Review Category : Health

Zika Virus Vaccine Trials May Start in Fall, NIH Official Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Trials to find an effective vaccine for the Zika virus may start this summer or fall, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci, along with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden, spoke to reporters Thursday about the battle to contain the Zika outbreak. Fauci said NIAID is looking at multiple vaccine options and that a phase 1 trial to test Zika vaccine safety is expected to start in the coming months.

“I’m confident we’ll get there,” Fauci said of finding a vaccine. He cautioned that getting a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likely at least a few years away.

“We may able to know if it’s effective or safe at end of 2017,” Fauci said of early testing.

Both Fauci and Frieden said getting congressional funding for the vaccine research and to combat the spreading Zika virus is key. The White House has asked Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika outbreak.

“We might find ourselves halfway through phase 1 and not be able to make a larger step to phase 2,” Fauci said, describing a second trial that would test how effective a vaccine is against the virus. “If we don’t get the money the president asked for, it’s going to slow down a number of things.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Your Body: Correcting Bad Posture

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Do you have pinching pain? Neck discomfort? Just a generalized achiness?

It’s not just slumping your shoulders that can cause problems — it’s bad posture. This can cause physical pain like neck and back issues, and breathing problems.

Here are three simple steps to improve your posture as you sit at your desk all day:

  1. Keep your computer screen at eye level.
  2. Position your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Make sure your wrist and arms are supported.

I am constantly trying to improve my posture. I try and pull my shoulders back, and imagine a string pulling me straighter and taller coming from the top of my head.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

What the Dalai Lama Suggests Is the Key to Living a Happier Life

ABC News(MADISON, Wis.) — For the Dalai Lama, finding inner peace is as easy as deciding that whatever is bothering you simply doesn’t exist.

Well OK, it’s not that easy. It takes a lot of practice and study.

His Holiness, along with Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, sat down with ABC News’ Dan Harris for his new live-stream podcast show, “10% Happier With Dan Harris.” The Dalai Lama and Davidson have collaborated for years on research looking at the impact meditation can have on the brain.

Specifically, the Dalai Lama spoke about the importance of studying and practicing analytical meditation, the art of actively examining something bothering us and questioning whether it really exists.

“When we analyze the nature, or the very identity of sadness or worry, you can find … the appearance of something or ‘my sadness, something is here, something solid,’ now that no longer there,” His Holiness said when describing the practice of analytical meditation.

If it’s a another person you’re angry with, the Dalai Lama suggested recognizing that you are angry at that person and then letting that anger go.

“In the case of one human being who gives you problem, and you feel very negative with that person [you] consider your enemy. … That is a target of anger. Analyze that target. Dissolve. So anger no longer find independent target,” he said.

Even as a spiritual leader, His Holiness said he believed scientific research into meditation is important because having evidence and knowledge about the physical and mental benefits meditation can have on a person can only enhance “the well-being of the world.” It’s a way to deal with problems and find “peace of mind” within oneself without relying on outside escapes, such as drugs or alcohol, he said.

Davidson said having good health doesn’t just mean the “absence of illness” in the body, but also removing suffering from the mind. Teaching others how to do that through the practice of meditation, learning to live happier, can have real long-term benefits.

“It’s public health because disturbing emotions we know cause changes in the body that impact our physical health,” Davidson said. “And so there is evidence to suggest that people who are happier and have higher levels of well-being actually have biology that is more conducive to health … our aspirations is that these practices can actually reduce health care costs because it can enable people to be more healthy.”

But meditation, His Holiness said, is not merely sitting there in “thoughtlessness,” but instead using our brains to concentrate on a particular subject or noise or destructive emotion (like anger) bothering us as a way to “reduce the intensity” of the emotion, and then let it go.

“You see, one of the best gift from God is intelligence. So without using our intelligence it’s quite a pity,” he said.

So when asked what he thought of Donald Trump and the American election process, which has been fraught with anger and opponents slinging mud at each other, His Holiness said, “a serious discussion about policy matter is useful, but sometimes little bit sort of personal criticism these things that looks a little bit cheap. That’s my view.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

OkCupid Data Finds Women Who Make First Move Online Have Better Results

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For women who use online dating services, mustering up the courage to send the first message can be daunting — but it may be worth it.

The popular dating app OkCupid says an analysis of its user data found that women on the site who initiate conversations online are 2 ½ times more likely to get a response than are men who make the first move. It also says that the replies those women receive will be from more what it describes as more desirable men.

The unscientific study, which may only apply to OkCupid, also found that women-initiated contact led to more conversations.

