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Massachusetts researchers make major discovery about IBS, fibromyalgia

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have made a groundbreaking discovery that could ease symptoms for millions of people suffering from conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

>> Read more trending news

Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander said a good proportion of patients diagnosed with those health issues may actually have a disease called small fiber polyneuropathy, or SFPN.

This is a disorder in which nerve cells found under the skin are attacked by the body's immune system.

The resulting damage can cause numerous symptoms, including gastrointestinal discomfort and feeling like the skin is on fire. 

“The problem is their skin looks perfectly normal, and there's no evidence that anything's wrong,” Oaklander said.

Along with others, Oaklander recently published a study in which they found that drugs called immunomodulators can be effectively used to treat SFPN, though these drugs may not work in every patient because every presentation of the disorder is different.

She said patients who learn they have SFPN often feel liberated.

“It's pretty routine that I have patients who break down and cry when they get an answer for the first time to something that's been disabling them for years or decades,” Oaklander said.

One of those patients is MaryEllen Talbot, who had initially been diagnosed with fibromyalgia before learning she actually has SFPN.

“This diagnosis is from a biopsy, so it's not subjective, it's objective. It's something they see on the lab,” she said.

Talbot isn’t alone. Because of the varying symptoms from case to case, Oaklander said the number of people with SFPN could be huge.

“Maybe it's tens of millions of people around the world who have it, maybe it's hundreds of millions of people, but either way this is not a rare disease,” she said.

Woman dies after ambulance doesn't show up, police say

An East Liverpool, Ohio, woman died at a Pittsburgh hospital after police say potentially lifesaving help didn't arrive.

>> Watch the news report here

The officer says he feels defeated. He and his partner found a woman suffering from a brain aneurysm.

Patrolman Jacob Talbott and another officer found the woman unresponsive Saturday morning. 

They said they called right away for an ambulance, and dispatchers said one would be on the way.

But after waiting, they said they called back and were told the EMS crew wasn't coming – and the other two local ambulance companies couldn't come either.

“We were just going to take her to the hospital ourselves. We didn't have time to wait for an ambulance company out of Hancock County in West Virginia,” Talbott said.

So Talbott put the woman in the front seat of his cruiser. The other officer jumped in the back seat and started CPR. They sped off to a local hospital.

>> Read more trending news 

The woman was then flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died.

“I was holding out hope, saying a lot of prayers, asking for a miracle that she'd make it. Finding out she didn't make it is rather tough,” Talbott said.

Talbott said he wants answers from the ambulance companies and said it's unacceptable that none of them showed up.

“I'm not real happy that an ambulance service committed and five minutes later they no longer have a crew available,” Talbott said. 

The woman's name has not been released.

The name of the company that initially agreed to respond but didn't is Ambulance Service Inc., police said.

The company did not answer WKBN’s request for comment.

Woman made up story about doctors leaving camera inside her after surgery, hospital says

Earlier this year, a patient at an Atlanta hospital filed a lawsuit claiming that a surgeon left a camera in her body during transplant surgery, a camera that was discovered six months later.

Lacrystal Lockett’s lawyers have now dropped the complaint.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Doctors left camera in woman's body after surgery, lawsuit claims

Emory Hospital attorney Anna Fretwell pointed out an apparent problem with the story: No cameras are used in such surgeries.

“No evidence to substantiate the plaintiff’s claims — medical records, photographs, the alleged camera itself, eyewitness testimony, or any other evidence — ever was produced,” Fretwell said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Instead, the plaintiff and her lawyers admitted that Emory never left a camera in her body or had to remove one and then dropped the lawsuit.”

>> Read more trending news

Caleb Avraham, who worked with fellow attorney Michael Jo’el Smith for Lockett, didn’t go so far as to say the claim was false.

“I am not Ms. Lockett, so I can’t get into the mind of Ms. Lockett,” he told the AJC. “I know she believes her story. That’s as much as I can say.” 

Attempts to reach Lockett have been unsuccessful.

>> On AJC.com: Doctor, friend die from cocaine laced with fentanyl

Lockett went into surgery on Dec. 17, 2014, for a kidney and pancreatic transplant, according to the suit. Dr. Paul Lu Tso, assisted by doctors Ronald Parsons and Denise J. Lo, performed the procedure.

Lockett’s suit claimed a camera turned up in her torso the following June during an exam at the hospital and required another surgery to remove it.

>> On AJC.com: NFL player protests during anthem and gives critics a tip

Avraham said by the time Lockett came to him and Smith, the statute of limitations was almost up. They had what they believed to be “credible information” — he declined to elaborate — that Lockett’s story was true.

