Apr 13, 2012Science and Technology
Medical Nova Weekly: Top five trends for 4/9-4/13

New drug-resistant malaria strains are making calls for research even more pressing. Resistant malaria spreads as research funding challenges continue

Resistant malaria strains have recently been reported in Cambodia, Thailand and parts of Myanmar. Containing resistance and preventing the spread to other regions of the world is paramount, but further research is needed. Yet, even in the presence of funding, R&D in malaria-endemic regions cannot be driven by large financial incentives that often drive pharmaceutical innovation in developed countries. To address this problem, the World Health Organization has published a strategy to separate large financial incentives from R&D efforts and promote medical innovation in countries that are endemic for malaria and similar diseases.


PET scans, like the one above, may one day be able to diagnose Alzheimer's.A new brain imaging test for Alzheimer's

Currently the only way to positively diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease is through brain biopsy or postmortem autopsy, both unpleasant procedures. But last week, Eli Lilly and its wholly owned subsidiary, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, announced FDA approval of Amyvid, a radioactive diagnostic agent used for brain imaging of beta-amyloid plaques, plaques is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease. The FDA’s approval of this brain-imaging agent is an encouraging step towards developing a true diagnostic test.


Mammograms have saved thousands, but are now coming under fire.Are mammograms effective for early screening of breast cancer?

Mammograms are attributed with saving and/or extending thousands of lives due to the early detection of malignant breast tissue. As an effective breast cancer screening method, however, it has recently come under fire. The issue, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health, is that mammograms have a rather high rate (15-25 percent) of over-diagnosis. Based on their calculations, they estimated that for every 2,500 women screened, 30 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and one death will be prevented, but six to ten will be wrongly diagnosed and treated unnecessarily.


Tanning is leading to increases in melanoma.Startling melanoma rate jump spurs warnings and research

Next time you decide to head to the tanning salon to get that bronzed glow for beach season, think again. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic reported a significant escalation in skin cancer, especially among people under 40. Young women in particular are the most affected. The study observed first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients aged 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009, and found that the incidence of melanoma increased by eight times among young women and by four times among young men. However, two new drugs and immunotherapy methods could slow the progression of melanoma and possibly extend survival in patients with advanced cancer.


CT scans are cost effective for lung cancer screening.Lung cancer screenings save lives at a relatively low cost

Results of a trial conducted by Rush University Medical Center showed that screening with low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT scan) not only reduces lung cancer deaths but would cost insurers less than colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screenings. The core of the cost-benefit calculation was a stage-shift model, in which an intervention -- in this case, lung cancer screening -- shifted the distribution of stages of cancer. The consequence of the stage shift is that cancers are detected at an earlier stage, leading to lower treatment costs.

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