“When women are proactive there’s a big win,” Jimena Almendares, OkCupid Chief Product Officer, told ABC News. “This is data that is showing that if they actually speak up, they have so much to gain.”

The findings go against the unspoken expectation that men should make the first move.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Four Tech Tools to Hack Your Sleep

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Technology can sometimes be a distraction when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep but it can also be used in a beneficial way, allowing users to hack into their sleep habits.

This week is National Sleep Awareness Week. While it’s the perfect excuse to tuck into bed a little early for some extra shuteye (or sleep in!) it’s also an ideal time to explore ways technology can be leveraged to help improve a person’s sleeping habits.

There are a number of wearable devices on the market from Fitbit to Jawbone to the Microsoft Band that also include sleep trackers. However, if the thought of wearing something on your wrist while you sleep doesn’t sound ideal, here are a few alternatives for hacking into your sleep habits — and making them better.

Eight

Eight is a smart mattress cover equipped with sensors that provide data on more than 15 metrics, including everything from hours slept to heart rate, temperature, humidity and the exact time a person falls asleep.

“Everything started because I have problems sleeping,” Eight CEO Matteo Franceschetti told ABC News. “Everything around me was becoming smarter and smarter and I said, ‘Why is no one bringing tech to my bed?'”

Working with three other co-founders, Franceschetti developed a $99 non-wearable solution that is always working. The secret: A tiny smart box accompanying the cover allows users to connect to Wi-Fi. Eight connects to smart home devices, including the Nest thermostat to help adjust the temperature during the night.

A person’s sleep data is also sent to an accompanying app, allowing them to take a deep dive into their habits and learn what they can do to enhance the quality of their sleep.

Quit Snoring

Most people learn they snore thanks to feedback from their significant other or roommate. For those who sleep alone or want to learn more about just how loud their snoring is, there’s an app for that.

The Quit Snoring app lets users listen to their snoring during the night and upload a recording of their sleep session to a Mac or PC. The app includes a graph of the night showing when a person’s snoring was loudest or most prolonged and allows for users to drop pins and leave notes at certain points in the night.

A study published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology called Quit Snoring the best of the 126 apps researchers reviewed.

“A chronic snorer used the app nightly for one month and tracked medical interventions. Snoring decreased from 200 to 10 snores per hour, and bed partner snoring complaint scores decreased from 9 to 2 (on a 0-10 scale),” the study’s abstract said.

The app is $4.99 for iOS while an Android version is advertised for 99 cents in the Google Play store.

Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is an app for iPhone and Android and it analyzes a user’s sleep in the night, giving them a graph in the morning showing their sleep stages. Since Sleep Cycle knows what sleep stage a person is in, it wakes them up around their preferred time when they are in their lightest sleep phase, promoting a more relaxed feeling.

While the app is free, Sleep Cycle offers premium services including online backup, analysis of long-term trends and support for Phillips Hue connected lights, which can turn on and simulate a sunrise as a person is gently woken up.

Sleep Cycle previously required users to place their phone next to their pillow so the phone’s accelerometer could pick up movements during the night, however the company’s latest 5.0 version lets people rest their phone on a nightstand where it can then detect movement through sound.

“You spend a lot of your time alive asleep, actually, so it’s fascinating to get insights about what happens during the night,” Maciek Drejak, founder of Sleep Cycle, told ABC News last November. “Pretty often you can see your sleep cycles and see when you should go to bed.”

Sleep Cycle is available for iOS and Android users.

Pzizz

Pzizz offers a customizable soundtrack that helps lull users into their nightly slumber or even just a power nap.

A random algorithm creates a new soundtrack every night, offering what Pzizz founders say is more than 100 billion combinations. Soundtracks can be a mix of music, bears, sound effects or even inspiring words to help listeners drift away into dream land.

Users can set a custom time length from ten minutes to 12 hours and also program an alarm so they won’t have to worry about missing any important meetings. Pzizz is also available offline, making it ideal for trying to get some rest on the airplane — or for users who want to avoid the distraction of phone calls and emails during the night.

Pzizz is available free for iOS and Android users.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Boy Battles Same Type of Brain Cancer That Killed His Father

Courtesy Kainani Lopes(GIG HARBOR, Wa.) — A Washington community is rallying to help the family of a 7-year-old boy with brain cancer who was diagnosed just months after his father died from the same cancer.

Masen Lopes was diagnosed with stage 3 astrocytoma, a kind of brain cancer, in 2013, according to his mother, Kainani Lopes. The second-grader has been through a host of treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, his mom told ABC News Wednesday.

