Pathology in PNG

Pathology laboratory opens in Port Moresby

Don't Chew betel nut

Don't Chew Betel Nut, Don't Smoke, Reduce Alcohol, Eat Healthy, Exercise Regularly

Fighting Cervice Cancer in PNG

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Creator Supports NCD HPV Pilot Vaccination Program

Choosing Food

The science of taste: Why we choose fries over broccoli

PNG's MRI Scanner

Public health system in PNG gets first MRI scanner

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Niblett recognised for services with order of Lohohu Award

Long serving doctor at the Lae Angau Memorial Hospital Cancer Ward, the late Dr. John Stokes Niblett received an award for the member of the Order of Logohu for his services in health for cancer management in the country.

The award was received by his wife Mrs Andrea Niblett yesterday at the government house from the Governor General Sir Bob Dadae following the orders of PNG 2017 New Year’s honours Investiture ceremony.

“I’m happy that he received this award. He was still alive when it was announced last year; however he passed away without really receiving the award which I received on behalf of him,”
“I’m so happy that the government recognized the contribution of my late husband Dr John Stokes Niblet for what he has done for Papua New Guinea,” said Mrs Niblett.

Mrs Niblett added that the dream of the late Dr. John Stokes Niblet was to save as many Papua New Guinean’s from Cancer because there is not enough help from the government to curb cancer.
“Why is there a manager when there’s nothing to manage because there is no treatment for cancer, chemo therapy alone is not enough, surgery alone is not enough?”

She further said, “To address cancer treatment there should be radiation therapy, there should be a radiation oncologist and there should be a proper doctor”. PNGFM

Monday, November 13, 2017

Madang set to build first cervical cancer clinic

THE Modilon Hospital in Madang says it receives two fully fledged cervical cancer patients every fortnight.
Gynaecologist Dr John Bolnga made the comment when more than K40,000 was presented to the hospital for the construction of a cervical cancer surveillance clinic.
“That means we treat 104 women with blown-up cervical cancer in one year,” Bolnga said.
He said that by having the cervical clinic, women would feel free to visit anytime and have themselves checked to prevent the disease reach full-blown stage.
Bolnga said most patients were already at stage one.
He thanked Island Petroleum for initiating the colour-run fundraiser which helped raise K41,528 to construct the cervical cancer clinic.
Island Petroleum Madang branch manager Shahin Das said individual contributions  from the coloured t-shirts raised more than K14, 000.
Bank South Pacific contributed K6500 while a good number of businesshouses supported very well to raise the K41,528.
“Every boy or girl who gave K20 is the same as the person who gave K500, so I thanked all of you in Madang who have come to support to raise funds for the cancer clinic,” Bolnga said.
Modilon Hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Vincent Atua said cervical cancer was a number one killer disease in Papua New Guinea.
Atua thanked Island Petroleum for organising the fundraiser.
Madang will become first province in the country to have a specialised clinic to treat cervical cancer.
Robin Mea, from Bank South Pacific in Madang, announced that Bank South Pacific had committed  K25,000 to maintain another ward at the gynaecology unit where patients were admitted. The National

Friday, October 13, 2017

Doctors in Southern Highlands evacuated

The decision to evacuate 14 doctors out of Mendi in Southern Highlands has been commended by the National Doctors Association.

Despite a call by the Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase, for the doctors to remain and continue to perform their duties, the president of the association, Dr James Naipao, said they were evacuated for security reasons.

Most doctors and their families were evacuated from the province before the arrival of security forces into the province as a result of escalating law and order problems.

“Loss of lives through high-powered guns, rampage and burning down of properties in the Mendi township and encroaching into setups like the School of Nursing and hospital is deemed absolutely with no connotation a crisis and emergency,” Dr Naipao said.

He said the deployment of security forces was a reaction to the already existing turmoil that has ravaged Mendi town.

The doctor also said all employers should have been in communication with their employees in Mendi.

“The fear of loss of life, insecurity, school children missing classes and lack of freedom in the already red-hot situation in Mendi must not be taken lightly by those in authority.

“The doctors in Mendi were, and are, in constant communication with their immediate employers, and their union affiliates as done with National Doctors Association.

“The decision to evacuate doctors and their families by SHP PHA management and the SHP government is highly commendable,” Dr Naipao said.

“This decision was done before the arrival of the security forces. This shows that these two team leaders respect this human resources in the province.”

Dr Naipao said leaders in management positions and politics who did not care about loss of lives at an already existing crisis or impending crisis should rethink the position they occupy.

Monday, July 31, 2017

15 Cancer Symptoms You Should Know

The 2014 Cancer mortality profile for Papua New Guinea showed that 56,000 total deaths took place from cancer alone. That is about 0.01 percent of the total population of 7.167 million which is still a significant amount compared to the current status of the cancer treatment facilities in the country.

It is better for Papua New Guineans to consider prevention as a priority to avoid being victimized by this killer disease.  Here are 15 cancer symptoms that you should know so you seek medical help sooner.

Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or color could be a sign of skin cancer. Another is a spot that doesn’t look the same as all the others on your body. If you have any unusual marks, have your doctor check your skin. She will do an exam and may remove a small piece (called a biopsy) to take a closer look for cancer cells.

Nagging Cough

If you don’t smoke, there’s very little chance a nagging cough is a sign of cancer. Usually, it’s caused by postnasal drip, asthma, acid reflux, or an infection. But if yours doesn’t go away or you cough up blood — especially if you are a smoker — see your doctor.  She may test mucus from your lungs or do a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer.

Breast Changes

Most breast changes are not cancer. It is still important, though, to tell your doctor about them and have her check them out. Let her know about any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts. She’ll do an exam and may suggest a mammogram, MRI, or maybe a biopsy.

Bloating

You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn’t get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Your doctor can do a pelvic exam to look for the cause.

Problems When You Pee

Many men have urinary issues as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. See your doctor for an exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

You have these small, bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body. When they’re swollen, it often means you’re fighting an infection like a cold or strep throat. Some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also cause this kind of swelling. Talk to your doctor to pinpoint the cause.

