This site is intended for health professionals only

World-first gene therapy for leukaemia, male suicide ‘national emergency’ and junk food ‘not to blame’ for obesity

All the papers are celebrating news that a UK baby girl has become the world’s first recipient of a revolutionary gene therapy that has helped her overcome an aggressive form of leukaemia.

Baby Layla, aged three, had already undergone chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant but the cancer returned, with her parents told to expect the worst, reports the Daily Mail.

But they decided to try the treatment – which involved an infusion of genetically ‘edited’ T-cells to ‘hunt’ for remaining cancer cells – and within weeks Layla began to show signs of recovery.

Professor Waseem Qasim, one of Layla’s doctors, said: ‘We have only used this treatment on one very strong little girl and we have to be cautious about claiming this will be suitable for all children

‘But this is a landmark in the use of new gene engineering technology and the effects on this child have been staggering. If replicated, it could represent a huge step forward in treating leukaemia and other cancers.’

Elsewhere, male suicide is a ‘national publich health emergency’, a coalition of charities and experts have warned MPs, The Telegraph reports.

They say rising suicide rates among men should be treated as a national public health issue on a par with smoking, obesity or pollution.

While suicide amongst women has dropped slightly over the past decade, male suicide rates have risen markedly, the paper says.

The article says that ’in 2013, the last full year for which figures confirmed by inquests are available, 6,233 took their own lives – almost eight out of 10 of them men – an overall rise of four per cent in a single year’.

Meanwhile the diet headline yo-yo continues as The Times reports junk food  may not be so bad for you after all.

Apparently US researchers say they have found overweight and obese people consume fewer sugary drinks and sweet snacks than people of average weight.

Lead author David Just, professor of nutrition at Cornell University, New York, said the results were ’shocking to me’.

He said: ’We were expecting that maybe these foods had been over-vilified. We didn’t expect that [the relationship between weight and junk food] would be completely flat.

’It doesn’t contradict the idea that these foods are bad for you, and that eating too much of them is going to make you overweight. But in the scientific world we’ve just assumed this must be the main problem and fallen prey to a psychological bias.’



Visit Pulse Reference for details on 140 symptoms, including easily searchable symptoms and categories, offering you a free platform to check symptoms and receive potential diagnoses during consultations.