what's the buzz

what's the buzz

A vest that can diagnose heart attacks 

A revolutionary cardiac vest that can immediately alert medics to heart attacks will be tested for the first time in a British hospital next month.

Sufferers could be diagnosed up to 12 hours earlier than usual if trials of the new Heartscape device, which contains 80 sensors attached to a patient’s chest and back, are successful.

The vest that will be introduced in Bradford Royal Infirmary, translate electrical signals from the heart to give doctors an instant 360 degree, three-dimensional colour view of the organ. This is a more accurate picture than any machine can provide.

The pictures give doctors detailed information within minutes about whether a patient is suffering an attack and where within the heart the problem is situated.
Conventional electrocardiograph (ECG) technology has been available for 60 years but its limitations mean patients can face delays of up 12 hours for blood test results, during which continuing damage may be done.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, whose infirmary treats 300 patients a year suffering major attacks and 1,200 with minor ones, said it had been keen to obtain the vest after large-scale trials of an earlier version in the US showed it could immediately diagnose more life-threatening heart attacks than conventional two-dimensional equipment.

Dr James Dunbar, consultant physician at Bradford Royal Infirmary, said the vest would enable speedier treatment for heart attack patients but could also detect signs of heart disease.

The vest will be available to high risk patients in the hospital’s A ‘n’ E and medical admissions units from March. The trust hopes to widen the vest trial throughout the hospital in 2013.

New skin cancer drugalmost doubles survival

Researchers have discovered that a new drug, meant for metastatic melanoma patients nearly doubled median overall survival.

According to investigators from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and 12 other centres in the United States and Australia, more than half of patients who were treated with the novel drug vemurafenib, known commercially as Zelboraf, responded to treatment and experienced an impressive median overall survival of nearly 16 months. It was far longer than the typical survival of just six to 10 months for most patients whose melanoma has spread beyond the initial tumour site.

“This study confirms what we have discovered in our earlier trials. Many of our patients are exhibiting a strong, immediate response to this drug and some are living significantly longer, with manageable side effects,” said Jeffrey Sosman, professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It was interesting to note that a few of the patients were treated with the drug for up to six months before showing convincing evidence of response.”

“This study shows that Zelboraf changes the natural history of the disease,” said Ribas.

“These results tell us that this drug is having a very big impact, and this changes the way we treat metastatic melanoma.”

Approximately half of all patients with metastatic melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer – have a BRAF V600 mutation in their tumour. Vemurafenib is an FDA-approved oral drug, which works as a kinase inhibitor of the BRAF V600 mutation.

Fossil footprints of world’s oldest elephant herd found

Scientists have discovered some ancient footprints in the Arabian Desert dating back to over seven million years, which they believe could be the world’s oldest elephant tracks.
These prehistoric footsteps, likely the work of some 13 four-tusked elephant ancestors, are the earliest direct evidence of how the ancestors of modern elephants interacted socially, and the oldest evidence of an elephant herd.

“Basically, this is fossilized behavior,” the Huffington Post quoted researcher Faysal Bibi, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Museum for Natural History in Berlin, as saying.

 “This is an absolutely unique site, a really rare opportunity in the fossil record that lets you see animal behavior in a way you couldn’t otherwise do with bones or teeth,” stated Bibi.

The site, known as Mleisa 1, is in the United Arab Emirates. The region then was home to a great diversity of animals, including elephants, hippopotamuses, antelopes, giraffes, pigs, monkeys, rodents, small and large carnivores, ostriches, turtles, crocodiles and fish. These were sustained by a very large river flowing slowly through the area, along which flourished vegetation.