Paralysed men’s legs are revived by pioneering implant

A recent scientific development has meant that spinal cords can be reawakened by electrical implants, reviving the flow of information between brain and limbs. As a result, those who were completely paralysed can now move their legs and toes and lift up to 100 kilograms with their legs – a feat which previously seemed impossible.

The procedure involved an array of electrodes being implanted in the lumbrosacral region of the spinal cord, this is the main communication pathway between the brain and the lower limbs. Once the cord has been ‘reawakened’, it can register the intent to move and convert this at motor neurone level; in other words into a movement.

There are still limitations, such as different algorithms needed for the left and right legs. As a result only one leg can be moved at a time. An addition improvement for the men is that to varying degrees they have recovered bladder, bowel and sexual function. Continued tests on an increased number of candidates will be going ahead.

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Elvis Presley Dental Crown goes on a tour of the UK

In an attempt to raise awareness of mouth cancer, a dental crown worn by Elvis Presley is touring the UK, accompanied by Elvis impersonators. There are five letters of authenticity, from the wife and sons of the dentist and Joe Esposito (Elvis’ road manager).

Mouth cancer is a disease during which a tumour develops on the surface of the tongue, mouth, lips or gums. It can also occur in the salivary glands, tonsils and pharynx, however this is less common.

Karen Sutton, the dentist who hosted the first stop of the tour, said: “We are doing this as a way of raising awareness of mouth cancer which currently kills five people a day in the UK.”

The false tooth was bought at auction for £6,500 by a Canadian dentist named Michael Zuk, who donated the false tooth to the tour in a bid to raise awareness. He also owns one of John Lennon’s teeth.

Win a fantastic day out with AML Healthcare!

AML Healthcare will be attending COPA Practice Growth 2014 in ExCel London on Thursday 12th June 10am-6pm and Friday 13th June 10am-5pm. This event is for chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists and acupuncturists.

To be in with a chance to win a day out you simply have to sign up to our mailing list at the COPA exhibition. We will enter your name into the prize draw, giving you the chance to win!

First prize is the ‘Purple Package’, offering you a choice of Rally Driving, a Champneys Top to Toe Pamper Day, a Thames Dinner Cruise for two, a Portobello Market Gastro Tour for two, Hot Air Ballooning, a Recording Studio Session, an Eagle Handling Day and Ultimate Stock Car Racing. Second prize is the ‘Orange Package’, which includes a choice of a Spa Day for two, 30 Minute Flight Simulator, a Pleasure Flight over London, a Deluxe English Vineyard Tour, an Introduction to Falconry, a Rally Thrill, Karting for two or RIB Powerboating on the Thames for two. The choice is yours!

Babies with three parents are closer to becoming legal in the UK

The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) described the phenomenon of creating babies using genetic material from three people as “not unsafe”. The procedure, which is a modified form of IVF, has not yet been approved in the US or the UK, however it is becoming closer to reality.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child in the egg, so there is concern that women may be passing on DNA that could cause incurable, life altering diseases. The process is designed to allow women with faulty mitochondrial DNA to have a genetically related child without passing problems to the child. The procedure uses a donor egg with normal mitochondrial DNA and a nucleus taken from a prospective mother’s egg, either before or after fertilisation by the partner.

It is expected that between 100 – 200 families will request treatment every year in the UK. Analysis so far has revealed that the technique is safe enough to try in clinical trials, as long as several additional experiments are carried out first and children born as a result of the technique are monitored for an extensive period. The vote which could legalise this procedure is estimated to take place in the next 18-24 months.

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New Smartglasses for surgeons make tumours glow

It could soon be possible for surgeons to identify and remove infected tissue from cancer patients, simply by looking through the lenses of Smartglasses.  A reactive agent is sprayed onto tissue which clings to cancerous cells. When these cells are viewed through the high-tech visor they appear to glow blue.

Cancer cells are notoriously difficult to see and these Smartglasses help to ensure that no stray tumour cells are left in the body after surgery.

Dr Margenthaler said that between 20 and 25 per cent of breast cancer patients who have lumps removed require a second surgery because current technology cannot adequately show the extent of the disease during the first operation.

The glasses could reduce the need for these additional procedures, as well as subsequent stress on patients, time and expense. If the Smartglasses pass the clinical trials, they could revolutionise the treatment of cancer patients.

Could silk screws be strong enough to mend broken bones?

Weight for weight, when stretched, silk is as strong as steel. Scientists are now developing this idea and are creating screws, fashioned from silk, which are tough enough to cut through bone.

The basis for this technology is that screws and plates can hold fractured bones together, but if they start to corrode, then a second operation is required in order to remove them. The alternative, which is biodegradable materials, can trigger inflammation and are time-consuming to implant. In addition, in order to hold the screw in place it is necessary to drill a hole in the bone and create a helical ridge around the inside as the polymers are so soft.

Silk was dissolved in alcohol, poured into moulds shaped like implants and then baked. When tested on rats, the scientists found that the silk screws were hard enough to carve into bone and biodegrade naturally over time. Official trials should begin in the near future.

DNA project set to make the UK world research leader in genetics

A project aiming to revolutionise medicine by unlocking the secrets of DNA is underway in centres across England. Prime Minister David Cameron has said it “will see the UK lead the world in genetic research within years”.

