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Weekly Ebola cases below 100, WHO says endgame begins
29 Jan 2015 at 1:08am
GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of new confirmed Ebola cases totalled 99 in the week to Jan. 25, the first time the weekly total has fallen below 100 since June 2014, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. "The response to the EVD (Ebola virus disease) epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic," the WHO said. (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
AstraZeneca bets on 'genetic scissors' for range of new drugs
29 Jan 2015 at 1:01am
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had struck four research agreements in the hot area of genome editing as it bets on a new "genetic scissors" technology to deliver better and more precise drugs for a range of diseases. The academic and commercial tie-ups will allow British-based AstraZeneca to use so-called CRISPR technology across its entire drug discovery platform in areas such as oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system medicine. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, allows scientists to edit the genes of selected cells accurately and efficiently. The collaborations with Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the Innovative Genomics Initiative in California, the Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute in Massachusetts, and Thermo Fisher Scientific build on an in-house CRISPR programme at AstraZeneca that has been running for over a year.
MSF in Sudan to pull out of war-torn Blue Nile, parts of Darfur-statement
28 Jan 2015 at 11:53pm
The Brussels-based section of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will pull out of war-torn parts of Sudan due to a lack of cooperation from authorities, the medical charity said on Thursday, as the country sees an uptick in violence. Sudan has faced a rebellion in Darfur since 2003 and a separate but linked insurgency in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The group said that total denial of access to Blue Nile state, forced closure of activities in East Darfur and administrative obstacles in South Darfur had made its work in those conflict-hit areas impossible. "Our experience is that the Sudanese government arranges meetings specifically to prevent international aid, rather than to facilitate it," Bart Jassens, the director of operations for MSF in Brussels, said in a statement.
Race Is On to Find Treatment For Mystery Illness Paralyzing Children
28 Jan 2015 at 11:29pm
A mystery illness that?s left dozens of children barely able to move has many parents on edge and doctors racing to find answers.
Trial finds GSK Ebola shot is safe and provokes immune response
28 Jan 2015 at 11:23pm
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - First results from a human trial of an Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline show it is safe and generates an immune response, scientists said on Wednesday, but larger trials are needed to see if it protects and if a booster is needed. The vaccine is being developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and GSK against the Zaire strain of Ebola -- the one circulating in West Africa -- and the first doses for a larger trial arrived in Liberia last week. Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic have a vaccine in early-stage clinical tests. The early-stage Phase I trial of GSK's vaccine was primarily designed to test safety, but Adrian Hill, who led the work at Oxford's Jenner Institute, said it was "encouraging" that the shot also prompted responses from the immune system.
As smokers spark up e-cigs to quit, traditional aids suffer
28 Jan 2015 at 10:06pm
By Jilian Mincer NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Marty Weinstein decided to quit smoking, he took a friend's advice and tried electronic cigarettes rather than government-approved nicotine replacement products. Weinstein, 58, has gone from a pack a day nine months ago to the equivalent in nicotine of four or five cigarettes. "But I'm now so much healthier." E-cigarettes, metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when sucked, are transforming the market for smoking cessation products and slowing the $2.4 billion in global sales of long-standing aids such as nicotine patches and gums. E-cigarette makers in the United States are barred from explicitly marketing the products as smoking cessation devices, but have found ways to appeal legally to smokers who are thinking of quitting.
Ambulance attacks open wound of Roma relations in Bulgaria
28 Jan 2015 at 10:04pm
By Angel Krasimirov VRACHESH, Bulgaria (Reuters) - When Bulgarian doctor Irena Marinova arrived in an ambulance at the home of a pregnant Roma woman in November, she says she was beaten up by two men who accused her of being late. The government blamed Roma for 175 such attacks on medics last year and in December told ambulances not to go to areas where they have previously been assaulted unless their safety could be guaranteed. They (the Roma) feel they have impunity and that is why they are doing this." Bulgaria is home to one of the largest populations of the EU's six million Roma, and as in other countries, many live on the fringes of society, suffer discrimination and struggle to get jobs. The EU spends billions of euros on integration projects but Bulgarian Health Minister Petar Moskov's instructions and comment that "he who has chosen to behave like a brute will be treated as one" caused outrage and risk undermining progress.
