Health Highlights: March 18, 201303/18/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Scientists Develop New Liver Preservation Device
A device that preserves human livers outside the body for up to
24 hours has been developed by British scientists. It could help
improve liver transplant success and shorten transplant waiting
The current method of keeping donated livers cool in a kind of
icebox slows their metabolism but doesn't fully stop them
deteriorating. Livers can be preserved for a maximum of 20 hours
this way, but surgeons prefer not to use livers older than 14 hours
because they lose function, the
Wall Street Journalreported.
The new device, developed by Oxford University scientists, is
meant to simulate the environment inside the human body. It keeps
livers at body temperature and provides them with an abundance of
oxygenated blood cells. While in the device, livers continue to
burn sugar and produce bile as they would inside the body.
The device was used to store livers used in two transplants
performed last month at King's College Hospital in London. Both
liver recipients are recovering well, the Oxford scientists and
transplant surgeons said at a news conference Friday,
Further study of the device is needed, said the scientists, who
are planning a clinical trial to compare the outcomes of liver
transplant patients who receive livers preserved in the new device
or using the standard icebox method.
By keeping livers functioning longer, the device would allow the
organs to be transported over longer distances to reach recipients,
and would also give doctors more time to study donated livers to
see whether they are suitable for a particular patient, which could
increase the success rates of transplant surgery, said device
co-inventor Peter Friend, a professor of transplantation at Oxford,
The extra preservation time offered by the device could also
give doctors time to use drugs and other methods to repair damaged
livers, making more livers useful for transplantation, Friend
Beards Help Protect Against Sunburn: Study
Beards can help protect men's faces against sunburn, according
to a new study.
Australian researchers found that a full beard and moustache
provides an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of between 2 to 21
out of a maximum of UPF 50,
"This is a reduction in the UV of 50 to 95 percent," said Alfio Parisi, a professor of radiation physics at the University of Southern Queensland. For comparison, the sun protection factor (SPF) provided by correctly applied sunscreen is about 30.
The researchers tested for "sunburning UV" -- which has been
linked to increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer -- by placing
bearded and non-bearded mannequin heads on rotating platforms that
were outdoors. Data was gathered over a year,
Facial hair did reduce the amount of UV radiation exposure to
the skin under the beards and moustaches, but the level of
protection depended on the length and density of the facial hair,
along with other factors.
"Unfortunately, the research doesn't show that facial hair has much benefit. There's some protection offered by facial hair but it's not significant," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical offer for the American Cancer Society, told NBC News.
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