Frog Mucus Studied to Create Flu Medicine

Anything can become a gift of a curse to survival in this world. While diseases such as influenza continue to threaten the lives of many, scientists are claiming to find the answers for the disease in a very unlikely place: the mucus layer of frogs.

Frog Mucus Being Studied by Emory University

The scientists at Emory University have been working on the discovery of an antimicrobial peptide based in the skin of a specific frog species – the hydrophylax bahuvistara – and its potential use against the flu. The species of frog is indigenous to a location in south India, and its mucus is being hailed as a viable treatment to a disease that claims close to half a million patients per year all over the globe.

The frog has been understood to secrete a thin layer of film on top of its skin that works to protect the frog from harmful pathogens in the wild. Residing in this mucus film is and amino acid string that is claimed to be capable of completely eliminating a massive array of viruses from the influenza A family, while being harmless to the human body and its red blood cells.

Why This is a Big Thing

The potential of the discovery is huge, as the new string can be a strong answer to the current line of flu viruses, a lot of which have already developed resistance to existing antiviral drugs. However, the amino acid string is likely to face a long list of regulatory and testing hurdles before it can be commercialized as an actual treatment for the flu.

To show the potential of the discovery, the strains from the frog mucus were utilized to completely destroy every type of H1 flu it was put up against. The H1 strain of flu, the most common version of hemagglutinin, also includes the seasonal flue and the widely dreaded swine flu, H1N1. The team of scientists has christened the amino acid string as “urumin,” a nickname generated from the urumi, a sword used in martial arts of Kalari Payat, practiced close to the region where the frogs were found.

The discovery has been hailed to hold a strong potential against upcoming new strains of influenza, much like the swine flu strains that started appearing around 2009.

Medicare Extends Benefits for Patients with Chronic Diseases

Patients suffering from chronic diseases make up a significant portion of patients availing Medicare benefits. Chronic conditions entail long-term expenditure on treatments and rehabilitation. Chronic diseases such as diabetes can also cause other conditions related to blood pressure and the cardiovascular system, which also lead to significant expenditure. Chronic mental problems such as dementia are another matter altogether, with the decrease in the quality of life causing just as many or more problems to the patients as the medical concerns themselves.

Number of Medicare Applications with Chronic Diseases Rising

Of the 57 million Americans on Medicare, close to two-thirds have multiple chronic diseases. These may include any combination of cancer, arthritis, dementia, heart diseases and other cardiovascular concerns, and diabetes. Many of these diseases are also interlinked and are often associated. Chronic health conditions such as these lead to functional limitations, higher healthcare spending, and a notable decrease in the quality of life. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis, depression, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney diseases, autism spectrum disorders, and osteoporosis are some of the other main chronic diseases prevalent in the U.S.

CCM: A Round-the-clock Monitoring Tool for Chronic Patients

Medicare has announced the launch of a new benefit called Chronic Care Management (CCM). The CCM program ensures continuous tracking of the patient’s condition, including additional payments to the doctors responsible for the treatment. The treatment will also be mapped out taking into consideration the extent of the disease and the observed effect of the prescribed medication. Provisions have been made for the inclusion of modern advancements in the healthcare sector such as remote monitoring, which makes the process convenient for both physician and patient.

Availing the benefits of CCM requires patients to be enrolled in Medicare. They also need to have multiple chronic diseases expected to cause functional decline or place you at risk of death in the coming 12 months.

Can Rise in Diabetics Ensure Greater Presence of Apple in Healthcare?

Apple has recently been developing noninvasive sensors for monitoring blood sugar levels in order to cater to the needs of diabetes patients. A whole new species of wearable healthcare devices such as Apple watch and its ilk are on the rise. According to unnamed sources, feasibility trials are in progress at its clinical sites in Bay Area.

Emergence of Cutting-edge Medical Devices to Ramp up Apple’s Portfolio

This development is not surprising, considering the tech giant’s recent moves. In 2016, two new Apple health apps, 3D4 Medical and AirStrip made their appearance. With the introduction of CareKit, ResearchKit, and HealthKit, the evolution of medical devices for diabetes is only an evident advancement in the company’s trajectory.

The acquisition of Gliimpse, a personal health record startup in August 2016 was a strategic groundwork for extending Apple’s presence in the healthcare vertical. Founded in Silicon Valley in 2013, Gliimpse aims to offer ‘personalized and shareable medical records’ to every single patient across the U.S.

IBM Watson Health and Microsoft Emerge as Key Contenders

However, Apple is not the singular entity to plunge into the promising healthcare terrain. In January 2017, IBM Watson Health announced its distinct collaboration with Best Doctors, a leading clinical consultation provider, with the common objective of offering key insights on the available options in the treatment of cancer. On receiving patients’ approval, the Best Doctors team can collect medical records and then feed the necessary data into Watson. Watson will in turn generate a report that will be assessed by the globally renowned oncologists in the network of Best Doctors.

Microsoft has also been targeting healthcare domain by joining hands with two different entities, Twist Biosciences and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Zika Virus Also Carried by Asian Tiger Mosquito, Research Suggests

In a recent research finding, traces of genetic material of Zika virus have been found in another mosquito species. Primarily carried by the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, RNA fragments of Zika have been found in Asian tiger mosquitoes during their genetic testing, researchers report.

However, the finding does not prove that Asian tiger mosquito can transmit Zika to individuals. But it certainly necessitates further research for the possibility of other carriers of Zika, as per the author of the study who is an associate professor at Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at University of Florida. Further commenting via a new release from the Entomological Society of America, the author said that Aedes albopictus may be involved in transmission of Zika virus and is a concern for public health.

Further Research Needed to Ascertain New Carriers for Zika

Aedes albopictus is found across the world with a large number of hosts and has adapted to cold climates. However, the role of this mosquito in transmission of Zika virus is yet to be understood.

For the study part, Asian tiger mosquitoes were collected in Brazil and their eggs were hatched. The scientists found Asian tiger males to test positive for Zika RNA but not live Zika virus. These findings necessitate further research if Aedes albopictus can transmit Zika. These findings also underline the reason why insect scientists and medical researchers need to be extremely cautious while carrying out studies on mosquitoes.

The findings of the study further suggest that mosquitoes collected from areas with high number of Zika cases need to be tested for Zika RNA. In the event if these mosquitoes test positive for Zika RNA, they need to be tested for Zika virus before they are transported to be used in research.