Category Archives: News


FDA Approves OxyContin For Extremely Sick Kids

(HuffPost) The U.S. Food and Drug Association approved the painkiller OxyContin for children ages 11 to 16 with pain “severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment,” according to a statement released on Aug. 14.

Some experts expressed concern that the approval might lead to drug misuse among children or their family members, who may have access to the drugs. But doctors who treat dying children and those in chronic pain say that the move will be a boon to many of their patients.

“Although thankfully uncommon, some children can experience prolonged periods of substantial chronic pain from conditions like cancer,” said Dr. Chris Feudtner, director of the Department of Medical Ethics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has no connection to the drug.

“For these patients, strong pain medications can offer tremendous relief,” he said.

OxyContin, the extended time-release version of the generic narcotic oxycodone, has been all over the news in recent years for its role in the public health crisis of opioid addiction. Experts blame the rise of prescription painkiller use in the United States for the nation’s current heroin epidemic. As it stands, four out of five new heroin users abused prescription painkillers first, according to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

Although OxyContin, is just one of many painkillers on the market, it took particular criticism because representatives promised officials and doctors that the drug was safe and effective for patients with chronic pain. In actuality, its time-release formula made it more likely to result in abuse.

The company’s top executives pleaded guilty to misleading doctors, regulators and the public

OxyContin is made by Purdu Pharma, a drug company with a tarnished reputation after three of the company’s top executives pleaded guilty to misleading doctors, regulators and the public about OxyContin’s addiction risk in 2007. The company agreed to pay $600 million in fines. Following the trial, the FDA banned the original OxyContin formula and in 2010, the company developed an uncrushable tablet that was more difficult to snort or inject than the original.

But despite OxyContin’s rocky track record among adults, doctors who treat extremely sick children note that these powerful drugs aren’t as likely to result in abuse.

“Children rarely get ‘hooked’ on these medications the way that adults can,” Feudtner said, noting that all strong pain medications have the potential be misused by friends or family members of the patient.

It’s a question of “actively managing and monitoring the use of these medications,” Feudtner said. “So that children in need get what they need and everyone stays as safe as possible.”

“Children rarely get ‘hooked’ on these medications the way that adults can,” Feudtner said

“Everybody gets all excited about OxyContin, but we forget that there are a large number of children and adolescents who suffer from chronic pain,” said Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, a professor of pediatrics and the director of the Mattel Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program at UCLA.

Zeltzer, an outside scientist who was a paid committee member of the data safety and monitoring board that oversaw the Purdu trials, said that she’s long been a proponent of encouraging companies to do studies of drugs like OxyContin on children.

“They are being used anyway, but without the data,” she said, noting that doctors and pediatricians will prescribe off-label drugs to chronically ill children, or children in palliative care, if they don’t have other options. “There was so little that was evaluated in children that physicians were using medication that wasn’t studied,” she said.

And as for the risk of opioid abuse by friends of family members, Zeltzer doesn’t think kids should suffer for adults’ mistakes. “Diverted use in adults doesn’t mean that children should be deprived of the proper studies and safety parameters.”

By: Erin Schumaker


Nine people in Birmingham being monitored after possible Ebola exposure

A patient exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms was admitted to University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital Tuesday night, and eight others are being quarantined or monitored after coming into contact with that patient.

Officials said the patient is considered “at low risk” for having the disease, but multiple agencies are taking necessary precautions. The patient will be tested for Ebola tonight, and the results of the test should be released tomorrow.

“We had a situation today in which somebody who had recently traveled to a country where there are still some active cases of Ebola had been returned to the U.S.,” Jefferson County Medical Director Edward Khan said. “This person would fit into our low-risk category, meaning they did not come into contact with any known Ebola cases while over there, and they didn’t participate in any high-risk activities such as burial ceremonies or health care work.”

Two Birmingham rescue workers who came into contact with the patient were also taken to UAB Hospital, where they are being quarantined overnight.

Two family members of the initial patient have been asked by officials to remain inside their home in the 1600 block of 17th Street SW, Birmingham police Lt. Joe Roberts said.

By: Adam Ganucheau
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Common early Ebola symptoms include: fever, headaches, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, and stomach pain. These symptoms could stem from a different and less infectious illness, however,  due to the patient’s recent travel history, authorities are exercising extreme caution.


