Australian Medical News Brief July 2017

Australian Medical News Brief July 2017

Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted in our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles. Let’s look back and review the top stories from July.


Medical students oppose 'money grab' by universities offering private medical degrees


As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Medical Student Association has spoken out against Australian public universities offering full fee paying medical degrees.

The AMSA and the students it represents want to see public universities banned from offering full fee paying medical degrees which could see course fees of $300,000 plus for medical school tuition become a reality.

There is a major concern that the full fee paying structure will exacerbate inequality within the medical field. This comes after Macquarie University announced plans to open a private medical school for full fee paying students.

Australian Medical Association president, Michael Gannon had this to say on the topic:

"This is an ill-conceived [idea] that will simply waste precious health system resources for the benefit of a privileged few who will be able to afford entry...This will not benefit the Australian health system, only the universities."


Polymer coating aids cancer detection


As reported by Plastics News, Medshop Australia is passionate about reporting on Australian innovations and innovators who are making a difference in the healthcare and medical fields.

In Adelaide, Australia a team of scientists from the University of South Australia have made an exciting discovery that will improve patient testing for bladder cancer.

Up until now, bladder cancer has been difficult to diagnose and involves invasive and expensive testing.

From their research into the antibiotic properties of polyoxazoline based polymers, the team has discovered a polymeric compound that will bind to cancer-specific antibodies in urine.

The new test exposes urine samples to a 20 nanometer-thick polymer coating on a substrate, the compound then binds to antibodies when it detects a protein on the surface of cancer cell membranes.

There is a 3-year project currently underway to trial the cancer-detecting device in 1000 people including 200 bladder cancer survivors.


Australian medical marijuana company gets green light


As reported by Echonet, An Australian owned company that plans to grow, refine and produce medicinal cannabis products has announced it has been given the green light to go ahead with production and intends to have products on pharmacy shelves by next year.

The Sydney based company named, The Hydroponics Company (THC) has secured a medicinal cannabis research licence that will enable them to grow exclusively protected cannabis Sativa strains.

THC is among the first ASX-listed cannabis companies to have secured a research licence, positioning them as leaders in the field.

The products that THC manufactures will only be available through pharmacies and with a prescription from a licensed doctor.


Sydney hospital bans surgeons from using Snapchat as marketing tool


As reported by, Westmead Private Hospital in Sydney has banned surgeons from using Snapchat as a way to market their procedures to prospective clients.

The use of Snapchat as a marketing tool has been utilised by surgeons from around the world but raises a host of concerns ranging from privacy and consent issues to exploitation.

Attention was brought to this issue following a patient taking an Australian hospital and one of its surgeons to court over privacy concerns involving the popular app.

Prominent Australian plastic surgeon Dr. Laith Barnouti told

“There are privacy issues because even if a patient does consent to being filmed beforehand, which doesn’t always happen, they can’t approve every live video that’s being sent. Even if the patient consented for their photo to be taken, they might not consent for their pubic hair or their genitalia or their nipples or their face to be in it. They probably didn’t know their whole face would be shown."

There is also the concern about surgeons being distracted by using the app during procedures and obviously any hygiene issues associated with phone use during surgery.


Chocolate may improve cognitive function within hours, says review

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As reported by Medical News Today, some good news for all of the chocolate lovers out there and students alike, Researchers from the University of L'Aquila in Italy have found that cocoa flavanols could boost cognitive function within just a few hours of consumption.

The team uncovered a link between the consumption of cocoa flavanols and almost immediate improvements in working memory.

One study, for example, identified working memory improvements in young adults just 2 hours after consuming 773 milligrams of cocoa flavanols.

There is a caveat, however, team cautions that we should avoid eating too much chocolate since it is high in calories, saturated fats, and sugar.

Still, the results suggest that when it comes to cognitive function, a little bit of chocolate could do wonders.

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