As I have touched on in a previous article about over-diagnosis there has been a huge rise in drug resistance, and so as a result we need to develop new antibiotics or improve current antibiotics. Drug resistance is the ability of microbes (e.g. bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi) to grow in the presence of a drug that would normally kill it or limit its growth. A new study has shown that onions may be able to help us treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which is spread through inhaling droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It mainly affects the lungs however it can affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones and nervous system. Internationally, tuberculosis which is resistant to the two strongest anti-tuberculosis drugs, affects more than 480,000 people annually.
Dr. Sanjib Bhakta — of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology at Birkbeck— and colleagues have identified a number of onion-derived compounds that can kill tuberculosis bacteria. The compounds come from a type of onion ( Allium Stipitatum), known for its antibacterial properties. They then tested the effects of these compounds on various drug-resistant bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is the bacterial species that causes tuberculosis. They found that the compounds from the onions showed inhibitory effects against several bacteria, and was found to inhibit the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by 99.9%!
This study has the potential to make a big contribution in finding other similar compounds which could be used to inhibit the growth of these drug resistance microbes and ultimately help in largely reducing the effects of these serious diseases.
Should organ donations be in the ‘opt out’ system rather than the ‘opt in’ system?
The way that the ‘opt out’ system works is that rather than people saying that they would like to donate their organs and signing up to it as our current system now says, people will be presumed to want to donate their organs unless they have otherwise expressed a wish not to.
There are many reasons why some people don’t want to donate their organs for example religious reasons and some people many believe that it will affect you in an after life. Others, however, may have a particular desire to be cremated.
On the other hand there are many reasons why people do want to donate their organs. You will be able to save lives. Around 90,000 people are waiting for organ donations every month, and roughly 20 people a month die who could otherwise have been saved by available organs. Through being an organ donor you can help you to save several lives and a single donor can touch the lives of up to 50 people.
So why should we have the ‘opt out’ system? The number of people whose lives could be saved by a transplant is rising more rapidly than the number of willing donors and so this will help provide the much needed organs. As well as this doctors and surgeons can be trusted not to abuse the licence which a change of the law would grant them. Ultimately, we will saving a much greater proportion of lives.
However there are also problems with the ‘opt out’ system. Organ removal without the expressed wish of the deceased could be distressing for his or her family. As well as this the proposed change in the law is open to abuse, with the possibility of death being hastened to secure an organ needed by some other patient. This system leads us to question whether this person is really giving their consent for this happen. The definition of consent is where someone has permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
Although the opt out system is not explicit consent, are we right to just assume consent?
If you wish to donate your organ, please register to be an organ donor with this link- https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk
The headlines predicted for 2018 by the BBC’s global health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar are-
- Malaria – it is hoped that for 2018, global leaders will see the urgent need to tackle this problem and invest in a drive for malaria elimination.
- Famine- with newer technology and a larger number of resources, we are now able to assist more people in more hard to reach places than ever before, however we are not able to help everyone and with a growing population and global warming affecting crops, a large concern for 2018 is how to minimise the effects of famine.
- Antibiotic resistance – it is becoming increasingly harder to treat people due to the cause developing resistance to the treatment so there will be a much larger drive in order to overcome this. Check out my post on overdiagnosis for some more information on this!
Some medical advances we can hopefully expect for 2018 are-
- Drones distributing medicine to isolated areas
- Diseases to be cured through gene editing– CRISPR
- Artificial pancreas for diabetes
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients will be able to communicate with their thoughts
- Enhanced post surgery recovery – hospitals are looking into post-operative nutrition plans and alternative methods to pain medication to speed up the recovery time
- The first human head transplant
- Next generation vaccines- freeze drying vaccinations so they can be transported to remote areas more effectively and investigation into faster ways to manufacture vaccinations to make them more readily available
- More targeted, precise breast cancer therapies
Wishing you all the best for 2018