Health Highlights: Aug. 5, 201108/05/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Adult Stem Cells Used in Texas Governor's Back Surgery
Adult stem cells were used by doctors when they performed back
surgery on Texas Gov. Rick Perry last month.
The stem cells were taken from the Republican governor's body
and used in an area where doctors decompressed a nerve and fused
part of Perry's spine, the
Associated Press reported.
Perry opposes embryonic stem cell research but has advocated
research into adult stem cells.
Since the July 1 surgery, the governor has worn a back brace and
maintained his work schedule, the
Hepatitis C Vaccine Effective in Animals: Study
A vaccine for hepatitis C has proven successful in laboratory
mice and monkeys, European scientists announced this week.
They said the vaccine protected the animals against several
different variants of the hepatitis C virus, which suggests it may
be effective against mutations as they occur,
Agence France-Presse reported.
The "virus-like particles" used to create the vaccine trigger an
immune response and help the body develop resistance to the
hepatitis C virus, but the particles don't contain any genetic
material that would enable a virus to multiply.
This method had been used in other vaccines, including the human
The study appears in the journal
Science Translational Medicine. Currently, there is no human vaccine for hepatitis C.
Jerry Lewis no Longer Host of Muscular Dystrophy Telethon
Jerry Lewis will no longer host the Muscular Dystrophy
Association's annual Labor Day telethon or be its national
chairman, the MDA announced Wednesday.
No explanation was given for the decision to end the 85-year-old
comedian's long tenure. Since he began his stint as host in 1966,
the telethons have raised more than $1 billion and about 200
hospital-affiliated MD clinics have been opened across the United
CBS News reported.
Lewis, who has suffered health problems in recent years, has
been "instrumental" in assisting the fight against the fatal
hereditary disease, according to Dr. Rabi N. Tawil, co-director of
the muscular dystrophy clinic at the University of Rochester.
He also told
CBS News that there "has been an explosion of information
about the genetic defects that cause muscular dystrophy and
tremendous advances in treatment."
Quick Test Detects Congenital Heart Defects
A quick and cheap test that measures oxygen in the blood is more
effective than current tests and could help save the lives of
babies born with congenital heart defects, according to
The findings from their study of 20,055 newborns at six
maternity hospitals in the U.K. appears in
The Lancet. The researchers called for the oxygen test to be used in hospitals across the U.K., BBC News reported.
The test takes less than five minutes and uses a pulse oximeter,
a piece of equipment that's been around for two decades. It
detected 75 percent of the most serious abnormalities when used
alone, and 92 percent of cases when used with traditional methods
such as ultrasound during pregnancy or listening to a baby's heart
The test "adds value to existing screening procedures and is
likely to be useful for identification of cases of critical
congenital heart defects," said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Ewer of
the University of Birmingham,
BBC News reported.
U.S. Hospital Pneumonia Death Rates Fall
The rate of deaths among American adults age 18 and older
hospitalized for pneumonia fell 45 percent between 2000 and 2007, a
federal government report says.
Over that time, the average death rate due to pneumonia
decreased from 74 to 41 deaths per 1,000 hospital admissions,
according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
In 2007, the states with the lowest pneumonia-related death
rates among hospitalized patients were Arizona (23 per 1,000) and
Maryland (26 per 1,000). Eight states had rates of 50 per 1,000 or
higher: Nebraska (57), Wyoming (55), Hawaii (55), West Virginia
(54), Arkansas (53), Oklahoma (53), New York (52), Vermont
Rates in other states ranged from 30 to 49 deaths per 1,000.
Lab-Made Sperm Fertilizes Eggs: Study
Japanese scientists who used laboratory-made sperm to restore
fertility in sterile mice say their achievement could lead to new
ways to treat infertility in humans.
The researchers first converted mouse embryonic cells into
sperm, which was used to fertilize mouse eggs. The resulting pups
were healthy and fertile, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
The study by the Kyoto University team was published Thursday in
While this research breaks new ground, "we have a long way to go
before it can be applied to humans," senior author Mitinori Saitou
Wall Street Journal.
Hackers May be Able to Attack Insulin Pumps: Expert
Insulin pumps and blood-sugar monitors are vulnerable to
computer hacking, according to a security researcher.
Flaws in the devices could enable a hacker to take control of an
insulin pump or alter the readouts of blood-sugar monitors, causing
diabetics to get too much or too little insulin, Jay Radcliffe told
Radcliffe is a diabetic who tested his own diabetes equipment.
He presented his findings at a security conference Thursday in Las
"My initial reaction was that this was really cool from a technical perspective," he told the AP. "The second reaction was one of maybe sheer terror, to know that there's no security around the devices which are a very active part of keeping me alive."
However, medical device makers downplay the threat, saying that
attacks have been limited to demonstrations by security experts and
are unlikely to occur in the real world, the
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