breaking news


FDA approves first at-home HIV test

Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 5:12 PM

The FDA has approved the first at-home, over-the-counter HIV test, which could potentially inform thousands of Americans about their HIV status.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test can detect antibodies of the virus from a saliva sample. It can provide results without a laboratory in 20 to 40 minutes.

About 1.2 million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV, and an estimated 20% of those infected are unaware that they are HIV-positive, according to the CDC.

The outcome of the test isn't definite or absolute, especially when exposure may have been within the past three months. Clinical studies expect one in 12 tests to read a false negative and one in 5,000 tests to read a false positive. At an FDA Advisory Committee meeting in May, officials said they thought an additional 45,000 people would learn they have HIV through the test.

FDA officials said the test will offer a different testing method for many unknowingly HIV-positive Americans that are unlikely to get themselves tested at clinics and other screening centers.

"The availability of a home-use HIV test kit provides another option for individuals to get tested so that they can seek medical care, if appropriate," said Karen Midthun, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a press release.

An estimated 50,000 Americans are infected with HIV each year, and the resulting AIDS condition claims 14,000 lives annually, according to the CDC.

The test is made by OraSure Technologies and will be available in October. The company will have a consumer support center available to help users with using the kit and understanding the results. Although no price has been set, a company official said in May that he expected the price to be lower than $60.

SOURCES: FDA: "FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Home Use HIV Test Kit."OraSure Technologies: "OraSure Receives FDA Approval of OraQuick In-Home HIV Test."WebMD Health News: "First at-Home HIV Test Nears Approval."

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 12:58 PM

What You Need to Know: Breast Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

>> Read more trending news

New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

The researchers examined five factors for the study:

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at ascopubs.org

Scientists engineer proteins that caused obese animals to lose weight and lower cholesterol

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

Oftentimes healthy eating and exercise are the first to go as life gets more and more hectic Nutrition is 80-90% of successful weight loss in your 30s You should eat 3 regular meals and 2 snacks per day Log your food intake and exercise to motivate you to move more and reassess the food you're eating Find time to make healthy eating and exercise work for you If you're trying to get back in the habit of training, don't overthink it. It's more important to get started Don't go and join a gym until you real

As the U.S. obesity rate has galloped toward 40 percent, doctors, drug designers and dispirited dieters have all wondered the same thing: What if a pill could deliver the benefits of weight-loss surgery, but without the knife?

New research brings that hope a notch closer.

Scientists from the biotechnology company Amgen Inc. report they have identified and improved upon a naturally occurring protein that brought about significant changes in obese mice and monkeys, including weight loss and rapid improvements on measures of metabolic and heart health.

The results, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, approximate some of the mysteriously powerful effects of bariatric surgery, in which a surgeon reshapes the stomach and intestinal tract to reduce their capacity. Even before surgery patients lose a lot of weight, most see marked improvements in obesity-related conditions like insulin resistance, high circulating blood sugar and worrisome cholesterol levels.

>> How he came to weigh over 700 pounds — and then lose more than half of it

In mice who got a bioengineered version of the GDF15 protein, the researchers observed even more remarkable changes. These obese mice turned their noses up at extra-rich condensed milk — a treat that normally prompts mice to gorge themselves. Given the choice, the treated mice tended to opt for standard mouse chow instead, or at least lowered their intake of the fattening condensed milk.

After 35 days, obese mice treated with the bioengineered GDF15 proteins lost roughly 20 percent of their body weight, while mice getting a placebo gained about 6 percent over their starting weight, according to the study. When mice were offered the rich condensed milk, triglyceride levels remained at baseline or rose by about 20 percent in those who got the engineered proteins, while levels more than doubled in the untreated mice. Insulin levels and total cholesterol readings were also significantly better in treated animals than in their untreated counterparts.

The results suggest that the GDF15 engineered by researchers had the power to turn off the kind of reward-driven eating (think doughnuts, milkshakes or bacon cheeseburgers) that drives many of us to become obese, or to regain lost weight.

