Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
In a study published this week, treatment with people's own stem cells helped to repair damage from heart attacks. Other research tested use of an auto-injector to deliver emergency anti-seizure drugs. Injection in the muscle worked even better than the standard method, giving drugs through an intravenous (IV) line. Researchers from Germany said this week that they had found a way to make larger amounts of a major malaria drug. The new process also costs less. And a study by business professors found that some people will accept smaller restaurant servings to save calories. They were willing to do this even if the price of the meal stayed the same.
This Issue: Stem Cells Help Repair Heart Attack Damage Simple Injection May Stop Long Seizures Some Accept 'Downsizing' at Restaurants New Machine Increases Output of Malaria Drug
In the News:
Stem Cells Help Repair Heart Attack Damage
Injecting a person's own stem cells into the heart can help to repair damage from a heart attack, a small study published this week finds. The study included 25 people who had severe heart attacks. The damage turned about one-fourth of the heart muscle in the main pumping chamber into scar tissue. Researchers injected the heart with stem cells or a fake (placebo) injection. The stem cells were taken from the person's own heart. After a year, about half of the scar tissue had been replaced by heart muscle for those who got the stem cells. There was no improvement in those who got the placebo injections. The journal Lancet published the study. Lancet published a study on heart attack treatment with stem cells in November. Results were similar to those in the new study. USA Today wrote about the research.
Simple Injection May Stop Long Seizures
A pre-loaded injector may deliver drugs to halt long seizures more easily than the intravenous drugs used now, researchers say. A study released this week compared two ways of treating severe seizures called status epilepticus. Some can be life-threatening. To stop the seizures, drugs usually are given through a vein in the arm. But it can be difficult to insert an intravenous (IV) line while someone is having a seizure. Researchers trained more than 4,000 paramedics to treat patients with both an IV drug and an auto-injector. The injector shot was given in a muscle, usually the thigh. Half of the time, the injector was filled with a fake drug and the IV drug was real. For the other cases, the injector drug was real and the IV drug was fake. In all, 893 patients were treated. Seizures stopped before people reached the hospital for 73% of those who got the real injector drug and 63% of those who got the IV drug. People who got the injector drug were less likely than the others to be admitted to the hospital after their seizure. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study. The New York Times News Service wrote about it.
Some Accept 'Downsizing' at Restaurants
Americans will sometimes accept a smaller portion in a restaurant to save calories, a new study suggests. And they might even be willing to pay the same price. The study was done by two business professors, not doctors. The setting was a Chinese food restaurant in a hospital. As they went through the serving line, people were asked if they wanted a half-size portion of the rice or noodles that went with the main course. The server told them this would save 200 calories. Some people were offered 25 cents off for choosing the smaller portion. Others got no discount at all. Depending on the day, 14% to 33% of the customers chose the half-size portion. The discount made no difference in how many people accepted. Researchers also weighed the leftovers. They found that people who took half-size portions left just as much food on their plates as those who took full portions. The journal Health Affairs published the study. The Associated Press (AP) wrote about it this week. Researchers told AP that other studies suggest people will eat less if they use smaller plates in colors that contrast with the food.
New Machine Increases Output of Malaria Drug
German chemists have found a way to make a major malaria drug at lower cost, and in much larger amounts. The Max Planck Institute in Berlin announced the new process for making the drug artemisinin. It's made from artemisinic acid. This is a waste product from the process that makes the drug now. The current process makes about 10 times as much of the waste product as the drug. Past attempts have not found an efficient way to turn the waste product into the drug. But the new process takes only 4½ minutes and is done in a machine the size of a carry-on suitcase. The acid is pumped through a thin tube wrapped around an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. The UV light converts about 40% of the artemisinic acid infto artemisinin. Researchers said the process makes about 4 times as much arteminisin out of what formerly was just a waste product. Artemisinin is considered the best treatment for malaria, but costs about $10 a dose. Experts told the Associated Press (AP) that this new process could make it more available and less costly. The chemical journal Angewandte Chemie published the study. AP wrote about it this week.
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