Blood When You Use the Bathroom

If you see blood in the toilet after you go, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there’s a chance it could be colon cancer. Blood in your pee could be a problem like a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.

Testicle Changes

If you notice a lump or swelling in your testicles, you need to see your doctor right away. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes though, a man may just have a heavy feeling in his lower belly or scrotum or think his testicles feel larger. Your doctor will do a physical exam of the area and may use an ultrasound scan to see if there is a tumor or another problem.

Trouble Swallowing

The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time or with antacids, see your doctor. Trouble swallowing can also be a sign of cancer in your throat or the pipe between your mouth and stomach, called the esophagus. Your doctor will do an exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, in which you swallow a chalky fluid to show your throat more clearly on the image.

Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that’s not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. But tell your doctor if you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge. She’ll want to rule out cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to let her know if you are bleeding after menopause. That’s not normal and should be checked out right away.

Mouth Issues

From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren’t serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don’t heal after a couple of weeks — especially if you smoke — see your doctor. It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.

Weight Loss

Of course, you can slim down when you change the way you eat or exercise. It can also happen if you have other issues, like stress or a thyroid problem. But it’s not normal to lose 10 pounds or more without trying. There’s a chance it could be a first sign of cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or lung.

Fever

A fever isn’t usually a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a sign that your body is fighting an infection. It can also be a side effect of some medicines. But one that won’t go away and doesn’t have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.

Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don’t work and your indigestion doesn’t stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.

Fatigue

A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause blood loss that you can’t see, which can make you feel very tired. If you’re wiped out all the time and rest doesn’t help, talk to your doctor.

EMTV

Thursday, July 27, 2017

US Govt supports introduction of new TB drug to PNG

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with partner organisations to introduce a new drug into Papua New Guinea called bedaquiline, the first new drug for tuberculosis in over 45 years.

The USAID through funding provided to FHI360 and the World Health Organization is working with the National Department of Health (NDoH) to host a series of trainings to help PNG’s doctors safely introduce bedaquiline.

Senior Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Technical Advisor Dr Anh Innes at the USAID Bureau for Global Health in Washington D.C. has returned to PNG to oversee USAID’s donation of bedaquiline and provide technical assistance for the NDoH, specifically the Pharmaceutical Services Standards Branch (PSSB).

“Our main strategy for the safe introduction of bedaquiline is called pharmacovigilance, which is the science of early detection and monitoring of adverse effects,” she said.

“When adverse events happen when you take a medicine, you want to be able to find them quickly and manage them effectively.”

As well as supporting the safe introduction of bedaquiline, USAID and the NDOH PSSB are also using that as a catalyst to build the foundation for pharmacovigilance for all drugs here in PNG.

In Dr. Innes’ three previous visits, she carried out trainings on pharmacovigilance for bedaquiline for physicians in 12 provinces in the country.

“So this time, we’re focusing on working with the PSSB to roll out the ‘backbone’ for pharmacovigilance through the provincial Medicines and Therapeutics Committee (MTC). The first stage of the roll out is happening at Gerehu Clinic this week,” Dr. Innes said.

The PSSB will host a series of MTC trainings that will take place in provinces and hospitals throughout the country.

FHI360 Country Director Daniel Tesfaye added that USAID has donated 85 courses of bedaquiline, distributed mainly to Daru Hospital and the Port Moresby General Hospital as they care for high numbers of drug-resistant TB patients.

“It’s a very good contribution to the country to ensure that people who have multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) get the best treatment,” Mr Tesfaye said.

“Besides that, USAID and FHI360 are working with PSSB to ensure that adverse events are actually registered in the global system so that PNG can become a full member of the World Health Organization’s Uppsala Monitoring Center.”

Dr. Innes gave a Grand Rounds lecture at UPNG’s School of Medicine on Tuesday July 25 at 4pm on Drug-resistant tuberculosis: Progress toward elimination.

The Grand Rounds are lectures given on a regular basis by UPNG faculty members every Tuesday.

Dr. Innes’ lecture presented key developments for drug-resistant TB control from the past decade.

Last October, Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray donated laboratory and clinical equipment, worth K270,000, to Daru hospital.

These are needed to fight the spread of both MDR-TB and HIV/AIDS in PNG.

These machines are helping doctors to provide quality diagnostics to their patients, and will enhance the ability to monitor for TB and HIV.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Poor HIV/AIDS Surveillance Systems in PNG

Representatives from the US Embassy held a public forum on HIV/AIDS at the National Library yesterday to mark World AIDS Day.

According to the Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting (GARPR) statistical data, PNG still has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Pacific, and is ranked fourth in South East Asian countries.

The commemoration of the day brought to light approaches that communities, advocate groups and NGOs have adapted to produce accurate statistics in order to effectively treat HIV infected patients and bring death tolls to zero.

According to Dr. Percy Pokeya, CDC Senior Advisor, approximately 34,000 are known to be infected with the virus; 16,000 of which are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

One thing that drugs aren’t able to cure is the stigma and discrimination that HIV victims deal with every day.

Brad Coley, Economic Officer with the US Embassy, said it was the main reason for the poor state of many countries surveillance systems and PNG is no exception.

On a similar note US Ambassador, Walter North, in his speech said the government needed to do a better job of reaching key populations: sex workers, transgender people, and men who have sex with men – or with men and women.

They are at high risk for getting infected with HIV and face even higher levels of discrimination and stigma that can scare them away from treatment.

“Many of the current laws of Papua New Guinea on sexual behaviour re-enforce a cycle of exclusion and fear. There is an urgent need to review those laws and to sensitise health centre staff to the health needs of key populations,” North said.

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Joel Maybury, challenged Papua New Guineans to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS every day and not just on World AIDS Day.

