HEALTH NOTES: Could parasitic worms become the new weapon in the fight against dementia?
Parasitic worms could be a new weapon in the fight against inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, dementia and arthritis.
Hookworms were once a common problem in the UK when drinking water was unclean, but were mostly eradicated in the 1900s.
Now British researchers believe that worm proteins can reduce inflammatory responses in the body and so cut the risk of disease.
The study is based on research in India, where hookworm infections are rife, showing that those who have had worms are less likely to suffer inflammatory conditions than those who have never had them.
British researchers are studying the impact parasitic worms can have on inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, dementia and arthritis
AI ‘learns’ to spot bowel cancer
Artificial intelligence could soon be used to spot bowel cancers in all NHS hospitals. Currently, doctors survey the bowel using a camera inserted through the back passage, but in one in ten cases the growths are so small that they fail to spot them.
However, a new system being trialled at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth uses a computer system called GI Genius, which has ‘learned’ to spot tiny amounts of abnormal tissue on the camera’s images, diagnosing almost a fifth more cancers.
If it detects cancerous or pre-cancerous growths, a green square will pop up on the images highlighting the area.
Dr Rehan Haidry, a gastroenterologist from University College Hospital in London, says: ‘In the next year or so I’ve no doubt these machines will be in most NHS hospitals, rapidly speeding up diagnosis and, ultimately, saving lives.’
Researchers at Queen Alexandra’s Hospital in Portsmouth, pictured, are investigating whether AI could help clinicians spot bowel cancer
More than half of Britons believe the pandemic has brought their family closer together.
Nearly a third now spend more than 12 hours a day with every member of their household, according to a poll of 500 people.
Meanwhile, 65 per cent said they now eat together with their family five to seven times a week, compared with 48 per cent before the pandemic.
But not every moment is quality time – more than 55 per cent are on social media for most of the extra hours, instead of spending time with children, parents and spouses.
HIV drugs could stop the most common cause of sight loss. Age-related macular degeneration affects 600,000 Britons and causes blurred vision. Treatment involves painful injections into the eyes and light therapy, but both risk side effects.
Now scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the US found that a pill called Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase, or NRTIs, can reduce the risk of developing the disease by 40 per cent.
NRTIs are used in HIV patients to block the spread of viral cells in the body. Researchers say they can also block the production of a DNA protein called Alu, the main driver of macular degeneration in old age.