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Cannabis and vitamin A found to reduce fat deposits

Clinical news

Cannabis and vitamin A found to reduce fat deposits

Brian Collett rounds up the latest health news from around the world

A combination of cannabis compounds and retinoic acid, the active part of vitamin A, has been observed to reduce fat deposits, suggesting the possibility of a non-surgical obesity treatment with minimal side effects. Researchers at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, recorded promising results from tests on zebrafish and human cells. They predict the therapy could be available within five years if adverse effects are eliminated.

An endoscope swallowed like a large pill to swim around inside the body could replace the usual invasive devices. The Tadpole Endoscope, which has two magnets, a magnetic coil and a tail that helps it to move with remote guidance, wirelessly transmits images of what it encounters. The Tadpole is more manoeuvrable than previous wireless gastro-intestinal investigative tools, is cheaper than today’s endoscopes, and imposes less stress on a patient who may already be seriously ill. Scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have so far tested the endoscope in an artificial stomach and a pig’s stomach.

The reasons why hormone changes in puberty affect the immune systems of some young people and lead to lupus are being sought in a study at University College London. Another part of the project, funded with more than £200,000 from Action Medical Research, is aimed at discovering why girls are six times more likely to develop systemic lupus erythematosus, the severe form of the disease, and why onset is so early. Dr Kate Webb said the research could help young patients to understand their condition.

A sensor attached to the forehead of newborn babies with breathing difficulties to provide continuous heart rate readings is expected to be available to hospitals next year. The system, developed at Nottingham University, would replace monitoring that involves stopping resuscitation to calculate heart rate with a stethoscope, which can lose vital time and is subject to human error.

Breastfeeding and the absence of smoking in the household appear to protect a small child against developing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The conclusion follows analysis at several American institutions, including New York State University, detailing the incidence of surgery for the two conditions. However, the team recommended further studies to determine the biological reasons.

Studies of squid could eventually help wounds to self-heal. Pennsylvania State University scientists found proteins in squid sucker ring teeth enabled severed cables to mend themselves. They used bacteria to produce the proteins and added them to a mouldable copolymer. When the two pieces of the substance were subjected to warm water and a little pressure they knitted together. Professor Melik Demirel predicted: “Maybe some day we could apply this approach to the healing of wounds and other applications. That is where I am going to focus.”

Music therapy after meals, including singing, listening to songs, sharing music and collaborative songwriting, lessened distress and anxiety among anorexia nervosa patients participating in an Australian study. One reason given was that music distracted patients from negative feelings after the anxiety commonly suffered at mealtimes.

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