He said HIV/AIDS advocates could only do so much as speak for the HIV patients forced to live in the shadows, but if many are unable to come out in fear of being ill-treated how can we stop the spread of HIV, discrimination does little to help bring this epidemic under control. EMTV

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

You cannot rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV, the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your status is important because it helps you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting HIV. The symptoms of HIV vary, depending on the individual and what stage of the disease you are in: the early stage, the clinical latency stage, or AIDS (the late stage of HIV infection). The below from AIDS.gov is some of the symptoms that some individuals may experience in these three stages. Please note that not all individuals will experience these symptoms.

Early stage HIV: Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage. Flu-like symptoms can include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and mouth ulcers. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. You should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any symptoms at all for 10 years or more. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test. Most HIV tests detect antibodies (proteins your body makes as a reaction against the presence of HIV), not HIV itself. But it takes a few weeks for your body to produce these antibodies, so if you test too early, you might not get an accurate test result. Talk to your doctor about your result and talk about your treatment options if you’re HIV-positive or learn ways to prevent getting HIV if you’re HIV-negative. You are at high risk of transmitting HIV to others during the early stage of HIV infection, even if you have no symptoms. For this reason, it is very important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission.

Clinical Latency Stage: After the early stage of HIV infection, the disease moves into a stage called the clinical latency stage (also called “chronic HIV infection”). During this stage, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. People with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms or only mild ones. For people who aren’t taking medicine to treat HIV (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), this period can last a decade or longer, but some may progress through this phase faster. People who are taking medicine to treat HIV the right way, every day may be in this stage for several decades because treatment helps keep the virus in check. It’s important to remember that people can still transmit HIV to others during this phase even if they have no symptoms, although people who are on ART and stay virally suppressed (having a very low level of virus in their blood) are much less likely to transmit HIV than those who are not virally suppressed.

Progression to AIDS: If you have HIV and you are not on ART, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system, and you will progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the late stage of HIV infection. Symptoms can include: rapid weight loss, recurring fever or profuse night sweats, extreme and unexplained tiredness, prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck, diarrhoea that lasts for more than a week, sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals, pneumonia, red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids, memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.

Testing and Treatment of HIV 
Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV, many people do not have any symptoms and can live for many years without knowing they have the virus. Testing for HIV is quick, easy, painless and confidential. It important that while you wait for your test results that you do not engage in any sexual activity as your results will only be current from the day you were tested. A positive result can lead to feelings of shock, anger, distress and depression, talk to your doctor about making an appointment with a counsellor to discuss your result. If your test is negative talk to your doctor to make sure you continue taking the right preventative measures. HIV is treated using a combination of medicines to fight HIV infection called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART isn’t a cure, but it can control the virus so that you can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they are. If left untreated, HIV will attack the immune system and eventually progress to AIDS. It is important that the medications prescribed by your doctor are taken exactly as prescribed (right time, right amount, and right way). If you are unsure you’re are taking your medications correctly talk to your doctor.

Source: POMGH

How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting HIV or STD

Below are few tips to reduce your risk of geeting HIV or STDs:
1. Always Practice Safe Sex: When used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV. They are also effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are transmitted through bodily fluids, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis. Have condoms handy if you will be having sex and make sure you know how to use them correctly.
2. Use Lubricant: Condoms should always be worn and used with a water based lubricant which helps prevent condoms from breaking.
3. Get Tested Regularly: (even If you are in a monogamous relationship) and encourage your partner to do the same. If you are not at high risk for getting HIV or any STD (not having sex regularly), it is still important to get tested. Always get tested before starting a new sexual relationship and encourage your new partner to do the same.
4. Avoid Sexual Activity: If you feel you are unable to have sex safely, you should avoid all sexual activity as you may be putting yourself or others at risk. If you are unsure if you have HIV or an STD get tested. If your test has returned positive make sure to listen to your doctor’s advice on treatment and make sure you have the all-clear from your doctor before resuming sexual activity.
5. Have Sex Only Within a Mutually Monogamous Relationship: Two people who have sex only with one another don’t have any opportunity to bring a new STD into the relationship. If you and your partner have been tested and are healthy, remaining faithful to each other is a very good way to reduce your chances of contracting an STD. It is important to be comfortable talking about safe sex with your partner.
6. Never Rely on the Withdrawal Method: Pre-ejaculate of an HIV-positive man may transmit the virus, always use a condom.
7. Only Use Safe Injecting Equipment: Using unclean or sharing injecting drug equipment is one of the most efficient ways of transmitting HIV.
8. Don’t Drink or Use Drugs Before Having Sex: It’s difficult to make responsible choices about your sex life if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol. When you are under the influence, you are more likely to choose to have sex with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have picked as a partner, and less likely to be able to successfully negotiate safer sex.
11. Be Comfortable Saying No!!!!: You should never have sex unless you want to. Get comfortable saying no. If you don’t feel it is right, that’s ok. It’s your choice to say yes to sex, and it’s also your choice to say no. Similarly, if your partner tells you no, listen.
12. Be Responsible for Your Own Protection: It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. If you’re going to have sex, you should be prepared. This is not only a matter of emotional preparation but practicality. Bring your own safer sex supplies. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have extras. If you are unsure how to use these correctly talk to your doctor.
Remember: Can you use two condoms for extra protection against STD’s and Pregnancy? No, you should never use more than one condom at a time. Using two condoms actually offers less protection than using just one. Why? Using two condoms can cause friction between them, weakening the material and increasing the chance that the condoms might break. No other method of birth control is as successful at protecting people against sexually transmitted diseases as a condom so always use a condom if you are having sex but always only use one at a time.

