EMJ Weekly News Round-Up: 9th 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:

A Handful of Nuts a Day Keeps the Diseases Away
Source: NHS Choices. Published: Monday 5th December.
This is a story about the recent study carried out in Norway where researchers found that eating 28 grams of nuts, or a handful, was linked to a 20% reduction in the risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from any cause. This was a systematic review of 20 previous studies looking at the benefits of eating nuts by looking at people’s dietary habits. Because of the observational data used, the study can’t go as far to prove that nuts are the sole cause for a lower risk of disease but it does point to another way in which you can work towards ensuring a healthier lifestyle.

Prediction Tool Helps Clinicians Assess Patient’s Cancer Risk Using Their iPhone
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Thursday 8th December.
The charity, Cancer Research UK, have just launched a free iOS app in partnership with the British Thoracic Society (BTS) to help doctors plan their next steps when dealing with patients presenting pulmonary nodules. While often harmless, these nodules do carry a risk of developing into lung cancer. The app provides risk calculators and measurement tools to help decide whether these nodules are likely to become malignant and provides recommendations for subsequent management according to BTS guidelines.

Psychotic Illnesses Linked to Immune System
Source: BBC. Published: Thursday 8th December.
A team at Oxford University have suggested that some patients diagnosed with psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may instead have a treatable immune disorder. In their study, the scientists looked at blood samples of people after they developed psychosis. The team reported that antibodies in some of the patients’ immune system were attacking the NMDA receptor in the brain which might be relevant to their diagnosed illness.

Experimental Drug Shows Promise for Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease
Source: European Medical Journal. Published: Thursday 8th December.
The final story from this week reports on the interim results of an ongoing Phase II trial which showed that intrathecal injections of nusinersen appears to be an effective treatment for infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy. Although used in a small sample size of 20, the drug improved motor functions in the majority of patients. The method of administration was also well-tolerated and the adverse events that patients experienced throughout the trial were not regarded as drug-related. These findings have been used to design a Phase III drug to further explore the use of nusinersen for treating the disease.

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