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Medical News, August 1, 2015

This week’s latest edition of the Medical News Summary Blog will cover medical and health research news which occurred from the 26th of July to the 1st of August.

A recent vaccine developed to protect against the Ebola virus has been shown to provide 100% protection in a preliminary study.  The World Health Organisation have said that the recent result which was published in the Lancet is a “game-changer”. The vaccine known as the VSV-EBOV vaccine was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and has since been developed by the pharmaceutical company, Merck. The vaccine was developed by pairing the Ebola virus with a safer virus to provide immunity to the dealy Ebola virus. Although the results are preliminary, the World Health Organisation have predicted that the vaccine will be between 75%-100% effective. In addition to the VSV-EBOV vaccine, other vaccines are currently being trialled by both Johnson & Johnson and GSK.

The government announced this week that a vaccine against the deadly strain of meningitis, MenW will be offered to first year university students. Local GPs will be inviting 17 to 18 year olds to come for the vaccination that will protect them against four different meningococcal strains including MenW. The vaccination programme has been introduced due to an increase in the number of cases of the aggressive strain of meningococcal disease, known as group W. MenW has a higher death rate than other strains of the disease. In 2009 there were 22 cases of MenW, this rose to 117 in 2014. The vaccine will protect against MenW and also meningococcal disease types A, C and Y.

A research study carried out by the charity Prostate Cancer UK alongside Public Health England has been published in the BMC Medicine journal this week. The study indicates that black men are twice more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men. The risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is thought to be one in four for black men, one in eight for white men and one in 13 for Asian males. In addition to this, the risk of death from prostate cancer also seems to be linked to ethnic background. Asian men were found to be the least at risk with one death in every 44 diagnoses. The risk for while men is thought to be one in 24 and black men are most at risk with an estimated one death in each 12 patients diagnosed.

Retired 63 year old father Harry Chivers has become the first person in the world to receive a miniature heart pump. The heart pump is the size of a golf ball and is known as a Miniaturized Ventricular Assist Device (MVAD). The recipient, Harry suffered a heart attack last August and his health was deteriorating whilst he was waiting for a transplant. He is now recovering well and is expected to be sent home in the near future. The device which costs £80,000 is the smallest in the world and includes settings that allows the device to adapt to the patient’s lifestyle. The device sits next to the heart and assists it in the pumping of blood. Due to its small size the device is hoped to be suitable for children with heart disease. The device is set to go through a lengthy clinical trial process before becoming part of routine medical practice.

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