Source: Port Moresby General Hospital

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't Chew Betel Nut, Don't Smoke, Reduce Alcohol, Eat Healthy, Exercise Regularly

The Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) accompanied by members of the SP Hunters Rugby Team conducted the Healthy Teens School Program (HTSP) to Grade 8 students of Hagara Primary School in Port Moresby today.
PNGCF Health Educator Mr Jacob Oburi conducted the HTSP workshop to 120 Grade 8 students of Hagara Primary School. The workshop focused on encouraging teenagers to make healthy lifestyle choices as a way to reduce the risk of developing cancer in the future.
At the end of the workshop, the SP Hunters assisted Mr Oburi with the Q&A session and distributed school packs to the students that answered correctly. Rhadley Brawa on behalf of the SP Hunters also encouraged the students to live healthy and active lifestyles.
PNGCF were pleased to have the SP Hunters Watson Boas, Karo Kauna Jnr, Wartovo Puara and
Rhadley Brawa come to the Schools Cancer Education Program at Hagara Primary School. The SP Hunters Team has been an avid supporter of the work of the Foundation and we look forward to continuing this partnership this year.
PNGCF would like to thank Kumul Holdings Limited & Kumul Consolidated Holdings, ExxonMobil PNG and Moore Printing for making the School Cancer Education Program possible.
Protect your Family from Cancer. Don't Chew Betel Nut. Don't Smoke. Reduce Alcohol. Eat Healthy. Exercise Regularly. Source: PNG Cancer Foundation

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Creator Supports NCD HPV Pilot Vaccination Program.

On a recent visit to Cancer Council Queensland, the Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation CEO Dadi Toka Jr and Programs Manager Priscillar Napoleon had the honor of meeting the 2006 Australian of the Year, Australian Immunologist and Creator of the Cervical Cancer vaccine also known as the Human PapilomaVirus (HPV) Vaccine, Professor Ian Fraser AC.
Professor Ian was very pleased to hear that the NCD pilot was finally being implemented. He expressed his support and assistance if required by PNG.
The HPV Vaccination program in NCD, which began at the beginning of this month has so far administered the first dose of cervical cancer vaccine to over 8,000 girls with the second dose scheduled for 6months time.
The 2017 NCD HPV Pilot Vaccination program is supported by Rotary International, Rotary Club of Boroko, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, NCD Health Services, US Embassy, PNG Cancer Foundation, WHO and UNICEF. PNG Cancer Foundation

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The science of taste: Why we choose fries over broccoli

Most people say that if there is a healthy choice on a menu they will take it.

But observations and research show this is generally not the case.

Instead, people tend to make choices based on how food tastes. Typically, the more sugar, salt and fat in the food, the more we will like it.

Genetics, experience and environment also influence our perception of food and the consumption choices we make.

Australians are still not eating as healthily as they should, despite years of programs and publicity warning of the health impacts of poor diets.

But what if we could make healthier foods taste better and thus improve eating patterns?

To examine questions of food taste, flavour and digestion under controlled conditions, we have developed a computational model of food mastication (chewing) and digestion.

We have also developed a kit to map genes that predict flavour preferences, and are measuring how proteins in saliva affect food flavour.

A model to chew on

How a person chews their food, mixes it with saliva and squeezes it with their tongue has a large impact on how it tastes.

But eating is a complex process and is different for every person, and until recently was very difficult to measure and monitor.

Our model can simulate eating behaviour based on data from real people eating different foods. It shows how food products break down in the mouth and how components such as sugar and salt are transported to our taste receptors.

We are also modelling how food gets broken down in the stomach and what happens to it as it moves through the digestive tract.

This will help in the future development of food matched to an individual's physiology, which can deliver nutrients at the ideal location and control the rate of digestion.

Measuring genetic variation in taste

It's now clear that variation in genes influences whether people will like certain foods, and how much they will eat.

For example, the presence or absence of a particular form of a gene involved in smell determines whether an individual is sensitive to androstenone, a molecule that generates the unpleasant flavour found in pork from male pigs.

Individuals with a variant of this particular gene can detect androstenone by sniffing pork.

Androstenone sensitivity is reported to be much higher in Asian populations than in those of European descent.

Other genes are involved in determining preference or avoidance of bitter flavours. For example, a compound known as PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) is commonly found in green vegetables such as broccoli, and contributes to creating a bitter taste.

People who have the gene for a bitter receptor known as TAS2R38 are able to taste the compound, either mildly or very strongly.

Those without the gene for this receptor are unable to taste it. This explains why some people like their greens more than others.

The CSIRO is developing a genetic kit with the goal of predicting whether or not individuals will like particular foods.

Working with people in their own homes, we have tested and validated a "PROP kit" for detecting and rating bitterness intensity in food.

Our preliminary analysis of DNA collected from test subjects' saliva and cheek cells showed that those who could taste bitterness had the TAS2R38 bitter receptor, and those that could not taste bitterness did not have this receptor.

The test also allowed us to predict which consumers were bitter tasters and which were non-tasters.

This sort of kit gives us an idea of why some people like their greens more than others. The kit will be further tested and validated in a much larger cohort of Australians of both Asian and European descent.

Saliva can alter the taste of food

Saliva is vital in helping us eat food safely, and it lubricates and transports taste molecules from food to our taste buds.

Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which breaks down starch into sugars.

If you've ever noticed that some children keep bread in their mouth for a long time, it's because as the amylase in their saliva acts on the starch, more sugar is produced and the bread tastes sweeter.

There are other enzymes in saliva that act on fat and protein, and control how we perceive food.

The composition of saliva in each person is different. It changes throughout the day, and is influenced by what you eat, what exercise you have done, your mood, and even whether it is light or dark outside.

Proteomics (the study of proteins and their function) is an approach that can measure differences in the protein composition of different people's saliva.

The types and level of proteins and enzymes present in saliva vary from person to person, and this changes the way flavour is released from food in our mouth.

The bacteria that live in our mouths, part of our microbiome, also have an influence.

For example, bacteria change the flavours of food by increasing the production of molecules that create particular taste experiences.

The types of bacteria that are present create a unique response in each individual.

Research into individual food preferences — whether they be as a result of our genetics, saliva or the way we chew — may one day guide food manufacturers to produce healthier options of our everyday foods.

Hopefully this may contribute to consumers making better menu selections and decrease the number of food-related diseases currently affecting Australians.

Ingrid Appelqvist is Research Group Leader and Food R&D policy leader at CSIRO

Originally published in The Conversation
Source:
ABC

Want to be killed by tobacco?