The community of Gig Harbor, Washington, has been instrumental in helping the family deal with the pressure and stress of cancer treatment for Masen, his mom said. Masen’s best friend helped organize a Little League night in honor of Masen after he had surgery to treat the tumor and a new event called “Mason’s Epic Celebration” planned for later this month, according to his mom.

“He has definitely captured the hearts of many people,” Lopes told ABC News.

She and her family moved to the area when her husband was getting treated, Lopes said. The family was originally from Hawaii and Lopes said she was surprised at how welcoming the residents have been, saying it is similar to the close-knit communities in Hawaii.

“You don’t find it often,” she said.

Masen’s diagnosis has been especially hard on the family since it came just eight months after his father died from the same type of cancer, Lopes said.

“Brain cancer is hard, especially this kind of brain cancer and this stage. There’s treatments but no cure,” she explained.

Lopes asked doctors if the cancer could be genetically related, but they said it was just a coincidence, she said. Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital are now hoping an experimental cancer treatment called immunotherapy can help combat Masen’s cancer.

“We’re going to fight it. Inside, it tears me apart,” Lopes said. “I’ve seen it from beginning to end.”

For now, Lopes said she is focused on keeping hope alive for her son and making sure he’s able to enjoy his “Epic Celebration.”

“If you ask him, he says he feels famous,” Lopes said of Masen’s reaction to the attention he’s getting.

She said they’ve even started a Masen challenge, in which people post video of themselves doing his favorite dance, the “Whip Nae Nae.”

“Their dad was a huge dancer, so my kids always danced around with their dad,” Lopes said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

First Uterus Transplant in US Has Failed, Hospital Says

Photodisc/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — The first uterus transplant in the U.S. has failed, officials from the Cleveland Clinic said Wednesday.

“We are saddened to share that our patient, Lindsey, recently experienced a sudden complication that led to the removal of her transplanted uterus,” hospital officials said in a statement.

Doctors did not explain the specific complications that led to the removal of the uterus. The transplant was performed on Feb. 24 and the transplant team spoke to reporters this week about the medical achievement. Despite the setback, the Cleveland Clinic said the uterus transplant study, which included 10 women, will continue.

“The medical team took all necessary precautions and measures to ensure the safety of our patient,” hospital officials said. “While this has been difficult for both the patient and the medical team, Lindsey is doing well and recovering.”

Lindsey thanked her medical team in a statement Wednesday.

“I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors,” she said. “They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately, I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing okay and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”

Speaking at a news conference this week, Lindsey, 26, spoke about her desire to become a mother.

“I want to be open and honest about my story,” Lindsey said from a wheelchair. “I was told I would never have children. I prayed that God would allow me to experience pregnancy.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Cataract Surgery for Infants Proves Regenerative Power of Stem Cells

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stem cells may be a key in finding the next treatment for cataracts, according to a new study. The condition, which is due to the eye’s lens becoming less clear or cloudy, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and cataract surgery is one of the most common operations across the globe.

But there may be a better and less invasive way to treat cataracts, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Scientists were able to modify the conventional cataract surgery to remove damaged lenses from 12 infants, but not remove too much of their natural lens epithelial stem cells so that these cells could regenerate the lens.

They studied 12 infants up to 2 years old and found they generally had less inflammation and better outcomes than patients who underwent the conventional surgery, where the damaged lens is removed. In conventional cataract surgery, the lens is either replaced with another lens or the child is given glasses or contacts, and naturally occurring stem cells are deliberately not allowed to regenerate the eye lens.

In all of the studied children, the lens that regenerated was back to a normal thickness approximately eight months after the surgery, the study found. Additionally, because the incision was in a slightly different place, there was less chance that it would impact the child’s sight. The procedure resulted in less inflammation and complications compared to the standard cataract surgeries.

“An ultimate goal of stem cell research is to turn on the regenerative potential of one’s own stem cells for tissue and organ repair and disease therapy,” Dr. Kang Zhang, lead author of the study and chief of Ophthalmic Genetics and founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, said in a statement today.

The new procedure worked by relying on the body’s natural lens epithelial stem cells, which generate replacement cells throughout a person’s life. As a person ages, the cells decline, which means this procedure may not work for older patients.

“We believe that our new approach will result in a paradigm shift in cataract surgery and may offer patients a safer and better treatment option in the future,” said Zhang, who is also co-director of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering at the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Dr. Faruk Orge, a pediatric ophthalmologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said the study was very exciting although more research was needed to see if older patients could benefit as well.

“This is an amazing step and breakthrough for clinicians,” Orge told ABC News Wednesday. “It has the potential for being the next step,” in treatment.

