1. New imaging modalities uncover more about depressionUsing a new imaging modality, known as effective connectivity, a team of researchers from the Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick has discovered changes in the brain’s memory and reward areas in individuals affected by depression.
Headed by Professor Edmund Rolls, Jianfeng Feng and Dr Wei Cheng, the team discovered that the areas of the brain tied to memory and rewards received less effective connectivity compared to healthy individuals. This reduction in neural connectivity explains the decreased happiness and more recurring disturbing memories experienced in depression.
"The new method allows the effect of one brain region on another to be measured in depression, in order to discover more about which brain systems make causal contributions to depression," says Professor Rolls.
For many years now, researchers have been hard at work to create a more effective antidepressant. With this newfound information, researchers have yet another tool in their arsenal to make that a reality.
2. Singapore simplifies CPR
In association with the Singapore General Hospital, a team of researchers has found a simplified version of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to be just as effective.
Standard CPR can be difficult to remember, and according to Associate Professor Lim Swee Han, "mouth-to-mouth ventilation is technically more difficult than chest compressions, and some people don't like to do it because of hygiene reasons."
As such, the simplified version of CPR only includes continuous chest compressions, that play a more pivotal role in blood circulation. Not only it is easier to remember the steps, it is also “a great first step” that improves the survivability during the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.
For healthcare professionals, simplified CPR may not be a full replacement of the standard CPR, but it does offer the important skill to otherwise untrained civilians.
3. Video games aid hospital trauma teams
The mobile game, Night Shift, has begun to take the medical world by storm by teaching emergency physicians to better recognise the signs of trauma in patients.
Designed by Dr Deepika Mohan of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, and Schell Games, players are put in the shoes of a young emergency physician managing severe trauma cases. The design of the game is to “tap into the part of the brain that uses pattern recognition and previous experience to make snap decisions using subconscious mental shortcuts”.
When compared to educational reading material, doctors who played the game displayed lower rates of error. Dr Mohan attributes this success with the game’s ability to better illustrate cause-and-reaction when it comes to clinical decision making.
“Specifically, I think that stories are memorable. And in this instance, what we did was to use stories to allow physicians to understand the consequences of errors in judgment,” Dr Mohan explains.
4. The cure for type 2 diabetes
Once thought to be a lifelong disease, a breakthrough study by a team of UK researchers has discovered that type 2 diabetes can be reversed via a weight loss programme. Published in the journal, The Lancet, the DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) study showed positive evidence of diabetic patients going into remission simply by means of a low calorie diet.
Of the 298 participants taking part in DiRECT, those put on a low-calorie diet were able to stop their diabetes medication entirely. This effectively placed them into remission with blood sugar levels remaining normal even after cessation of medications.
Professor Taylor, lead researcher of the DiRECT, says, "These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionise the way Type 2 diabetes is treated. The study builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively."
Even so, “the trial is ongoing, so that we can understand the long-term effects of an approach like this,” says Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK. “It’s very important that anyone living with type 2 diabetes considering losing weight in this way seeks support and advice from a healthcare professional.”
5. Apple to introduce built-in ECG for Apple Watch
The Apple Watch’s current basic heart rate monitor is able to collect historical data about the body. However, the company is increasingly trying to use advanced sensors to predict future afflictions. Now, they are working on making the next big change, by introducing a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG).
While there are a few kinks yet to be ironed out, Apple has the core tech very much in place. With just a simple manoeuvre, the Apple Watch would be able to identify the wearer’s heartbeat pattern.
"I can see a role for wearable ECGs as a mechanism to diagnose arrhythmia as an adjunct to what is currently available," says cardiologist Ethan Weiss at the University of California, San Francisco.
According to Bloomberg, “one hurdle to tech companies such as Apple entering the medical-device market has been the stringent testing requirements imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration”. Even so, with Apple’s increasing interest in the health and heart field, its wearables will continue to be built out as an independent device. MIMS
News Bites: Link between father’s and teenage children’s depression, Higher menopause risk for underweight women
News Bites: Research unveils new drug to tackle maternal obesity; Understanding wound healing and the effects of air pollution on osteoporosis
News Bites: A more comfortable mammogram, Scientists recreate virtual brain cells