News in brief: TSANZ updates advice on acute oxygen use in adults; Home-based rehab helps patients with long COVID; Sexism at Melbourne Uni leads to loss of biomedical research grants

TSANZ updates advice on acute oxygen use in adults

The TSANZ has issued an update to its 2015 guidance on acute oxygen therapy to achieve a target oxygen saturation range (‘swimming between the flags’).

According to the guidance authors, the main changes since the 2015 document include stronger evidence supporting recommended SpO2 targets, and practice points for oxygen prescription backed based on local experience.

The new guidance also includes more information on the use of humidified nasal high-flow oxygen (hNHF-O2) therapy in hypoxaemic respiratory failure, and there is a large addition around non-invasive ventilation (NIV), given its greatly increased use in ventilatory failure in Australia and New Zealand.

The guidelines, published in Respirology, also include stronger recommendations for the use of arterial blood gases (ABG) to address declining use.

Home-based rehab helps patients with long COVID

Inspiratory muscle training may be an effective home-based rehabilitation strategy for adults with long COVID who have symptoms such as breathlessness, a UK study suggests.

A prospective trial involving 281 adults who had ongoing symptoms at an average of nine months COVID-19 found there was benefit in health-related quality of life and breathlessness (King’s Brief Interstitial Lung Disease scores, KBILD) among those who adhered to the eight week training program.

There was a high rate of withdrawal from the intervention group 65 of 224 patients) and no significant effect overall on KBILD based on intention to treat. However there were meaningful improvements in the KBILD subdomains of breathlessness (Control: 59.8±12.6; IMT: 62.2±16.2; p<0.05) and chest symptoms, and training also improved respiratory muscle strength and estimated aerobic fitness.

The study investigators, from Swansea University, said home based inspiratory muscle training could offer a valuable intervention for the large numbers of people with long COVID, whose needs could not be met by the capacity of current pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

The findings are published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Sexism at Melbourne University leads to loss of biomedical research grants

Philanthropic donor the Snow Medical Research Foundation has suspended the University of Melbourne from its biomedical fellowship program in protest at the university’s gender bias.

The foundation, which has donated over $90 million to medical research in the last two years, said Melbourne University’s recent awarding of honorary doctorates to six white men was the last straw. It noted that in the last three years, not a single honorary doctorate has been awarded to women or someone of non-white descent.

The foundation said the university’s policies on gender equality and diversity were not matched by its actions.

“This is unacceptable. We would have preferred not to have taken this step, but now is the time for action – not just talk,” it said.

In 2021 the Snow Foundation funded fellowships worth $8 million each to cancer researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, the Garvan institute of Medical Research, Sydney and the University of Melbourne.

The foundation is also funding research into COVID-19, including a national biobank of samples from patients that will be used by researchers to investigate protective immunity, genetic changes in the COVID-19 virus, infectivity and to develop new antiviral treatments and vaccines.

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