The first genetic codes of people with cancer or rare diseases, out of a target of 100,000, have been sequenced. Experts believe it will lead to targeted therapies and could make chemotherapy outdated. Just one human genome contains more than three billion base pairs – the building blocks of DNA. This four-year project is run by Genomics England and will look at 100,000 genomes. Pilots have been set up at centres across England and the first genome was sequenced on 30 May. The project has now passed the 100 genome mark, with the aim of reaching 1,000 by the end of the year and 10,000 by the end of 2015.

The genome of a patient’s tumour will be examined for differences with the genetic code of their healthy tissue. People with rare diseases, usually children, will have their DNA compared with that of close relatives. University scientists and drug companies will be allowed to access the data for their research.

Tumours are caused by mutations in DNA which lead to abnormal cells growing unchecked. Previous research has shown how varied cancers can be – for example that breast cancer is not one disease but at least 10 – each with a different cause, life expectancy and requiring a different treatment. Genetics research has helped develop targeted drugs such as Herceptin, only given if a patient’s breast tumour has a certain mutation.

Sir John Chisholm, executive chair of Genomics England, said: “In Britain we were the discoverers of the structure of DNA, we were huge players in the human genome project and now the time has come for the next major step forward. One hundred thousand sequences is a very large step; it’s a huge commitment.”

Prof Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “I can see a future where genetics is going to come into every bit of medicine from cardiology to oncology to infectious diseases.”

David Cameron has announced a series of investments across government, industry and charities totalling £300m. He said: “I am determined to do all I can to support the health and scientific sector to unlock the power of DNA, turning an important scientific breakthrough into something that will help deliver better tests, better drugs and above all better care for patients.”

Ebola: the hunt for a vaccine

A British woman has been injected with a section of genetic material from the deadly Ebola virus, packaged inside a chimp cold virus. Trials are already underway in the US and more are planned in Africa, but this is the first UK study of the vaccine. Previously the vaccine has given monkeys long term protection, so it is hoped the same will occur with humans.

It was developed by scientists at the Swiss-Italian biotechnology company Okairos, which was purchased by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline earlier this year. Chief executive Riccardo Cortese said scientists at the company had been working on the vaccine for six years. He told the BBC: “We made the vaccine and they did all the animal testing, which proved to be quite satisfactory, so it was decided even before the outbreak to proceed quickly to a safety-and-immunogenicity test in humans. This programme has been accelerated as a consequence of the outbreak.”

Alfredo Nicosia said it was not known how humans would respond to the jab, but based on similar vaccines, there was reason to be optimistic. The trial will determine if the vaccine is safe and if it triggers an adequate immune response.

Experts say there is no risk that the vaccine can cause someone to become infected with Ebola. On the basis of tests on a few hundred people, the vaccine may be rolled out to high risk groups. According to the World Health Organization, healthcare staff and other front-line workers would probably be the first to be offered the jab.

Dr Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading, who is not involved in the vaccine trial said: “If all went well, a vaccine could be available as soon as January. But the immune system is a very complex thing, and it is hard to know whether it would work well enough to protect against Ebola. The real test of this vaccine will be when it gets into Africa and when a person who has had the vaccine comes into contact with Ebola.”

AML Healthcare at the Dentistry Show

AML Healthcare will be returning to the Annual premier dental exhibition showcase for 2015 due to be held at the NEC in Birmingham on the 17th and 18th of April. The Dentistry Show is a free-to-attend, two-day, action-packed event with a high quality and cutting edge education programme for those working in the dental profession, offering a wide choice of verifiable CPD opportunities.

AML Healthcare will be hosting a stand and will be delighted to meet with other delegates or exhibitors who are interested in our innovative Healthcare tax planning service.

Register your attendance at the event for free here.


Cigarette Packaging To Become Standardised

From 2016 every packet of cigarettes will look the same, with graphic photos accompanying health warnings and the only distinguishing features being the cigarette make and brand name.

This move has been welcomed by many across the health sector and saw 367 MPs vote in favour of standardised packaging with just 113 against it. The free vote also coincided with No Smoking Day (11 March 2015), the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF’s) key campaign to encourage one million smokers to attempt to quit.

The government first announced in 2011 it would be considering standardised packaging and ran a consultation in 2012. However, ministers then seemed to go off the plan which prompted accusations that it had been influenced by the tobacco industry. Afterwards another review of the public health benefits was ordered and it was concluded last year that it was very likely the change in packaging would lead to a modest but important reduction in the uptake and prevalence of smoking.

Currently more than 600 children aged 11 to 15 start to smoke every day. Which is more than 200,000 a year. The review said if that number could be cut even by 2%, 4,000 fewer would take up the habit.

Research has also shown that standardised packaging and darker colours (such as the proposed olive green) makes the packets less appealing and helps reinforce health messages.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Simon Gillespie, said: “This is a landmark victory that will go a long way to reducing smoking rates, improving the nation’s health and saving thousands of lives.”

Earlier this month the Irish Republic introduced a similar law and Australia has had plain packaging since 2012. At the other side of the world, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare say smoking rates for people aged 14 and over fell from 15.1% to 12.8% between 2010 and 2013, and for people aged 18 and over the figures dropped from 15.9% to 13.3%. However, these statistics also support the continued long-term trend of declining smoking rates prevalent in most developed countries.

With this in mind, we now just have to wait for the House of Lords to see if they decide to give this legislation the final parliamentary stamp of approval.