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NEWS IN BRIEF: Ebola; Cancer; Big Pharma; Gene Treatment; Scotland; HIV


25 Feb 2016

Ebola ‘devastates long-term health’

Most people who survive an Ebola infection will have long-lasting health problems, say doctors from the US National Institutes of Health, the BBC reports.

Their studies on survivors in Liberia showed large numbers had developed weakness, memory loss and depressive symptoms in the six months after being discharged from an Ebola unit.

Other patients were “actively suicidal” or still having hallucinations.

More than 17,000 people in West Africa have survived Ebola infection.

Don’t kill cancer, learn to live with it, say scientists

Managing cancer with low doses of chemotherapy could be more effective than attempting to kill the disease scientists believe, The Telegraph reports.

The controversial approach suggests that cancer patients may have a better chance of survival if they live with their illness long term.

Current cancer treatments often involve aggressive treatment with high doses chemotherapy in an attempt to wipe out as many tumour cells as possible.

But complete eradication of cancer is rare, and the toxic side effects of chemotherapy can be highly destructive – not only leading to hair loss, nausea and extreme fatigue, but also crippling the body’s immune system or triggering anaemia.

How Big Pharma greed is killing tens of thousands around the world: Patients are over-medicated and often given profitable drugs with ‘little proven benefits,’ leading doctors warn

The Queen’s former doctor has called for an urgent public enquiry into drugs firms’ ‘murky’ practices, the Daily Mail reports.

Sir Richard Thompson, former-president of the Royal College of Physicians and personal doctor to the Queen for 21 years, warned tonight that many medicines are less effective than thought.

The physician is one of a group of six eminent doctors who today warn about the influence of pharmaceutical companies on drugs prescribing.

The experts, led by NHS cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, claim that too often patients are given useless – and sometimes harmful – drugs that they do not need.

Gene treatment could help blind people see light

Tens of thousands of patients with inherited blindness stand to benefit from the world’s first clinical trial of a genetic treatment for the disease, The Times reports.

Scientists in Texas hope that the pioneering experiment, which involves ferrying DNA taken from algae into the back of the eye, will restore rudimentary vision in up to 15 people who can no longer see the light.

This will also be the first time researchers have used humans to test a branch of medicine that involves genetically engineering cells so that they can be switched on and off with light.

Up to now there has been no effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a hereditary disease in which light-receiving cells in the retina break down because of mutations in their DNA, eventually leading to blindness.

Scotland announces £13 million for local GP and mental health projects

GPs and NHS Boards are being invited to submit bids for funding for local projects that will help redesign primary care in Scotland.

Around £13 million is being made available from the £85 million Primary Care Fund for 2016-17 so that patients can get better access to general practice and mental health services in the community.

The latest tranche of funding will see around £9.5 million go towards trying out new ways of delivering health care in the community, while £3.5 million will be invested in local initiatives to improve support for mental health in primary care settings.

HIV support services face closure as councils withdraw funding

Vital HIV prevention and support services are facing closure after being earmarked for cuts by local authorities across the country, leaving potentially thousands of people with the virus cut adrift at the very time the transmission rate is increasing, the Independent reports.

Users typically turn to these units for help with their medical treatments, counselling and mental health assistance, peer support and legal advice – while many support centres also provide HIV prevention services for those most at risk of transmission, such as gay men.

But some services are now set to shut down. So far, six councils – Oxfordshire, Bexley, Portsmouth, Slough, Bromley and Bracknell Forest – have proposed a decommissioning of HIV support services, effective from 1 April.


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