Research Desk

Nov 28, 2020

A team of investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a low-cost, compact, portable and low-power "head only" MRI scanner that is aimed at overcoming the disadvantages of an MRI scanner. The prototype of the portable MRI scanner presently weighs 230kg and the cart can be pushed by a single person for transport. The scanner is able to generate 3-D brain images within 10 minutes. The team hopes that the portable scanner could prove beneficial in bedside imaging and also in locations where the MRI is unavailable.

Nov 26, 2020

A 2-year assessment of 142 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and 169 with Crohn’s disease (CD) has demonstrated that dose frequency reduction of vedolizumab from every 4 weeks to every 8 weeks showed high persistence and low rates of relapse. The data from this study indicate that dose reduction of the drug to every 8 weeks could be adopted as a long-term treatment strategy in patients with UC or CD and the data would also aid clinicians in dose adjustment in such patients. 

Nov 26, 2020

Researchers have found a potential etiological agent behind IBS in a diarrhea-causing form of the bacteria, Brachyspira. This is based on a study conducted on 62 IBS patients of which 31% showed the presence of the bacteria in colonic tissue samples. The bacteria were found to be present under the mucus layer of their intestines. Researchers hope that the discovery would have therapeutic implications in that it would open up a couple of possible approaches for treating IBS. 

Nov 26, 2020

According to data released on Tuesday from a clinical trial in Argentina, using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat patients with severe pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus showed little benefit. The therapy know as convalescent plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not significantly improve patients' health status or reduce their risk of dying from the disease any better than a placebo, the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found.

Nov 26, 2020

A recent news release suggests that, members of an influential federal panel delved into the challenges ahead in deciding who will get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including questions about which healthcare workers need those initial vaccinations the most. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not take any votes or seek to establish formal positions. Instead, the meeting served as a forum for experts to discuss the thorny issues ahead. The US Food and Drug Administration could make a decision next month regarding clearance for the first COVID-19 vaccine.

Nov 26, 2020

Researchers reported in Nature that tiny organ-like structures grown in the laboratory to behave like human lungs and colons can be used to rapidly screen drugs and identify those with potential as COVID-19 treatments. Compared with traditional pre-clinical approaches, in which drugs are tested in cells from monkeys or from human cancer patients, these organoids more faithfully mimic the complex cell types and structure of human tissues, according to Dr. Shuibing Chen and Dr. Robert Schwartz of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Nov 25, 2020

According to a group of hearing specialists, people with tinnitus are reporting that their hearing condition is growing worse this year due to stress and changes in their routines. "There is a complex two-way interaction that exists between tinnitus and emotional distress, as they can trigger or worsen each other," said lead author Dr. Eldre Beukes of the Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Centre at Anglia Ruskin University in the U.K. and Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Nov 25, 2020

A new study out of Denmark that tested whether paper surgical face masks protect the people who wear them, the study comes just a week after the CDC updated its guidance on masks to say they aren't just for the benefit of others, but they also help keep people who wear them from getting sick. So this new study which found that these kinds of masks don't appear to offer a big benefit to the wearer may feel a little bit like whiplash.

Nov 25, 2020

Months ago, public health officials warned of a potential "twindemic," with spiking COVID-19 and influenza cases overwhelming the health care system. But the experts also note that the precautions taken to reduce the spread of COVID, such as hand-washing and wearing of masks, can also reduce influenza spread. So it could be a season with less flu than usual. People seem to be taking that seriously, Yi says. On a recent morning, she saw 10 patients. "One refused [the shot], the others got it or will have it." She estimates that 90% of her patients this year got the flu shot or plan to, compared to 60% last year.

Nov 25, 2020

Researchers have found that a five-fold increased risk of requiring intubation exists in people with diabetic retinopathy who have been hospitalised for COVID- 19. Retinopathy indicates damage to the blood vessels which could lead to more severe COVID-19 infection requiring intensive care treatment. Significant damage to the blood vessels in the lung and other organs is also seen in patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19. This knowledge could be helpful in identifying people with a high risk of severe COVID- 19.