A drug embedded with a digital tracker

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug in the country that is embedded with a digital ingestion tracking system. Abilify MyCite features an ingestible sensor that records the fact the medication has been consumed. The pill has been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, and for depression in adults. https://www.springwise.com/fda-approves-first-drug-embedded-digital-tracker/

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Tobacco companies forced to tell the truth in advertising

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Major American cigarette manufacturers are now publishing anti-smoking ads to correct the misleading statements they made over many years about the effects of smoking, a move that complies with a court order filed in 2006. The ads explain that smoking kills and cigarettes are intentionally designed to get people addicted. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/big-tobaccos-anti-smoking-ads-begin-after-decade-of-delay/2017/11/21/8841d418-ce82-11e7-a87b-47f14b73162a_story.html

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A robotic surgeon’s assistant that can feel your body

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The FDA has recently cleared Senhance, a robotically assisted surgical device for use in minimally invasive surgeries. Senhance enhances surgeons’ capabilities through a screen with a 3D HD view of the surgical field, where they remotely control three separate arms, each equipped with surgical instruments. Senhance’s camera can follow their eye movements and show what they’d be looking at if they were manually performing the surgery on screen. The machine’s controllers can also make surgeons feel the stiffness of the tissue they’re operating on. https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/15/fda-approves-senhance-robotic-surgical-assistant/

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A tax on sugary drinks to improve health

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New modelling in a study published in the latest Nutrients journal shows a 30 per cent reduction in kilojoules in all sugar-sweetened drinks would not only reverse Australia’s obesity crisis, but drastically reduce the number of people succumbing to obesity-related diseases such as stroke, diabetes and kidney cancer. Two-thirds of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the US Boulder in Colorado, four cities in California (San Francisco, Oakland, Albany and Berkeley), Seattle and Philadelphia have managed to introduce a tax on soft drinks. Philladelphia’s proceeds go directly into an educational fund paying for pre-kindergarten and community schools leading to heavy support for the tax by families. http://www.opc.org.au/

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Free genetic test for high risk cancer patients

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In Australia people at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer will be offered free genetic testing. If someone has breast and ovarian cancer and has the mutations, all their relatives will be able to have the test for free. If they don’t have the mutation, they can go back to normal screening. This new service is expected to significantly improve the lives of Australians, offering more choice via access to affordable screening and treatment options, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-12/breast-and-ovarian-cancer-test-free-for-high-risk-patients/9040274

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See a doctor online

Push Doctor is a new medical service in the U.K. offering you a video consultation with a doctor at home. You can choose an appointment time or go into the online waiting room. Their competitive pricing is set up front and you can have your prescription sent to your local pharmacy and referrals emailed to you, as well as a sick note if needed. It’s open 6am – 11pm, 7 days a week. https://www.pushdoctor.co.uk

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Winning the war on drugs by treating it as a health issue

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Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Possession and use of small quantities of these drugs was treated as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal but now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record. Drug-induced deaths have decreased steeply since then. Portugal’s drug mortality rate is now the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark, and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S. https://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening

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A glue that could save lives

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Australian and American biomedical engineers have developed a stretchy surgical glue that rapidly heals wounds. It’s seen as a breakthrough that has the potential to save lives in emergencies. The injectable glue, MeTro, is based on a naturally occurring protein. It’s applied directly to the wound and then activated with UV light to form a complete seal, eliminating the need for staples or stitches. Its elasticity means it’s designed to work well on shape-changing internal organs like the lungs and heart. http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/human-body/injectable-stretchy-glue-that-heals-wounds-in-60-seconds-could-save-lives/news-story/f00161d15e7ae014d01380e5dba40ffc

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Using AI to prevent teen suicides

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An app has been developed that uses an algorithm to analyze speech and determine whether someone is likely to take their own life. It’s called Spreading Activation Mobile or SAM and is being tested in a handful of Cincinnati schools in the US this year. It arrives at a time when researchers across the country are developing new forms of artificial intelligence that may forever change the way mental health issues are diagnosed and treated. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/09/25/teenage-suicide-is-extremely-difficult-to-predict-thats-why-some-experts-are-turning-to-machines-for-help/?

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Gene editing could revolutionize IVF

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Genetic modification of a human embryo has led to a breakthrough that could transform our understanding of human biology. For the first time, researchers used a genome-editing technique to remove a gene from an embryo in an early stage of its development. This could revolutionise IVF, helping couples with fertility problems have children and also lead to advances in regenerative medicine. This involves using stem cells, which can form any kind of tissue, to replace missing structures in the body or repair damage. http://www.inkl.com/newsletters/morning-edition/news/gene-editing-breakthrough-could-transform-understanding-of-human-biology-say-scientists?

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A new way to diagnose and treat disease

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The effectiveness of smart pills, biosensors and drug-delivery systems depends on the surrounding tissue inside the body. To overcome this, researchers from Cal Tech have created a mini wireless chip that can vary its output frequency in relation to a local magnetic field, enabling a precise location to be determined. In addition to one day measuring factors such as pH, blood sugar, and temperature inside the body, developments like this should enable massive improvements in our ability to diagnose and treat disease as well as possibilities for life extension. http://www.kurzweilai.net/miniature-mri-simulator-chip-could-help-diagnose-and-treat-diseases-in-the-body-at-sub-millimeter-precision?

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