>> The sour truth about artificial sweeteners

Some of the weight-loss medications approved in recent years by the Food and Drug Administration — including Belviq, Contrave, Qsymia and Saxenda — appear to nudge the food preferences of obese patients in more healthful directions. But bariatric surgery has a pronounced effect in shifting patients’ preferences away from high-fat foods. Scientists just don’t know why.

The natural version of the GDF15 protein breaks down quickly in the blood. To be an effective weight-loss aid, it would need more staying power.

The Amgen researchers accomplished this by fusing the protein with other agents that would not break down so quickly. The two engineered versions of GDF15 remain biologically active in the blood for longer.

In the brains of the lab animals that received the treatment, the study authors detected activation in a population of brain-stem cells that transmits complex signals between the brain and gut.

In obese people, those signals — which urge us to eat when we’re hungry and to stop once we’ve eaten — become faulty, causing us to overeat and gain weight. Bariatric surgery appears to correct those signals.

So the suggestion that GDF15 might do the same is an exciting indication that a piece of bariatric surgery’s magic might be bottled up in a pill.

>> Woman's explicitly detailed grocery list leaves little room for error for husband

“This is a new system” involved in the regulation of appetite, said Dr. Ken Fujioka, a weight-loss specialist at Scripps Clinic Del Mar. “It’s not one we’ve seen before, and that’s a big deal.”

At the same time, the system manipulated by GDF15 is only one of the chemical signaling systems that goes awry in obesity, said Fujioka, an expert on brain-gut signaling who was not involved in the new research. If a drug is to help a wide range of patients with obesity — and to aid in the twin challenges of losing weight and keeping it off — it will need to activate many different systems at once.

While bariatric surgery has been shown to be effective in spurring weight loss and a broad range of other health improvements, it is invasive, costly and irreversible. And although about 196,000 Americans had the surgery in 2015, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, that’s only a tiny fraction of the roughly 100 million adults who are now considered obese.

On Wednesday, Amgen called the new research “early,” but said its focus on obesity fits with its interest in drugs to treat cardiovascular disease.

New findings like these help put effective treatment in reach for a growing number of the obese, Fujioka said. Obesity is a diabolically complex disease with many contributing factors, “but someday I personally think we really will be there,” he added.

Boy sleeps for 11 straight days, baffling doctors

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 2:55 AM

Boy Falls Asleep for 11 Straight Days, Doctors Don’t Know Why

When a 7-year-old boy fell asleep following a late-night wedding party, his mother expected him to be tired, but she could never fathom what would unfold.

>> Watch the news report here

WDRB 41 Louisville News

The boy, Wyatt Shaw, was admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, during the first week of October after his mother tried and tried and tried to wake up him following the exciting Sunday night wedding festivities.

“Monday I tried to wake him up, and he fell back to sleep,” the boy’s mother, Amy Shaw, told WDRB. “[I’d say], ‘Wyatt, Wyatt, Wyatt!’ And he fell back to sleep again.”

Wyatt slept for 11 consecutive daysAccording to WTVR, medication usually used to treat seizures finally woke the boy up, but doctors are mystified by what happened. Every test performed on Wyatt came back clear.

>> On Rare.us: 'Nothing brings me more joy': Artist brings smiles to sick children with beautiful tattoos

“[The doctors] said, ‘We’ll probably never know, but we’re just going to treat him now with rehab to get him better,’” Amy Shaw said.

>> On Rare.us: Anthony Rizzo breaks down in tears at Chicago hospital

Wyatt is having some trouble talking and walking, but he’s improving and is well aware of his story, WDRB reported. The only thing he doesn’t understand is the same thing the doctors don’t — what happened to him.

>> Read more trending news 

His mom hopes he’s back to showing off the energy he’s always exhibited, especially that night cutting up the dance floor at the wedding.

A benefit concert is being held for Wyatt and his family from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 26 at Northside Hall in Radcliff, Kentucky.

