‘Promising’ new drug shown to slow progression of motor neurone disease – new study

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a terrifying prospect for anyone, particularly because the disease is currently incurable and, like dementia, almost untreatable.

That could be about to change with results from a global phase three trial showing a drug known as tofersen can help slow down the progression of the condition and even give patients some of their movement back.

Some of the patients on the trial who had the faulty SOD1 gene reported improved mobility, and lung function, a year after beginning to take the investigational drug. Tofersen is described as investigational as researchers assess its efficacy and safety.

Professor of Neurology at the University of Sheffield, Dame Pamela Shaw said: “I have conducted more than 25 MND clinical trials and the tofersen trial is the first trial in which patients have reported an improvement in their motor function.”

Dame Shaw added: “Never before have I heard patients say, ‘I am doing things today that I couldn’t do a few months ago – walking in the house without my sticks, walking up the garden steps, writing Christmas cards.’ For me this is an important treatment milestone.”

For all patients who live with the condition, this is significant. Although the drug could only provide a few extra months or a year, that time is precious when the life expectancy for many is so precipitously low.

And this isn’t the only piece of good news for MND patients. Recent studies reveal promising results in potential treatments for the condition.

One of these studies published earlier this month analysed the impact of a new type of stem cell gene therapy on MND patients.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the United States have developed a new type of gene therapy which uses support cells and a protective protein which could be used to protect diseased motor neuron cells in patients with MND.

The findings have been published and peer-reviewed in the Nature Medicine journal. Professor Clive Svendsen said: “Using stem cells is a powerful way to deliver important proteins to the brain or spinal cord that can’t otherwise get through the blood-brain barrier.

“We were able to show that the engineered stem cell product can be safely transplanted in the human spinal cord. And after a one-time treatment, these cells can survive and produce an important protein for over three years that is known to protect motor neurons that die in ALS.”

While this treatment isn’t being seen as a way to cure MND, it could potentially stop the disease in its tracks and allow patients to mitigate the damage done by the disease, a breakthrough moment which could allow patients to live for longer.

Furthermore, the authors said the patients who were treated with the therapy experienced no serious side effects as a result, demonstrating the primary function of this trial, the safety of the treatment.

With regards to the efficacy of the therapy, Professor Patrick Johnson said: “We’re excited that we proved safety of this approach, but we need more patients to really evaluate efficacy, which is part of the next phase of the study.

“Proving that we have cells that can survive a long time and are safe in the patient is a key part in moving forward with this experimental treatment.”

As one study in the US continues, another promising treatment avenue is set to begin in the UK. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh believe a drug used to treat enlarged prostates and high blood pressure could be used to treat MND.

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  • 1 час, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    Aches while breathing and other lung cancer signs to spot as Britons urged to get tested

    One of these symptoms is an ache or pain while breathing or coughing. Alongside other symptoms, it is one which the NHS says should indicate that a person sees a GP.

    Other signs of lung cancer include:• A cough which doesn’t go away after two or three weeks• A longstanding cough which gets worse• Chest infections which keep returning• Persistent breathlessness• Persistent tiredness or lack of energy• Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

    It is essential that someone is seen if they experience any of these symptoms as the sooner the disease is treated the greater the likelihood of survival by the patient.

    In recent weeks, the NHS and the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC), have begun the process of reaching out to those most likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and offering them a test.

    These form part of a set of proposals from the UKNSC which include inviting all former smokers between the ages of 55 and 74 to a lung cancer screening; under these plans anyone at high risk will be offered a CT scan.

    One of the reasons for the decision to offer this age group lung screenings is because of Britain’s overall lung health with lung cancer outcomes rated as consistently poor by experts.

    The main reason for this is because many lung cancer cases are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached a later stage, when the disease is much harder to treat and survival rates at their lowest.

    Statistics suggest more than 50 percent of people diagnosed at a late stage will survive for less than five years. In light of these statistics, Cancer Research UK has urged the Government to roll out the tests as soon as possible.

    Although the screenings could help save lives, its rollout could take some time with the decision being taken by individual ministers and previous similar programmes having taken years to get underway.

    Nevertheless, the announcement of the proposed screening programme has been welcomed by those working in the cancer sector. Doctor Ian Walker of Cancer Research UK said: “We welcome this recommendation and urge governments in all four UK nations to roll out a targeted lung cancer screening programme as swiftly as possible.

    “Lung cancer causes more deaths in the UK than any other cancer type, and screening could save lives by diagnosing people at an earlier stage – when treatment is more likely to be successful.”