​Do you want to be among the 7 million killed by tobacco yearly?

Take a moment today on World No Tobacco Day to reflect on health problems that tobacco use can cause.

Tobacco use is still one of main factors behind the global non-communicable disease crises.

Highlighted in the Tobacco Free Pacific 2025, tobacco use is the major cause of preventable premature death in many Pacific islands.

The tobacco use prevalence and prevalence of exposure to second-hand smoke in the Pacific are very high. For example, over 70% of men in one Pacific island smoke, while in another, close to 55% of women smoke. Nonsmokers are also burdened. As much as 76% of young people are exposed to second-hand smoke inside the home and 86% outside the home in the Pacific.

Each Pacific Islands have taken action to cut down on the statistics.

Papua New Guinea passed its Tobacco Control Act 2016 last year; a law to see much greater tobacco product control in the country.

World No Tobacco Day, recognised by the World Health Organisation and United Nations, is observed yearly to raise awareness on health problems that tobacco use can cause.

This event has been observed each year since 1989. LoopPNG

The challenges of poor menstrual health

Poor menstrual health (MH) poses similar challenges as adolescent pregnancy does to girls’ health and education.

Despite it being a foundation to human life, menstruation is still shrouded in stigma and taboo in many societies – because of poor knowledge.

This limits girls’ ability to manage menstruation in hygienic and dignified ways, resulting in poor health and school absenteeism.

But this is about to take a turn. A global movement has started with the aim to change the approach.

A paper published last week titled “Prioritising periods and preventing unwanted pregnancy: addressing menstrual and reproductive health in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea” is one looking into this area.

The paper stated that:

“While evidence on MH and school attendance in the Asia-Pacific is poor, exploratory research in Timor-Leste highlights that understanding of menstruation is limited, with girls unaware of menstruation prior to menarche. Research also shows menstruation can be a deterrent from attending school, but access to appropriate facilities and products can help overcome this. New research is currently being undertaken on these issues in Solomon Islands, Fiji, and PNG with funding from the Australian Government, which will provide further evidence on MH in the Pacific.”

The paper also notes separate approaches on pregnancy (sexual and reproductive health) and menstrual health.

In an innovative new partnership supported by the Australian Government through the Gender Action Platform, Marie Stopes International Australia (MSIA) and WaterAid Australia aim to tackle these two areas simultaneously, recognising that both reproductive and menstrual health are critical to girls’ ability to be healthy, educated and empowered.

Sexual and reproductive health services (including family planning) and menstrual health education will be provided to adolescent girls and boys, as well as adult community members, in rural and urban Timor-Leste and PNG.

Facility upgrades will take place so school toilets are better equipped and more discreet and local sanitary product development will be tested by women entrepreneurs. The project will also strengthen cross-collaboration and learning within the development sector.  LoopPNG

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pathology laboratory opens in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea now has a current Pathology Laboratory in Port Moresby.

This pathology laboratory is the first of its kind for PNG, opened for the public in the nation’s capital last year.

Located at the Taurama Foodland area, this state-of-the-art and medically equipped laboratory received its accredited Australian-standard certificates which now allows for its full operation.

Director Martin Poh said Papua New Guineans no longer need to travel overseas as the service is now available in the country.

The lab is crucial for the public and will greatly assist every Papua New Guinean especially at a cheap price of K280 to do these medical tests and know their health status.

The lab specialises testing in kidney, liver, cardiovascular diabetes, urine, thyroid test and screening or any kind of infectious diseases and the general public is urged to make use of this service to get their tests done at a reasonable price when needed.LoopPNG

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Public health system in PNG gets first MRI scanner

The Port Moresby General Hospital (POMGH) today launched the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanner in the public health system of Papua New Guinea.

The K4.5 million project was funded by the National Fisheries Authority.

The GE 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner is one of the most advanced MRI scanners in its class in the world.

 A MRI scanner does not use radiation unlike a computed tomography (CT) scanner and is most suitable for the brain, spine, bones, joints and muscles.

Whereas a CT scanner is more suitable for the chest, heart, lymph nodes and blood vessels.

One important use of the MRI is in cancer patients where precise visualization of the cancer inside the body can help doctors in surgical planning or prevent an unnecessary surgery in cancer patients.

Chief Radiologist Dr Dora Lentrut Katal said the MRI scan is a Government subsidised service and will be free to the public up until April.

Dr Katal said the POMGH Board will decide on the usage fee which is expected to be less than K500.

POMGH chief executive officer and vascular surgeon Dr Umesh Gupta said they’re well on this much needed path of modernisation at POMGN.

The Radiology Department now has a 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner, a 128 slice ultrafast CT scanner and digital mammography.

The department also has a full-fledged digital radiography with an IT system that enables the doctors to see the images immediately right at the bedside or in clinics.

Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Mao Zeming said MRI is a significant advancement in healthcare in PNG and NFA is proud to be associated with POMGH.

The NFA and the Sir Theo Foundation supported the funding of getting MRI expert Dr Parveen Gulati and MRI technician Harbansh Bhatia from India for the training of PNG doctors and technicians. LoopPNG

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Safe guarding your health : Effects of taking Soft drinks

While soft drinks are easily purchased on every street in the Port Moresby city not many people are aware of the effects of drinking this much loved drink.

These sweet drinks are the cause of dental decay, infertility and sores just to name a few.

Dental Decay
Yes its true soft drinks are acidic and yes it does erode enamel. If taken on a regular basis the acid found in these sweet drinks has dissolving agents that will eat the enamel found in teeth away.

2. Infertility
Yes soft drinks can cause infertility. The chemical called BPA found in a all soft drinks is a toxin that is currently causing obesity, infertility, increased miscarriage, polycystic ovary and reproductive cancers.

3. Lesions or Sores
It’s true that soft drinks do cause nasty skin lesions, memory loss, nerve disorders and lack of muscle coordination.

So for all you soft drink lovers it’s time to get off this energy roller coasters and try a soft drink free life!

