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U.S. proposes effort to analyze DNA from 1 million people
30 Jan 2015 at 3:54am
By Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the initiative, to be announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
France delays pesticide reduction goal by 7 years
30 Jan 2015 at 3:37am
France, the European Union's biggest agricultural producer, has delayed a target to halve pesticide use to 2025 from 2018 after plans to curb their deployment failed, the farm minister said on Friday. France had set a voluntary target of halving pesticide use in the decade to 2018 but it has in fact risen, partly due to adverse weather conditions. Like the EU as a whole, France has sought to become less dependent on pesticides, which are blamed for posing health and environmental risks. The French government has pushed back to 2025 the timeline for halving pesticide use and added an intermediate target of a 25 percent fall by 2020, Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said in an interview in daily newspaper Liberation.
Blast at Pakistan Shi'ite mosque kills 20; more than 50 hurt
30 Jan 2015 at 3:30am
By Syed Raza Hassan ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - At least 20 people were killed on Friday when an explosion ripped through a crowded Shi'ite mosque in the Pakistani city of Shikarpur and left more than 50 injured, officials said. Sectarian violence has been on the rise in Pakistan, where radical Sunni Islamist groups often target mosques frequented by Shi'ites, whom they see as infidels. "At least 20 dead bodies and more than 50 wounded people have been brought to the hospital," Shaukat Memon, a doctor at a nearby hospital, told Reuters. Jundullah, a splinter group of Pakistan's Taliban, which last year pledged support for Islamic State, claimed responsibility.
Obama proposes 'precision medicine' to end one-size-fits-all
30 Jan 2015 at 3:55am
WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama is calling for an investment to move away from one-size-fits-all-medicine, toward an approach that tailors treatment to your genes.
Three months on, fruitless CEO search overshadows Sanofi
30 Jan 2015 at 1:51am
Barring a last-minute breakthrough, drugs firm Sanofi's Chairman Serge Weinberg may have to acknowledge in his results presentation next week that the hunt for a new chief executive is not going well. The manner of Chris Viehbacher's shock dismissal three months ago, and the surprisingly small pay-off he won last week, have cast a long shadow over the process. Paris-schooled Olivier Bohuon, chief executive of British medical devices maker Smith & Nephew, told staff in November he had no plans to leave, and in the same month, former Wyeth boss Bernard Poussot joined the board of Sanofi's rival Roche. Weinberg, who will be 64 on Feb. 10 and does not have a pharmaceuticals background besides his five years on the board, is running Sanofi himself while board member Jean-Rene Fourtou conducts a search -- one which began well before Viehbacher was fired.
Innovative gynocological tool gets FDA approval
30 Jan 2015 at 1:18am
Ladies, the next time you visit the gynecologist those dreaded cervical forceps could be replaced by an entirely new device that's newly approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It's called a suction cervical retractor and while the name may make you want to cross your legs, it is said to be gentler and more efficient. Traditionally, doctors use cervical tenaculum forceps to clamp open or stabilize the cervix and Dr. David Turok, who consulted Bioceptive on their new device, points out that the cervical suction retractor bypasses tissue penetration.
Some doctors won't see patients with anti-vaccine views
30 Jan 2015 at 12:35am
LOS ANGELES (AP) ? With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated.
Ex-supermodel Waris Dirie says FGM can end in her lifetime - TRFN
30 Jan 2015 at 12:09am
By Emma Batha LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Supermodel turned campaigner against female genital mutilation Waris Dirie said on Thursday she was optimistic that FGM could be eradicated in her lifetime, branding the tradition "a cruel and perfidious war on little girls." "FGM breaches all human rights and has no place in any 21st century society," said Dirie, who underwent FGM in Somalia when she was 5 years old and whose sister bled to death after being cut. Dirie said her Desert Flower Foundation aimed to save 1 million girls across Africa from the "barbaric" ritual in the next few years through a sponsorship project which provides food, kerosene and school fees to families who pledge not to cut their daughters. GROWING MOMENTUM AGAINST FGM Speaking after receiving a human rights award at the House of Lords in London, Dirie welcomed the growing global momentum to stamp out FGM, a procedure which can cause lifelong physical and psychological problems.