Woman Receives Bionic Eye Implant

(WSVN) Patient Carmen Torres is finally able to see light after 16 years of darkness, thanks to her bionic eye. Speaking at a news conference held at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Friday, she described the moment when she realized she was able to see again. “It was very emotional, but I’m very strong. I didn’t cry. I was laughing, and I was just laughing like crazy,” she said.

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It was a joyful response after a complicated procedure. “Degenerations that are hereditary or age-related is what, right now, this device is aimed for,” said Dr. Ninel Gregori with the institute, “but who knows in the future?”

Doctors used advanced technology created by a medical device company out of California, inserting an implant into her eye that consists of a receiver and an array of electrodes. The implant works in tandem with a tiny camera located inside dark glasses worn by Torres. “That’s how I get my optics. Looking through the camera, and this is a coil, and this coil connects to Wi-Fi, to my implant inside my eye,” she said.

With time and training that includes playtime with her grandson, Torres has learned to interpret visual patterns. She likened using her bionic eye to learning a new language, adding that after an incurable eye condition diagnosis, she will be enjoying every moment of her new, high-tech eyewear. “They’re cool. I look good, I look different. Look at this,” she said.

Doctors with the institute have already identified a second patient through the Veterans Health Administration. They will fit him for a bionic eye once the finances for the procedure are in order.

Image credit: Ahmed Sinan

Darlene Oglesby

When it hurts to sit and it hurts to stand, Andrews can help

At just 50 years of age, Darlene Oglesby has suffered from tremendous hip pain. Many of the things we take for granted would typically leave her in tears. Sitting for a while would hurt, walking would hurt and even just getting out of bed would hurt.

That’s until she met with the doctors at Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center.

Andrews is typically known for being THE doctor for professional athletes, with former patients such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson (just to name a few). However, Andrews does more than just help pro athletes, his practice offers the same expert care to “non-athletes” to help get us back in the game of life.

I have my active life back!!

Darlene Oglesby met with Dr. James Flanagan, one of the doctors on the Andrews team. He performed a total left hip replacement. Although a total hip replacement is a major procedure, Darlene Oglesby was able to walk again just two weeks after the surgery.

“The outcome was excellent!” she says, “Prior to surgery, I had very little quality of life. Now just two weeks after surgery, I have my active life back!! I am walking without a walker and I am able to do things that I could not do before!”

The surgery occurred mid-April and her results have been so overwhelmingly positive that she decided to have her other hip joint replaced.

“I went ahead and had the other hip replaced so I could have both hips back to better than ever!”

That was two weeks ago, and Darlene Oglesby is on her way to yet another speedy recovery.

Tuna Recall

Warning: Salmonella in Sushi

According to a recent report by the CDC, 62 cases of salmonella have been reported across 11 states so far.

The culprit is frozen tuna processed by Osamu Corporation, which is sold through grocery stores and restaurants. A nation-wide recall has been issued for all affected products.

If buying frozen or thawed tuna at a store, ask if the product was sourced from Osamu Corporation or included in the recall. Affected tuna has a purchase order number from 8563 through 8599.

Also, grocery store pre-made sushi has also been affected by the recall. The affected sushi lot is sold through AFC Corporation and has the lot number 68568.

Mississippi and Virginia are among the states with reported cases so far.

image by InvernoDreaming.


Alabama Man Loses Over 250 Pounds at Zaxby’s

John “Tiny” Likely was always large. At the age of 8, he was no longer able to play pee-wee football because he weighed more than 200 pounds. He steadily gained weight until he was wearing 8XL shirts, and industrial scales weighed him in at over 500 pounds.

Surprisingly, everything changed when he started working at (and eating at) Zaxby’s.

“Tiny” tells he still wonders how he got the job. “A 500 pound person at a fast food place is almost impossible… I couldn’t keep up.”

They gave me hope. They actually believed in me

He mentions his trouble simply standing for more than 10 minutes and his inability to fit into the team uniform.

But he didn’t give up, and neither did his boss or coworkers.

Scott Brown, who hired him, gave him a gym membership. His manager at the time became his personal trainer, and some coworkers gave him nutrition tips.

“They gave me hope. They actually believed in me.”

They even worked with his schedule so he could have multiple short shifts.