With today’s increase in lifestyle diseases, safe guarding your health is of paramount importance. Source: Post Courier

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Nurses to benefit from accommodation

Nurses in Southern Highlands are pleased after a K2 million nurses accommodation funded by the Papua New Guinea Nurses Association (PNGNA) was launched on Tuesday.
Only 12 nurses and their families will occupy the 12 units.
The nurses were confident that in future, their accommodation problem would  be addressed and this was the start.
PNGNA acting national-vice president Frederick Kebai said the nurses’ accommodation were funded through a submission made to the Somare-Temu Government in 2006.
He said the then Health Minister Sir Peter Barter pushed for it on behalf of PNGNA.
A funding of K15 million was allocated but there was a change of Government resulting in the delay of funds until 2012 when the funds were finally released.
Kebai said PNGNA national president Late Eimi Kapitgau spearheaded the K15 million projects and the rollout included;

Gerehu Stage 3B – K4 million through a Memorandum of Agreement, 17 houses were constructed while the balance is still active through the existing agreement;
Alotau – K2 million, the project is very slow and is yet to be completed, they were the first province to receive funding;
Kimbe – K2 million, the project was completed with units currently occupied by members;
Mt Hagen – K2 million, PNGNA is yet to be advised of the current status of the project; and,
Mendi – K2 million, project has now been completed and is ready with 12 units to house the members.
“This housing rollout by the PNGNA executive decision will continue until we ensure 90 per cent of our members are accommodated in a quality, secure and modern homes,” Kebai said
“I reaffirm the PNGNA’s position that if our members feel secure about their wellbeing and that of their families, they will provide the best level of service to our health care.”
Southern Highlands Provincial Health Authority chief executive officer Dr Joseph Birisi thanked PNGNA for their confidence in the former Mendi General Hospital board and giving the pilot project.
Birisi named the nurses accommodation area as ‘Sr Wesi Kerak Compound’ after the first nurse in the province and had worked for 52 years.  She is still active and continues her duty today. The National

PNG has no money to address cancer

THE government should put its resources where its mouth is given the current situation faced at the National Cancer Centre in Lae.

Recently the Health Minister Michael Malabag in a page media statement said cancer treatment and support in PNG is now a priority for the government and the department of Health.

And while the Health Department and the cancer management has the road maps to holistically address the growing needs of cancer patients and treatment in PNG, the bleak reality is where is the money to make it happen?

George Otto, the cancer centre manager, said yesterday when refuting a statement on the cancer service issue by Elias Kapavore the chairman of the special parliamentary committee on public sector reform and service delivery.

He said Mr Kapavore’s claims were factually incorrect.

Mr Otto said the statement was destructive and Mr Kapavore and his committee should be helping and not pointing fingers.

He stressed that cancer has no funding, adding that the cancer management had the action plan in place for K16.2 million to effectively administer the service annually.

Mr Malabag had stated that the National Cancer Plan estimate K15 million costs a year was necessary to provide services to cancer patients. Post Courier

Monday, February 27, 2017

Expansion of cancer ward by volunteers in PNG

Former Radiation Oncologist Doctor John Niblett says during his time at the Cancer Centre he invited colleagues from overseas to do voluntary work at the Centre.

He said a Dr Anthony Knittle visited to calibrate the cobalt machine and help radiation therapists in computerized planning every four months, Chris Walsh senior tutor in radiation therapy at the Royal Brisbane hospital upgrade training of radiation therapists and Catherine Beaufort senior Tutor at Alfred hospital in Melbourne helped upgrade training of PNGNCTC Radiation therapists and teach students of radiation therapy at the University of Technology and Ian Lynch a senior Radiation Therapist who had worked in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam visited the cancer centre during his time to help for free.

“These people contributed to the expansion of the cancer center in Lae for free,” said Dr Niblett. Post Courier

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why eating a lot of fat is worse for men than women

It's generally agreed that eating too much fat is bad for you, but exactly how much damage it can do depends on whether you are a man or a woman, writes Dr Zoe Williams.

Eating too much fat can make you put on weight and lead to heart disease - especially if you eat too much of the wrong kind of fat, such as the omega-6 fats found in many processed foods. But now it seems sausages, pastries and cakes are even worse for men than they are for women.

A recent study measured how the two sexes responded when they spent a week eating large amounts of these foods and how it affected their ability to control blood sugar levels. I wanted to test this diet myself, and in order to compare my response to that of a man I persuaded the person behind the research, Dr Matt Cocks of Liverpool John Moores University, to join me.

Before we started, our body fat was measured and our blood sugar levels recorded. We were given glucose monitors to wear to keep track of our blood sugar throughout the week.

Zoe's typical day on the high fat diet

§  Breakfast: Three eggs, 30g cheddar cheese, 60g chorizo, 10g butter

§  Lunch: 10g butter, cheese and onion roll, pork pie, two cheese strings

§  Dinner: 150g pork belly, 30g cheddar cheese, 60g coleslaw, three hash browns

§  Snacks: Can of cola, 30g nuts

In order to have an impact in just one week, our diet contained about 50% more calories than we would normally eat. A typical evening meal included a couple of sausages, some hash browns, a few slices of bacon, and a lump of cheese.

Twice during the week, Matt and I also drank a sugary drink to introduce sugar into our blood stream. This mimics what happens when we eat carbohydrates which our bodies break down into sugars. The glucose monitors would be able to show us whether the diet was affecting our ability to clear this sugar from our blood.

When we looked at the results we saw that, like the women in Matt's study, my ability to control my blood sugar levels didn't get any worse on the diet. Matt, however, got 50% worse at clearing glucose from his blood.

The same trend was apparent in Matt's research, where on average men got 14% worse at controlling their sugar levels.

"One of the first steps towards type 2 diabetes is poorer control of glucose," says Matt. "So what we're seeing here, is that I've really lowered my control of sugar, and if I continued with that for a long time, that would probably progress me to type 2 diabetes."

