SORRY, HEALTH is a sad topic.
Covid was a rollercoaster ride, and the UK emerged from a third lockdown this spring.
Millions of people have had their jabs since then, and boosters continue to be rolled out as winter approaches.
Covid isn’t the only major health story that has emerged in the last two years.
Scientists from all over the world are involved in medical trials to discover cures for major ailments.
Numerous breakthroughs have occurred that could save billions and transform the way diseases are treated.
It was revealed that the HPV vaccine could be used to eradicate cervical cancer in the coming years.
From asthma to Alzheimer’s and cancer to infertility, CLARE O’REILLY looks at the new treatments, vaccines and medicines that could put an end to some of the most common and deadly conditions.
CERVICAL CANCER: ‘WIPEOUT’
CERVICAL Cancer kills more than 2 women per day in the UK and claims around 850 lives each year.
New research has shown that the disease could be gone in the near future.
King’s College London scientists found the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine cut cases by 90 per cent.
The jab is used to prevent HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. It was first administered to teenage girls in England in 2008, and then to boys in 2019.
The Lancet Study tracked women who had received the first dose and determined that this prevented the deaths of approximately 17,200. “pre-cancers”In women in their 20s, there are 450 cases.
Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “It’s a historic moment to see the first study showing that the HPV vaccine has and will continue to protect women from cervical cancer.”
ALZHEIMER’S SHOT OF HOPE
A NEW antibody-based treatment developed by scientists in the UK and Germany could soon yield a vaccine to prevent Alzheimer’s.
A type of protein that sticks in brain cells is believed to cause the degenerative condition.
Scientists were able trigger the immune system’s production of antibodies. These antibodies targeted the protein that was being deposited before it was placed.
Professor Mark Carr, who led the University of Leicester’s team, said: “It has the real potential to provide an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s using a therapeutic antibody and highlights the potential of a simple vaccine.”
Meanwhile, a year-long study has started in Norway where Alzheimer’s patients will receive a transfusion of blood taken from runners.
The hope is that the chemicals in the blood from running will have a rejuvenating effect and slow down the progression of disease.
HOT FLUSHES ARE FINAL
THREE NEW drugs are currently under trial in the hopes that they will end the suffering of hot flushes among menopausal ladies.
Hot flushes are thought to be caused by changes in hormone levels affecting the body’s temperature control.
But the medicines – fezolinetant, elinzanetant and pavinetant – can block the receptors which are responsible for the common symptom.
London’s GP Dr Zoe Watson said that it could take years for the treatment to become available on the NHS.
She says: “It looks interesting in theory, but there are question marks over its efficacy, its side-effect profile and its cost.
It could prove to be very useful for women with hot flushes, which is the most common menopausal symptom.
“However, menopause is much more than just hot flushes and halting periods.”
BIG STEP TO SPINAL INJURIES
A BRAND new injection could reverse spinal cord injuries and allow patients to walk again – just four weeks after treatment.
The jab, which was created by Northwestern University in the US, encourages nerves regrow.
It gave paralysed mice the ability to walk – and human trials are expected to begin next year.
For decades, this has remained a major challenge for scientists because our body’s central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, doesn’t have any significant capacity to repair itself after injury.
Professor Samuel Stupp said: “Our research aims to find a therapy that can prevent individuals from becoming paralysed after major trauma or disease.
“We are going straight to the FDA [the US Food and Drug Administration] to get this approved for use in patients.”
DEMENTIA BRAIN WAV
DEMENTIA affects around 850,000 people in the UK and costs £26.3billion a year, but scientists at Durham University have made a breakthrough.
They are currently working on a treatment to improve memory and muscle control for patients with this deadly disease.
Infrared light was used to stimulate the brain and improve memory and thought processing in healthy subjects.
The next step is to invite dementia patients to try the therapy.
It’s delivered by a specially equipped helmet, which beams invisible light waves into the brain and forces cells to boost levels, improving blood flow too.
Dr Paul Chazot, the lead of the study, stated: “While more research is needed, there are promising signs that therapy involving infrared light might also be beneficial for people living with dementia and this is worth exploring.”
Anyone with asthma will know how difficult it is to get a diagnosis.
More than five million people in Britain are asthmatic. The NHS has approved a new drug to treat asthmatic patients. This will make attacks less frequent and more manageable.
Dupilumab is prescribed to treat eczema and rhinosinusitis – a type of sinusitis where the nasal cavity as well as sinuses become inflamed.
It’s from a family of drugs used to treat Covid.
Only patients suffering from severe asthma and who have experienced at least four severe attacks within the past year will be eligible for a prescription.
However, the drug has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of millions of asthma patients across the country.
HOLY GRAIL OF CANCER JABS
HALFT of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. Scientists believe Survivin is a new treatment that could drastically change the situation.
The first clinical trials are already under way, and the injection works to boost the body’s immune system. The injection boosts the immune system, allowing them to find and destroy cancerous cells. It also leaves healthy cells alone.
The trials currently have 36 patients who are terminally ill and are being conducted on ovarian, lung, and prostate cancers.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Just this month we heard the HPV vaccine has likely prevented hundreds of women from developing cervical cancer.
“This is a new and exciting frontier in cancer medicine and if this trial and others are successful, we could see thousands more lives saved.”
REVERSAL OF MALE INFERTILITY
Approximately seven percent of men suffer from infertility.
While current treatments are focused on finding solutions, the University of Georgia in the US is working to reverse male infertility.
The researchers have used primate embryonic stem cells – the building blocks of all cells in the body – to grow sperm cells in the earlier stages of development in a petri dish.
These spermatids are unable to swim and lack a head and tail. However, they were capable of fertilizing an in vitro rhesus macaque embryo.
Lead researcher and associate professor Dr Charles Easley says: “This is a major breakthrough towards producing stem cell-based therapies to treat male infertility in cases where the men do not produce any viable sperm cells.
“It is the first step that shows this technology is potentially translatable.”
RAY OF HOPE – BRAIN CANER
Complexities exist in overcoming the blood/brain barrier and obtaining treatment options for brain cancer.
Now, a group of scientists from Toronto, Canada has found a way to use ultrasound beams.
They can be used to open up the barrier and facilitate drug delivery. This could potentially change the treatment of the disease.
This year, four patients with breast cancer were treated with magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS).
It allowed the antibody therapy herceptin into their brain tissue and caused the tumours shrinking without causing any damage to healthy tissue.
Dr Nir Lipsman was the lead of the study. “It has long been theorised that focused ultrasound can be used to enhance drug delivery, but this is the first time we have shown we can get drugs into the brain.”
PANCREATIC PILL THILL
To combat the most deadly form of cancer, a pill-form drug is being tested.
Auceliciclib can already be used to treat brain tumors.
However, scientists now hope that it will be able to help fight pancreatic carcinoma. It is usually diagnosed in its late stages.
Professor Shudong Wang, and her team from the University of South Australia, are also researching new ways to detect the disease.
She said: “Pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose at an early stage because there are very few symptoms.
“If it is caught early the malignant tumour can be surgically removed, but once it spreads into other organs it is lethal.
“Chemotherapy and radiotherapy only buy patients a little extra time.”
The team hopes that the drug will be more efficient and have fewer side effects than other treatment options.
COVID TEAM’S MALARIA JAB
The Covid vaccine was not developed by mere mortals.
The University of Oxford team has also created a malaria jab which will save billions of human lives.
A study showed that 77% percent of those who were vaccinated overcame malaria within the first 12 months.
There have been more than 100 malaria vaccines developed over the past decade, but the Oxford jab is unique in that it has a high success rate.
Halidou Tinto, professor of parasitology and the principal investigator on the trial, said: “These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well-tolerated in our trial programme.
“We look forward to the upcoming phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed.”
BEST NEWS FOR BREAST CANGER
The treatment of breast cancer could be revolutionized by a drug that can repair cancerous cells.
42% of patients who received olaparib in a 2-and-a-half-year trial had a lower chance of having their cancer returned.
The risk of the disease spreading was also at an increase of 43 percent
The drug was previously only used to treat advanced cancers. But, the latest findings indicate that it is also effective in treating early-stage diseases.
Professor Andrew Tutt, professor of oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research who led the study, said: “Women with early-stage breast cancer who have inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are typically diagnosed at a younger age.
“Up to now, there has been no treatment that specifically targets the unique biology of these cancers to reduce the rate of recurrence, beyond initial treatment such as surgery.”
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