A promising new procedure for curing trachoma, the connection between digital media and ADHD, and can we use a blood test to detect melanoma?

Now in Sight: Success Against an Infection That Blinds

(NY Times, 7/16/2018, Donald G. McNeil Jr.)

Have you heard of trachoma? It is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. (Cataracts blind more people but are not infectious.) About 190 million people in 41 countries are at risk, the World Health Organization estimates. About 1.2 million people are already completely blind because of it, and about twice that many have lost some eyesight. A global campaign to wipe out trachoma was launched 20 years ago. Since then, Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, Morocco and Oman have officially eliminated the infection as a public health problem, along with Ghana and Nepal, where the incidence of trachoma is highest. Doctors have been performing a new operation where they slice open a patients eyelids, roll them back and suture them with the lashes facing outward again.

The Adolescent Brain on Digital Media

(JAMA Network, 7/17/2018, Chaelin K. Ra, MPH1; Junhan Cho, PhD1; Matthew D. Stone, BA2)

As parents, we are all wondering the same thing. How the heck is technology effecting our brains? Especially our young child. There have been some mixed results in this (admittedly very early) research; but a new study suggests a correlation (ahem, that is: not necessarily a causation) between excess digital media use by teens and ADHD. The research was published by scientists from three California universities in the journal JAMA. The study involved analyzing nearly 3,000 high school students’ digital and social media habits over the course of two years (specifically, the behavior of 15- and 16-year-olds who didn’t show significant ADHD symptoms to begin with). But, given the nature of today’s world, in which smartphones and social media have increasingly become critical tools for staying connected and living everyday life, the broader question raised by such studies is: What can be done about it? Only time will tell.

Melanoma blood test: Scientists unveil ‘world-first’ research

(BBC News, 7/18/2018)

The sun is shining and worries about too much sun exposure are the norm. But what if a simple blood test could detect melanoma in its early stages? Australian scientists say they have developed a blood test to just that, in the cancer’s early stages.. The test, billed as a world first, is designed to make it easier to spot the skin cancer before it becomes fatal, according to researchers. Currently, doctors rely on skin examinations and biopsies to detect melanoma, which can spread quickly. Researchers say the blood test could provide more accurate results than the human eye and save many lives. Developed by scientists at Edith Cowan University, the test picks up melanoma by recognizing auto-antibodies produced by the body to combat the cancer’s early growth. In a trial involving about 200 people—half of whom had the cancer— the test was successful in 81.5% of cases. It will now undergo clinical trials, to take place within three years, in a bid to improve its accuracy to 90%. Researchers hope it could be approved for use within five years.

 

 —Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola