Health Highlights: Nov. 11, 2015
Scientists Find Noninvasive Way to Deliver Drugs Through Blood-Brain Barrier Wearable Kidney Being Developed for Kidney Failure Patients Humor Change May be Early Warning of Dementia: Study Jimmy Carter Shows No Signs of New Cancer Growth After Treatment New Tobacco Products First to be Approved After FDA Review
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Scientists Find Noninvasive Way to Deliver Drugs Through Blood-Brain Barrier
In a world-first, Canadian scientists found a noninvasive way to deliver drugs through the blood-brain barrier.
First, they injected gas-filled bubbles into a cancer patient's bloodstream. They then used a beam of focused ultrasound waves to make the bubbles vibrate and push their way through the blood-brain barrier, carrying chemotherapy drugs with them, BBC News reported.
The procedure will be performed on 6 to 10 more patients in a clinical trial.
The experimental technique used at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto could also be used to treat other brain diseases, including dementia and Parkinson's, BBC News reported.
The blood-brain barrier separates the brain from its blood vessels and is meant to keep toxins and pathogens away from the central nervous system. But it also prevents drugs in the bloodstream from reaching the brain.
Wearable Kidney Being Developed for Kidney Failure Patients
A wearable artificial kidney may free kidney failure patients from dialysis machines and improve their health, researchers say.
Kidney failure patients need to undergo dialysis at a clinic or hospital several times a week. Along with being inconvenient, a buildup of fluids and minerals between dialysis sessions can lead to high blood pressure, breathing problems and severe dietary restrictions, CNN reported.
A team of scientists is developing the Wearable Artificial Kidney, which would filter a patient's blood around the clock.
"This is to reduce a lot of the complications that make patients sick ... (and) to give patients back their life," such as being able to work again, Victor Gura, associate clinical professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, told CNN.
In a small clinical trial, seven kidney failure patients wore the device for 24 hours. The device cleaned their blood at the same rate as healthy kidneys, and the patients had no discomfort or side effects, according to Gura.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology.
Humor Change May be Early Warning of Dementia: Study
Suddenly developing a bizarre sense of humor may be an early warning sign of dementia, according to a new U.K. study.
University College London researchers surveyed friends and relatives of 48 people with frontotemporal dementia and found that many noticed a change in patients' humor years before they were diagnosed with dementia, BBC News reported.
The changes included inappropriate laughter in response to tragic events, according to the study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Frontotemporal dementia is one of the rarer forms of dementia and affects the area of the brain involved in personality and behavior, BBC News reported.
Further research is needed to determine how and when changes in a person's sense of humor could be an early warning of dementia, experts say.
Jimmy Carter Shows No Signs of Cancer Growth After Treatment
Former President Jimmy Carter says he is responding well to cancer treatment and his doctors have found no signs of tumor growth.
Carter, 91, announced in August that he had cancer, including tumors in his brain. He underwent treatment with radiation and a new immune-based drug that helps the body find and destroy cancer cells.
On Tuesday, Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo told the Associated Press that, following treatment, physicians have not found evidence of new tumors. Tests will continue, she said.
New Tobacco Products First to be Approved After FDA Review
Some new tobacco products are the first to be approved after a formal review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The agency gave the go-ahead for the sale of eight Swedish Match snus products, which are teabag-like pouches of tobacco, the Associated Press reported.
The FDA stressed that the decision on the products "does not mean that they are safe or FDA approved," the AP said.
Swedish Match and a number of other companies already sell the smokeless tobacco products in the United States, but these revamped products are the first to go through an FDA review process authorized more than five years ago.
A 2009 law gave the FDA authority to assess tobacco products for their health risk and approve those that don't pose a new or significant health risk, the AP reported.