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Blood Test Could Help Diagnose Depression in Teens

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Depression Test

A study has been developed to test for depression in teenagers through a blood test. Teenage years are the best time to detect depression. According to researchers, rates of depression disorders jump from 2 to 4 percent in pre-adolescent kids to 10 to 20 percent by late adolescence.

The new blood test was developed by a scientist at Northwestern School of Medicine in Chicago and the main goal is to replace the current method of diagnosing depression. With the new testing, researchers believe they can also recognize different types of depression. Doing so can help doctors give more personalized treatments. “I think it would be more accurate to diagnose depression with a blood test,” said Dr. Eva Redei. “The hope is that not only can these tests identify who is depressed, but they also potentially discriminate between different types of depression.”

Study author Dr. Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a written statement, “Right now depression is treated with a blunt instrument. It’s like treating type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes exactly the same way. We need to do better. This is the generation, the age group that needs the most help.”

Dr. Eva Redei’s team of researchers took a look at 14 teenagers with untreated depression and 14 non-depressed teens, in the Chicago area, between 15 and 19 years old. The researchers then ran the experimental blood test looking for 26 genetic markers that was identified earlier in rat studies. Upon comparing depressed teens with non-depressed ones, the researchers distinguished 11 genes that may be linked to depression.

Dr. Eva Redei said in the statement, “These 11 genes are probably the tip of the iceberg because depression is a complex illness. But it’s an entree into a much bigger phenomenon that has to be explored. It clearly indicates we can diagnose from blood and create a blood diagnosis test for depression.”

Depression in Teens

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  1. Franklyn Koneval

    April 21, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Greats news, thank you so much for sharing!

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How Virtual Reality Technology Revolutionizes Education On Congenital Heart Disease

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Virtual Reality for Medical Practice
Photo: Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas at Austin | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Virtual Reality (VR) technology is applied in many areas, including architectural and urban design, digital marketing, education, and military training. It is defined as the use of computer technology to create a stimulating environment. The most recognizable component of VR technologies is the head-mounted display or (HMD), which usually uses a headset placed over the eyes. It has been widely used to provide learners with a virtual environment to develop their skills without the real-world consequences of failing.

Today, VR technology has also found its way on the medical field — where surgeries are done virtually. This program was first introduced in 2016 by a surgeon named Shafi Ahmed who broadcasted an operation using virtual reality; thus inspiring thousands of medical practitioners. He explained that through VR, medical students and novice surgeons would have the benefit to view, as well as, experience complex surgeries without stepping directly into the operating room.

With recent reports on how VR technologies are creating changes in the medical field, cardiologists have also seen the benefits that these promising tools could offer. One of the many health facilities which are utilizing VRs is the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. It specializes in Pediatric Cardiology, which deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart disorders and related conditions.

Stanford Cardiologists believe that the human heart is one of the most important and complicated organs of the body. It can develop abnormalities and may be life-threatening once people are not fully aware of what is happening on the vital organ and how to prevent it. But the primary focus of Stanford today is to revolutionize education on CHDs or commonly known as Congenital Heart Disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Congenital Heart Disease is the most common type of abnormality people face since childhood. CHD is any medical condition of the heart or the blood vessels supplying it that impairs cardiac functioning (Encarta, 2019).

Every year, about 40,000 people are born with Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) in the United States alone, and approximately one million worldwide. With the increasing number of CHD cases around the globe, Stanford Virtual Heart found a solution to make it easier to communicate and understand what’s happening inside the human heart.

Before VRs come to light, surgeons find it difficult to spread information about CHDs and its risk to people. They explained that the heart is a complex organ to study, and needs an actual person to be on the operating table with his chest open.

But then again, an actual person isn’t readily and easily available for the activity, and open chest surgery is one of the most challenging operations in the medical field. While students often rely on textbooks and videos to fully grasp the context of CHDs, experts express concerns over the patients.

Those tools work with them, but that won’t work with patients and their families who have limited learning resources. That is the primary goal of VR technologies — to revolutionize medicine and educate both patients and medical practitioners on the enigma of heart diseases, especially CHDs.

