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SMS therapy for chronic diseases

Text messaging is considered a lethal distraction for drivers and is also cursed for dehumanising personal interactions, but for doctors treating patients with chronic diseases, it can prove to be a precious tool, says an expert.

“For better or worse, this technology is here, and sending a text to a patient’s cell phone about an upcoming appointment or a test or simply to remind them to take their meds is a great example of how we can harness new communication technology for a greater good,” said Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre pediatrician Delphine Robotham.

Robotham said that research has shown that up to half of patients may fail to take their daily medication properly, with forgetting being a top reason for non-adherence, so at least in some cases, a text reminder may be all that a patient needs.

Robotham noted several recent studies have looked at use of SMS (short message service or text messaging) in a medical context.

One study involving children with diabetes showed improved blood glucose testing rates. These children were also more likely to share their blood glucose test readings with their doctor’s office.

Tarantula venom could help treat muscular dystrophy

Tarantulas — the big, hairy and to many people very scary spiders — could actually help people suffering from muscular dystrophy, say scientists at University of Buffalo.
Biophysicists have found a protein in tarantula venom that shows promise as a potential therapy for MD, which is a group of inherited muscle diseases.

Dr Fredrick Sachs, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University at Buffalo, and his colleagues discovered the peptide, called GsMTx4.

The researchers extensively tested the effect of GsMTx4 on mice with muscular dystrophy and found the drug increased muscle strength and caused no deaths or toxicity.
Sachs said the peptide also has potential therapy for several other conditions, such as neuropathic pain and atrial fibrillation.

Hoping to advance the drug to clinical trials, the researchers have formed a biotech company in Buffalo.Currently, there’s no cure for muscular dystrophy, but medications and therapy can help slow the course of the disease.

High-dose supplements of Vitamin E do more harm

Indiscriminate use of high-dose Vitamin E supplementation does more harm than good, a new study has warned. “There were so many conflicting reports about Vitamin E and its effect on various diseases, particularly heart disease, that we wanted to set the record straight, says Prof Dov Lichtenberg of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine.
Study co-author Dr Ilya Pinchuk said: “Our new study shows that some people may be harmed by the treatment, whereas others may benefit from it. Now we’re trying to identify groups of people that are most likely to benefit from the effects of Vitamin E”.
The researchers evaluated the results of the prominent studies measuring the health benefits of Vitamin E but reached varying conclusions.

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