Ahad, 23 Mac 2014

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Snail venom for pain

Posted: 22 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

AN experimental drug made from snail venom has shown early signs of promise in numbing pain, raising hopes in the hunt for new, non-addictive medications, say researchers.

The drug, which has not been tested yet on humans, was judged to be about 100 times more potent than morphine or gabapentin, which are currently considered the gold standard for chronic nerve pain.

The active ingredient, conotoxin, comes from carnivorous cone snails, which are common in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. The marine animals can reach out and stab prey, injecting a venom that paralyses fish long enough for the snail to eat it up.

A tiny protein derived from the snail's venom has formed the basis of five new experimental compounds, said lead researcher Prof David Craik of the University of Queensland in Australia.

A preliminary study using one of these new compounds on lab rats "appeared to significantly reduce pain", said a press statement released ahead of Prof Craik's presentation at an American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas.

"This is an important incremental step that could serve as the blueprint for the development of a whole new class of drugs capable of relieving one of the most severe forms of chronic pain that is currently very difficult to treat," he said.

Animal venoms are poisons that can block certain channels in the nervous system, and act differently than opioid painkillers such as morphine and hydrocodone, which carry the risk of addiction and death from overdose.

Pharmaceutical companies have begun investigating venoms in recent years as potential sources of new drugs for managing neuropathic pain, which affects 15% of the US population and can arise from cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases.

One conotoxin-derived drug, ziconotide, has already been approved for human use. However, it is not available in pill form and must be infused directly into the lower part of the spinal cord.

The five new compounds Prof Craik and his colleagues are developing would be taken orally. "We don't know about side effects yet, as it hasn't been tested in humans. But we think it would be safe," he said, adding that human trials are at least two years away. – AFP Relaxnews

Google Glass for skin consultations

RHODE Island Hospital in the United States is currently testing out Google Glass in a dermatology study.

Over the next six months, emergency room (ER) patients requiring dermatology work may participate in the study. They'll be examined by ER doctors wearing a "stripped-down version" of Google Glass that will send images to an off-site dermatologist, who will review the images using a tablet.

The hospital is working with Glass-focused startup Pristine for this pilot study. Their version of Google Glass doesn't include some of its core functionality and connectivity, nor is the device connected to the Internet.

Rather, it streams live, sending encrypted audio and video information to the receiver directly.

Photos, video and audio aren't stored in the Pristine version, either.

"It's every doctor's nightmare to have a breach or have a video uploaded on YouTube," Dr Paul Porter, the principal investigator on the study, told MobiHealthNews. "We really put a lot of time in trying to get the best possible conditions for confidentiality, picking a specialty that we thought would be the safest for the patients. In our study, (the Google Glass consultation is) over and above the standard of care, which is a phone call, plus or minus a snapshot."

Testing began on March 1, and Dr Porter says as soon as the study has 100 participants, he and his team will begin work on a paper.

The device's potential is currently being tested in other areas of healthcare.

Emotient, a leader in facial expression recognition software, is testing Google Glass with its own app that is said to gauge other people's feelings. The company says it hopes to apply this concept to healthcare for determining warning signs of illness.

Last month, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), announced its development of a Google Glass app that reads diagnostic test strips.

Should the hospital study be successful, the hope is to use the device in other healthcare applications, including emergency response, paediatric consults and stroke care. – AFP Relaxnews

Food recipes in cancer

Posted: 22 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Learn more about cancer and related food recipes during an upcoming talk in Kuala Lumpur.

CANCER is a serious problem that is rapidly becoming a common affliction. According to the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, cancer is becoming a leading cause of death, due to avoidable risk factors like smoking and tobacco exposure, poor diet, alcohol, inadequate exercise or obesity.

The society also estimates there are about 90,000-100,000 people in Malaysia living with cancer at any one time. It estimates that one in four Malaysians will develop cancer by the time they are 75 years old.

In the Cancer Cancel – Live Right Eat Well medical talk tour hosted by Popular Bookstores on March 30, Singaporean medical oncology specialist Dr Wong Seng Weng and celebrity chef Eric Teo will join forces to share tips on effective ways to fight cancer.

Their talk will include practical tips on prevention and recovery from the disease, as well as recipes for cancer patients and for good health.

The two will also share knowledge from their jointly written book, also named Cancer Cancel - Live Right Eat Well.

The book aims to correct the misconceptions most people have about cancer, as well as answer frequently asked questions about this deadly disease.

"Cancer is a clear and present danger. A head-in-the-sand attitude of trying to avoid the dreaded subject will no longer do.

"Putting faith in hearsay, or baseless treatment methods, will only worsen your health and cause you to lose the fight against cancer," Dr Wong said.

Combining useful and comprehensive information with relatable and easy-to-apply tips, Dr Wong and Chef Teo's talk will no doubt be an eye-opener, and a potentially life-changing experience.

The public is encouraged to attend the talk to gain new understanding about this often-misunderstood disease.

Dr Wong is the medical director of The Cancer Centre, Singapore. He specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of adult cancers, with special interest in breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers. He is currently also a visiting consultant at the National University Hospital, Singapore.

Apart from his clinical practice, Dr Wong was an investigator in over 20 clinical trials exploring new methods of cancer treatment.

He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, as well as the European Society for Medical Oncology and Singapore Society of Oncology.

Chef Teo, on the other hand, is a celebrity chef with over 28 years of experience in the Singaporean food and beverage industry.

He has won the title of World Gourmet Summit Executive Chef of the Year three times (2006, 2008 and 2009), and subsequently entered the Awards of Excellence Hall of Fame in 2010.

He is currently running ET Culinary Arts, his own food consultancy company, founded in 2011.

The bubbly chef is very much involved in cooking demonstrations and has made numerous TV appearances. He has also served as an International Culinary Judge at the IKA Culinary World Olympics in 2012, and is the first Singaporean to be appointed president of the Singapore Chefs Association, serving from 2005-2013.

Don't miss this opportunity to gain invaluable tips on healthier living from these highly experienced personalities.

The Cancer Cancel – Live Right Eat Well medical talk tour will take place on March 30 at the Sunway University Auditorium 7, Bandar Sunway, Selangor, 2-4pm. Admission is free. For more information, contact Danny Choong at 03-91796146 or fax 03-91796339. Popular Bookstores are also running a promotion for Dr Wong and Chef Teo's book, Cancer Cancel: Live Right & Eat Well. Drop by your nearest Popular outlet to pick up a coupon offering a RM13 rebate on the book (Usual price: RM39.90).

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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