Australian Medical News Brief May 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 May.
As reported by the ABC, Australian university students are set to face even higher fees from January 2018. This comes as part of the federal government's overhaul of the higher education sector as presented in their 2017 budget report. Fees are set to rise by 1.8% next year and this increase is set to rise to 7.5% by 2021. Another major change to the higher education sector relates to HECS loan repayments. At present students only pay back their HECS loan debt when they are earning over the threshold of $55,000.00 AUD per year. From July 2018, the threshold for repayments will drop to $42,000.00. Repayments will be made on a sliding scale from 1-10% based on the individual's income level.sciencealert.com[/caption]
As reported by Courier Mail Australia, thanks to an Australian doctor and his team of colleagues based in America, there is a new hope for premature babies and their families. This hope comes in the form of the world's first ever artificial womb. Developed by the Centre for Foetal Research in Philadelphia, the prototype has been successfully tested on two lambs, they hope that the technology will be available for humans within the next two years. The artificial womb resembles a liquid-filled bag and replicates the mother's uterus, it allows the foetus to continue breathing oxygen filled liquid as it would in the womb. Dr. David Tingay from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute has stated, "This is still pre-clinical or experimental data, but the research group in Philadelphia have managed to overcome many of the limitations others have had in supporting a baby or foetus with womb-like conditions." The potential that this technology has to save and improve the lives of premature babies is revolutionary. We look forward to following and reporting on the developments.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the ongoing obesity crisis in the Western world has opened up a huge market for weight loss products and devices. A new device to reach the market has been dubbed as nothing more than a medical bulimia device by some health experts. The Aspire System device is manufactured in America and has recently been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. The system involves a tube being inserted into the stomach that connects to an external port on the external skin of the belly. The device claims to drain 30% of the food consumed when used within a 20-minute window of food consumption. Many Australian doctors have expressed concerns over the use of such a device, such as the risk of infection and contamination. There is also the issue that the device in a way encourages overeating because the device can act as a mediator and the patient can continue their unhealthy eating habits.
As reported by the Herald Sun, medical researchers in Australia have been let down by the 2017 budget as released by the Australian government this year. The $20 billion dollar medical research future fund that the government promised would find a cure for cancer, won't deliver the $1 billion promised for medical research by 2020 due to poor earnings. Research Australia suggests that it is likely that the budget will only delivery around half the promised amount, meaning hundreds of research projects will miss out on funding. Research Australia has released data to suggest that while the government has banked $4.6 billion in health savings from the MRFF scheme. They have released just $125 million in research funding so far. Only the earnings, not the capital from the fund are invested in research. There are questions now as to whether the MRFF scheme will ever be able to provide the promised $1 billion in research funding per annum.
As reported by the ABC, Ph.D researchers from Charles Stuart University are investigating the health benefits of colourful rice, specifically red, purple and black rice. Their research centres in on the health benefits of colourful rice and the role it may pay in the prevention of obesity and obesity-related illnesses. "The seed coats of coloured rice are rich in antioxidants and our aim is to test the role of these chemical compounds in reducing blood clotting, inflammation and chemical damage to cells in overweight or obese people and in those who have type 2 diabetes," Ms. Callcott said. The researchers are seeking participants aged from 18 - 65 who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes. Participants must be non-smokers, not pregnant and not suffering from any chronic diseases. The study results will be documented and presented to the NSW Department of Primary Industries rice breeding program. With the intention of breeding and producing healthier strains of rice that can be made commercially available to Australian consumers.