EMJ Weekly News Round-Up: 1st December

Jack Redden
Reporter, European Medical Journal
@EMGJackRedden

Keeping you up to date with the latest news, we summarise a selection of stories from us here at EMJ and from across the web that you might have missed during the week:

Study Looks at Why Spending Too Much Time in Space Damages Your Eyes
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Monday 28th November.
At the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting, scientists spoke about how changes in the volume of an astronaut’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) during space-flight is linked to visual impairment intracranial pressure (VIIP) syndrome. They found that many astronauts on long-duration missions at the International Space Station suffered from the syndrome which causes blurry sight and even flattens the back of the eyeballs. Their new study suggests the microgravity of space makes problematic the regulation of the cerebrospinal fluid system. As a result, symptoms of VIIP have been linked to a build-up of CSF in the globes of the astronaut’s eyes.

Personalised Risk Information Does not Benefit Patient Health
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Tuesday 29th November.
Researchers have found that telling a patient about their genetic and phenotypic risk estimate of Type 2 diabetes doesn’t appear to motivate positive behaviour change, including physical activity, even when the risk is high. Their study highlights the need to find out more about how risk information can be better implemented as part of preventive strategies. Interestingly, they also found that patients felt no more anxious after being given this information, allaying some concerns surrounding the psychological impacts of direct-to-consumer genetic tests.

Religious Experiences Activate Same Parts of the Brain as Drug-Taking
Source: Wired UK. Published: Wednesday 30th November.
A team of neuroscientists in America have found that spiritual and religious experiences activates reward-based neural systems associated with drug-taking. A group of Mormons was recruited for the study whose brain activity was measured while performing specific tasks, such as reading Biblical excerpts, to induce spiritual feelings. The team saw that the parts of the brain activated by these feelings were the same that instigate dopamine release during drug-taking. They do also note, however, that further research is needed to confirm these results and address the limitations of the study.

United Kingdom May Soon Be Given Go-Ahead for ‘Three-Parent’ Babies
Source: New Scientist. Published: Wednesday 30th November.
On the 15th of December, the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will decide whether to allow clinical trials to begin on the birth of children from modified embryos that contain DNA from three people. The UK Government already approved the procedure for ‘three-parent’ babies back in 2015. The HFEA, however, as the regulator of mitochondrial-replacement therapy, requested more research before allowing trials to go ahead.

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