He said they decided to file suit and get more information from the discovery process, as lawyers do in the “pursuit of the truth.”

>> On AJC.com: Many questions after man dies and no one notices

Through discovery and their own investigation, the lawyers decided they didn’t have enough evidence to pursue the case, Avraham said.

Lockett had been asking for a jury to decide what she was owed for the alleged negligence.

Researchers help man regain consciousness after 15 years in vegetative state

Doctors have restored a man’s consciousness after he spent 15 years in a vegetative state, the New York Daily News reports.

>> Read more trending news

The French man, 35, was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) after a car accident when he was 20. Doctors and researchers determined that the key to helping the man regain consciousness lay in his vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve, which runs through the abdomen, chest, neck and brain. Dr. Angela Sirigu of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France, led a team to implant a device in his chest that would stimulate his nerves.

>> On Rare.us: A mother’s 42-year quest to find her baby son’s remains ends in tragedy

The man showed improvement within a month. He was able to physically respond to external stimuli six months later. However, doctors say that the man is not fully recovered.

“He is still paralyzed; he cannot talk, but he can respond. Now he is more aware,” Sirigu explained, according to the Guardian. He has been able to track objects with his eyes, move his head toward a person speaking to him and even cry upon hearing his favorite song.

The study successfully served as further evidence that a person has the potential to survive a vegetative state lasting longer than 12 months, which are usually thought to be lost causes.

Read more here.

Photographer captures 6 families' fights with childhood cancer in heartbreaking project

The “More Than 4” photo project by Sherina Welch of Houston, Texas-based FreeSpiritFoto aims to educate the public on what cancer really looks like by documenting six families’ fights with childhood cancer, as well as spread awareness about the fact that only 4 percent of funds for cancer research go to children.

>> Learn more here

On Saturday, Welch posted an emotional photo series of Colt Wilson, a child cancer patient who underwent 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 28 days, with his mom and dad after his last chemo treatment.

“The first day we walked onto this floor comes flooding back to my mind, and all my fears of cancer killing my baby are fresh again,” Cortni Wilson, Colt’s mom, told Welch. “Treatment is finally over, but the worry isn’t.”

>> Read more trending news

Wilson explained that it was reassuring for Colt to be on the hospital every week getting checked out, but now that his treatment is over, it would be months before he gets checked out again.

“I knew the chemo could kill him, I knew he could have complications, I knew cancer could completely take over,” she said. “So now that it’s finally here, I feel like I’m gonna lose it. I’m scared beyond my mind, excited and relieved, nervous and overjoyed.”

>> See the photos here

Sharp-eyed school nurse saves boy after noticing signs of deadly leukemia  

A sharp-eyed school nurse in New Jersey is credited with saving a young boy’s life after noticing the kindergartener had signs of leukemia.

Nathan Campbell started school last fall in Camden County at Zane North Elementary School.

>> Read more trending news

His teacher took him to the nurse’s office after the little boy said he didn’t want to go outside and play, because his leg was hurting, according to CBS NY.

The nurse, Patti Butler, noticed something was wrong right away.

Butler said the problem was easy to spot.

“His skin was translucent, and that’s when I said I’ve only seen someone look like this color once in 25 years. Prove me wrong,” Butler told CBS.

But she wasn’t wrong. She suspected leukemia, and Nathan was soon diagnosed with the deadly cancer.

The boy’s mother, Nicole Defeo Campbell, credited the nurse with saving her son’s life.

“If she hadn’t called us, we would not be standing here talking about Nate today,” she said.

After treatment for leukemia, Nathan is now in remission, and his mother has nominated Butler for the America’s Greatest School Nurse contest, But the nurse said she just wants the little boy to recover.

Stop taking drugs for lower back pain and do this instead

If you're taking prescription drugs to deal with back pain, you might want to rethink your strategy.

At least that's the latest recommendation in a new study from the American College of Physicians. 

>> Read more trending news

There are three types of lower back pain: acute, subacute, and chronic. Acute low back pain lasts less than four weeks, subacute lasts four to 12 weeks and chronic lasts more than 12 weeks.

Folks suffering acute or subacute lower back pain usually get better over time and generally don't need medicine, researchers reported. Doctors, instead suggest heat therapy, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation to treat the ache.

If those treatments don't work, patients can talk to their doctors about possible medications, like ibuprofen or other muscle relaxants. 

Those suffering from chronic lower back pain can try a variety of potential  treatment options including yoga, Tai chi, rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction or progressive relaxation, the study said.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here  

Patients with chronic lower back pain can also try electromyography biofeedback, which involves a machine that helps sense muscle tension and release it, researchers reported. Additional options include low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and spinal manipulation.

