Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
New evidence supports the idea that the brain works with the lymphatic system to remove waste and defend against diseases, according to NPR. In a study published in eLife, investigators examined human and monkey brains, and found lymphatic vessels in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system. Lymphatic vessels are part of the lymphatic system, which extends throughout the body. The vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph that contains immune cells and waste products, NPR reported. Until recently, scientists believed the brain’s immune and waste removal systems operated independently. According to the authors, the discovery could lead to a better understanding of multiple sclerosis. “How the immune system interacts with the brain is fundamental to how multiple sclerosis develops and how we treat multiple sclerosis,” study author Dr Daniel Reich told NPR.
A recent report by the American Cancer Society reveals that breast cancer death rates dropped approximately 40% between 1989 and 2015. According to The Washington Post, the decline saved an estimated 322,000 lives. Initially, there was a rise in breast cancer death rates by 0.4% between 1975 and 1989; however, mortality rates decreased rapidly after that, with a 39% overall drop through 2015. The report attributes the decline in mortality to improvements in treatments and early detection by mammography. Despite these positive gains, breast cancer is still the most common cancer diagnosed in American women and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the report.
The ancient primate Paranthropus boisei may be responsible for genital herpes, new evidence suggests. According to The Washington Post, the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of adults younger than 50 years are infected with the herpes virus that causes oral cold sores, and 1 of 6 have genital herpes. There are more than 100 different kinds of herpes, 8 of which regularly infect humans. For the study, investigators used the statistical model Bayesian network to link primate species through potential lines of transmission. More than a half-dozen possible culprits were collected from prehistoric species, the Post reported. The ancient patient zero had to share paleontological time and geographic space with a human ancestor, pointing towards the scenario of the Paranthropus boisei infecting the human ancestor Homo erectus. Joel Wertheim, an evolutionary biologist who studies infectious disease, told the Post, “Viruses are constantly going to be jumping from other species into humans, especially from other apes. Understanding where these ancient pathogens came from and how they got into humans can help us understand where our future pandemics will likely arise.”