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52 Healthcare and Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All

U of T drug researcher warns against jumping to conclusions with drug data

While researchers at Stanford University probe patient data to look for a potential link between a family of popular heartburn drugs and heart attack, a University of Toronto researcher warns against jumping to conclusions based on data correlates. 

“The problem is, it's very easy to do studies of this sort that lead to conclusions that can be misleading. I know because I've done that myself,” says Dr. David Juurlink, a drug-safety researcher from U of T. The drug family in question, proton-pump inhibitors, includes popular heartburn treatments like Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, and are generally considered more effective at treating heartburn than other drug combinations.

Juurlink's warning essentially urges researchers to remember that correlation does not necessarily equal causation; it’s better to get a more complete picture before advising physicians on courses of patient care. Of course, with repercussions as severe as potentially life-threatening heart attacks, the Toronto researcher's stance poses a point of contention. 

Read the full story here.
Source: NPR

Ebola research breakthrough at U of T

Groundbreaking work at the University of Toronto on fighting Ebola caught CNN's eye this week.

Research presented this week shows that a combination of three different HIV drugs "does a remarkably good job of fighting Ebola in the laboratory." 

"If it works out, we'll be doing somersaults -- if I knew how to do one -- down the hallways," Dr. Donald Branch, one of the researchers, told the news network.

Researchers elsewhere, including the World Health Organization, were quick to point out that the results were very preliminary, and since the U of T team used a strain of Ebola that doesn't infect humans, their results might not pan out in the real world. However, the team is hoping to get access to samples of live Ebola - kept under high security, for obvious reasons - to pursue their research.

Read the full story here
Source: CNN

U of T researchers make a breakthrough on the study of autism within families

A University of Toronto study has found that not only does the incidence of autism increase within families, but that brothers and sisters with the condition are overwhelmingly likelier to carry different genetic risk factors for the disorder.

The Guardian reports:
Research on 85 families found that siblings with autism had the same genetic risk factors less than one third of the time. In nearly 70% of cases, tests on the siblings revealed little or no overlap in the mutations known to contribute to the condition.

The findings challenge the presumption that the same genetic risk factors are at work when autism runs in families. “We knew that there were many differences in autism, but our recent findings firmly nail that down,” said Stephen Scherer at the University of Toronto.

“This means we should not be looking just for suspected autism-risk genes, as is typically done in diagnostic genetic testing,” Scherer added. Instead, he said a full assessment of a person’s genome was needed if genetic information was ever going to inform their treatment

Read the full story here.
Source: The Guardian.
Photo: CLF via Compfight cc

U of T researchers land on genome diet

The future of dietary recommendations might come down to a person's DNA, University of Toronto researchers found. The lead researcher, professor Ahmed El-Sohemy, has launched the nutritional genomics firm, Nutrigenomix, that sets out to do just that.

The Independent reports:
The researchers found that subjects who were told that they carry a version of the gene associated with salt intake and high blood pressure significantly reduced their salt intake compared with the group that received the standard advice for salt intake. No significant changes were found for the other dietary components: caffeine, vitamin C and sugar. The authors of the study believe that this is because most of the 138 people in the study were already meeting the recommendations for these dietary components at the start of the study.

At $300 per genetic test, compliance is not without its financial incentive, either. 

Read the full story here. 
Source: The Independent

Toronto study shows correlation between premature death and low-income landmarks

 A new study from the Centre for Research on Inner City Health out of St. Michael's Hospital suggests that there could be a link between the density of both cheque-cashing establishments and stores that sell alcohol and the risk of premature death in people aged 20 to 59. While the study, published in BMJ Open, doesn't directly link alcohol sellers/payday loan providers with early death, it does draw a correlate.

PsychCentral reports:

Their survey of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods found that men had a 1.25 times greater risk of premature death in areas with high densities of check-cashing places. Men also had a 1.36 times greater risk of premature death in areas with high densities of alcohol outlets, including alcohol and beer stores and bars.

The study found the premature mortality rate was 96.3 for every 10,000 males and 55.9 for every 10,000 females between the ages of 20 and 59.