The diet Matt and I undertook was extreme but in the real world the same processes will be happening to a lesser extent in people who regularly over consume unhealthy fats.

So what can men do about it?

The best advice is to eat a balanced diet but exercise can also help.

"If you have a meal and then you exercise, then you're going to start to burn that meal," says Matt. "So say you eat a very high fat meal or a sugary meal, you can start to remove the negative effects by going for a walk afterwards."
Source:  BBC

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Understanding how cancer begins

The World Cancer Day falls on Saturday February 4, and we wanted to celebrate this day by putting together this article to help in raising awareness about cancer in our country.

Have you ever wondered how a person develops cancer?

To start with, we know that cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.

But how does cancer form in a person?

To answer that question, one has to understand the genetics of cancer.

Firstly, it will make your read easier to know about human genes as explained by Cancer.Net:

Genes are found in the DNA in each cell that makes up your body. They control how the cell functions, including how quickly it grows, how often it divides, and how long it lives. Researchers estimate that there are 30,000 different genes in each cell.

Genes are located on 46 chromosomes, which are arranged in two sets of 23 chromosomes. You inherit one set of chromosomes from your mother and one set from your father. One chromosome in each set of 23 determines whether you are female or male. The other 22 chromosome pairs, called autosomes, determine your other physical characteristics.

Genes control how your cells work by making proteins that have specific functions and act as messengers for the cell. Therefore, each gene must have the correct instructions or "code" for making its protein. This is so the protein can perform the correct function for the cell. All cancers begin when one or more genes in a cell are mutated, or changed. This creates an abnormal protein or no protein at all. An abnormal protein provides different information than a normal protein, which can cause cells to multiply uncontrollably and become cancerous.

About genetic mutations

There are two basic types of genetic mutations:

Acquired mutations are the most common cause of cancer. These occur from damage to genes during a person’s life.  They are not passed from parent to child. Factors such as tobacco, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, viruses, and age cause these mutations. Cancer that occurs because of acquired mutations is called sporadic cancer.
Germline mutations, which are less common, are passed directly from a parent to a child. In these situations, the mutation can be found in every cell of a person’s body, including the reproductive sperm cells in a boy’s body and egg cells in a girl’s body. Because the mutation affects reproductive cells, it passes from generation to generation. Cancer caused by germline mutations is called inherited cancer, and it makes up about 5% to 10% of all cancers.
Mutations and cancer
Mutations happen often, and the human body is normally able to correct most of them. Depending on where in the gene the change occurs, a mutation may be beneficial, harmful, or make no difference at all. So, one mutation alone is unlikely to lead to cancer. Usually, it takes multiple mutations over a lifetime to cause cancer. This is why cancer occurs more often in older people who have had more opportunities for mutations to build up.

Types of genes linked to cancer

Many of the genes that contribute to the development of cancer fall into broad categories:

Tumor suppressor genes are protective genes. Normally, they limit cell growth by monitoring how quickly cells divide into new cells, repairing mismatched DNA, and controlling when a cell dies. When a tumor suppressor gene is mutated, cells grow uncontrollably and may eventually form a mass called a tumor. BRCA1, BRCA2, and p53 are examples of tumor suppressor genes. Germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase a woman’s risk of developing hereditary breast or ovarian cancers. The most commonly mutated gene in people who have cancer is p53. In fact, more than 50% of all cancers involve a missing or damaged p53 gene. Most p53 gene mutations are acquired mutations. Germline p53 mutations are rare.
Oncogenes turn a healthy cell into a cancerous cell. Mutations in these genes are not inherited. Two common oncogenes are:
HER2, which is a specialised protein that controls cancer growth and spread, and it is found on some cancer cells, such as breast and ovarian cancer cells
The ras family of genes, which make proteins involved in cell communication pathways, cell growth, and cell death.
DNA repair genes fix mistakes made when DNA is copied. But if a person has an error in a DNA repair gene, these mistakes are not corrected. And then they become mutations, which may eventually lead to cancer. This is especially true if the mutation occurs in a tumor suppressor gene or oncogene. Mutations in DNA repair genes can be inherited, such as with Lynch syndrome, or acquired.
Despite all that is known about the different ways cancer genes work, many cancers cannot be linked to a specific gene. Cancer likely involves multiple gene mutations. Some evidence also suggests that genes interact with their environment, further complicating genes’ role in cancer.

Doctors hope to continue learning more about how genetic changes affect the development of cancer. This knowledge may lead to improvements in finding and treating cancer, as well as predicting a person’s risk of cancer.

World Cancer Day is February 4, Saturday.

Over the weeks, Loop lifestyle will bring more information on cancer.

LoopPNG : Picture: MedecineNet

Cancer patient needs overseas treatment

39 year old Winnie Mou Solien from Gaire village in Central currently admitted at Angau hospital in Lae with cervical cancer at stage 2B needs overseas radiation treatment costing more than K50 000.

According to husband Jerry Solien, he is aware that the K50 000 is only for the treatment at the identified Manila hospital but the travel and living expenses can total up to K100 000.

Mr Solien said Winnie was referred to Angau last November from the Port Moresby General hospital and admitted on 02nd December 2016 and finally undergoing external beam radiotherapy last month on 04th January at the Cancer Centre.

Mr  Solien said given the current status of Winnie’s treatment now encountering added complications, she need’s overseas treatment once her current radiation treatment plan ends in a month’s time.

Mr Solien said he is now faced with the huge task of raising more than K50 000 to bring her wife to Manila for further treatment and the money is needed to be raised within the next four weeks only.

“Otherwise the treatment is not complete after my wife completes her radiation treatment in Lae,” said Mr Solien.

Mr Solien said the needed treatment is there but all he needs is the financial assistance to bring his wife overseas.

He said so far he spent up to K6 000 to come to Lae seeking treatment.

Mr Solien is appealing for much needed financial assistance from the public at this time and for more details to assist, you can call him (Mr Solien) as well her younger sister who is assisting to seek the much needed funds.

