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Health News

Boost to world-class melanoma research

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Boost to world-class melanoma research

World-class research into melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been boosted with Dr Jessamy Tiffen, Head of the Centenary Institute’s ‘Melanoma Epigenetics Laboratory’, receiving a $447,000 project grant from Cancer Council NSW.

The grant will be used by Dr Tiffen to investigate new treatment approaches for patients with advanced stage melanoma.

Dr Tiffen said that new immunotherapies and targeted treatments provided hope for patients with advanced melanoma. However, for many patients, these treatments were ineffective or only worked for a limited time before the cancer developed resistance.

“Sadly, the majority of advanced melanoma patients will suffer relapse and die from the disease. There is an urgent need to identify new drugs for those individuals with no treatment options and to develop new drugs that can prevent recurrence of tumours,” said Dr Tiffen.

The focus of Dr Tiffen’s project will be the investigation of the histone methylation process which she believes plays an important role in driving treatment resistance in melanoma.

“Histone methylation involves protein activity around your DNA that can change the way your genes are expressed and can lead to changes in cell behaviour,” said Dr Tiffen.

“We believe that abnormal levels of histone methylation in both melanoma cells and dysfunctional immune cells could be causing resistance to treatment.”

In the laboratory, Dr Tiffen will be testing different approaches to control histone methylation in melanoma. She hopes the research will lead to new drug treatments to stop melanoma growth or reverse the deadly treatment resistance.

Professor Mathew Vadas AO, the Centenary Institute’s Executive Director, said the successful grant was a superb outcome for a vital project.

“The Centenary operates at the very forefront of this exciting aspect of melanoma research in Australia and I congratulate Dr Tiffen who has been awarded this important funding. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this research which has the potential to help reduce the tragic loss of life associated with melanoma in this country.”

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Health News

1 in 10 people will have a seizure. Epilepsy Queensland urges all Australians to Get Seizure Smart!

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Epilepsy Queensland

1 in 10 people will have a seizure. Epilepsy Queensland urges all Australians to Get Seizure Smart!

The Get Seizure Smart campaign asks the questions – would you recognise if someone was having a seizure? Would you know what to do to help?

Chris Dougherty, Epilepsy Queensland Chief Executive says, “seizures are more common than many realise and don’t always look like what you might expect. 1 in 10 people will have a seizure and 50% of people that have one seizure will go on to have more. Being seizure smart is an important skill for everyone.”

Epilepsy Queensland has been supporting Queenslanders to live well with epilepsy for over 50 years and this September their Get Seizure Smart campaign educates the public to recognise seizures and respond with appropriate seizure first aid. Doing so can provide comfort, prevent injury, and even save a life!

“The signs of a seizure are not always easy to spot and can be overlooked or mistaken for something else,” explains Epilepsy Educator, Jenny Ritchie. “Not all seizures are convulsive (shaking- falling). Seizures may include subtle eye movements, changes in cognitive ability, lapses in attention or other unusual behaviours.”

After you recognise a seizure, the next step is to be Seizure Smart and know how to respond with seizure first aid.
TIME the seizure. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call an ambulance.

If it is the first time the person has experienced a seizure, you should seek medical assistance.
STAY with the person until they are alert or help arrives.
Stay calm and PROTECT the person from injury.
“This could mean moving things like hot drinks or furniture and protecting their head with something small and soft,” instructs Jenny Ritchie, who has been teaching seizure first aid to Queenslanders for almost 15 years.
Visit the Epilepsy Queensland website to Get Seizure Smart, download the free Seizure First Aid and Signs of a Seizure flyers at www.epilepsyqueensland.com.au or https://bit.ly/GetSeizureSmart
Not all seizures require emergency medical attention, but they can be life threatening; almost every day an Australian life is lost due to epilepsy.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Second charge laid for breach of public health orders

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QR codes, masks and tests please

Second charge laid for breach of public health orders

A second man has been charged with breaching public health orders when he left Sydney to come to the Northern Rivers.
As a result, four local government areas, including the Ballina Shire, the Byron Shire, Lismore and Richmond Valley were all thrown into lockdown.
It is understand the second man is the 19-year-old son of the 52-year-old man who has also been charged for breaching public health orders.
The older man is currently in Lismore Base Hospital with Covid.

Officers from Richmond and Tweed/Byron Police Districts commenced an investigation after receiving reports a man and family members had travelled to Northern NSW in late July.

Following further extensive inquiries last week, Tweed/Byron PD officers issued the 19-year-old man with a Court Attendance Notice for four offences, including:
• fail to comply with noticed direction re section 7/8/9 – COVID-19 – individual
• fail to comply with electronic registration directive – individual (two counts), and
• not wear fitted face covering in public transport/taxi

Police will allege the 19-year-old Rose Bay man travelled from Sydney to the Byron Bay area in company of the 52-year-old Rose Bay man.
He is due to appear at Byron Bay Local Court on Monday 27 September 2021.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Surge in testing but no COVID-19 cases so far on North Coast

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QR codes, masks and tests please

Surge in testing but no COVID-19 cases so far on North Coast

By Tim Howard

A surge in COVID-19 tests on the NSW North Coast has not uncovered any new cases of the disease so far say a health authorities.
News a Sydney man had been at large on the North Coast for nearly two weeks sent a surge of Grafton residents into the fever clinic testing clinic set up at the Grafton Base Hospital.
Some people waited for more than an two hours for their test and were told they would have at least another 24 hours to wait before they received a result.
Northern NSW Local Health District acting CEO Lynne Weir said authorities were aware of new venues of concern and would release updated information for close-contact venues in the region.
She said anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed was a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were there, regardless of the result.

Covid Test Grafton

People lined up for hours to get a COVID-19 test at the fever clinic at Grafton Base Hospital, following the revelation a 52-year-old Sydney man had been infectious on the North Coast for more than a week.

Ms Weir said NSW Health sent a text message to people who have checked in at close contact venues with further information.
“We also make a follow-up call to close contacts to discuss the isolation and testing requirements,” she said.
“If you have not received a text message, please call 1800 943 553.
“If you are directed to get tested for COVID-19 or self-isolate at any time, you must follow the rules whether or not the venue or exposure setting is listed on the NSW Health website.
Ms Weir said NSW Health did not disclose details about venues of concern unless there was a public health reason.
When a confirmed COVID-19 case attended a venue while possibly infectious, NSW Health carried out a risk assessment on that venue to determine whether other people might have been exposed, and whether there is a public health risk.
Ms Weir said all people diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate to ensure there was no ongoing risk of infection to others in the community.
Close contacts are asked to get tested, and complete 14 days’ self-isolation, even if their initial test result is negative.
“It remains vital that anyone who has any symptoms or is a close or casual contact of a person with COVID-19, isolates and is tested immediately,” she said.
“When testing clinics are busy, please ensure you stay in line, identify yourself to staff and tell them that you have symptoms or are a contact of a case.”
Ms Weir thanked the many people in the community who came forward for testing in the past few days.
On Tuesday, August 10, more than 3000 tests were conducted at NSW Health and drive through clinics across the district, with many more conducted at other GP and respiratory clinics in the region.
She said there had been high sustained high testing rates in recent weeks, with 9,177 tests conducted among NNSWLHD residents in the first week of August.
All the local testing clinics and their opening hours are listed on the NSW government website at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and- others/clinics or, you can also contact your GP.
Anyone who attended the following venues at the times listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were there, regardless of the result. NSW Health sends a text message to people who have checked in at close contact venues with further information. We also make a follow-up call to close contacts to discuss the isolation and testing requirements. If you have not received a text message, please call 1800 943 553.

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