Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov
Regards to all our listeners!
I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The new edition of NIH MedlinePlus magazine covers sickle cell disease, knee replacement surgery, and the role of NIH's Clinical Center.
The cover features Jim Parsons, who is a star of 'The Big Bang Theory' television show, and the producer/narrator of a new series, 'First in Human,' which explains some of the activities of NIH's Clinical Center.
Parsons' documentary series follows four patients who are in clinical trials conducted by NIH's Clinical Center, or research hospital. 'First in human' was broadcast in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel; free excerpts are available on their website.
Parsons acknowledges his admiration for the patients who participate in clinical trials as well as the Clinical Center's researchers and physicians. Regarding the Clinical Center's health providers, Parsons says (and we quote): '...Everyone who works at NIH on these (clinical) trials has an ability to combine devotion to their work and passion and care of individual patients that borders on the profound. I suppose it's what everyone would hope to find in any health professional but I can't imagine one always does – this super-intelligent workhorse who is also so human and compassionate' (end of quote).
After visiting the Clinical Center and producing the documentary Parsons says (and we quote): 'As taxpayers whose money helps fund the work at NIH and the trials they conduct, we should be extremely proud' (end of quote).
NIH MedlinePlus magazine also reports on progress in knee replacement surgery. One of NIH's studies focuses on extending the life of knee implants, which can wear down after 15 to 20 years.
NIH MedlinePlus magazine notes current research focuses on different combinations of materials that would last longer and potentially lessen the impact of implants on a knee.
A leading knee replacement surgeon at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center tells NIH MedlinePlus magazine (and we quote): 'Where the technology is now, the total knee replacement operations are effective for reducing pain and improving function. But we have a long ways to go before we can assure our patients that this surgery can allow the extreme levels of activity that one can do on a healthy joint' (end of quote).
NIH MedlinePlus magazine additionally reports NIH is making progress in treating and finding a cure for sickle cell disease.
NIH MedlinePlus magazine provides an example of a 29 year-old Syracuse University student whose pain from sickle cell disease declined after he underwent an experimental gene transfer procedure in an NIH clinical trial. NIH researchers replaced his 'sickled' (or abnormally shaped) blood cells with normal ones derived from his bone marrow.
From the advances found via clinical trials, NIH MedlinePlus magazine reports the current life expectancy of a person with sickle cell disease is now from 40 to 60 years old compared to 14 years old in 1973.
Regarding a future cure, a senior official at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute tells NIH MedlinePlus magazine (and we quote): 'sickle cell disease is caused by a single gene mutation. So, if can reverse that mutation in the DNA using gene editing, we could change that one mutant gene back to normal and stop the disease' (end of quote). NIH MedlinePlus magazine notes several gene editing tools currently are in development.
The redesigned NIH MedlinePlus magazine also contains brief reports on how potassium in beans, spinach, bananas, potatoes, and yogurt may help prevent the hardening of blood arteries. Another report suggests progress in changing the genes of mosquitoes to be resistant to malaria, which halts its spread to humans. NIH MedlinePlus magazine adds malaria impacts about 200 million persons around the world annually and killed about 400,000 people in 2015.
As always, NIH MedlinePlus magazine provides a helpful list of phone numbers (many of them a free call) to contact NIH's array of institutes and centers.
NIH MedlinePlus magazine is distributed to physicians' offices nationwide by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine. You can subscribe or find the latest edition online by clicking on 'Magazine,' which is on the bottom right side of MedlinePlus.gov's home page.
Previous editions of NIH MedlinePlus magazine are available at the same site. A link to NIH MedlinePlus Salud, which provides other health information and resources in Spanish, is available there as well (see the top right of the page).
The web version of NIH MedlinePlus magazine includes links that visually supplement the information in some articles — and now include some animations.
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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!