More of, or better record?

A study on autism and related disorders in the MJA found a higher rate of these conditions in WA compared to other States. Incidence for 1999-2000 in WA was 8 per 10,000 children <14 years, compared to 5.1 in NSW. Australian and overseas researchers have questioned whether autism rates are actually increasing or being better diagnosed. One suggestion for the higher rate in WA is our better system of registering and tracking cases. One causal theory for autism in the UK linked it to MMR vaccine, resulting in a drop in the vaccination rate before the link was debunked.

Surgeons under the scalpel.

The WA audit of surgical mortality is due to be released shortly. The opt-in audit, based on a similar scheme in Scotland, was established first in WA largely due to the efforts of surgeon James Aitken and has been taken up by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. The rumour mill has suggested some behind-the-scenes politics involving the Health Department, UWA and participating surgeons to keep this non-political document from public gaze during an election campaign. The audit is gaining wide acceptance and the Scotland experience showed there was continual learning and improvement in outcomes, particularly when improved systems and processes resulted.

Japs go for skin.

Clinical Cell Culture (C3) has gained approval from Japanese regulators to market its ReCell kit there. ReCell enables the collection of healthy skin cells for immediate autologous application on damaged skin such as small burns, donor sites or following cosmetic dermabrasion. C3 has also announced a licensing agreement with the Metropolitan Health Services Board (MHSB) in WA, whereby the MHSB can produce cultured epithelial autograft suspension in its own laboratory (cultured skin cells for use on larger burns). The agreement has been hailed as a win win – MHSB takes over production and staffing, thereby reducing overheads for C3, and in return is able to use the product in WA public hospitals without paying a royalty. The company retains royalty rights for distribution outside of WA.

Asthma fun now.

Visiomed Group (ex X-Cell Diagnostics) has shed its interest in skin scanning technology to focus on marketing and distribution of the Funhaler, a device developed in Perth by Dr Paul Watt and associates to increase compliance in children using asthma sprays by using a fun toy or whistle built into the device. The company has announced FDA approval to market the device in the US, and will launch there in June. According to the press release, modest sales of 120,000 units would see the company break even.

Liver scan hopes.

Resonance Health (ASX=RHT) announced it had won FDA approval to market Feriscan technology in the US via its subsidiary Vision Biometrics. The Feriscan technology looks for iron overload in the liver using existing scanning technology. A Medicare listing for haemochromatosis screening is some way off. Resonance has marketing approval for Australia, UK and Europe and agreements with radiology groups in Europe, and will be seeking similar partnerships with American radiology groups. The share price responded to the news, increasing to 24c before settling around 21c. The stock has a 52 week low of 10c.