Armed man detained near Super Bowl events sent for mental tests
28 Jan 2015 at 7:39pm
Phoenix police have sent a man for mental evaluation after he was detained while acting suspiciously near pre-Super Bowl events held in the city center and was found to be in possession of two guns and a knife, authorities said on Wednesday. The man, who was not identified, was wearing a tan vest, black clothing, sunglasses, a surgical mask and a black backpack, and was wheeling a large suitcase when he was spotted on Tuesday by a parking attendant who alerted police. The man was speaking incoherently, appeared to be lost, and said he had suffered from a mental illness, said Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sergeant Trent Crump. "Based upon the actions of the subject and comments made during questioning, officers detained him and transported him for a mental health evaluation," Crump said, adding that his name would not be released because he had not been arrested.
California school orders non-vaccinated kids home after possible measles case
28 Jan 2015 at 7:15pm
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California high school barred dozens of non-vaccinated students from school on Wednesday over concern that a classmate may have contracted measles in a rare outbreak of the highly contagious disease that began at a Disneyland resort last month. The order, which affects 66 students at Palm Desert High School near the resort community of Palm Springs, marks at least the second time a California school has prohibited non-vaccinated students from classes since the outbreak began.
Study: Insurers may using drug costs to discriminate
28 Jan 2015 at 6:13pm
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) ? Insurance companies, perhaps more than previously thought, may be charging the sickest patients extra for drugs under the federal health law, in an effort to discourage them from choosing certain plans, according to a study released Wednesday.
California declares electronic cigarettes a health threat
28 Jan 2015 at 4:53pm
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ? California health officials Wednesday declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the U.S. in seeking tighter controls as "vaping" grows in popularity.
Evacuation lifted after chemical spill at Washington state port
28 Jan 2015 at 4:32pm
SEATTLE (Reuters) - A chemical spill at the Port of Olympia in Washington state on Wednesday forced the evacuation of dozens of employees and several nearby businesses until the area was deemed safe to re-enter, a spokeswoman said. The hydrogen peroxide leak originated in a pipe leading to a large tank at an $11.5 million stormwater treatment plant that opened in December, said port spokeswoman Kathleen White. Evacuations were ordered for a quarter-mile radius and employees cleared from several nearby businesses while the leak was located and contained, she said. ...
FACT CHECK: Both sides in Keystone XL debate bend facts
28 Jan 2015 at 4:25pm
WASHINGTON (AP) ? Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf, say the privately funded, $8 billion project is a critically needed piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs and make the U.S. dependent on oil from friends, rather than foes.
Build better roads in developing world to bolster food supplies: study
28 Jan 2015 at 4:02pm
By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Billion-dollar investments in basic transport and electricity in developing nations are among the best ways to curb hunger by 2030 since a quarter of all food is now wasted after harvest, according to a report issued on Thursday. A total of $239 billion invested over the next 15 years, in road and railway connections to connect farms to markets and in electricity supplies to improve cold storage, would yield benefits of $3.1 trillion by safeguarding food, it said. Mark Rosegrant, lead author and a director of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, said that rural infrastructure was often overlooked by governments and investors as a way to cut food waste from rice to beef. Food losses, ranging from poor harvesting techniques in fields to rotting vegetables in consumers' kitchens, wipe out a quarter of all food produced, according to one 2012 study.
Actress Lindsay Lohan's community service questioned in court
28 Jan 2015 at 3:42pm
A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday gave a prosecutor more time to investigate whether actress Lindsay Lohan failed to complete her community service requirements in a reckless driving case. Santa Monica city prosecutor Terry White will present his findings in court on Feb. 18 after disputing Lohan's claim that she completed her sentence while living in London, Lohan's attorney, Shawn Holley, said.