If the treatments are not effective, patients can always discuss stronger options, like prescription drugs, with their doctor.

The research was published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" Tuesday. 

New peanut allergy guidelines: Most children should be fed peanut products

For children who are allergic to peanuts, consuming the nut, even in small amounts, can have life-threatening consequences.

That’s why new guidelines for parents of children with those allergies released Thursday may be a bit surprising for some.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), along with other groups, are encouraging parents to feed peanut products to children early in life in order to train their immune systems not to cause a dangerous allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

The guidelines suggests that even children who have the highest risk of an allergic reaction to peanuts should be given small doses to keep the body form developing an allergy to the nut.

Around 5 percent of Americans have some sort of food allergy, and 1 to 2 percent have peanut allergies. According to one study, the prevalence of peanut allergy has doubled over the past 10 years in the United States and other countries that advocate avoidance of peanuts during pregnancy, lactation, and infancy. Children allergic to peanuts can have a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to even a tiny bit of peanut dust or food containing peanuts. 

The guidelines announced Thursday are addendum to guidelines issued in the 2010 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States.

Here’s what NIAID and others suggest: 

1. Infants deemed at high risk of developing peanut allergy because they already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets as early as 4 to 6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy. Parents and caregivers should check with their infant’s health care provider before feeding the infant peanut-containing foods. The health care provider may choose to perform an allergy blood test or send the infant to a specialist for other tests, such as a skin prick test or an oral food challenge. The results of these tests will help decide if and how peanut should be safely introduced into the infant’s diet.

2. Infants with mild or moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.

3. Infants without eczema or any food allergy have peanut-containing foods freely introduced into their diets.

Whole peanuts can choke small children and no child under the age of 4 should be given whole peanuts, the groups warned.

The technique suggested in the study has been validated by a Learning Early About Peanut allergy, or LEAP, study.

The LEAP study included more than 600 children between 4 and 11 months of age at high risk for peanut allergy. One group was fed peanuts, while the other was not.

According to the study, “Of the children who avoided peanut, 17 percent developed peanut allergy by the age of 5 years. Remarkably, only 3 percent of the children who were randomized to eating the peanut snack developed allergy by age 5. Therefore, in high-risk infants, sustained consumption of peanut beginning in the first 11 months of life was highly effective in preventing the development of peanut allergy.”

“Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

Surgeons use nasal cells to repair knee joints

Swiss surgeons have successfully used nose cells to repair damaged knee joints, according to a study released Thursday by the journal The Lancet.

>> Read more trending stories

"The treatment is safe and feasible," study co-author Dr. Ivan Martin told CNN.

Between 2004 and 2011, nearly 2 million Americans had knee surgery due to cartilage problems. As the population ages, these surgeries will become increasingly common.

Martin, a professor of surgery and biomedicine at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, has been working on a new way to repair knees since 2001. His latest procedure uses engineered cartilage tissue grown from the nasal septum of the patient. He said that nasal cells “have a larger and more reproducible capacity to form new cartilage.”

"We further established that the cartilage tissue generated by nasal chondrocytes (one type of cell) can respond to physical forces (mechanical loads) similar to articular cartilage and has the 'plasticity' to adapt to a joint environment," Martin told CNN. In one of their pre-tests for the current study, he implanted engineered tissue into goat joints and found it "efficiently integrated with surrounding articular cartilage."

For the new study, Martin used 10 patients from 18 to 55 that had cartilage problems in their knees. The team extracted a 6-millimeter biopsy specimen from the nasal septum, using local anesthetic. Then the harvested celled were exposed to growth factors for two weeks.

After an additional two weeks, Martin’s team was able to craft a 30-by-40 millimeter cartilage graft. Surgeons then implanted it as a replacement for damaged knee cartilage.

None of the patients reported side effects related to the experimental surgery. CNN reported.

Study: Smoking permanently damages DNA

Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported this week. And while most of the damage fades after five years if people quit smoking, researchers found that not all of it does.

>> Read more trending stories   

NBC News reported that information based on a study of 16,000 people. The patterns are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions — often causing cancer and other diseases, researchers said.

Heart disease and cancer are caused by genetic damage — some of it inherited, but most of it caused by day-to-day living. Smoking is one of the biggest causes, researchers said.

The research team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies since 1971. In all of the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories.

They found smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes had known links to heart disease and cancers known to be caused by smoking.

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness, killing more than 480,000 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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