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Weird science stories to brighten your year

In another year dominated by COVID-19, we all need a little weird medical science to lift our spirits, and 2021 did not disappoint. As many of us know, people are strange, and there is no end to the oddities to be found in the human world - and here are four of the best from 2021 - from a man injecting himself with magic mushrooms which then grew in his blood, teens “catching” Tourette's-like symptoms from social media videos, an unfortunate Indian woman cried tears of blood during her period, and an Aboriginal memory trick that beats Sherlock Holmes' “mind palace”.


Iron-reducing drug starves acute leukaemia cells then kills them

New research has found a drug that reduces iron in acute myeloid leukaemia cells, effectively starving them to death. The drug ironomycin has been studied by scientists at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and two French Cancer Comprehensive Centres: Institut Paoli-Calmettes in Marseilles, and the Institut Curie in Paris.


The top ten medicines prescribed in Australia in 2020–21

The top 10 list of medicines prescribed in Australia for 2020–21 has been revealed, with a depression medication climbing the list and two antibiotics having dropped in the list of most prescribed medicines.


Australian experts call for public health and social measures to continue alongside COVID-19 vaccination

The latest evidence shows that several personal protective and social measures, including handwashing, mask wearing, and physical distancing are effective and sustainable measures to help reduce the incidence COVID-19 and should be continued alongside vaccination.


Common household disinfectant may lead to superbug mutation

The COVID-19 pandemic has for many people reinforced the notion that disinfectants are our committed allies in the fight against disease. But now a groundbreaking Macquarie University study, published in The Lancet journal EBioMedicine, has found a commonly used disinfectant may be a double agent, blocking antibiotics from working and even promoting antibiotic resistance.


Medical mums shouldering more of the burden than fathers during the pandemic

COVID-19 has been difficult for parents trying to balance careers, home life, and keeping their loved ones safe. A new study indicates that not only are clinicians not immune to these stressors, but the long-term effects could be devastating for healthcare overall.


Microbiome discovery could help save Indigenous kids' hearing

Bacteria found in children's upper respiratory systems could help fight chronic middle ear infections, the leading cause of preventable hearing loss and deafness in Indigenous communities.


Premature birth could be predicted as early as 10 weeks after conception

Mothers at risk of premature birth could be identified far sooner in pregnancy than current tests allow by looking for specific bacteria and chemicals in their cervicovaginal fluid. A new UK study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from researchers at King's College London and pregnancy charity Tommy's, looks at how clues in the mothers' vaginal microbiome (tiny living organisms that can affect health, like bacteria and viruses) and metabolome (small molecules naturally created by the body, like sugars and acids) can help predict the risk of premature birth.


Innovative home grown calculator improves the safety of aminoglycoside use

Infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria are becoming increasingly prevalent and constitute a serious threat to public health. They are difficult to treat and are frequently associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Now a Queensland-developed calculator for the use of bacteria-killing aminoglycoside antibiotics will help make it easier for clinicians throughout the state to safely prescribe and administer these powerful but high-risk drugs.


Water injections could be used to relieve labour pains

The effectiveness of using sterile water injections for labour contraction pain will be tested by an international collaboration of researchers, thanks to federal funding. The Commonwealth Government’s Medical Research Future Fund has granted more than $300 thousand to the two-year project, run by Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The University of Queensland, Charles Darwin University and Sweden’s University of Skövde.