    This is the first time the UKNSC has recommended lung cancer screenings in 15 years; it says these checks could help save lives with earlier diagnoses.

    It added that as well as screening former smokers, those who currently smoke should be encouraged to quit smoking – a habit responsible for around 70 percent of lung cancer cases in the UK.

    The reason for this, says the NHS, is because tobacco smoke “smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing)”.

    Doctor Walker added: “This is an opportunity for our new Prime Minister to prioritise cancer, and alongside an ambitious and fully funded long-term cancer plan, this could have significant impact for patients across the UK.

    “Given smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, it’s vital that smoking cessation is an integral part of the programme. Stop smoking services need to be adequately funded, so people who want to quit can continue to get the support they need after participation in the programme.”

    The screenings are already being offered in 23 different parts of the country where they are operating as part of pilot schemes.

    These pilot schemes form of part of the department of Health’s war on cancer which was launched earlier this year by former Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

    Javid’s successor, Theresa Coffey, has been called on by charities to publish a subsequent cancer plan, expanding on the department’s goals for the continuation of the war on cancer.

    It is hoped that by expanding into new technologies that the disease will be beaten and more patients saved in the long term by new treatments and preventative therapies.

  • 1 час, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    Heart disease warning: ‘Night owls’ at greater risk of heart disease warns new study

    It’s all to do with how the body’s processes change between morning and night. Writing in the Experimental Physiology journal, researchers suggested night owls have a reduced ability to use and burn fat needed for energy.

    As a result, these fats build up in the body, increasing the risk of heart disease and other conditions which thrive on fat.

    On the flip side, early risers experience benefits from being fast starters. As they are more active in the morning, they require more fat to use as energy and therefore burn it off through activity.

    Overall, this means people who rise early over a long period of time are likely to gain a fitness advantage over those who work long into the night.

    The researchers came to these conclusions after monitoring participants in their study for a week and assessing how much energy they used and how much fat they add at rest and during exercise periods.

    Each group in the study was tested whilst at rest before they undertook two 15-minute workouts, one high and one of moderate intensity.

    Senior author of the study Professor Steve Malin said: “Because chronotype appears to impact our metabolism and hormone action, we suggest that chronotype could be used as a factor to predict an individual’s disease risk.

    “We also found that early birds are more physically active and have higher fitness levels than night owls who are more sedentary throughout the day.”

    While this may prove unnerving reading for people who consistently work late into the night, Professor Malin added:

    “Further research is needed to examine the link between chronotype, exercise and metabolic adaptation to identify whether exercising earlier in the day has greater health benefits.”

    However, this isn’t the first time research has been conducted into the impact of sleep on heart disease risk.

    A 2021 study investigated whether sleeping too much or too little can raise someone’s risk of heart disease. It found that sleeping less than six or seven hours a night was linked to an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

    Adults are recommended to get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night in order to strike the right balance between rest and health.

    The study was presented by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and assessed data from 14,000 Americans who took part in the study between 2005 and 2010 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

    These participants were then followed over a 10-year period to assess whether or not they died from a heart attack or a stroke. It was during this period that those who slept less than six or seven hours were more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.

    At the time the researchers said their results showed that “sleep, similar to diet, smoking, and exercise, may play a defining role” in someone’s risk of heart disease.

    On what this research means for overall heart disease risk, this is not to say that those who sleep this amount are guaranteed to experience a heart attack or a stroke; a number of risk factors can play a role.

    However, what it does show is the impact sleep can have on the cardiovascular system and the importance of allowing the muscles in the body to rest when they need to.

    At the time of the report the British Heart Foundation said: “Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good health. When it comes to our heart and circulatory health, this study suggests there might be a sweet spot between getting too much and getting too little sleep.

    “The research shouldn’t trigger alarm bells for those of us who might have the occasional bad night’s sleep or long lie-in. However, if you are really struggling with your sleep, it’s important to talk to your GP.”

  • 3 часа, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    Coolio health: ‘I could have died’ – rapper’s chronic disease has caused ‘serious trouble’

    Coolio died at the age of 59 after suffering from a suspected heart attack on Wednesday, the rapper’s manager has said. Coolio’s longtime manager Jarez Posey also confirmed that the musician was visiting a friend in Los Angeles and was later found in an unresponsive state on the bathroom floor. The Gangsta’s Paradise singer was also dogged by a chronic condition since childhood. Back in February 2016, the star was unable to get through a meager five-song set in Brooklyn. The Fantastic Voyage singer was performing an impromptu gig at the Hill Country Barbeque Market in Brooklyn when he was struck by an asthma attack. The star has struggled with asthma his entire life.

