MedPage Today (2/14, Smith) reports, “A camera in a pill, given in the emergency” department (ED), “is a sensitive way to detect upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding,” according to a study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Investigators found “in a pilot 25-patient study, the camera – about the size of a large vitamin pill – was both accurate and well tolerated by patients who were suspected of having acute upper GI hemorrhage.” Additionally, “there was…’excellent’ agreement between gastroenterologists and” ED “physicians on the interpretation of images from the camera.”
NPR (1/11, Barclay) in its “Shots” blog reported, “Students at the University of Washington used a protein-folding program initially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to come up with a treatment for celiac disease.” DARPA Program Manager Mildred Donlon explained that the UW biochemistry lab in Seattle used some DARPA “money to fund its work, including development of a program called FoldIt, which enlists researchers (and citizen scientists) to figure out which among many possible protein structures is the best one to solve certain biomedical problems.” Then, a group of UW undergraduates “used FoldIt to come up with an enzyme that could break down gluten in the stomach.” The details of their research were published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
On the front of the Personal Journal section, the Wall Street Journal (11/13, D1, Beck, Subscription Publication) reports in “Health Journal” that 44% of Americans suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) at least once on a monthly basis, and 20% have heartburn at least once a week. Unfortunately, about half of those who suffer from heartburn appear to get little or no relief from proton-pump inhibitor medicines, and many of these patients display no esophageal acid erosion during endoscopy. This type of heartburn is called non-erosive reflux disease (NERD). Gastroenterologists theorize that NERD patients may be suffering from psychological stress, hypersensitivity to esophageal secretions, or from bile reflux, not stomach acid reflux. Impedance testing can determine if reflux is nonacid in origin. For some people, avoiding certain foods, not smoking, losing weight, and wearing looser clothes may help manage the problem.