HEALTH NOTES: Researchers testing inhaled tuberculosis vaccine as cases rise


Experts are searching for a more effective tuberculosis (TB) vaccine amid rising levels of infections.

Researchers from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford are recruiting volunteers who have had a BCG jab, who will be given a booster that is inhaled.

Scientists hope to prove that inhaling the medication through the lungs – where droplets of TB enter and infect the body – will be better at stimulating the immune system to fight off the disease. The BCG jab is generally given to babies and young children, but is thought to wear off over time.

The UK Health Security Agency announced in September that TB cases in England had increased by seven per cent in the first half of 2023, with 2,408 cases compared with 2,251 in the first half of 2022.

Dr Esther Robinson, head of the TB unit at UKHSA, says: ‘Tuberculosis is curable and preventable, but despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, the disease remains a serious public health issue in the UK.’

Researchers from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford are recruiting volunteers who have had a BCG jab, who will be given a booster that is inhaled

Researchers from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford are recruiting volunteers who have had a BCG jab, who will be given a booster that is inhaled

A quarter of people referred for diagnostic tests on the NHS face a wait of six weeks or more.

The medical negligence firm Patient Claim Line analysed NHS England data from October 2023 to find that of almost 1.6 million people waiting for tests, 393,583 had been on the list for more than a month-and-a-half. Some 160,000 had faced delays of more than three months.

People seeking urodynamic tests – which analyse how well the bladder can hold and release urine – were the most likely to face lengthy delays, with 42 per cent having to wait six weeks or more.

People seeking urodynamic tests ¿ which analyse how well the bladder can hold and release urine ¿ were the most likely to face lengthy delays, with 42 per cent having to wait six weeks

People seeking urodynamic tests – which analyse how well the bladder can hold and release urine – were the most likely to face lengthy delays, with 42 per cent having to wait six weeks

AI app that detects fake medications

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to help people spot if medicines they have bought are counterfeits.

A smartphone app created by AI firm Cypheme says its detection technology can identify fakes by comparing images of medicine packaging against images of genuine products to check for subtle differences.

Users take a photo on their smartphone of the product they want to evaluate, then upload it on to the AI software ChatGPT to allow Cypheme’s software to scan it and instantly reveal whether or not it is genuine.

It is thought that one in ten people in the UK have bought fake medical products in the past year alone as criminal gangs intercept shipments of medicines and switch them for lookalike counterfeits. Those most commonly bought in the UK include erectile dysfunction and weight-loss pills.

It’s also much more likely that medicines bought from dodgy websites will be fake. While there’s no single method to spotting these, suspicious websites will often be poorly designed with lots of pop-up ads, spelling and grammatical errors and adverts for prescription-only medicines on the homepage – which is illegal in the UK.



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