Health Spin: what a seizure does to the brain; is it flu or Delta variant?

New week starting, and for you to stay super on top of the events that have taken place recently in health and science, Canaltech’s curator separates, every Sunday, the main highlights of the week. From 3D printing of a deadly tumor to discovering the brain’s seizure process in real time, today’s Giro da Saúde is full of new things. Check out!

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Unanimous decision: in a meeting with the board of Anvisa last Wednesday (18), the agency rejected the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine for the pediatric population aged 3 to 17 years, alleging lack of consistent data in the submission of documentation from the Butantan Institute for the regulatory body. Only 586 volunteers were included and, according to Anvisa, there was no clear definition of the percentage of participants in each of the age groups. Another problem was the immunogenicity of the vaccine in children, as it is not possible to state that the production of antibodies guarantees the production of immunity against COVID-19 in this target audience.

At the same meeting, Anvisa also recommended that the Ministry of Health evaluate the possibility of applying the third dose of the immunizing agent in priority groups that received CoronaVac, especially in immunosuppressed patients and elderly people over 80 years old. Now, it is up to Health to make the decision to include the booster of the vaccine in the National Immunization Plan.

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The Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, announced the objective of bringing forward the application of the second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine from the month of September. “As we move forward with the first dose, it has already been discussed to place Pfizer within a 21-day interval, in September. We already have 70% of the population over 18 years old with a dose,” stated the minister. However, the folder has not yet published a date for the start of applications next month, as this will likely depend on the vaccine stock and the pace of vaccination in the states and municipalities.

For now, the interval between doses of Pfizer is three months, due to the low availability of the manufacturer’s immunizers here. Now, the population will be able to complete the Pfizer vaccine schedule in three weeks. “We’re just studying to see what’s the best timing of this, but it will decrease, it will. We need to check the supply scenario, because the Technical Chamber has already indicated that it is interesting to advance immunization in the first dose and, only then , when we have a calmer scenario of immunized with the first dose, we reduce the deadline to complete the immunization”, pointed out the executive secretary, Rodrigo Cruz.

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An unprecedented feat, and at the same time incredible, was accomplished by a team of scientists from Israel: they managed to recreate, through 3D printing, one of the deadliest forms of brain tumor inside a laboratory. It is a rare type of tumor called glioblastoma, which affects glial cells (in the brain). As a result, scientists will be able to test the effectiveness of numerous cancer treatments without the need for biopsy or ex vivo evaluation. It is enough to carry out the studies on the model, which opens doors for the development of new drugs.

The 3D-printed tumor is “fed” by blood vessels, which were also constructed by printing. According to the group, this is the most complete replication of a tumor and surrounding tissue ever. The team managed to replicate the tumor by culturing tumor cells from patients, and then using them as raw material (a sort of “ink” for the 3D printer) when creating the models.

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With the advancement of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, doctors and patients are noticing many similarities between the symptoms of the infection and those of the common flu. In fact, a lot of confusion has been made, which reinforces the importance of testing infected patients. Now COVID caused by the Delta variant is more associated with symptoms such as a runny nose (runny nose), sore throat and headache. Loss of smell and taste, coughing and shortness of breath are no longer so common in visits made in the first days of cases of infection.

“This variant looks a lot like simple flu-like symptoms, so we always have to test the patient. From the third day of symptoms on, we already recommend that they do the RT-PCR test, to confirm or rule out this possibility”, explains Antonino Eduardo Neto, medical manager of the Badim hospital, in Rio de Janeiro, to the newspaper O Globo.

Therefore, these symptoms should already be interpreted as a warning sign, especially for those who live in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — where more cases have already been officially confirmed and transmission is already in the community.

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Can you imagine what happens in the brain of a person who is having a seizure right now? Last week, an incredible feat performed by a team of American scientists did just that: tracked the entire process that a seizure triggers in the human brain and recorded it on video.

Using a new 3D heat map, they made it possible to visualize the more accurate origin of the seizure’s starting point, the trigger of the epileptic seizure. It is in this exact location that the surgical procedure must be performed to improve the chances of a successful surgery and, consequently, the patient’s quality of life. Researchers at the University of San Francisco have created open source software that generates the brain map, a technology that has been dubbed OPSCEA.

Below, watch a video of a patient’s seizure, in real time, recorded and then reconstructed in 3D:

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