A 10-year campaign to cut cancer deaths in England is having positive effects, though more remains to be done, a public spending watchdog said Friday.
Steady Rise in UK Heterosexual HIV Infections
HIV infections among British heterosexuals have risen steadily in recent years but gay men still have the highest risk of acquiring the deadly virus, according to figures released on Friday.
Teva Drug Cuts Disability in Parkinson's
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's drug Azilect reduces disability in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease, according to new research published on Friday.
Health Experts Rap U.S., UK Over Counting Iraqi Dead
Public health experts criticized the United States and Britain on Friday for failing to record the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the U.S.-led invasion and called for an independent inquiry.
Kids Big at Puberty Become Obese Adults
Children and young teens who are not overweight but in the higher range of normal weight are much more likely than lean kids to become obese adults, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.
Exhaled Nitric Oxide Predicts Asthma Relapse
Among asthmatic children who are in clinical remission, measuring the amount of nitric oxide in their breath could help predict how likely they are to relapse, Dutch researchers report.
MRI Scans Could Have Antidepressant Effect
High-speed magnetic resonance imaging scans produce effects in rats similar to the use of antidepressants, confirming observations made in human patients, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.
Hepatitis Outbreaks Tied to Use of Test Devices
Improper use of blood sugar testing devices likely fueled a string of hepatitis B outbreaks in U.S. nursing homes that killed two diabetics and sent a number of others to hospital, federal and state health officials said on Thursday.
Eczema Creams Should Have Cancer Warning
Two eczema creams, Elidel and Protopic, should carry a strong advisory about a cancer risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday in a warning strongly disputed by the manufacturers.
U.S. Group: AstraZeneca Drug Risk Higher Than Others
The rate of serious muscle damage reported in patients who took AstraZeneca Plc's cholesterol drug Crestor was six times higher than with similar medicines, a consumer group said on Thursday.
Mutation Linked to Blindness in Elderly
The leading cause of blindness in the elderly, age-related macular degeneration, has been linked to a gene mutation, raising hopes of earlier detection and possible treatment. Fifteen million Americans have the disease, and that number is expected to double as baby boomers age.
Being able to relate a gene mutation to the likelihood of developing the illness may lead to better tests and eventually treatments, the scientists hope.
"I don't think it's going to be a year or two ... but I'd guess less than 10 years" before a treatment might become available, said Albert O. Edwards, the lead researcher for one of three sets of researchers reporting on the link.
Macular degeneration causes the central region of the eye's retina to deteriorate, damaging or destroying vision. For now, there are no broadly effective treatments, though a recently approved drug can slow the disease for some patients.
The new gene findings are reported in separate papers in this week's online issue of the journal Science. The three research groups were led by Edwards, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Josephine Hoh of Yale University School of Medicine and Margaret A. Pericak-Vance of Duke University Medical Center.
"Overall, this is a significant and novel finding," said Radha Ayyagari, a research investigator at the University of Michigan who studies age-related macular degeneration.
While one mutated gene is not the only factor in macular degeneration, the discovery "is an important finding and will help in identifying individuals at risk, provide information to design future therapies (and) understand the process of degeneration," said Ayyagari, who was not part of any of the three research teams.
The teams studied the genes of patients with AMD and others without the disease. Researchers found that people with a variation in the CFH gene were more likely to have the illness.
The CFH gene is involved in the production of a protein called complement factor H that helps regulate inflammation in a branch of the immune system.
The Texas-based researchers said their study indicated as many as half of AMD cases in the elderly could be related to the gene variant.
Edwards, who is now the president of the Institute for Retina Research at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, noted that risk factors for AMD are similar to those for cardiovascular illness, including obesity, lack of exercise and smoking.
"There is an unexplained increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in people with AMD," he said. "This may actually go beyond eye disease ... those studies have to be done."
Pericak-Vance, director of the Duke Center for Human Genetics, said her study indicated that the gene variant could account for about 43 percent of the risk of developing AMD for older adults.
"This gene opens the door to a whole new understanding of the factors that contribute to this disease," she said in a statement. "The finding may ultimately lead to new methods for identifying those at high risk for macular degeneration and suggests new pathways for drug development."
Hoh, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale, reported that "Caucasian AMD patients are at least four times more likely to have one particular alteration in the CFH gene that produces a different form of the CFH protein, compared to individuals without the disease."
