Australian Medical News Brief June 2017

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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 June.


The Most Exciting Medical Technologies of 2017


As reported by the Medical Futurist, a look into the most exciting medical technologies of 2017 provides an inspiring look at the medical technologies that will shape the future. In 2016 we reported on the artificial pancreas, a device designed to revolutionise treatment for diabetes patients.

In 2017 Google has collaborated with pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis to help develop their patented glucose detecting contact lens. The contact lens will measure a patient's glucose levels through the tears.

The year 2017 is set to be a great year for the development of CRISPR gene editing technology. With scientists already able to genetically modify mosquitoes to be immune to the parasite that causes malaria. This groundbreaking achievement is only the beginning of what CRISPR technology could achieve in humans.

Custom 3D printed casts are being developed, with designs enabling the skin to breathe and to mitigate the use of messy and potentially irritating plasters and cotton materials.

These exciting developments and more are discussed in greater detail in the article. We highly recommend reading further if this is of interest to you.


Feline hyperthyroidism: Cats go radioactive to survive mystery disease

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As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, most people have heard the saying, a cat has 9 lives, however, most people might not know that cats can suffer from hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms to look for in your feline friend are an insatiable appetite, weight loss, rashes, uncharacteristic feisty behaviour, biting, scratching and demanding behaviour. If your cat is exhibiting these signs, a trip to the vet is in order.

Left untreated hyperthyroidism in cats is fatal. The good news is that cats can be treated with the injection of radioactive iodine or an oral version of the medication. The oral version is less successful mainly due to difficulties involving administering the medication.

Once the cat has been treated, owners are asked to avoid contact with the cat for at least 10 days, they must wear gloves when handling cat litter due to the radioactive toxicity.

Some owners have reported the hardest thing is not being able to cuddle their furry feline friend for 10 days, but it is worthwhile in the long run for a healthy pet.


Some of the most interesting reasons Canberra residents call for an ambulance


As reported by the Canberra Times, an emergency call centre operator has spoken out about some of the most interesting and absurd reasons that people have phoned for an ambulance.

Most people know not to call 000 unless it is in the case of an actual emergency, apparently, this doesn't stop some people, especially those with what they believe to be genuine concerns.

An example of such a case was a woman who phoned while watching Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce on the television. She was concerned that he was looking very unwell and wanted to arrange an ambulance for him.

The operator advised her the Mr Joyce is an adult and he or the people around him can arrange an ambulance for him if required.

Another interesting call was received by a self-proclaimed psychic who had a vision that a stranger at a particular address was in dire heath and required urgent medical attention.

Fortunately, the operator was able to find the phone number for the household mentioned, and following an awkward phone call was able to determine that the residents were actually all in very good health.

Apparently, the non-emergency calls are more common that we might think, thankfully discerning operators are able to sort things out.


Women in Medicine 2017: fighting for gender equality

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As reported by Border Mail, June 2017 marks the second annual Women in Medicine event, to be held at the UNSW Rural Clinical School. The event was started by a group of students who recognised the need for women to have a more prominent voice within the medical community.

In the past, 90% of medical students were male. These days approximately 50% of medical students are male and the other 50% are women. While the statistics might have changed, some attitudes have stayed stuck in the past.

The event is hosting two speakers and will feature a question and discussion panel comprised of both males and females. It is an important part of the event to include both females and males in the discussion.

Historically, inequality has been an issue, particularly in some specialist fields of medicine that are still male dominant. This event will shed light on the role of women in medicine and serve to bridge the gap and overcome outdated and rigid gender stereotypes in medicine.


New battlefield drug could save lives in rural Queensland


As reported by the Townsville Bulletin, a new Australian drug shows great promise for saving lives in rural locations. The drug, ALM has been in development for the last decade at James Cook University in Queensland.

The research has been run by two Australian doctors who were originally assigned the task of developing the drug for use by the US military. The drug aids resuscitation and slows bleeding, an asset to anyone who is unable to receive critical medical care quickly.

In the emergency services the term 'golden hour' is used to describe the critical window of time from the time an injury is sustained when the patient has the best chance of survival.

In rural locations or on the battlefield, sometimes critical medical care is more than an hour away. There is hope that ALM might be able to buy patients up to 72 hours. Recent tests have shown that the drug reduced internal blood loss by 60% over 5 hours.

Safety trials are underway and there is hope that the drug might be available on the local market within a few years.

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