Man flu: it affects manly men, research suggests

Tuesday, 15. January 2019

“Manlier” men are less resistant to the effects of one strain of the flu, new research suggests.

Those in favour of the existence of the dreaded ”man flu” had been supported by previous findings that women have a stronger immune response than men, but the reasons remained unknown until now.

Scientists from the US and France identified a cluster of genes that had already been linked to poor immune response in males. These genes are responsible for lipid biosynthesis, where a complex chemical compound is made from simpler components. The expression of these genes appeared to be increased by testosterone.

By analysing blood serum in 53 females and 34 males, the researchers discovered men with higher levels of testosterone displayed weak antibody responses to the flu vaccine when working with the H3N2 strain – a serious and prevalent strain globally. Those men with low levels of testosterone and females didn’t show a decrease in their antibody response to the vaccine.

Dr Alan Hampson, Chair of the Australian Influenza Specialist Group, who was not involved in the study, said it was important to recognise the difference between males and females occurred most strongly with the H3N2 strain, but to a lesser extent and not at all with the two other strains studied [B and H1N1], respectively.

“The results when you look at morbidity and mortality of influenza globally are rather mixed,” said Dr Hampson.

“In some places we see there are more severe infections in males but in others we see more severe infections in females and it does differ with age.”

Dr Hampson said the findings were another piece in a very large jigsaw, but should not be encouraging either sex to skip vaccinations, or for females to be offered a diluted dose.

“We know that in some parts of society women are the care-givers who really do become exposed to influenza so it’s good if they do produce a better immune response to the vaccine,” said Dr Hampson.

As to males receiving more sympathy while suffering the flu however, or even the existence of the “man-flu”, Dr Hampson remains unconvinced.

“I think anybody who gets the flu and gets typical clinical symptoms deserves sympathy.”

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Kalydeco breakthrough: Plea for life-saving medicine proves a winner

Tuesday, 15. January 2019

Source: Maitland Mercury

Seth Piefke’s Christmas wish has come true with a $300,000 drug now within reach to save his little brother’s life.

Seth Piefke and his little brother Flynn who has a rare form of cystic fibrosis.

Christmas celebrations have started early for the Piefke family of Thornton – and the cystic fibrosiscommunity – with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommending a government subsidy for the breakthrough medication Kalydeco.

The drug will ultimately save the life of 200 Australians – including Flynn Piefke – each living with the rare CF gene mutation known as G551D.

“This has been our only wish this Christmas and it has come true,” Flynn’s mother, Leia Piefke, said.

“We are so very happy. This is a massive step forward and it’s all we could have wished for. We have had to fight very hard for this and now it’s finally within reach and there are so many beautiful little ones that will benefit from this.”

Just last week the family joined a national campaign calling for Kalydeco to be included in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

As part of the push, Seth, 7, wrote a heart-wrenching letter to Santa telling him of his wish for Flynn, aged two-and-a-half years.

“Kalydeco is a very expensive therapy, but the benefit it delivers to those living with the rare form of CF is beyond measure,” Cystic Fibrosis Australia CEO David Jack said.

Kalydeco has been described as the most important development in the treatment of CF since the discovery of the CF gene in 1989.

Following an extensive review process, the PBAC has confirmed that, at the right price, the profound benefits that Kalydeco offers individuals, our community and the healthcare system are significant.

“Our Christmas wishes have been granted, that is how the cystic fibrosis community feels after an agonising wait for a recommendation to list Kalydeco on the PBS,” Mr Jack said.

“We are confident that once pricing negotiations conclude, the Minister for Health will take the PBAC’s recommendation to cabinet and deliver a listing date for the 200 Australians waiting on Kalydeco.”

Kalydeco is the first medicine to target the genetic defect that causes CF and can radically improve the lives of those affected.

It also paves the way for future drugs that might improve the life expectancy of people living with CF.

CF threatens the lives of more than 3000 Australians. People with the illness have difficulty breathing because of mucus that clogs their lungs and digestive systems.

“We now wait and see if the new year comes with an early PBS listing date,” Mr Jack said.

Rudolph has been fleeced!

Tuesday, 15. January 2019

Source: The Border Mail

Santa and Cameron the Red-Nosed Ram getting ready for their delivery run tonight. Photo: BEN EYLES

Santa and Cameron the Red-Nosed Ram getting ready for their delivery run tonight. Photo: BEN EYLES

Santa and Cameron the Red-Nosed Ram getting ready for their delivery run tonight. Photo: BEN EYLES

Santa and Cameron the Red-Nosed Ram getting ready for their delivery run tonight. Photo: BEN EYLES

Santa has rested Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in favour of Cameron the pink-nosed ram.

He reckoned Rudolph was no match for Australian conditions and would often lag on the Down Under leg of his Christmas tour.

So to ensure children on the Border get their presents before they wake up tomorrow, it’ll be Cameron who guides his sleigh tonight.

“Across the world Santa has reindeer but here in Australia we have a ram,” Santa said.

“Cameron handles the warm Australian conditions so much better than Rudolph.”

Poor old Santa was struggling with the hot weather in his suit as he posed near Wodonga for photos introducing his recruit.

“If we have a cooler weather Christmas Eve, Cameron and I will be able to make it across Australia,” Santa said.

He said he was gearing up for a busy night on the Border this year, needing to visit every house where the children had been well behaved.

“This time of year there seems to be a lack of naughty kids — they all say they have all been good all of the time,” he said.

“I have been surprised at the amount of iPad requests.

“But I do appreciate the change from asking for swimming pools and horses.

“They were always a challenge to get down the chimney.”

