UK Medical Research Council, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Epicentre (its research arm), PATH, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Institut Pasteur, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

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Here’s The Single Best Type of Exercise For Your Brain, According to Scientists

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Want an all-natural way to lift your mood, improve your memory, and protect your brain against age-related cognitive decline? Get moving.

A wealth of recent research, including two new studies published this spring, suggests that any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period of time – known as aerobic exercise – has a significant, overwhelmingly beneficial impact on the brain.

“Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart,” write the authors of a recent article in the Harvard Medical School blog, Mind and Mood.

While some of the benefits, like a lift in mood, can emerge as soon as a few minutes into a sweaty bike ride, others, like improved memory, might take several weeks to crop up.

That means that the best type of fitness for your mind is any aerobic exercise that you can do regularly and consistently for at least 45 minutes at a time.

Depending on which benefits you’re looking for, you might try adding a brisk walk or a jog to your daily routine. A pilot study in people with severe depression found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was “sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.”

Aerobic workouts can also help people who aren’t suffering from clinical depression feel less stressed by helping to reduce levels of the body’s natural stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to a recent study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

If you’re over 50, a study published last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests the best results come from combining aerobic and resistance exercise.

That could include anything from high-intensity interval training, like the 7-minute workout, to dynamic flow yoga, which intersperses strength-building poses like planks and push-ups with heart-pumping dance-like moves.

Another study published on May 3 provides some additional support to that research, finding that in adults aged 60-88, walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss.

Researchers still aren’t sure why this type of exercise appears to provide a boost to the brain, but studies suggest it has to do with increased blood flow, which provides our minds with fresh energy and oxygen.

And one recent study in older women who displayed potential symptoms of dementia found that aerobic exercise was linked with an increase in the size of the hippocampus, a brain area involved in learning and memory.

Joe Northey, the lead author of the British study and an exercise scientist at the University of Canberra, says his research suggests that anyone in good health over age 50 should do 45 minutes to an hour of aerobic exercise “on as many days of the week as feasible”.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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