11061238_1836747816550749_8992617050896093265_n“Tiny” now walks six miles every morning and does squat drills. He  eats Zaxby’s Zalads almost every day, and has lost a staggering 250 pounds.

He has become an advocate for weight loss.

“Don’t be afraid if you can’t run a mile. Run half a mile. Or walk. I just wish someone had said to me as a child, ‘well let’s walk it together’.”

You can follow more of his weight loss on his Facebook page.



Hearing Restored in Mice with Genetic Deafness using Gene Therapy

(IFL Science) Around 360 million people, or five percent of the global population, have disabling hearing loss. While half of these cases are avoidable through prevention strategies, such as vaccination and reducing exposure to loud noises, many are genetic and can be inherited. But hope could well be on the way, as scientists have successfully managed to restore hearing in mice with a type of genetic deafness.

The work is very much proof-of-principle at this stage, but the researchers think that with further fine-tuning, their technique – gene therapy – could eventually make its way into clinical trials and help people with deafness caused by faulty genes.

The gene on which the researchers chose to focus for their study is called TMC1, one of more than 70 identified so far that can cause deafness upon mutation. The crucial role that this gene plays in hearing was identified a couple of years ago by lead study author Jeffrey Holt and his team from Harvard Medical School, ending a frustrating ongoing hunt. They discovered that it forms part of channels located on tiny sensory cells in the inner ear, which facilitate the conversion of sound vibrations into electrical signals. These impulses then travel along nerves to the brain, ultimately allowing us to perceive sound.

For the investigation, published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers created two different strains of mice with genetic deafness involving TMC1. The first, in which the entire gene was deleted, was designed to model the recessive form of TMC1 deafness whereby young children experience hearing loss following the inheritance of two mutant copies of the gene. The second, in which they made a small tweak in the TMC1 code, represented the less common, dominant form of the gene, which causes children to go deaf during adolescence after a single faulty copy is inherited.

To correct these mutations, the researchers engineered a harmless virus commonly used in gene therapy, called adeno-associated virus 1, to possess a normal, healthy copy of either TMC1 or its relative TMC2. They also added in a DNA sequence called a promoter, which meant that the gene was only switched on, or expressed, in sensory cells located in the inner ear. Because the virus does not need to insert its genes into our own genome in order to be expressed, this alleviated the concern that it could disrupt native DNA, Holt told IFLScience.

After injecting the viruses into the inner ear, the researchers observed some remarkable effects. In the recessive models, not only did the sensory cells regain the ability to respond to sounds, but a portion of the brain involved in sound perception also began displaying activity. Ultimately, these responses allowed the animals to hear once again, which was confirmed by exposing them to noises and measuring their reactions. The researchers also saw positive effects in the dominant model in which a TMC2-containing virus was used, with function restored at both the cellular and systems level, but unfortunately it was somewhat less successful at the behavioral level.

Although these early results are promising, the researchers need to continue to monitor the mice to see whether the restoration of hearing loss is sustained for longer than the already observed period of two months. They also plan to extend this work and investigate other forms of genetic deafness, including those which cause Usher Syndrome, Holt told IFLScience. This condition causes both blindness and deafness, so Holt thinks that it’s possible that a single gene therapy agent might help to treat both disorders, but there is still a lot of research and development before this approach is ready for the clinic.

By: Justine Alford
Image credit: Eddy Van 3000


Breaking: Researchers Make Stunning Discovery on Aging

Researchers have recently published the findings of a 12 year study on aging. Scientists from New Zealand followed 954 individuals from age 26 to 38 and measured their biological and perceived aging. Their findings were extraordinary.

Some of the test members had experienced little to no biological aging over 12 years!

The most effective means to reduce disease burden and control costs is to delay this progression by extending healthspan, years of life lived free of disease and disability.

From both a biological and aesthetic perspective, some test members barely aged, while others aged 3 years for every one chronological year. Biological age was determined using 18 biomarkers (including DNA degradation) .

Biological age was also shown to be related to health effects typically associated with old age:  lower cognitive functioning, reduced motor ability, and even weaker grip strength.

This research opens the door for new studies that could dynamically change our concepts on health.

Understanding the factors that minimize aging during our younger years will allow us to live healthier lives for a longer time and perhaps drastically extend our lifespans.