The blessing inside my sister's Alzheimer's disease

Published: Sunday, March 05, 2017 @ 12:56 PM

Jennifer Palmieri's sister Dana Drago, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. MUST CREDIT: Courtesy of Jennifer Palmieri.
Handout
Jennifer Palmieri's sister Dana Drago, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. MUST CREDIT: Courtesy of Jennifer Palmieri.(Handout)

Last month my sister passed away from early-onset Alzheimer's. She was 58 and probably had the disease for well over a decade. 

Awful. Anyone I share this news with has a visible physical reaction to it. They shudder. Take a deep breath. It's the disease everyone fears. Alzheimer's doesn't just kill you, they are thinking, it robs you of the person you are long before it has the mercy to kill you. 

Every day, more Americans receive the devastating news that someone in their family has this affliction. For now, there is not a lot of hope for recovery. It can make you envious of cancer patients; their families get to have hope. Having come through this experience with my sister, I am afraid that I can't offer these new Alzheimer's families hope for a recovery. But I do hope that by relaying the story of my sister's journey, I can offer them some peace. 

My sister Dana was brilliant, beautiful, full of positive energy, a force of nature. She was not an easy person. She was driven and successful, and, as the disease progressed unbeknown to all of us, it became harder to connect with her. Ironically, that began to change once she got the diagnosis. 

When she called each of us with the news, she already had it all figured out. We were all to understand that, really, she saw the diagnosis as a blessing. It was going to allow her to retire early. It would motivate our family to spend time together we would not have otherwise done. It would shorten her life, but she would make sure the days she had left were of the highest quality.  

For my part, I had a hard time reconciling her optimistic attitude with the knowledge there was no hope for recovery. I envied those cancer patients. But I eventually learned one of the gifts that came with this illness: It strips away your notions of how life is supposed to be and forces you to reassess what it means for a moment, a day, a life to have value. 

Equipped with a more realistic set of expectations, I saw that families fighting cancer faced their own torment. Debilitating treatments, anxiety over whether you are pursuing the right treatment, unrealistic hopes and crushing disappointments. It could ruin whatever time the person has left. My family was spared that particular kind of torment. Dana was true to her word about how she was going to spend her time. In the end, she had far fewer days than we expected, but she brought our family together in ways we never would have enjoyed had she not been ill, and in ways we could not have enjoyed if she was in endless treatments. That was a blessing. 

Patti Eilbacher has Alzheimer's. AJC reporter Zachary Hansen demonstrates a simple test that can indicate a cognitive disease. (BOB ANDRES/AJC)

I should be clear that my sister did not give up her own hope of recovering from Alzheimer's. Early on, she spoke of changes she had to make in her life until "they" found a cure for "this disease." I admired her resolute refusal to see the disease as part of herself. She would not let it define her. 

For years she vigilantly fought her decline and sought to protect her independence. Eventually she ended up in hospice. But she needn't have worried that leaving her home meant losing herself. It was in that hospice room that I saw her refined - not reduced but refined - to her most essential self, a person full of grace and love. Of all the moments in my life I had with my big sister, the ones with the most value, the most intimacy, the most joy, were the ones I spent simply holding her hand in her hospice room. No distractions, no expectations or pressures, a time to simply be present, to simply be sisters. My other two sisters, Dana's best friend and I would sit with Dana and repeat her own mantra back to her - all is well. And it was.  

Even after she largely lost the ability to speak, I could look into her eyes and see she was still there. She was still Dana. I would tell her so. "I see you. I see you in there." She would nod in response. Once or twice, I would even get a smile. Those were days of true value. 

I wish no other family ever had to lose someone to "this disease." But for all those on this path, please know that it does not mean you must be robbed of your loved ones before they leave this earth. They are still there, and the time you spend with them can be a gift of grace you might otherwise never have known. My hope for you is that you get to share the heavenly peace and love our family was able to share with our sister while she was with us. It is a blessing.  

- - -  

Palmieri served as White House communications director from 2013 to 2015 and was communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.