So, how can these stimulating activities help patients with CHD and surgeons as a whole?

With the aid of VRs, aside from being able to be inside of a human heart, a surgeon has the opportunity to show patients or medical students the issue, explain points on how to fix the problem, and why it occurs in the first place.

Educating patients on the nature of their health condition is one way to help them understand what they are going through. How this thing works is simple; physicians will bring in a headset then ask a patient to place it over his eyes.

Then suddenly, the patient will be staring at a human heart, and the surgeon will educate the issue, how he would fix it, and why specific condition happens.

What is more interesting about the said technology is that the patient can be able to walk through inside the heart while understanding what causes the illness. Instead of moping patients with sad facts about their situation, VRs will bring them hope and a promise of living a healthy life in the future.

VR technology helps surgeons map out surgeries ahead of time. Physicians can produce a three-dimensional model that patients can see and manipulate. Simulated heart surgeries allow surgeons to practice their technical skills without any risk to patients.

Numerous studies conducted have shown that physicians who receive surgical training via VR simulations improve ability and performance in the operating room significantly more than control groups.

For the first time in history, people can be able to walk through, first hand, and will know the complexity of a human heart and the possible disease it may encounter. VR technologies have many uses, and applying it in the medical field is just one of them.

And educating patients on their conditions through VR is a big step towards revolutionizing medicine; if this type of technology will continue to create significant changes by bringing information in a digestible way outside of classrooms and operating rooms, quality of life increases while misperception decreases.

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Recent Study Discovered CBD Helps Fight Against Heroin Addiction

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CBD Oil. | Photo From: Medical News Today

The legalization of cannabis across some states promises to bring medicinal properties that can help alleviate ailments such as anxiety, depression, and popularly, some cases of Parkinson’s disease.

However, a part of making it legal also enable people to make subjective ailments such as depression and anxiety a reason to purchase the drug and get ‘high.’

Popularly, cannabis has been told to be a gateway drug that allows a person to test the waters before proceeding to something stronger. Ironically, a new study shows that cannabis has the possibility of reversing the effects of addiction.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York announced that CBD oil helps limit particular cravings and help reduce anxiety for heroin users.

The cannabidiol or CBD is a compound extracted from Cannabis plant that has shown significant potential as a form of medication. Moreover, CBD does not interact with any receptors that causes a person to get high.

“To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a nonintoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals,” said lead study author Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in a statement.

Particularly, Hurd indicates the American opioid epidemic that took the lives of 300,00 people and will continue to do so unless people find ways to address the problem. Hurd tells NBC, “We’re too slow to address addiction in our society. When the flu comes up and the measles comes up, we have so many people trying to help. But we don’t have the same kind of urgency with addiction.”

Primarily, drug addiction is a very tricky and challenging area to study due to every individual’s varying attitudes and behaviors towards drug use. It’s even harder when they’re trying to perform the study on a hundred people through the course of a number of weeks.

Moreover, there is the risk of exposing the participants in a possible case of a relapse. It is known that the hardest part of getting off heroin addiction isn’t the physical longing for the drug. Particularly, medications like methadone and buprenorphine are available to help target the same pathways opioids take to relieve the physical longing.

Sometimes the most challenging part with addiction is avoiding the risk of a relapse. Working around relapse-tense situations is like walking on thin ice. They can be triggered by emotions, sounds, and anything that addicts could associate with their drug use and cause them to suddenly and instinctively crave the drug to alleviate the anxiety. This is where the study shows to have great promise.

Researchers found out that participants who received CBD administration significantly showed reductions in drug cravings. Further, the same participants showed lesser symptoms of anxiety when images of people taking drugs were shown. Moreover, they’ve discovered that CBD had a lasting effect on reducing drug cravings and anxiety, and extending well over when the CBD was supposedly flushed out of the system.

The study could potentially aim at addressing the anxiety factor in drug addiction therapy, which is currently lacking in the industry.

The research consisted of a small group of 42 drug-abstinent men and women aged from 21 to 65 years old who had a history with heroin disorder. They gave half of the participants 400mg or 800mg of CBD oil once daily and the other half with a placebo. The study then experimented on three separate occasions: immediately following administration, 24 hours after CBD or placebo administration, and seven days after the third and final daily CBD or placebo administration.

