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Health Headlines - May 17

Posted May 17 2011 12:01am

Study Outlines Shorter TB Treatment

A combination of pills can treat tuberculosis patients who aren't infectious in just three months instead of nine, which makes it much more likely that they'll complete their treatment, a new study says.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study was presented Monday at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Denver.
About 82 percent of the people in the three-month group completed the full treatment, compared to just 69 percent on the nine-month regimen, the Associated Press said.Only seven cases of TB disease developed in people on the three-month treatment, compared with 15 in the standard group, the news services said.The CDC says more than 11 million Americans have latent TB, which means they're infected with the TB bacteria but aren't infectious and don't have symptoms, the APreported.-----Setback for Skin-Derived Stem CellsA new study says stem cells made from a patient's skin cells might be rejected by the patient's immune system, an unexpected setback for what had been seen as a promising way to treat a wide variety of diseases.These types of stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), were first created in 2007 and caused a sensation because it was believed they had two major advantages over embryonic stem cells -- they didn't require the destruction of human embryos and they presumably would not be rejected by a patient's immune system, The New York Times reported.But this University of California, San Diego study published online in the journal Naturewas the first to test the belief that iPS cells would be accepted by the patient's immune system. The results surprised stem cell scientists.The finding "happened to be a particularly startling result that I wasn't anticipating," Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Childrens Hospital Boston, told the Times."As with any new technology, there is always this initial phase of infatuation, and then the reality sets in," Daley said. "I think it goes to the heart of the issue of how ignorant we really are in understanding these cells."While the study was conducted in mice, some scientists believe the results would hold true for humans, the Times reported.-----Health Reform to Save Medicare $120B Over 5 Years: OfficialThe new U.S. health care law will save Medicare $120 billion over the next five years due to lower payments to hospitals and insurances, according to a Medicare official.The reduced costs show that President Obama's health care reform is working, according to Medicare Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum."Savings are happening," he told Bloomberg News. "The program is becoming more efficient. We are promoting payment reforms that are elevating quality, elevating performance and lowering costs."Blum said the savings match projections. "We're very much consistent with where we thought we would be."Reducing Medicare costs was one of the main priorities of the health care overhaul,Bloomberg reported.-----Chives Recalled Due to Listeria ConcernsPossible listeria contamination has prompted the recall of chives distributed in nine states, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The chives were distributed by Goodness Gardens Inc. of New Hampton, N.Y. and sold primarily through stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Alabama, Illinois and Virginia, the Associated Press reported.The recalled chives -- lot number 0201111, dated May 6 -- were packaged in plastic clamshell containers, 1-pound bags and twist tie bunches. Consumers can return the chives to retailers for a refund.The FDA said there have been no reports of illness associated with the recalled chives, the AP reported.
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