    An eyewitness of the show told Page Six at the time: “Coolio was having problems with his asthma, but someone from the audience provided him with their inhaler that he used between verses of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ and his other songs.”

    This wasn’t the first Asthma attack the star has had.

    Growing up, the former Celebrity Big Brother contestant had a “few episodes” of Asthma that ended up putting the star’s life in danger.

    He told USA today in a throwback interview: “I had a few episodes with asthma where I was in serious trouble and could have died.”

    It affects roughly 4.5 million people in the UK, while an estimated 200,000 suffer from “severe” asthma.

    At its worst, the condition can cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and collapsed lungs and it is said to cause roughly 250,000 deaths worldwide every year.

    Asthma is where the airways in the lungs can become inflamed and narrowed, making it harder for air to flow in and out of the lungs.

    Day-to-day, however, its most notable symptoms may be fatigue and underperforming in school or work, according to the UK’s National Institute for Care and Health Excellence.

    “It’s still a balancing act.

    “You have to know your medications and you have to take them, but it can be a real challenge — especially in school.”

    Coolio has explained how it affected him growing up. He said: “I still played sports, but I would just have attacks and have to be hospitalized every now and then.

    There is currently no cure for the condition, but inhalers may be prescribed by health professionals. They work by relaxing the muscles in your air to widen it and allow asthmatic people to breathe better.

    While inhalers may be prescribed freely by the NHS, in America, receiving an inhaler may be slightly more difficult.

    Coolio was given a tough lesson on the importance of having the right medication available to treat asthma as he suffered from complications.

    Talking about his 20s, he said: “I didn’t have any insurance and the bills I was accruing at county hospitals were really adding up.

    “Plus the medications cost money, so I couldn’t keep up with my medical needs.”

    He added: “Then it was like I had a bad cold, and I had coughing fits, one so bad that I passed out on the bathroom floor.

    “I woke up later and tried to walk four blocks to the hospital because I knew I didn’t have the ability to drive. Every three feet or so I hung onto a fence or light pole, trying to regain some strength. Thankfully, someone saw the trouble I was having and stopped and gave me a ride to the hospital because I’m not sure I could have made it.”

    Asthma may be triggered by allergies, pollution, or exercise – which each cause temporary narrowing of your airways.

    The main symptoms of the condition, according to the NHS, include wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing.

  • 11 часов, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    Get your child jabbed! Alert after alarming drop in uptake of MMR

    England failed to meet the World Health Organisation target of 95 percent for any childhood jabs in 2021-22, figures reveal. Covid was partly to blame for a decrease in 13 out of 14 key vaccinations.

    By the age of two, only 89 percent of children had received a first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab – down from 92 percent in 2011-12.

    Coverage for the second dose by age five had also fallen to 86 percent.

    The NHS is now contacting some parents directly in a catch-up campaign.

    Other jabs with declining uptake among one-year-olds included rotavirus (90 percent), meningitis B (92 percent) and the combined five-in-one shot (92 percent).

    Professor Helen Bedford, immunisation expert at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said she was “deeply concerned” England was not hitting WHO targets.

    She said: “The diseases that these vital vaccines prevent are dangerous and have not disappeared. Lower vaccine uptake allows them to re-emerge and this is a risk we cannot take.

    “Parents can check their child’s Red Book to see if they have been vaccinated. Or, if they are unsure, by speaking to their GP, health visitor or practice nurse.”

    Prof Bedford urged the Government to ensure there was equal access to inoculations across all regions and socioeconomic groups.

    She added: “To paediatricians, we would highlight you should take every opportunity to speak with children and families about their vaccination history and discuss any questions and concerns to help them understand the importance of vaccination. Every contact counts.”

    The MMR jab is estimated to have prevented 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths in the UK since its introduction in 1968.

    The infection can lead to serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, which require hospitalisation, and on rare occasions long-term disability or death.

    Experts believe even a small dip in MMR jab uptake could spark a rise in cases.

  • 11 часов, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    Adding more chickpeas to diet could ‘drastically’ lower visceral fat, research suggests

    The buildup of fatty tissue around your vital organs, known as visceral obesity, is a dangerous trend. It can put you at risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Consuming chickpeas, the main ingredient of hummus, is one way that has been shown to help with preventing visceral fat buildup.

    According to Bupa UK, foods rich in protein and low in fat are a sure way to help manage your fat levels.

    Chickpeas in particular have been found to reduce the ratio of fat to total body weight in animal studies.