Dennis Schultz of Oregon Health and Science University, who two years ago identified a different gene involved in some cases of AMD, said the studies are an important finding, though not yet the whole story.
"It's complex, very difficult to understand, there are many genes involved and the environment plays a role as well," said Schultz, who was not part of the three study teams.
There are two forms of macular degeneration. The more common "dry" form progresses relatively slowly. The less common "wet" form, involving bleeding in the eye, can destroy vision rapidly. Both forms were associated with the CFH gene variation.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Macugen for treatment of the wet form of AMD. In studies for the drug, untreated patients had about a 45 percent chance of significant vision loss in a year compared with 30 percent for patients treated with Macugen. In addition, supplements including zinc and vitamins E, C and A have been shown to help some AMD patients.
The researchers was funded by the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for the Arts and Sciences, the National Eye Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Research Resources and Research to Prevent Blindness.
Judge Dismisses Agent Orange Lawsuit
A federal judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of some 4 million Vietnamese claiming that U.S. chemical companies committed war crimes by making Agent Orange for use during the Vietnam War.
Report Links Second-Hand Smoke, Cancer
Scientists at an influential state agency have completed a draft report linking second-hand smoke to breast cancer, a finding that could lead air quality regulators to strengthen the state's indoor smoking laws.
Additive May End Up in Toothpaste, Gum
An additive that provides the minerals used by teeth to rebuild themselves could find its way into products ranging from toothpaste to chewing gum, University of Maryland researchers say.
Cloning Sparks Concern Over Egg Donors
Of all the questions about California's ambitious plans to publicly finance human cloning projects for medical research, one of the thorniest may be how scientists plan to gather the thousands of eggs they'll need from women.
Study: Plavix, Anti-Clot Drugs Effective
Giving heart attack patients Plavix on top of the anti-clotting drugs they usually receive greatly reduces the chances they'll die or suffer another heart attack, landmark new research has found.
Study: Newborn Euthanasia Often Unreported
At least five mercy killings of newborns occur for every one reported to authorities in the Netherlands, doctors there reported just months after the first startling news of the controversial practice.
Kodak Develops Faster, Safer X-Ray Film
Eastman Kodak Co. is rolling out a higher-speed X-ray film that can halve a patient's exposure to radiation without blurring image quality.
Genes Linked to Smoking, Aggressive Behavior
There's more evidence the key to human behaviors such as addiction and aggression may lie in your genes.
Consumer Drug Ads Facing Their Moment of Truth
The landscape of prescription drug advertising to consumers will definitely change in the wake of recent government hearings on the popular painkillers Celebrex, Vioxx and Bextra.
Virus Pegged as Big Cause of Traveler's Diarrhea
The kind of diarrhea that can send U.S. travelers running from the beach to the bathroom is most likely caused by one of a family of pathogens called Norovirus.
Busy Minds May Slow Alzheimer's
Keeping the brain busy may help stave off signs of Alzheimer's disease, researchers report.
Radiation 'Seed Therapy' Beating Prostate Cancer
A long term study finds radiation "seed therapy" used to fight prostate cancer achieved cure rates equal to, or better than, traditional surgery.
U.S. Adults Still Not Colon Cancer-Savvy
More older Americans (38 percent) know the name of a judge on "American Idol" than know they're at risk for colorectal cancer (34 percent), according to an American Cancer Society survey.
Gene Tied to Age-Related Vision Loss
Researchers say they have identified a genetic flaw involved in a substantial number of cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the elderly.
Developed Countries Still Carry Greatest Cancer Burden
The developed world still bears the lion's share of cancer cases, but less developed areas are catching up.
International group of doctors blast official toll of Iraqi civil dead
A group of top public-health physicians has branded the official toll of civilian dead from the Iraqi war as a serious underestimate and demanded an independent probe to establish the full casualty figures.
Airliners safer on disease transmission than widely thought
Fears that the confined space of commercial airliners and recycled air in aircraft cabins help spread flu and other respiratory diseases among passengers are largely unfounded, a new study says.
New drug offers hope for patients with advanced Parkinson's disease
A new drug, rasigiline, is an excellent addition to the small arsenal of weapons that can help the motor functions of people with advanced Parkinson's disease, a study published in The Lancet says.