Friday, November 13, 2015
Here are noteworthy healthcare issues that have appeared in the news and medical journals throughout the last 30 days or so:
Issac Itzkoff, of the New York Times, reported that comedian Robin Williams was battling Lewy body dementia at the time of his suicide. Lewy body dementia causes an Alzheimer’s-like slippage in memory and thinking as well as stiffness and movement problems such as the kind seen in Parkinson’s disease. It can also cause hallucinations which often involve seeing animals, children or miniature people. The condition results in steady decline, an average of 10% or more a year and there is no cure.
A study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry demonstrated that schizophrenia may be caused by inflammation in the brain which can be discovered through PET scans which measure the levels of activity of immune cells in the brain. The authors suggest that the next step is to determine whether anti-inflammatory treatment in patients who are predisposed to the disease can prevent the disorder.
An article published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences surveyed advances in “exercise pills” which seek to mimic the effects produced by physical exercise.
An article published in Science discussed the development of artificial skin that acts as a mechanoreceptor in conjunction with an organic transistor circuit that can simulate the sensation of touch. The hope is that this technology will aid in the design of large area organic electronic skin with neural integrated touch feedback for replacement limbs.