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The Update

The Update is a monthly digest of all that is interesting, exciting and new in the world of medicine and medical science, presented in a curated and convenient package.

1. A Ketamine-Like Drug is The First New Antidepressant To Get FDA Approval In Years

Building on years of preliminary research about ketamine’s potential benefits for treating depression, Johnson & Johnson developed a drug called esketamine, sold under the brand name Spravato. - Courtesy of Janssen Pharmaceutica
  • Ketamine, which has long been used as an anesthetic, has increasingly been tried off-label by psychiatrists as a last-ditch effort to treat the 12 to 20 percent of adults with depression who don’t respond to other antidepressant medications or treatments.
  • Building on years of preliminary research about ketamine’s potential benefits for depression, Johnson & Johnson developed a drug called esketamine, sold under the brand name Spravato.
  • The nasal spray is designed to alleviate depressive symptoms within hours — much faster than the other antidepressants on the market, such as Prozac, which can take weeks or months to act.
  • For now, the drug is only approved for adults with “treatment-resistant depression,” who are supposed to take esketamine in conjunction with another oral antidepressant.
  • Because it can sedate patients and bring on out-of-body experiences, the FDA is only making it available through certified clinics, where patients are to be monitored for at least two hours after taking the drug.
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2. At 71, She’s Never Felt Pain or Anxiety. Now Scientists Know Why.

Jo Cameron, 71, has a rare genetic mutation that keeps her from feeling pain or anxiety, according to a new scientific report. Researchers hope the finding can help develop more effective treatments for pain. Credit: Mary Turner for The New York Times
  • When she was eight years old, Jo Cameron broke her arm and didn’t tell anyone for days; it just wasn’t bothering her. In the six-odd decades since, she has sustained numerous injuries and felt barely any pain. Sometimes, she accidentally leans on her stove, only to notice when she smells burning flesh.
  • An investigation into the 71-year-old Scottish woman’s genes has led to the discovery of a previously unidentified mutation, which researchers believe plays an important role in pain signalling.
  • The team who that sequenced and analyzed Cameron’s genome explain in the British Journal of Anaesthesia that the discovery could help pave the way for new chronic pain treatments.
  • In Cameron’s genome, they found a mutation in a region they dubbed FAAH-OUT, which seems to ratchet down the activity of the neighboring gene FAAH.
  • Scientists have previously tried to relieve pain through drugs that inhibit FAAH, without any success. Targeting the newly pinpointed FAAH-OUT could offer “a new route to developing FAAH-related analgesia,” the researchers write. Their paper is, of course, rooted in only a single case study, while more than one gene seems to influence pain sensitivity.
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3. US Measles Cases Keep Increasing, Highest in 25 Years, CDC Says

A nurse prepares a syringe for a vaccination against measles at a pediatric clinic in Kiev. The Ukraine had 72,408 cases of measles in the year from March 2018 to February 2019 — the highest number for any country during that period.

Sergei Supinsky /AFP/Getty Images
  • The number of confirmed measles cases has grown to 704 in 22 states as of April 26, and Washington state has declared its measles outbreak over, according to information presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The re-emergence of measles is linked to parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children against this highly contagious disease.
  • The World Health Organization tallied more than 112,000 measles cases in the first quarter of 2019. This is up more than 300% compared to the same period in 2018. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, calls the rise in measles "alarming" and a "global crisis."
  • Epidemiologists say that to stop the spread of the virus, 95% of people need to either be vaccinated or immune to measles because they already had the disease.
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Researchers from RAKMHSU
A team of researchers from RAKMHSU recently won the first prize in the RAK International Psychiatry Congress recently held at RAKMHSU. The winning poster was titled 'Attitudes of Healthcare Professionals Towards Mental Illness; A Survey Based Study in Ras Al Khaimah'

Team members from left to right: Ahmad Ashraf, Irha Sikandar and Ayesha Khan. Our hearties congratulations go out to them
Copyright © 2019 RAK Medical & Health Sciences University, All rights reserved.

For comments and corrections, please contact the author:
Zaki Emad
- Science & Technology Officer, Student Council | +971502707545

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