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Researchers Develop Device That Slows Progression of Degenerative Eye Conditions



Image Source: NBC News

Australian researchers on Thursday unveiled a device for the eye that can save the sight of those most likely to develop blindness.

The small implantable electric device, invented by the Bionics Institute and Centre for Eye Research Australia in Melbourne, sits unnoticed at the back of the eye and provides low-level electric stimulation to trigger the release of chemicals that prevent retinal cells from dying.

The Minimally Invasive Retinal-degeneration Arrestor device has undergone successful animal trials and been recognized as one of Australia’s most important research projects.

Robert Klupacs, chief scientist at Bionic Vision Australia, said that the device could be more useful than the bionic eye due to its capacity to treat a wider range of devices.

“Once someone has lost their sight there is only so much you can give back with the bionic eye. If they don’t have to lose their sight, they can have a really good life,” Klupacs told Australian media on Thursday.

“This will be one of the most amazing things to come out of Australia if it comes off.”

David Nayagam, one of many researchers to work on the project, said that trials had proved the device was effective in slowing the effects of Retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative condition that causes blindness.

He said that the team was optimistic that it would also be useful for macula degeneration and glaucoma with preclinical trials to begin in 12 to 18 months.

“If we can get five or 10 years of extra sight, that might be enough for the patient to see their kids grow up or to finish their working career,” Nayagam said.

“That’s the grand hope, but the work is just beginning.

“We need to prove it is safe and efficacious before we can start the clinical trials.

“It’s smaller, simpler, less invasive and delivers less current than the bionic eye. We’re very hopeful we shouldn’t run into any obstacles.” (Xinhua)

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DOH Launches Dengue Immunization ID in Pampanga




Image Source: from by Trixie Joy B. Manalili, PIA-3

Department of Health (DOH) launched on Friday the Dengue Immunization Record Card in Pampanga as part of intensifying monitoring and surveillance of recipients of the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Top officials of DOH led by Secretary Francisco Duque III led the launching of the identification cards during the Provincial Dengue Summit held at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center.

In a press briefing, DOH Regional Director Leonita Gorgolon said the ID system will aid in strengthening their surveillance and reporting system for any adverse effect following the immunization of all those who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

Gorgolon explained that there are two types of cards—the bigger one is for the parents while the smaller one is for the one who received the vaccine.

“Both cards contain basic information about the recipient of the vaccine including his/her name, grade level, gender, name and contact number of his/her parent or guardian as well as the number of doses received and the date he/she received each dose”, Gorgolon said.

Aside from these, Gorgolon said the ID also contains what-to-do when the child manifests symptoms of dengue and the hotline numbers of DOH.

“In case the child manifests dengue symptoms, this ID must be presented to the health facility so that they know that he/she is a recipient of Dengvaxia and he/she will be given priority in his/her medical needs,” the official added.

The ID was conceptualized to address the issue of disaggregating those who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia from those who were not because there are also many dengue patients who are not recipients of the vaccine.

“For the mothers, we are giving them IDs as well because there are instances when mothers go to health facilities claiming that their child was vaccinated with Dengvaxia. In fact, there is one instance when a parent granted an interview with the media, but when we verify it, that parent is not in the masterlist of beneficiaries. So these are some of the issues that we want to address,” she furthered.

On the part of the health facilities, the ID system will facilitate their reporting system to the rural health units and DOH.

Earlier, Gorgolon said that close monitoring of all those who were given the initial dose of the vaccine is critical for the next five years.

The Dengvaxia IDs are being distributed in Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Metro Manila, and Cebu. (CLJD/MJLS-PIA 3)

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US-Based Pinoy Doctors to Hold Free Surgical Mission in Palawan




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A US-based association of Filipino physicians is set to conduct the first-ever medical and surgical mission in Palawan for this year at the newly-constructed Aborlan Medicare Hospital (AMH) in Barangay Ramon Magsaysay in the town of Aborlan.

The medical mission would be from Jan. 22 to 24, Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. said on Saturday.

It will be led by the North Texas Association of Philippine Physicians (NTAPP) in cooperation with Governor Jose Alvarez, 3rd District Congressman Gil Acosta, 3rd District Board Member Albert Rama, and the municipal government of Aborlan.

Acosta said the NTAPP was composed of 44 Filipino physicians who arrived Sunday to bring free medical and minor surgical services to indigent residents of Aborlan town.