    The food, whether eaten cooked or raw, contains lots of nutrients that can act in the body to reduce fat.

    One of the leading studies, published in The British Journal of Nutrition, tested the effect of eating chickpeas on rodents. It has since been cited by dozens of other scientists.

    The researchers fed rodents chickpeas for eight months as part of a high-fat diet and compared them to other rodents given a high-fat diet without chickpeas.

    The abdominal fat weight to total body weight ratio of the rats was smaller in the group that had the chickpeas.

    It also found that the rats given chickpeas experienced an improvement in insulin resistance. The chickpea-fed rats also had reduced blood sugar levels.

    The study concluded that the “findings provide a rational basis for the consumption of chickpeas as a functional food ingredient, which may be beneficial for correcting dyslipidaemia and preventing diabetes”.

    Dyslipidaemia refers to the imbalance of fats like “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

    Chickpeas contain beneficial substances such as carotenoids and polyphenols – which has benefits that “may extend beyond basic nutrition requirements of humans”.

    Carotenoids have been shown in studies to decrease obesity by promoting the breakdown of fatty acids that make up fat cells.

    Polyphenols – a type of antioxidant – have also been shown to help with reducing and maintaining body weight

    According to Herrington Medical Centre: “Trials have shown that adding just one daily serving (130 g) of chickpeas to your diet encourages the consumption of fewer unhealthy saturated and trans-fats, and leads to a five percent lowering of cholesterol levels, in the process.”

    What else can you eat to reduce visceral fat?

    Bupa has identified several other lean foods that you could eat to help lose weight. These foods, it says, can “make you feel fuller than carbs”.

    “By including a lean source of protein in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less,” it added.

    It suggests eating the following as part of your diet:

  • 13 часов, 21 минута назад 30.09.2022Health Care
    First time marathon runners can expect drop in blood pressure – ‘wonder drug’ effects

    First-time marathon runners during Sunday’s London Marathon are likely to receive huge benefits in their blood health, research suggests. A study funded by the British Heart Foundation found that people who ran several miles per week as part of their training for their first marathon saw massive improvements in blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

    The runners appeared to reduce their “aortic” age by four years. The aorta is the main artery running from your heart to the rest of your body.

    As people age, their main arteries can naturally become more rigid – known as arterial stiffening. This happens as elastic fibres in the artery, which help maintain its flexibility start to decrease in number and are replaced by harder fibres.

    Arterial stiffening is closely related to higher blood pressure. And like hypertension, arterial stiffening is closely linked to a higher risk of stroke and other cardiovascular conditions.

    But marathon running seems to reduce this process, according to the study.

    Commenting on the 2020 study, British Heart Foundation Medical Director, Professor Metin Avkiran said: “The benefits of exercise are undeniable.

    “Keeping active reduces your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and cuts your chances of early death.

    “As the old mantra goes, if exercise were a pill it would be hailed as a wonder drug.”

    During the study, researchers looked at 138 people who finished the London Marathon between the ages of 21 and 69 — all of whom had been running roughly six to 13 miles per week in the buildup to the marathon. These people were looked at six months before and six months after the marathon.

    For these people, the blood pressure of the main artery dropped significantly. Systolic blood pressure dropped by 4mmHg while diastolic dropped by an average of 3mmHg.

    Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the blood pressure during the heartbeat when the organ is contracting and pushing blood from the heart into the arteries.

    Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when your heart is resting between heartbeats.

    Doctor Charlotte Manisty from Barts Heart Centre and University College London said: “Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of ageing on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months.

    “These benefits were observed in overall healthy individuals across a broad age range and their marathon times are suggestive of achievable exercise training in novice participants.”

    A marathon might not be for everyone, however. According to experts, it doesn’t need to be.

    If you aim for the NHS’ exercise recommendations, you should “reap the benefits”.

    Professor Metin said: “Setting yourself a goal – such as training for a marathon – is a great way to stay motivated and follow through on your New Year health resolutions. But you don’t need to train for a marathon to reap the benefits.

    “Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. More is usually better, but every bit counts.

    “Even a brisk walk on your lunch break will steer you towards better heart and circulatory health.”

    Alcohol is another major cause of high blood pressure. Cutting back on your alcohol consumption is one sure way to lower it.

    The NHS also advises people to quit smoking, reduce caffeine intake and reduce the amount of salt they are eating.

    Adults are advised to consume no more than six grams of salt per day – which contains 2.4 grams of sodium.

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Health Care ‘Promising’ new drug shown to slow progression of motor neurone disease – new study