Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Scientists have devised a novel electrical brain stimulation technique that, if proven safe and effective, could help treat neurological and psychiatric disorders. According to The New York Times, the method is called temporal interference and involves beaming different electric frequencies that are too high for neurons to respond to from electrodes on the surface of the skull. For the study, investigators used electricity to stimulate the hippocampus in mice. They found that the frequencies interfered with each other where the currents intersected inside the brain, canceling out all but the difference between them. This left a low-frequency current that the neurons responded to. The investigators further tested whether they could target the electricity by aiming at certain spots in the motor cortex, causing the mice to move forepaws, whiskers, or ears. “They have this clever new way to deliver current to a spot of interest deep in the brain and do it without invading the brain,” Dr Helen Mayberg, professor at Emory University who was not involved in the study and who pioneered the still-experimental treatment of deep brain stimulation for depression, told the NY Times. The investigators said they are already testing the method on people without disorders to determine if it works in the human brain.
New data show a rise in strokes among young adults, reported Democrat & Chronicle. Local Pennsylvania data revealed that more individuals aged 18 to 54 were hospitalized for strokes over a 10-year period. The figures mirrored a national trend that shows in increase in risk factors over time. Physicians are increasingly seeing hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, and obesity among individuals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s—–a common cause of stroke. “Two-thirds of strokes occur in people older than 65,” Dr Curtis Benesch, medical director of the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center, told Democrat & Chronicle. “Which still means fully one-third of them happen in what people think of as middle age, if not younger. It’s not a disease that’s waiting for you when you’re 90.
An experimental Ebola vaccine may no longer be necessary in Congo, according to international health authorities and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The authorities said they are holding off on deploying the vaccine to the site of the country’s latest outbreak, indicating it may now not be needed, reported The Wall Street Journal. In a statement Thursday, Doctors Without Borders said preparations for vaccination in Congo are underway, but suggest that it will only be used if a new Ebola case arises.