Intentional self-harm, accidental poisoning, and liver disease are among the top five causes of premature death among men ages 20-59, and many of these deaths are highly preventable, according to the researchers.

The researchers also pointed out that check-cashing establishments tend to be located in economically challenged neighbourhoods which may also be areas where “mental illness and self-neglect are more prevalent.”

Read the full article here. 
Source: PsychCentral

GoodFood Market catches attention for its social justice-infused food truck savvy

Toronto's Mobile Good Food Market (which we wrote about when it launched last year) is getting buzz for putting a healthy and accessible twist on the food truck trend to wheel fresh produce to underserved neighbourhoods.

The project is the brainchild of FoodShare Toronto, in partnership with the City of Toronto and United Way. The donated truck—which is really more like a small bus—was converted into a mini grocery store by LGA Architectural Partners. Oh, and the bus interior is wheelchair accessible, too.

“Good food is beautiful when displayed well,” says Dean Goodman of LGA in VisualNews, “so when we decided we wanted this to be a feature we worked out the mechanism so one person could fold out the shelves, restock as necessary and display the food so it was attractive.”

(Healthy) food for thought.

Read the full article here.
Source: VisualNews

A University of Toronto study might be the answer to a Kentucky town's fungus

Kentucky whiskey distilleries are behind a nasty "whiskey fungus" that's covering houses, cars, and street signs in the Louisville suburb of Shively, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage.

Munchies reports:

For years, the residents of Shively took this black soot as a given. They didn’t know it was a preventable fungus caused by the nearby whiskey distilleries and they didn’t make much of a fuss about it. It was just another neighborhood complaint that wasn’t getting addressed by the local councilmen.
That changed in 2007, when University of Toronto mycologist James Scott published an academic paper about the fungus, which got attention not only for re-naming and re-classifying it based on DNA analysis, but also for pinning it on the whiskey industry. Dr. Scott discovered that this fungus—which he named Baudoinia, after the man who first studied it in 1872, Anton Baudoin—feeds on the ethanol vapor released by liquor as it ages. (Not surprisingly, you’ll find Baudoinia near scotch, brandy, and rum distilleries as well, since they also off-gas ethanol.) 

Scott's findings have led to a class-action lawsuit filed against the three major distilleries in the area – and possibly, as the piece points out, the booze industry's answer to the Erin Brokovich story

Read the full story here
Source: Munchies


Good news for bad guts

A local biotech startup, Encycle Therapeutics, is the recipient of a generous grant to further research its development of an oral treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD--the first of its kind.

Encycle was founded by Dr. Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, who are working from a $4 million public-private funding partnership with Merck Canada. 

As Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, told Drug Discovery and Development: "Encycle Therapeutics has spent the last 18 months demonstrating the significant potential of its innovative macrocyle chemistry platform to generate small-cell permeable systems. This achievement has resulted in multiple partnership opportunities, affirming its position as one of Canada's emerging biotechnology companies to watch."

Read more here.
Source: Drug Discovery and Development magazine

Parapan Am Games set to "leave a legacy"

Chefs de Mission from 27 National Paralympic Committees were in Toronto last week for a final meeting in anticipation of August's Parapan Am Games. As the event's Chief Executive Officer of TO2015, Saäd Rafi, told the German-based International Paralympic Committee, the games are poised to "leave a legacy in the Americas." 

The Toronto-hosted Games are set to be history-making, thanks to a few key additions. Among these: a National Paralympic Committee support grant developed to help cover travel costs to and from the Games, and a Parapan American Development Programme to build capacity in sport management, coaching, and developing the capacity of physically and visually impaired  athletes. 

“We continue to be impressed by the preparations for the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games and the efforts by Canada to create a real legacy from these Games that benefits the entire region of the Americas,” said American Paralympic Committee President Jose Luis Campo.

Among the 15 sports included in the Games will be archery, judo, powerlifiting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball.

Source: International Paralympic Committee

Toronto fourth best city in the world for opportunity

Toronto has ranked the fourth best place in the world overall for infrastructure, sustainability, livability and health, according to an annual study comparing major metropolitan areas across the continent. 

