Ann Conkle
Apr 27, 2012

Medical Nova Weekly: Top trends for 4/23-4/27

Here's your weekly roundup of hot medical news...

For the first time, a kidney that had been donated to one patient was removed and implanted into a new patient, after it failed in the first recipient.

Kidney transplant breakthroughs


For the first time, a kidney that had been donated to one patient was removed and implanted into a new patient, after it failed in the first recipient. Ray Fearing received the organ from his sister after a long battle with a kidney disease. When signs of his illness recurred, doctors had to remove the failing kidney. "After numerous discussions to carefully consider this first-ever procedure, we presented Ray with the option to donate his kidney," said Lorenzo Gallon, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Fearing did not hesitate. Two weeks after receiving his kidney transplant, he donated the kidney to 67-year-old surgeon and father of five, Erwin Gomez.

On the heels of that news, the National Science Foundation announced that Harvard economist Alvin Roth and his team have developed a suite of computer programs that match living kidney donors with recipients, using game theory and market dynamics to optimizing the pairings. Many people with loved ones in need of a kidney are willing to donate, but are not a match for their specific loved one. The new software suggests alternate matches, making quicker chains of transplants possible across the country.


3D printing may soon allow drugs to be created at home. 3D printing brings drug production to the masses, but can it be regulated?


From tissue and organ engineering to drug discovery, 3D printing promises to revolutionize health care. Recently, chemistry got on the 3D printing wagon and a new approach may even allow people to print their own drugs. This could drastically lower drug production costs and increase access to pharmaceuticals. In this instance though, the technology itself might not be the limiting factor. Rather, how this technology is regulated, will be the difficult issue. From the dangerous nature of chemical reactions to the production of illegal drugs, an underlying infrastructure needs to be in place before the mass use of this technology.


Understanding the mechanism behind brain freeze may lead to migraine treatments.Mechanism behind 'brain freeze' may shed light on migraine cause


Everyone is familiar with the sudden headache induced by greedily eating something frozen and delicious, but the underlying source of this so-called “brain freeze” has always eluded scientific understanding.  Recently, however, scientists presented a study at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego proposing a probable answer for this mysterious phenomenon. The researchers suggested that the pain felt during brain freeze may stem from excess pressure generated by a sudden influx of blood to the frontal lobe. This hypothesis may in turn lead to a better understanding of something significantly more uncomfortable than the brief ache experienced after eating a novelty dessert -- a migraine.


Neural stem cells have the potential to treat several common disorders.Neural stem cells may be key to disease treatment


It’s been a big week for neural stem cells, self-renewing cells that can develop into multiple nervous system structures. Research teams have identified two growth factors that cooperate to maintain a pool of neuron-generating stem cells in the brain and outlined  a molecular pathway responsible for the release of the brain’s stem cells. The discovery of a new line of neural stem cells, with the potential to treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, was announced in Sweden and researchers in Singapore have shown that these superstar cells have been effective at fighting breast cancer in mice


Novartis is attempting to force the UK's national health system to use their expensive eye drug over a cheaper alternative.Novartis suing the UK's national health system

International pharmaceutical giant Novartis is suing the United Kingdom's national health system (NHS) for using a cheaper, unlicensed drug instead of Novartis' licensed drug for treating age-related blindness. Even if Novartis wins the legal battle in the UK, and forces the NHS to use the $1,000 drug, it will (and already has) generated numerous counts of negative publicity for the company. During a time when health care costs are soaring, a low-cost alternative medication will always be favored by the public and physicians, no matter what health care regulations apply.