March meeting to plan rebuilding of Ebola-hit states
29 Jan 2015 at 11:41pm
By Edmund Blair NAIROBI (Reuters) - Governments and international organisations plan to meet in March to work out how to rebuild three West African nations whose economies have been shattered by Ebola, a U.N. envoy said on Thursday. The number of newly detected cases of Ebola virus infection has been dropping sharply in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in recent weeks. The World Bank in January projected they would lose $1.6 billion in income this year, over 12 percent of their combined economic output. "The plans at the moment are for a conference to look at the needs of reconstruction organised by the countries themselves, by the United Nations, by the African Union and by the European Union," said David Nabarro, the U.N. special envoy on Ebola.
California lawmaker aims to raise smoking age to 21
29 Jan 2015 at 10:44pm
A California lawmaker introduced legislation on Thursday that aims to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18, his office said in a statement, just over a week after a similar move by Washington state's top lawyer. The bill also comes a day after California's top health official said electronic cigarettes are threatening to unravel the state's decades-long effort to reduce tobacco use. Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez of West Covina, who chairs the chamber's health committee, brought the bill in hopes of keeping more teens from starting smoking. Some 21,300 children begin smoking in the state every year, Kimberly Amazeen of the American Lung Association in California said in the statement, adding that about 40,000 Californians die every year from the effects of smoking.
Suspected Ebola patient admitted to California hospital
29 Jan 2015 at 10:34pm
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A patient suspected of contracting Ebola after traveling in West Africa and exhibiting symptoms of the disease was admitted on Thursday to a special isolation hospital unit in Sacramento and was being tested for infection, officials said. The patient was considered at a relatively low risk of infection. Although recently in an area where Ebola transmission is widespread, the person had no known contact with anyone who has had the disease, said Laura McCasland, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Public Health Department. McCasland said she did not know precisely where or when the patient had traveled in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, or why the individual was there or for how long.
Valeant to buy Dendreon's prostate cancer vaccine Provenge
29 Jan 2015 at 8:05pm
(Reuters) - Bankrupt drugmaker Dendreon Corp has reached a stalking-horse deal with Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc to sell the worldwide rights to its cancer vaccine, Provenge, and certain assets for $296 million. The deal is subject to higher and better bids and extended the bid deadline to Feb. 10 for interested parties to participate in an auction, Dendreon said on Thursday. A stalking-horse bidder often helps draw others to an auction by setting a floor price, but they also require the bankrupt company to commit to paying break-up and other fees if the stalking horse is outbid. Seattle-based Dendreon filed for bankruptcy protection in November, after sales of Provenge fell short of expectations and left the company deep in debt.
Babies found alive in rubble after truck blast rips through Mexico hospital
29 Jan 2015 at 7:13pm
By Lizbeth Diaz and Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A gas truck explosion ripped through a maternity hospital on the western edge of Mexico City on Thursday, killing one woman and two children and injuring dozens, authorities said, with several babies found alive in the rubble. A nurse and a child died after the blast, which destroyed around 70 percent of the hospital, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said. Speaking on national television, Mexico City's health minister said another child had died and more than 70 people were injured. We brought her in yesterday," said Monserrat Garduno, a 32-year-old nurse.
California eases prison crowding after years of trying
29 Jan 2015 at 6:42pm
It is not yet clear whether the inmate count of 113,463 released Thursday, about 300 below the cap set by a panel of three federal judges, represents a permanent thinning of the prison population or is just a temporary reprieve for the state, which for years fought orders to bring the numbers down. "It's an important milestone," said Michael Bien, a lead attorney in lawsuits aimed at forcing the state to reduce crowding that have gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. "But it doesn't mean everything is fixed." The administration of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown was circumspect about the population change, which was released as part of the state's regular weekly inmate count Thursday. "This is a snapshot in time," said California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman.
Obama budget seeks boost for military, domestic programs
29 Jan 2015 at 5:57pm
By Jeff Mason PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will call for a 7 percent rise in U.S. domestic and military spending in his budget that would end caps known as "sequestration," the White House said on Thursday, setting up a new conflict with Republicans in Congress. The fiscal 2016 budget, which the administration plans to unveil on Monday, would fund a host of programs that Republicans are unlikely to support. It is the latest salvo by the Democratic president lobbed at a Congress controlled by the opposition party, and follows a defiant State of the Union address last week that critics said betrayed an unwillingness to seek compromise. Obama maintained that tone during remarks to congressional Democrats in Philadelphia, promising not to remain on the sidelines during the last two years of his presidency and urging lawmakers to be unapologetic about backing progressive policies.