The report, called Cities of Opportunity, pegs 30 cities against one another in a number of indicators and categories, many of which Toronto performed well in, including receiving the highest possible grade for quality of life. 

Toronto placed second overall for transportation and infrastructure, with only Singapore ahead. Toronto received the top spot for public transit systems, but the overall score was affected by a 13th place ranking in traffic congestion, and 12th for ease of commute. "Toronto's rankings in these two variables also reflect the city's current reality, in which the lack of a fully integrated regional transportation system is one of the leading challenges for Toronto." 

Toronto was the only non-Asian city to break into the top 5. 

Toronto tied with Sydney for second place (with a marginal difference in Toronto's favour) in health, safety and security. Stockholm took the number one spot in this category, but each of the top contenders shared similar qualities: populations averaging 2.5 million. 

"Larger cities, with larger populations, must strive harder, and expend more resources, to secure the healthy and safety of their residents," the report said. 

Toronto fared well  in our political environment, end-of-life care, hospitals and health employment, crime, and health system performance. 

When it comes to sustainability and the natural environment, Toronto scored major points for air pollution and natural disaster risk, but poorly in thermal comfort, a factor the report admits the city can do little about aside from knowing how to cope with it and improve it, which is what pushed Stockholm to the top. Toronto's overall positioning in this category has dropped since last year.

Toronto also ranked high in the ease of doing business, an indicator that factored in cost and economic clout, but we ranked low in cost of living. 

Read the full report here
Original Source: PWC

UoT student develops new Malaria vaccine

A first year University of Toronto student has developed a potentially cost effective vaccine for the treatment of malaria in developing countries that is made from mustard oil. 
Jessie MacAlpine, a first year life sciences student, recently sat down with the university's student paper the Varsity to discuss her research, which was "extraordinarily successful at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where she won Best of Category for Medicine and Health Sciences," the paper reports. This is just one accomplishment of many. She also recently placed first in the International Cooperation Prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists where she was a Canadian ambassador. 
"I am currently working on in vivo studies to confirm the drug's efficacy within a mammal model. If this experiment returns results as promising as the in vitro studies, the hope will be to conduct clinical trials before establishing potential distribution channels," she told the Varsity. "The drug itself is very inexpensive – the necessary dose costs approximately a millionth of a cent – resulting in the major inhibitor to treatment being distribution. Potentially partnering with organizations such as the World Health Organization or Malaria No More could allow the inexpensive drug to reach those who are most affected by the disease. As well, because mustard oil is readily available in many malaria-endemic regions, these organizations could potentially run awareness campaigns to ensure the public is informed of the oil’s antimalarial properties."
MacAlpine has also chosen to patent her compound for multiple reasons, most notable to ensure the research and drug stays under her name in an effort to prevent a larger pharmaceutical company from claiming the idea—something she says could prevent the compound from reaching those who need it most. She also says it will make it easier for her to approach investors and potential laboratories once it's time to facilitate clinical trials.
Malaria kills more than one million people each year, especially in developing nations, the Varsity reports. MacAlpine hopes to soon locate a lab to facilitate a clinical trial and has her eyes set on an observational study in India, where mustard oil is used for cooking. 
"Despite my research focusing on the efficacy of the raw oil, it is possible that there is still a degree of antimalarial efficacy observed with consumption of the cooked compound. An observational study would hopefully allow a trend such as this to be determined. Finally, if all stages of drug testing return positive results, I will have to partner with a global health organization to organize awareness and distribution channels," she says.
MacAlpine will be speaking more about her research at the upcoming TEDxUofT conference on March 1, 2014. 
Read the full story here
Original Source: The Varsity

New Sick Kids research tower designed for collaboration

The Hospital For Sick Children is set to officially open its new collaborative research centre on September 17 after 10 years of planning and construction.

A report that ran on Global News states the $400-million tower is "intended to be an incubarot or innovative ideas," according to the hospital's head of research, Dr. Janet Rossant.
The 21-story Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning will "bring together the venerable hospitals’ 2,000-plus scientists under one roof after decades of being scattered in five different locations," Global News reports. 

