The Daily Dose: Superbug Hits Japan, Magic Mushrooms and Fancy Sneaker Smackdown

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REUTERS/Peter Andrews

Custom Running Shoes Don’t Lower Injury Risk: Sporting goods stores that evaluate foot shape to help customers buy running shoes may have it wrong. A study of Marine recruits who had running shoes customized to their arch heights showed that nice shoes didn’t lower the instance of injury during basic training.

End-of-Life Anxiety Eased by ‘Shrooms: The hallucinogenic ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” a popular recreational drug, is finding new life as an anti-anxiety medication for terminally ill cancer patients. A single dose of the compound, psilocybin, was enough to improve mood and reduce anxiety for up to 6 months among 12 palliative-care cancer patients with documented anxiety.  The tiny clinical study took place at the UCLA Medical Center and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. Because the sample size is so small, larger-scale studies must be conducted to determine a medically significant connection between psilocybin and mood.

Dads Not Off the Hook For Postpartum Depression: By the time a child is 12 years old, 21% of fathers will have experienced an episode of clinical depression, compared to 39% of mothers, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Men and women most at risk were those who had a history of depression before becoming parents, were young at the time of their child’s birth or were socioeconomically disadvantaged.

HIV Hope for Women, but Money Not There: Researchers announced in July that they are close to HIV prophylaxis — a microbicide jelly that women can apply vaginally to reduce their risk of infection by 39%, according to one study referenced in the New York Times. Now, the United Nations AIDS organization, UNAIDS, is reporting lackluster fund-raising for further trial studies. While the trial would require $100 million, researchers have thus far only raised $58 million. The agency cited lower numbers from major donors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a general shift among global health agencies from HIV to prenatal health, tuberculosis and malaria research and treatment.

Superbug Attacks Japan: A bacteria with a mutation known as the NDM-1 gene, which allows the microorganisms to resist all known antibiotics, has been a public-health problem in India for months. But the Japanese health ministry is now reporting that the strain also appeared in a north Tokyo hospital in October, brought in by a Japanese man in his 50s who had undergone medical treatment in India. Luckily, no other infections were found in the hospital and doctors only learned of the superbug after reevaluating a culture taken from the man. But researchers say it is only a matter of time before this mutation spreads globally. According to the AP, cases have already been reported in Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K.

J.K. Rowling Contribution to Multiple Sclerosis Research: The Harry Potter author and billionaire designated 10 million British pounds ($15.4 million) to open a clinic and research facility that will work to cure multiple sclerosis, which killed her mother at the age of 45. The AP reports that the donation to start the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University of Edinburgh is the Scottish university’s largest single donation.

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