Contact details are as follows; Jerry Solien phone number is 75349282 and her sister, Gini Segana Katrina Solien mobile number 79166279.

Donations can be made to account number 6001460758, Westpac bank, Waigani branch and account name is Gini Segana Katrina Solien.

According to the Doctor John Niblett, the only Radiation Oncologist currently in PNG, the late stage two of cervical cancer is not curative through surgery.

He said if surgery is done the cancer will come back.

Dr Niblett said radiation therapy of cervical cancer at stage two is 60% curable, stage three is 35-45%-45% curable and stage four is 15% curable. Post Courier

Monday, January 30, 2017

Community fundraiser to assist Modilon Hospital

A COMMUNITY fundraiser will be held next month in Madang to assist the Modilon General Hospital with funds to purchase much needed equipment for its emergency department.

These include Patient Electronic Monitor, Pulse Oxymeter , Digital Blood Pressure Machine, Manual Blood Pressure Machine,  Nebuliser Machine, Nebuliser Cups, Stethescopes, Auroscopes, Headlamp, Privacy Screens.

The event will take place on February 18 at the Madang Club starting 7pm.

The Madang Lodge Hotel and the Rotary Club of Madang are the hosts.

President of the Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kevin Murray said the evening theme is a Valentine’s Day Masquerade Mask Buffet Dinner and Fashion Show.

This is not the first and certainly by no means will be the last that the business community and the town’s not for profit organisations have joined forces to raise funds for a worthy cause.

The hospital’s Director Medical Services Dr Vincent Atua and staff are expected to attend this event and to make a presentation on the work being carried out at the hospital.

Members of the business community and the general public have been urged to attend.

Tickets are going for K70 and can be purchased at the Madang Club, Madang Lodge Hotel, Maureen Hill Nursery. Post Courier

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Health workshop discusses ways to fight AMR in PNG

A second stakeholder’s workshop held earlier this week was to review the preliminary results of the country situational analysis.

The workshop was also to discuss the way forward on combatting AMR in PNG.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is currently a priority agenda for the Department of Health of Papua New Guinea.

This is supported by the priority actions listed in the Action Agenda for Antimicrobial Resistance in the Western Pacific Region, which was endorsed by the Sixty-fifth session of the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific Region as well as the Global Action Plan on AMR endorsed at the World Health Assembly in May 2015.

The Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance urges all WHO Member States to develop National Action Plans on AMR by May 2017. In collaboration with NDOH, a country situation analysis has been conducted and a multi-sectoral national action plan on AMR drafted in 2016.

This workshop aimed at build on the active dialogue among key stakeholders related to combating the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in Papua New Guinea and to establish a clear way forward in addressing this issue.

Participants included representatives from the relevant sectors notably human health, animal health and production, and the food and environment sectors.

A key element discussed in the workshop is advocacy and breaking the message down for the bulk of our population.

LoopPNG/Picture by Arts and Humanities Research Council

Friday, January 20, 2017

New vaccination to fight cervical cancer in Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea  National Department of Health (NDoH) and The Rotary Club of Boroko Inc has welcomed the arrival of the Gardasil vaccination against Cervical Cancer today in Port Moresby.

The Gardasil vaccination, also called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, enables the body to protect itself against most types of cervical cancer and genital warts and is most effective when given to young girls before the onset of sexual activity.

HPV is one of the main contributing factors to cervical cancer.

Eligible girls will receive two doses of the vaccination 6 months apart.

At the airport to receive the 3 pallets of vaccines were Dr Edward Waramin (NDOH Adolescent Health Manager), Dr Julia Stinshoff and Johnny Arava (NDOH Acting EPI Manager).

Dr Waramin who is also the Team Leader for the HPV Vaccination Pilot in Port Moresby said: “I am very excited that the project is moving forward and I would like to thank all the stakeholders of this project for their patience and support.”

The HPV Vaccination pilot is a project working in partnership with the Rotary Club of Boroko, NCD Health Services, US Embassy, Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) and other stakeholders.

PNG is thought to have among the highest burdens of cervical cancer globally and it is estimated that 1500 women die every year of cervical cancer in PNG.

LoopPNG

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Robotic sleeve 'hugs' failing hearts

Scientists have developed a robotic sleeve that can help hearts pump when they are failing.

The sleeve - made of material that mimics heart muscle - hugs the outside of the heart and squeezes it, mimicking the action of cardiac muscle.

The early study, published in Science Translational Medicine, shows the concept works on pig hearts.

The British Heart Foundation describes it as a "novel approach" that requires further trials.

'Synchronised movement'

Over half a million people in the UK have heart failure.

It is a long-term condition that gradually gets worse over time.

For people with the illness, the heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly - most commonly because cardiac muscle has been damaged, after a heart attack, for example.

Scientists based at Harvard and the Boston Children's Hospital, and in Leeds, say their soft sleeve was inspired by the actions and structure of real heart muscle.

The silicon-based device stiffens or relaxes when inflated with pressurised air.

Fixing it around six pig hearts, scientists found they were able to synchronise the sleeve with each heart's shape and movements.

The study shows the robotic sleeve helped boost the amount of blood being pumped around the body.

And when the hearts stopped beating, the sleeves helped restore blood flow.

Currently, mechanical devices can be implanted in the heart to help it pump. But because they are in direct contact with heart tissue, the body can react to them - leading to the risk of dangerous blood clots.

Researchers argue their sleeve could help cut this risk by "hugging" the outside of the heart rather than being implanted inside it.

But they acknowledge their research is still at an early stage and much longer-term animal studies and then human studies would need to be carried out before it could be used in patients.

Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "People living with end-stage heart failure are in desperate need of symptom relief, and some will even require a heart transplant.

"We currently don't have enough hearts available to meet the needs of those who require a heart transplant, so we're always looking for innovative new ways to buy time to give people the best chance possible of receiving a new heart and a new lease of life.

"This early research suggests a novel approach to help support heart function, and it will be interesting to see if this translates successfully in human trials in the future."
Source:
BBC