Orge, who was not involved in the study, said doctors had known about the potential for regeneration for some time, but that it was not clear that the lens would regenerate clearly.

“Lens material is like a butterfly’s wing, if something irritates it, it changes its nature,” Orge said. “It’s like looking through a very dirty glass or a very milky glass.”

While the results are exciting, Orge pointed out the small study size means more work needs to be done to ensure the procedure’s safety and effectiveness in a wider range of patients.

“We’re talking about the most precious and vulnerable patients,” Orge said of the infant patients. “We have to continue the research … and make sure it’s good for the patient.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

NH Middle Schoolers Learning How to Use Antidote to Stop Heroin Overdose

iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Heroin is everywhere from middle class neighborhoods to high schools, where one in every 11 kids says it “would be easy to get heroin,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At Southside Middle School in Manchester, New Hampshire, several sixth grade students, between the ages of 11 and 12 years old, told ABC News’ David Muir that they’re used to seeing heroin needles near where they live.

“There’s a park right by my house, and one time my mom told us that we can’t go because two teenagers laid heroin needles down all over the park,” said one student.

“I’ve seen one, like, outside the school,” another girl said.

Chris Hickey, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training officer for the Manchester Fire Department in New Hampshire, recently spoke to these students about the dangers of the illegal drug heroin.

The veteran medic said he’s never seen a drug crisis like New Hampshire’s current heroin epidemic. According to Hickey, kids are getting hooked on illegal and prescription drugs as early as sixth grade.

“Five years ago, I wasn’t talking to 18-year-old (students) about this. I wasn’t talking to anybody about it. But it’s such a problem now, that I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t try and help kids as early as we can,” Hickey told ABC News’ 20/20.

Hickey began giving educational speeches about heroin in Manchester high schools in 2015, but after realizing that kids even younger were encountering heroin, he moved on to teaching in middle schools this year. He created a “Scared Straight” style of presentation on the dangers of heroin that has become a required part of the curriculum in Manchester schools.

During his presentation, Hickey taught sixth graders at Southside Middle School about Narcan, the life-saving antidote for overdoses that is carried by his department, ambulances and hundreds of police and fire departments across the country.

Naloxone, often referred to by the brand name, Narcan, is the first Food and Drug Administration-approved drug to reverse the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose. Thirty-eight states allow laypeople to get Naloxone without having to get a prescription from a doctor, according to the Network for Public Health Law.

Hickey showed the students how to administer Narcan by allowing them to practice using the nasal spray on him. For the demonstration, they sprayed a simple saline solution instead of the overdose antidote.

“This medicine is the only thing that’s going to take that heroin, and it’s going to take it out of your brain,” Hickey told the students.

Watch “Breaking Point: Heroin in America,” a special edition of ABC News’ “20/20” with ABC News “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir on Friday, March 11, at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Teacher Volunteers to Donate Her Kidney to Her Sick Student

Becky Doyle(NEW YORK) — A moving video shows the moment a Wisconsin teacher made the potentially life-changing announcement that she was going to donate a kidney to her student.

Captured by the Oakfield Elementary School District, the video shows the moment first-grade teacher Jodi Schmidt surprised the family of student Natasha Fuller with the news that she was a match to donate a kidney.

To announce her decision to be a donor, Schmidt invited Natasha’s grandmother Chris Burelton to the school last week under a guise that the staff wanted to give her a gift for taking care of her granddaughter. She presented Burelton with a pink present with a message inside that she was a match to be a kidney donor for Natasha.

“You? Oh my gosh!” Burelton says in the video before bursting into tears. “Here I thought she was coming to school because she was naughty!”

Oakfield Elementary School Principal Becky Doyle said in the video that Schmidt started the process in December and had just recently found out she was a match to be a donor for Natasha.

“I want to do something for this child,” Doyle recalled Schmidt saying. “She found out yesterday that she’s a match in two areas. She has talked with her family and her husband.”

Schmidt said she felt she was the right person to donate. “I’m so excited,” Schmidt says in the video. “I figured I’m O-negative blood and it did just come to me. I think we’re all brought to a certain place and time for a reason.”

After telling Burelton the news, the staff brought in Natasha to tell her about the donation. But the first-grader was slightly less aware of what the gift meant.

After reading “It’s a match,” on the card, Natasha thanked and hugged her teacher. But after the adults asked if she knew what match meant, the student shook her head no.

She did get more excited when she found out some sweets may be involved.

“We can get a popsicle where I was … in the hospital?” Natasha asks before giving her teacher a second hug.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →