Low back and neck pain is an increasingly widespread and expensive condition worldwide, costing the US alone $88bn a year – the third highest bill for any health condition.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from low back and neck pain, most of it unexplained, although some professionals think it may be worsened by sitting at desks all day, carrying bags and general bad posture. Episodes of acute pain are very common, but experts say that medical investigations only make things worse and the best cure is often to take painkillers, exercise gently and wait for the pain to pass. Continue reading The Back Pain Epidemic.
IT SEEMED like a good idea until I saw the electrodes. Dr Luana Colloca’s white coat offered scant reassurance. “Do you mind receiving a series of electric shocks?” she asked.
I could hardly say no – after all, this was why I was here. Colloca’s colleague, Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy, had invited me to come and experience their placebo research first hand. Colloca strapped an electrode to my forearm and sat me in a reclining chair in front of a computer screen. “Try to relax,” she said.
First, we established my pain scale by determining the mildest current I could feel, and the maximum amount I could bear. Then Colloca told me that, before I got another shock, a red or a green light would appear on the computer screen.
A bacterial cocktail could soon offer a knifeless alternative to gastric bypass surgery.
The gastric bypass limits a person’s food intake by, in effect, reducing the size of the stomach – often to the size of a walnut. The procedure is an effective treatment for obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and typically leads to a loss in excess body weight of between 65 and 75 per cent. However, it carries a high mortality risk, especially in severely obese individuals.
Lee Kaplan at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues may have discovered an alternative to surgery. The team performed a gastric bypass on mice and then fed microbes from their lower intestine to other healthy mice. The mice fed the bacterial cocktail lost five per cent of their body weight in two weeks, compared with mice on the same diet who had not been fed the bacteria. Continue reading Gut Bacteria swap is alternative to Gastric Bypass Surgery
Feeding faeces to people with chronic infection can cure them, but who wants to eat poo? A synthetic alternative could provide a more palatable option.
Hospital superbug Clostridium difficile can wreak havoc in the guts of vulnerable people, especially those who have lost some of their protective gut flora as a result of antibiotic use. Once it takes hold, the bacteria can cause nasty diarrhoea and in some cases is fatal. The usual treatment for the infection, which affects over half a million people in the US each year, involves a strong course of antibiotics. But the infection returns in about 20 per cent of cases, and some people become chronically infected. Continue reading Faecal Bacteria Cocktail treats superbug Infection
There’s more to malnutrition than poor diet. Two complementary studies suggest that microbes have an important role to play in both the onset and treatment of a poorly understood form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor.
Malnutrition, the leading cause of death among children worldwide, remains something of a puzzle. It is unclear, for instance, why some children are especially prone to becoming malnourished when siblings they live with appear to fare better.