These are circumcision, harelip, breast-lumpectomy, biopsy, simple mastectomy, herniorrhaphy, hysterectomy-myomectomy, oophorectomy, appendectomy, colon resection with end to end anastomosis, amputation for gangrene, thyroidectomy, lysis adhesions, colostomy, cesarean section and tubal ligation.

Dr. Maria Arlin Josue, AMH chief, said they had already prepared for the medical and surgical mission, and were excited for the residents of Aborlan.

“Para sa mga nais makibahagi sa naturang aktibidad, maaaring makipag-ugnayan sa mga Operation Centers ng Rescue 165 na nakatalaga sa mga munisipyo sa lalawigan (For those who want to avail of free medical and surgical services they offer, residents can coordinate with the Operation Centers of Rescue 165),” she said.

Josue added they are grateful that the first medical and surgical mission in the province for this year chose Aborlan as it will surely help a lot of residents who lack funds to pay even for minor surgeries.

AMH is a 50-bed capacity medicare hospital in the first class municipality of Aborlan, located 69 kilometers from the capital of Puerto Princesa.

Its construction was funded cooperatively by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA, the Palawan government, and the local government unit of Aborlan.

It was part of 15 others being constructed in different municipalities in the province, including the island town of Coron.

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New Gene Linked to Diabetes, Low Blood Sugar Found In Same Family




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A new gene thought to be critical in the regulation of insulin, the key hormone in diabetes, has been found in a family with both high and low blood sugar conditions, researchers said Monday.

The research, carried out at Queen Mary University of London, University of Exeter and Vanderbilt University, and published in the U.S. journal PNAS, could lead to the development of novel treatments for diabetes.

The research team studied the unique case of a family where several individuals suffer from diabetes, while other family members had developed insulin-producing tumors in their pancreas.

These tumors, known as insulinomas, typically cause low blood sugar levels, in contrast to diabetes which leads to high blood sugar levels.

“We were initially surprised about the association of two apparently contrasting conditions within the same families – diabetes which is associated with high blood sugar and insulinomas associated with low blood sugar,” lead author Marta Korbonits, professor of Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement.

“Our research shows that, surprisingly, the same gene defect can impact the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas to lead to these two opposing medical conditions,” Korbonits said. The identified genetic disorder was called MAFA, which controls the production of insulin in beta cells in the pancreas.

It was also identified in a second and unrelated family with the same unusual dual picture.

The resultant mutant protein was found to be abnormally stable, having a longer life in the cell, and therefore significantly more abundant in the insulin-producing beta cells than its normal version.

The team also observed that males were more prone to developing diabetes, while insulinomas were more commonly found in females, but the reasons behind this difference were as yet unknown.

“One exciting avenue to explore will be seeing if we can use this finding to uncover new ways to help regenerate beta cells and treat the more common forms of diabetes,” Korbonits added. (Xinhua)

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5 More Deaths Linked to Dengvaxia for Referral to UP-PGH




Image Source: from by AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

The Department of Health (DOH) will refer five new cases of deaths linked to the use of the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, to the panel of experts from the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

“At least five cases are for referral (to the panel) for review,” DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said in an interview with the media Tuesday.

Domingo said the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau was coordinating with hospitals to get the case records of these five new cases.

The UP-PGH panel was formed to validate independently allegations of death due to Dengvaxia, which had been administered to more than 830,000 public school children under a DOH immunization program.

The panel is already looking into 14 cases of deaths linked to the controversial dengue vaccine. The same cases are being investigated by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), saying that the children succumbed to Dengue Shock Syndrome.

Meanwhile, Sanofi Pasteur has agreed to pull out the unused Dengvaxia vaccines in DOH storage facilities until Friday.

During a press conference at the DOH media relations unit in Manila following a meeting between DOH and Sanofi officials Tuesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that based on their latest count, the remaining stocks to be pulled out stand at 1,187,815 doses, worth Php1,187,815,000.

“It was also agreed with Sanofi that reimbursement will be in about one to two days after retrieval,” he said.

Duque said the vaccines would be picked up from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the DOH offices in Calabarzon, Central Luzon and the National Capital Region.

In Central Visayas where a community-based immunization for dengue was also held, the withdrawal of the vaccines would be completed by next week, he added.

The meeting was also attended by World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Gundo Weiler.

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