Architects worked with the hospital to design a space that prevented researchers from working in silos, instead favouring an approach that inspires collaboration. The hospital features "neighbourhood gathering spots" that are accessible from several floors and encourage meeting and mingling. 

"[The architects] have built these mini atria in which people can come out of the lab, come into this space, sit down, have a coffee, talk to friends, have a small meeting," Dr. Rossant told Global on a tour of the new facility. "This is not just the most beautiful part of the building, but it really exemplifies what we wanted to achieve in the building."

The building will feature "state-of-the-art research labs for seven broad disciplines – among them genetics/genome biology and neurosciences/mental health," Global reports. 

"We do it, research in the hospital, because we want to implement change. We want to see change that impacts on health," Rossant says.

Read the full story here
Original Source: Global News

Thumbnail photo by dhammza via photopin cc

Humber River Hospital sets Canadian healthcare benchmark

The new Humber River Hospital won't open its doors to patients until 2015, but it's already being touted as a potential global leader in innovation and technology. 
Healthcare Global reports that patients will be able to, control lighting, alter room temperature, video chat with nurses and use a bedside monitor to read medical records. These technologies are designed to cut down on the time it takes for nurses and doctors to walk to various parts of the hospital, something further research by CBC News indicates will make the hospital the latest digital hospital in the world. 

Both sources report that though Canada has made efforts to digitize its health-care system, it lags behind other countries. This is about to change. 
"The new Humber River Hospital sets the benchmark for hospitals in the future and will change the way patient care is delivered in Canada," Healthcare Global reports. 
The Humber River Hospital will become Humber's main acute care centre.  
Read the full story here
Original source: Healthcare Global

Toronto iPhone microscope is tested in Tanzania

The Canadian Press is reporting that a microscope "capable of diagnosing intestinal parasites in Tanzanian children" has been concocted successfully from an iPhone, double-sided tape, a cheap ball lens, and a flashlight.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Toronto General Hospital physician, told the Canadian Press that the microscope is "portable, it's relatively cheap, it's very easy to use. And it could be very useful in resource-poor settings that are remote or rural."
The article states that "Bogoch and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute at the University of Basel, and the Pemba Public Health Laboratory in Tanzania field tested the device and reported their findings Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene."
They found that the microscopes could be modified to pick up about 80 per cent of infections found in children in developing countries. The microscopes allow physicians to detect the eggs that develop into the parasites responsible for infections. The usual apparatus used to detect these eggs costs $200 and requires electricity, making it hard to access in rural areas, the article reports. 
The scientists in this study used an $8 ball lens and attached it to the camera of an iPhone with double-sided tape. They expect a slightly more expensive ball lens to generate better results. 
"Our goal really was to use the simplest and cheapest options available," says Bogoch in the article. "We really wanted to be as pragmatic as possible. Because ultimately, the goal is to use these products and use these devices in real world settings."
Read the full report here.
Original Source: Global News 

2015 Parapan American Games has major role to play in Paralympic Movement

The 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games will play a major role in propelling the Paralympic Movement, "not just here in the Americas, but the whole world," said the President of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC) Octavio Londoño on a visit to Toronto. 
"As a country Canada has a major role to play hosting a number of major Parasport events starting with August's IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal. As a city Toronto has the biggest role to play between now and Rio 2016," Londoño is quoted as saying in an article written by Emily Goddard reporting on his presentation in Toronto.
He continues, "If together we can deliver the biggest and best Parapan American Games in terms of sport, participation, accessibility, inclusion, crowds and media coverage, then we can head into Rio 2016 with significant momentum."
Goddard writes that Londoño expressed delight over Toronto's enthusiasm to "deliver the best Games ever," saying the city has a real opportunity to build on the success of London 2012 "when it welcomes some 1,500 athletes from 28 National Paralympic Committees to compete in the 15 sports of the Parapan Games." The games act as qualifiers for the Olympics in Rio in 2016, featuring South America's first Paralympic Games. Toronto will play a vital role in building momentum for Paralympic games in the years and months leading up to Rio. 
The 2015 games are set to get underway in Toronto on August 7, 2015.
Read the full report here
Original source: Inside the Games
52 Healthcare and Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All
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