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CDC director admits safety problems at germ labs

July 16, 2014 4:22 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Wednesday that systemic safety problems have for years plagued federal public health laboratories that handle dangerous germs such as anthrax and bird flu. Testifying at a congressional hearing in Washington, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the agency had long thought of the lapses as unrelated accidents.

Entomology research fights mosquitoes with mosquitoes

July 15, 2014 4:58 pm | Videos | Comments

Researchers in Kentucky have developed a technology that uses male mosquitoes to effectively sterilize females through a naturally occurring bacterium. Called MosquitoMate, the new technology has been issued an experimental use permit for open field releases targeting the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, which is a vector for newly introduced pathogens like the Chikungunya virus.

Technology could screen for emerging viral diseases

July 15, 2014 11:58 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A microbe detection array technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists could provide a new rapid method for public health authorities to conduct surveillance for emerging viral diseases. This possible use of the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) was studied by an international team of researchers from eight nations in a paper published in the PLOS ONE.

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Capturing cancer: A powerful, new technique for early diagnosis

July 15, 2014 8:28 am | by Richard Harth, Arizona State Univ. Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

Despite impressive medical strides, cancer remains a leading killer and overwhelming burden to healthcare systems, causing well over a half million fatalities per year with a projected cost of $174 billion by 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute. Reducing the human and economic toll will require diagnosis and intervention at early stages of illness, when the best prognosis for a cure exists.

Study: U.S. Alzheimer's rate seems to be dropping

July 15, 2014 3:17 am | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is falling in the U.S. and some other rich countries—good news about an epidemic that is still growing simply because more people are living to an old age, new studies show. An American over age 60 today has a 44% lower chance of developing dementia than a similar-aged person did roughly 30 years ago, the longest study of these trends in the U.S. concluded.

Researchers invent nanotech microchip to diagnose type-1 diabetes

July 14, 2014 9:22 am | News | Comments

A cheap, portable, microchip-based test for diagnosing type-1 diabetes could speed up diagnosis and enable studies of how the disease develops. Handheld microchips distinguish between the two main forms of diabetes mellitus, which are both characterized by high blood-sugar levels but have different causes. Until now, making the distinction has required a slow, expensive test available only in sophisticated healthcare settings.

Study: Spoonfuls can lead to medicine errors

July 14, 2014 12:21 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The song says a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but a study says that kind of imprecise measurement can lead to potentially dangerous dosing mistakes. The results, published online in Pediatrics, underscore recommendations that droppers and syringes that measure in milliliters be used for liquid medicines—not spoons.

Trial: Dengue shot offers some protection

July 11, 2014 7:21 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The most advanced vaccine for dengue only offers modest protection but could still help millions of people avoid the devastating effects of the disease known as "breakbone fever," according to a large trial. There's no treatment for dengue, which causes symptoms including fever, joint pain, headaches and bleeding. About half the world's population is at risk from the mosquito-borne disease, which sickens about 100 million people every year.

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New technologies fuel patient participation, data collection in research

July 10, 2014 9:06 am | by Duke Medicine News and Communications | News | Comments

The changing dynamic of health studies driven by “big data” research projects will empower patients to become active participants who provide real-time information such as symptoms, side effects and clinical outcomes, according to researchers at Duke Medicine. The analysislays out a new paradigm for health research, particularly comparative effectiveness studies that are designed to assess which therapies work best in clinical practice.

Study: Psych drug ER trips approach 90,000 a year

July 9, 2014 6:23 pm | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bad reactions to psychiatric drugs result in nearly 90,000 emergency room visits each year by U.S. adults, with anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives among the most common culprits, a study suggests. A drug used in some popular sleeping pills was among the most commonly involved sedatives, especially in adults aged 65 and older.

Scientists uncover new compounds that could affect circadian rhythm

July 9, 2014 7:45 am | News | Comments

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a surprising new role for a pair of compounds—which have the potential to alter circadian rhythm, the complex physiological process that responds to a cycle of light and dark and is present in most living things. At least one of these compounds could be developed as a chemical probe to uncover new therapeutic approaches to a range of disorders, including diabetes and obesity.

Forgotten vials of smallpox found in storage room

July 8, 2014 12:29 pm | by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Government officials say workers cleaning a storage room at National Institutes of Health in Maryland made a startling discovery last week. Decades-old vials of smallpox had been forgotten in a cardboard box. The only other known smallpox samples are in super-secure labs in the U.S. and Russia.

