Healthcare & Lifescience Talking Points | 20/01/2017

In today’s talking points: Chinese and US scientist invent air filter made of soya beans; One in three asthma cases misdiagnosed; China’s bird flue situation ‘grim’; Chinese medical tourists on the rise

Chinese and US scientists invent air filter made of soya beans

Scientists from the University of Science and Technology Beijing and Washington State University have produced affordable air filters that block 99.94 percent of PM2.5 pollutants. PM2.5 pollutants are fine particles, smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter and most harmful to health. The air filter is made using natural purified soya bean protein and bacterial cellulose, an organic compound produced by bacteria. The materials used to make the filter are also readily available at affordable prices, soy protein and bacterial cellulose can be found in a large variety of household items. While being cheap and abundant the filter is also biodegradable and can be used in existing air filter machines. Zhong Weihong, a materials engineering professor at Washington State University said, “Air pollution is a very serious health issue”. “If we can improve indoor air quality, it will help a lot of people.”

Read more at: South China Morning Post


One in three asthma cases misdiagnosed

A study by Canadian researchers found that 33 per cent of adults recently diagnosed with asthma did not actually have the condition. Thousands of people are at risk from the side effects from taking the medication that they do not need. The study, published in JAMA journal, was carried out on more than 600 randomly selected people who had been diagnosed with asthma within the previous 5 years. A simple breathing test in consultation with a lung specialist confirmed the misdiagnosis of asthma in over 200 cases. Doctor Aaron, the lead researcher at the University of Ottawa, said asthma medication was expensive and patients could, if they overuse the medication, trigger the weakening of bones and cataracts, fast heart rates and oral thrush. University of Sydney asthmas researcher Helen Reddel said the findings are consistent with asthma diagnosis in Australia. “It is common to find patients who have been given asthma diagnosis but their symptoms are due to some other condition,” she said.

Read more at: The Australian


China’s bird flu situation ‘grim’

Foshan, a city in Guangdong province in China, announced it will extend the monthly cleaning period for live poultry markets for the next three months as a part of an attempt to stem the spread of virulent bird flu. City’s authority warned that all neighboring cities have reported human infections of the H7N9 strain of the virus. Markets in Foshan are usually closed for one day each month for cleaning and sterilization in the first three months of each year when both the birds and people are most susceptible to the flu, but this year that will increase to three days. In December last year, 14 cases of human infection was registered in the province of Guangdong, totaling 106 across the country. China has culled over 175,000 birds following five outbreaks among poultry. Nearby countries South Korea and Japan battle for severe bird flu outbreaks as well. Three cities in eastern China’s Jiangsu province have suspended live poultry trading, and local governments in Fujian and Anhui provinces have also restricted poultry trade.

Read more at Reuters


Chinese medical tourists on the rise

About 60,000 Chinese nationals go abroad for medical treatment every year, with each popular destination having its specialty, for example, vitro fertilization in Los Angeles and Bangkok, and plastic surgery in Seoul. Increasing number of Chinese patients is helping raise profits for international medical service providers. Many Chinese medical tourists are not fazed by high prices abroad. These tourists generally pay their treatment in cast, and don’t have insurance coverage in the countries where they seek treatment, which gives hospitals more freedom to raise prices. In some countries, treatment are actually cheaper and better quality. For example, in Japan, a single course of proton and heavy ion therapy costs less than half it will cost in Shanghai.

Read more at Caixin