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Human Trials of Artificial Wombs Could Start Soon

Nature | Health & Medical Care

Human Trials of Artificial Wombs Could Start Soon

“Researchers at CHOP are seeking approval for the first human clinical trials of the device they’ve been testing, named the Extra-uterine Environment for Newborn Development, or EXTEND. The team has emphasized that the technology is not intended — or able — to support development from conception to birth. Instead, the scientists hope that simulating some elements of a natural womb will increase survival and improve outcomes for extremely premature babies.”

From Nature.

The Guardian | Accidents, Injuries & Poisonings

Blood Thinner Could Be Used to Treat Cobra Venom, Global Study Suggests

“Cobra bites are usually treated using antivenom administered through an intravenous drip, meaning the drug reaches the bloodstream rather than the tissue. Antivenom treatments are therefore ineffective in treating necrosis, the irreversible death of body tissue, which can lead to amputation or a loss of limb function. Treatment is also expensive, and it can take days for patients to get to a hospital.

The lead author of the study, Tian Du from the University of Sydney, said if human trials were successful, heparin – a blood thinner that can directly reach infected tissue – could be used on-site, most likely in combination with other drugs.

Du said after successful human trials, heparin, which is a World Health Organization-listed essential medicine, could be rolled out relatively quickly to become a cheap, safe and effective drug for treating cobra bites.

While she said it was unclear at this stage how much heparin would reduce tissue damage, she was hopeful that damage will be reduced by 50% to 100%, depending on the dosage and how quickly the drug is delivered.”

From The Guardian.

New York Magazine | Noncommunicable Disease

Immunotherapy Is Changing Cancer Treatment Forever

“Glioblastoma is the most common type of malignant brain cancer. It can strike at any age, and it’s uniformly fatal. Patients are often diagnosed in the emergency room after the tumor causes some somatic catastrophe, such as seizure, sudden loss of speech, or an inability to control the limbs on one side of the body. The median time from diagnosis to death is just over a year.

The first step in treating the disease hasn’t changed in decades: ‘maximal safe resection,’ a surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving neurological function. Because glioblastoma is so adept at infiltrating the brain, the surgeon almost always leaves cancer behind, which quickly starts growing again. Some patients respond to radiation or the chemotherapy drug temozolomide, but even that adds months rather than years to the average survival time. Roger Stupp, an expert in glioblastoma, told me the disease had proved to be ‘a graveyard of ideas.’ Decades of research have gone nowhere.

Within the past 20 years, however, a once unfashionable field called immunotherapy has upended all expectations in oncology. It proceeds from a simple premise: The human immune system is very good at attacking anything it registers as disease. If it could be turned against cancer, it could eliminate a tumor more thoroughly than a surgeon’s knife and more durably than the poison of chemotherapy.”

From New York Magazine.

The Guardian | Vaccination

First Asian Elephant Vaccinated in Fight against Deadly Herpes Virus

“An Asian elephant at Houston zoo in the US has received the first mRNA vaccine against herpes, which is the leading killer of Asian elephants calves in captivity.

Tess, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, was injected with the trial vaccine at the Texas zoo in June, after a spate of deaths in juveniles in zoos around the world from the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV).

Dr Paul Ling, who researches herpes in humans at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, developed the elephant mRNA vaccine, which is designed to boost the immunity of young elephants.”

From The Guardian.

CNN | Vaccination

Children Receive First Doses of New Malaria Vaccine

“Children in Ivory Coast received the first doses of a new, relatively cheap malaria vaccine on Monday, a step that has been hailed as a major milestone in the battle against one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

The R21 vaccine, developed by the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India (SII), has been sent to several African countries and will also be administered in South Sudan Tuesday, the University of Oxford said in a statement sent to CNN.

The vaccine costs less than $4 a dose, making it ‘realistic to roll out in many tens of millions of doses from now on,’ and it has high efficacy levels of around 75%-80% in young children.”

From CNN.