Health Line

Magnetic device treats depression

A noninvasive brain stimulator has been approved by the government to treat depression. This device sends magnetic pulses through the skull to the brain and creates electric charges that cause brain cells to fire.

This method, called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), is the basis of Neuronetics Inc.’s NeuroStar therapy and has been approved by the FDA for patients who don’t benefit from antidepressant pills. TMS provides alternative therapy that is far safer than conventional therapy such as implanting electrodes in the brain or shock therapy.

TMS therapy is expected to cost around $6000 to $10,000, depending on how many patients opt for it.

Source: Associated Press

Placebo prescription popular

According to a nationwide survey, half of all American doctors routinely prescribe placebos to their patients. The study, in which 679 internists and rheumatologists across the country participated, was published in the BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

The most commonly used placebos include vitamin pills, sedatives, antibiotics, and headache pills. Although the pills have some effect on the patients’ bodies, doctors primarily prescribe these medicines for the patients’ psychological healths.

When prescribing the medications, only 5 percent of the doctors described them as placebos; the majority claimed them to be medicines that were not used conventionally, but could benefit the patient. Medical ethicists believe that more research needs to be done to determine whether doctors need to lie to the patients for the placebos to be effective.

Source: The New York Times

Mutant gene linked to prostate cancer

Researchers reported that 70 percent of the cases with prostate cancer showed a mutant gene that was previously linked to breast cancer.

The gene, called BP1, showed over expression in prostate tumors. The findings suggest that the gene may be the cause of other cancers as well.

The study, published in the journal Modern Pathology, compared prostate tumor samples to healthy prostate tissue and found the BP1 gene to be overactive.

BP1 is a part of the family of transcription factors, which are responsible for controlling that expression of other genes, and is involved in early development.

The gene is supposed to be inactive in mature tissues, and cells in which this gene is switched on may divide out of control, leading to cancer.

Source: Reuters

Diet pill effective weight reducer

According to Danish researchers, a new diet drug called tesofensine is twice as effective in reducing weight as currently used obesity drugs. The researchers claim that tesofensine produces 10 percent more weight loss than diet and placebo treatment, while commonly used drugs produce only 5 percent more weight loss.

The researchers believe that the new drug has the potential of replacing gastric bypass surgery in some patients.

Source: HealthDay News