However, the study is still at its early stages of development, and further investigation is required to fully claim that CBD has anything to do with the results shown. It still is a possibility that other factors may have contributed to the positive findings of the study or, even an entirely different set of external factors.

On the positive side, this is a great breakthrough study that could potentially open the door for more research on alleviating anxiety related to drug abuse, and potentially close the doors on risks of future relapse scenarios.

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Health

Four Women Makes Revolutionary Breast Cancer Diagnostic Tool

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Breast Cancer
Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness. Photo From: Amazon

Breast cancer is a global problem that takes people’s lives as swiftly as they come. More particularly, the disease attacks women the most. In 2018, the disease killed over 500,000 women from over 2 million diagnosed cases.

The key idea with these kinds of ailments will always fall under the lines of “prevention is always better than cure.” However, despite major advances in technology that allows us to detect such diseases like in genetics and modern imaging throughout the years, the disease still comes as a surprise and for some, it comes too late.

Unfortunately, a late diagnosis would require more aggressive treatment that’s usually weighed by more medical expenses, all the while dangling on the hope for uncertain outcomes.

Breast cancer is known as the disease of the developed countries where the United States ranks 22nd after countries like Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia–all from the top 10. However, people from developed countries aren’t the most vulnerable to the disease.

Specifically, countries in less developed countries have a higher chance of death. In 2018, the WHO noted that 50% of the declared cases come from developing countries and 58% of which died from the disease. In other words, receiving news about breast cancer in poorer countries could easily be a death sentence.

Breast cancer survival rates range from 80% or over in North America, Sweden, and Japan to around 60% in middle-income countries, and below 40% in low-income countries, the WHO states.

Moreover, the WHO said that “the low survival rates in less developed countries can be explained mainly by the lack of early detection programs, resulting in a high proportion of women presenting with late-stage disease, as well as by the lack of adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities.”

This is what motivated four women from John Hopkins University to find a solution that could potentially mitigate the mortality rate in developing countries due to breast cancer, as TechCrunch reports. Namely by the biomedical engineering undergrads Laura Hinson, Madeline Lee, Sophia Triantis, and Valerie Zawicki.

Laura Hinson, Madeline Lee, Valerie Zawicki and Sophia Triantis
Photo From: TechCrunch

They identified that women from developing countries experience trouble with treating late-stage breast cancer because a check-up is more of leisure rather than a necessity. With that in mind, cutting costs on detecting medical paraphernalia could dramatically change the outcome for these women.

What these women did was create a new device based on the idea of a core-needled biopsy tool. The tool has a lower risk of contamination than the reusable devices that are currently on the market. Moreover, being reusable, it poises itself from a cheaper vantage point compared to the disposable needles that are the only available alternative as of the moment.

“We’ve designed a novel, disposable portion that attaches to the reusable device and the disposable portion has an ability to trap contaminants that would come back through the needle into the device,” says co-founder, Triantis. “What we’ve created is a way to trap that and have that full portion be disposable and making the device as easy to clean as possible… with a bleach wipe.”

The new, low-cost, disposable core needle biopsy tool can beneficially impact physicians and nurses, through reducing costs and waste, and would decide on having more screening technologies on-hand.

Ithemba’s low-cost reusable core-needle biopsy device
Photo From: TechCrunch

Though, poised as a revolutionary device in breast cancer technology, it would still need to go under medical trials and won’t be available in the market until a couple of years. “Once we get that process solidified and finalize our design we will wrap up our benchtop testing so we can move toward clinical trials by next summer, in 2020,” Zawicki says.

The four women are currently on the process of filing patent rights and developing the final design of the product under the startup they’re calling Ithemba, which means “hope” in Swahili.

At the same time, they are on the process of doing benchtop tests on the device and will look to file a 510K to be certified as a Class 2 medical device.

Zawicki says that it could be anywhere from three to five years before the device makes it on to the market, but there’s the potential for partnerships with big companies in the biopsy space that could accelerate that time to market.

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