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New procedure makes brain surgery safer

The Fraunhofer MEVIS Institute for Medical Image Computing in Bremen, Germany, has pioneered a new procedure that would help neurosurgeons intervene the brain safely and remove tumors without causing unnecessary damage.

Before the brain tumor can be removed, it is important to clearly understand the functional areas of the brain, which are interconnected via nerve pathways, also known as nerve fibre tracts. These nerve tracts must be protected as much as possible; otherwise, permanent dysfunction could occur.

If nerve tracts become damaged during an operation, there is a risk that distant functional areas connected to the tumor-afflicted part of the brain could be affected and induce lasting sensory, motor, and cognitive impairment.

To minimise these risks, surgeons should be provided with dependable knowledge about patient’s brain anatomy and function that is as realistic and precise as possible.

This has been made possible by The Fraunhofer MEVIS’ new method that analyses uncertainty in patient-specific images, modeling, and reconstruction and incorporates this information into reconstructions of patient data.

This procedure allows safety margins around nerve tracts in the brain to be more accurately determined.

Soon, ‘skin patch’ to cure life-threatening allergies!

Ben, 4, and Lucy, 2, are severely allergic to both nuts and milk. Ben almost died when his father kissed him after eating a peanut butter sandwich.

For them, and millions of people worldwide, a cure for anaphylactic shock would transform their lives.

Now, a team of child health specialists has pioneered a revolutionary skin patch that can cure people of life-threatening allergies.

Researchers have already successfully used the device against cow’s milk allergies in babies and children. Teams in Europe and the US are now testing the ‘allergy patch’ to prevent reactions to nuts.

It works by releasing minute doses of the allergen that causes the reaction into the immune system through the skin, desensitising the sufferer.

“It is a completely novel method of treating allergies. It will be a very easy treatment to administer, it is safe and possible to treat both adults and children, who will be able to lead a normal life,” said Dr Pierre-Henri Benhamou, one of its two French inventors.

Combination of common drugs ups diabetes risk

A combination of two common drugs — one an antidepressant, the other a cholesterol lowering drug — may increase the risk of diabetes in people. To look for drug combinations that might trigger diabetes, Nicholas Tatonetti and Russ Altman of Stanford University in California turned to a database called the Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), run by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The researchers found that the combination of antidepressant paroxetine and pravastatin, which is used to lower blood cholesterol, caused blood sugar to rise — especially in patients who were already diabetic.

Finally, the researchers showed that mice made ‘pre-diabetic’ by giving them a diet laden with fat and sugar showed a similar spike in blood sugar when given the drug combination. Neither drug caused blood sugar to rise when given alone.

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