In brief – Snapshots from the news

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80-year-old antibiotic may help fight multi-drug resistant bacteria

New Research from Harvard Medical School suggests the neglected antibiotic Nourseothricin may provide protection against multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. The antibiotic is made by a soil fungus and contains multiple forms of a molecule called streptothricin. In the 1940s, Nourseothricin was found to be effective against Gram-negative bacteria, which are especially hard to kill with other antibiotics, but the drug proved toxic to kidneys. However, the new study demonstrates one form of streptothricin is significantly less toxic while remaining highly active against contemporary multidrug-resistant pathogens. The study’s authors believe pre-clinical exploration is warranted.

Vegan mothers’ breastmilk contains sufficient levels of two key nutrients

An Amsterdam UMC study has found no difference between concentrations of vitamin B2 or carnitine in breastmilk of mothers following a vegan diet compared to mothers with an omnivorous diet. These nutrients are found in highest concentrations in animal products. Significant shortage of vitamin B2 in infants is linked to anaemia and neurological problems, while Carnitine shortages can lead to low blood sugar, as well as the possibility to heart and brain dysfunction. The results were just presented at the at the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

GPs once again able to prescribe childrens’ asthma medications

Following representations from health and advocacy groups, the PBAC has reversed its decision to require specialist prescribing of some asthma medications for children. The PBAC had previously recommended that from 1 April 2023, 50mcg Axotide Junior and Flixotide Junior (fluticasone propionate) be restricted to children aged six years and under, be initially prescribed by a respiratory specialise and only prescribed with authority approval by Medicare. The PBAC has now recommended removing the limitations that required specialist prescribing, so patients will again be allowed to receive a prescription from their GP for these medications.

Skin cancers increasingly managed by GPs

A national study using BEACH data from more than 15,000 GPs over from 2000 to 2016 has found patients, especially older men, living in Queensland and/or regional and rural areas are increasingly presenting to GPs for skin cancer and related conditions. The research, published in the BMJ, found the type of skin cancer related condition managed varied by age-group, with young adults presenting for mole or skin checks and older aged groups for established skin cancers or their early precursors on sun-damaged skin. Skin cancer-related conditions accounted for 3% of all problems managed in general practice. Skin cancer costs the healthcare system over $1 billion annually, with costs climbing.
Similarly, a separate study has found most incidents of melanomas in Queensland are diagnosed in primary care, with nearly half are initially managed by partial excision and second or third, wider excisions are undertaken in about 90% of cases.

Medicare heart health checks extended until 2025

The Federal Government has extended Medicare funding for heart health assessments, which was due to expire in June 2023. As part of the 2023-24 budget, funding for items 177 and 699 will continue until June 2025. The items will also be amended to remove restrictions preventing First Nations people from claiming a heart health assessment within 12 months of an annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, to support the earlier diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease in First Nations people.

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