Ashes 2013: Australia’s attack best in world, says Craig McDermott

Tuesday, 15. January 2019

In fewer than 140 characters, Australia have thrown down the gauntlet to South Africa’s Dale Steyn-led pace attack.

”Australia have the best attack inn [sic] the world #Ashes2013,” tweeted fast bowling coach Craig McDermott on Monday morning.

Peter Siddle, the most unsung member of the trio that has dismantled England in this Ashes, did not back away from this assessment, which the Australian pace posse will undoubtedly try to prove when they tour South Africa in February and March.

”We’re up there, aren’t we?” said Siddle, who declared the quicks were thriving because they no longer feared for their positions in the side; they are experienced and disciplined enough to bowl maidens upon maidens until England crack, and because the batsmen have given them big leads to bowl to (setting England 500 or more in the fourth innings in all three Tests).

”This is definitely the best line-up I’ve ever played in,” Siddle said.

McDermott wasn’t just talking about the starting quicks – Siddle, Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson, versus Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

He said Australia had superior depth, an assertion that will be put to the test if Harris or another of the quicks can’t play the Melbourne or Sydney Tests.

The Proteas could also have to explore what lies beneath their champion pacemen. Morkel sprained his ankle during the epic drawn Test against India at Wanderers, prompting the selectors to bring Kyle Abbott, part of the next wave of South African pacemen, who has played just one Test, into the squad as cover.

”It’s not just the bowling attack that’s on the field,” McDermott said later. ”I think it’s the back-up we’ve got as well. That may be put to the test over the next couple of weeks. We’ll see.

”I didn’t tweet that for any other reason. I think we’ve got the best attack in the world. It’s very well balanced, particularly with Nathan [Lyon] as our spinner, he’s bowled well, and you’ve got ‘Watto’ [Shane Watson] there as your fifth bowler. He’s pretty handy as a fifth bowler.”

The faces in the Australian attack are not much different from the 2010-11 Ashes. But so much else has changed, not least Johnson’s radar. ”We’re in a good place at the moment,” Siddle said. ”We’ve been striving for a long time as a bowling unit to get that consistency right, and to get the complete innings together. This series has shown that. We’ve been able to bowl teams out quite quickly, give our batters a big chance and put a lot of pressure on the opposition.

”We always speak about building pressure, but also consistency. Over the years we haven’t been able to build partnerships from either end.

”And it’s always nice when the side isn’t changing. That gives the boys a lot of confidence. When you’re playing well and winning Test matches, the side doesn’t change. Blokes are not worried about getting the axe or worrying about that next game, getting that five-wicket haul or that hundred runs. Every contribution counts, and that’s what is happening with the side at the moment.”

There is some doubt about Harris’ fitness because of his sore knee, as there was before the Perth Test, but he bowled at training on Monday and will do so again on Christmas Eve.

Australia’s formidable depth was on display in the MCG nets, where Doug Bollinger, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird joined in the Australian session. Siddle is confident Harris will play on Boxing Day. ”Ryan Harris looked like that [proppy] before the first Test. He’s always going to look like that.

”He’s 34, obviously he’s battled a lot of injuries, but he pushes through. It’s a positive when he’s like that, because he probably pushes through a bit harder. He’s feeling fine … ”

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Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett may be called to witness box at insulation program inquiry

Tuesday, 15. January 2019

Kevin Rudd. Photo: Andrew MearesTo those listening close enough, it might have sounded like a thinly veiled threat.

As the royal commission on the first Rudd government’s Home Insulation Program began on Monday, its counsel assisting noted there was an ”armoury of coercive powers” available to force reluctant witnesses to give evidence.

But, Keith Wilson, QC, added he was hopeful such force would not be necessary.

It may have been the biggest clue yet that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and then environment minister Peter Garrett are destined for a stint in the witness box, willingly or otherwise.

Since the $25 million royal commission on the $2 billion-plus scheme was announced by the Abbott government last month, speculation has been rife about who would be called, but neither commissioner Ian Hanger, QC, nor Mr Wilson would name any of the parties who have been issued notices to appear.

The names on the list will not be publicly available until closer to the hearing dates, which are expected to be held across March and April.

The royal commission can summon a witness to appear before it and there are very few grounds on which a person can refuse. Failure to comply could result in either a fine or imprisonment.

Mr Rudd launched the scheme in 2009 as a way of staving off the global financial crisis.

Three Queenslanders and one New South Welshman were killed while installing insulation during the life of the program and many more were injured. Up to 220 house fires have been blamed on poorly trained installers operating while the scheme was in place and established insulation businesses suffered financial losses.

Mr Rudd apologised for the deaths in July this year, following findings from the Queensland state coroner that the rushed rollout of the program had contributed to the deaths of 25-year-old Matthew Fuller, 16-year-old Rueben Barnes and 22-year-old Mitchell Sweeney between October 2009 and February 2010.

Marcus Wilson, 22, was also killed.

Commissioner Hanger has been asked by the Commonwealth to ”focus on how the actions of the [Rudd] Australian government may have contributed to those deaths, injuries and financial loss and damage to businesses”.

Mr Hanger opened the commission in Brisbane, acknowledging a ”number of inquiries” had previously been held into ”various aspects of the home insulation program”, which ranged from ”administrative reviews of government processes, to coronial inquests into the deaths of four young men”.

”My present intention is not to repeat the examination and findings of those inquiries … I will undertake a thorough inquiry, to collate and examine the existing evidence and to fill in the many gaps in that evidence,” he said.

Matthew’s father, Kevin Fuller, said he was only interested in the answers the commission could provide, and not political finger pointing.

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