Fine-scale climate model projections predict malaria at local levels

July 7, 2014 9:56 am | by Sara LaJeunesse, Penn State | News | Comments

According to a team of researchers who applied a statistical technique to conventional, coarse-scale climate models, population centers in cool, highland regions of East Africa could be more vulnerable to malaria than previously thought, while population centers in hot, lowland areas could be less vulnerable. The new approach improves the accuracy of earlier efforts that used global climate model simulations results.

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Scientists find potential new use for cancer drug

June 27, 2014 7:19 am | News | Comments

Scientists working to make gene therapy a reality have solved a major hurdle: how to bypass a blood stem cell’s natural defenses and efficiently insert disease-fighting genes into the cell’s genome. In a new study, a team of researchers report that the drug rapamycin, which is commonly used to slow cancer growth, enables delivery of a therapeutic dose of genes to blood stem cells while preserving stem cell function.

People with tinnitus process emotions differently from peers

June 26, 2014 12:47 pm | by Chelsey Coombs, Life Sciences Intern, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Patients with persistent ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus, process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in Brain Research. Tinnitus afflicts 50 million people in the U.S., and causes those with the condition to hear noises that aren’t really there. These phantom sounds are not speech, but rather whooshing noises, train whistles, cricket noises or whines.

FDA grapples with oversight of fecal transplants

June 26, 2014 12:18 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Imagine a low-cost treatment for a life-threatening infection that could cure up to 90% of patients with minimal side effects, often in a few days.It may sound like a miracle drug, but this cutting-edge treatment is profoundly simple—though somewhat icky: take the stool of healthy patients to cure those with hard-to-treat intestinal infections.

Panel: Flu spray better than shots for young kids

June 25, 2014 3:23 pm | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

When it comes to flu vaccines, a federal panel says a squirt in the nose is better than a shot in the arm for young children. The advisory panel agreed Wednesday to tell doctors that FluMist nasal spray is a bit better at preventing flu in healthy young kids. The advice is specific to children ages 2 through 8.

Researcher charged in major HIV vaccine fraud case

June 24, 2014 5:22 pm | by Ryan J. Foley - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Responding to a major case of research misconduct, federal prosecutors are taking a rare step by charging a scientist with fraud after he admitted falsifying data while researching an HIV vaccine. Authorities say former Iowa State Univ. laboratory manager Dong-Pyou Han has confessed to manipulating data that helped his team get millions in grants and increased hopes of a major breakthrough in AIDS research.

FDA approves Cubist antibiotic for skin infections

June 20, 2014 7:21 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new antibiotic from Cubist Pharmaceuticals to treat common skin infections often acquired in the hospital. Regulators cleared the company's Sivextro as a pill and as an intravenous solution for adults with skin infections caused by bacteria that are often resistant to older antibiotics.

New monkey model for AIDS offers promise for medical research

June 19, 2014 4:38 pm | by Zach Veilleux, The Rockefeller Univ. | News | Comments

HIV-1, the virus responsible for most cases of AIDS, is a very selective virus. It doesn’t readily infect species other than its usual hosts. While this would qualify as good news for most mammals, for humans this fact has made the search for effective treatments and vaccines for AIDS that much more difficult; without an accurate animal model of the disease, researchers have had few options for clinical studies of the virus.

How a new approach to funding Alzheimer’s research could pay off

June 19, 2014 10:46 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the affliction that erodes memory and other mental capacities, but no drugs targeting the disease have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2003. Now a paper by an Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor suggests that a revamped way of financing Alzheimer’s research could spur the development of useful new drugs for the illness.

Asthma rates drop, but experts not breathing easier

June 19, 2014 12:21 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new survey suggests asthma in the U.S. may finally be on the decline. But the results are so surprising that health officials are cautious about claiming a downturn. The findings come from a large national health survey conducted last year. The drop could just be an unexplained statistical blip.

Feds seek ways to expand use of addiction drug

June 18, 2014 2:22 pm | by Matthew Perrone - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The government's top drug abuse experts are struggling to find ways to expand use of a medicine widely considered the best therapy for treating heroin and painkiller addiction, but which remains underused. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan on Wednesday pressed government officials and agencies to increase access to the buprenorphine, a drug which helps addicts control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Findings point toward first therapy for Lou Gehrig’s disease

June 13, 2014 7:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers have determined that a copper compound known for decades may form the basis for a therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a new study, scientists showed in laboratory animal tests that oral intake of this compound significantly extended the lifespan and improved the locomotor function of transgenic mice that are genetically engineered to develop this debilitating and terminal disease.

Proliferation cues “natural killer” cells for job change

June 12, 2014 12:13 pm | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Why would already abundant “natural killer” cells proliferate even further after subduing an infection? It’s been a biological mystery for 30 years. But now Brown Univ. scientists have an answer: After proliferation, the cells switch from marshaling the immune response to calming it down.

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