News Bites brings you 5 weekly news in bite-sized form.

1. Recovery position found to be counter-effective for casualties

Being part of the first aid manuals for decades, the recovery position is usually used on casualties after an accident, but new research suggests otherwise.

Emergency room doctors at the Public Health Emergency Foundation in Galicia, Spain, suggest that placing victims on their side in the recovery position can make it harder for first aiders to spot if a person is having breathing difficulties, leading to crucial delays in administering CPR if a patient requires it.

The study looked at only 59 cases but in nearly half of them, it took at least two minutes before experienced first aiders realised a casualty had stopped breathing when they were in the recovery position.

The doctors suggest that first aiders should keep casualties on their back and use the head tilt, chin lift technique to open a person's airways. In the study, 85% of the rescuers spotted breathing had stopped in under two minutes.

However, St John Ambulance said current advice should not be changed until there was more evidence on the matter.

2. Blood-flow-reversal technique reduces risk of stroke

Reversing the blood flow from the brain to the heart, surgeons at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa have shown that strokes can be prevented using a new technology.

Blood is channelled from the brain through a special external filter and injected back into the body via the femoral vein. This way, it keeps bits of plaque in a clogged carotid artery from travelling to the brain, where strokes can occur. When the stent is inserted, plaque can be knocked loose and filtered out.

The system is made by Silk Road Medical in Sunnyvale and has been approved by the US FDA Studies showed that only 1.4% of patients suffered strokes after undergoing the blood-flow-reversal technique. Those who underwent regular stenting procedures had a 4% risk rate.

The team hopes to carry out a randomly-assigned clinical trial soon to prove that the new techniques outperform the traditional ones.

3. Early drug trials shrinks advanced ovarian tumours

A new targeted treatment for advanced ovarian cancer has shown "very promising" results in an early drug trial ̶ shrinking tumours in about half of women who took part in the small trial.

The drug has only begun its human clinical trials, but an almost instant clinical effect was seen. It is hoped the drug could help women who have no other treatments to turn to.

So far, it has only been tested in 15 women and researchers say it may not be safe for long-term consumption. The drug known as ONX-0801 mimics the ability of folic acid selectively to latch on to cancer cells, while leaving healthy tissue alone.

It then disrupts the chemistry by blocking the action of a key molecule, causing DNA damage and tumour cell death. This reduces the side-effects often seen with traditional chemotherapy.

The researchers hope to carry out bigger clinical trials as soon as possible and have developed a test that can detect which women are most likely to benefit from the treatment.

4. "Pocket colposcope" can make cervical cancer screening more accessible

A prototype of the speculum-free
A prototype of the speculum-free "pocket colposcope" being developed by Duke University produces images on a smart phone or laptop and can make cervical cancer screening more accessible to women living in low-resource areas. Photo credit: Duke University.

A new handheld device that screens for cervical cancer promises to eliminate uncomfortable speculums and high-cost colposcopes. The device is developed by Duke University researchers, which can connect to many devices, including laptops or cell phones.

The researchers say that women might even use the device to self-screen, transforming screening and cure rates in low-income countries and certain regions of the United States where cervical cancer is most prevalent.

The all-in-one device that resembles a pocket-sized tampon, has lights and a camera at one end to capture images of the cervix using the rounded tip of the device to manipulate its position if necessary.

The device also includes a channel for contrast agents used for the cervical cancer screening procedure to be applied. The team is now working on clinical trials to test the design out and is working towards an automated version of the screening process.

5. Uterine fibroids does not increase risk of miscarriages

A decade-long study by Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, has shown that uterine fibroids do not cause miscarriages, contrary to conventional beliefs.
The researchers showed that women with fibroids were not at an increased risk of miscarriage, rather they had an identical risk of miscarriage as women without fibroids have other risks for pregnancy loss to take into account.

The study looked at more than 5,500 women of which 11% had uterine fibroids and 89% did not. The chance for miscarriage for both groups was 11%.

The authors say that their analysis likely reached different conclusions than other studies as not all conducted ultrasounds for all participants to document fibroid status and no prior prospective cohorts took into account the influence of age and race.

Therefore when all factors were taken into account, the results were different. MIMS

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