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Health Highlights: May 28, 2013

Health Highlights: May 28, 2013

05/28/13

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Supreme Court Won't Hear Planned Parenthood Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will not step into Indiana's dispute with Planned Parenthood. This means the state cannot deny Planned Parenthood Medicaid funds on the basis that its medical services include abortions. Medicaid is the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor.

The high court will not hear Indiana's appeal of a lower court ruling that supported Planned Parenthood, the Associated Pressreported. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state exceeded its authority when it decided to strip Planned Parenthood of the taxpayer funding.

The Supreme Court justices did not comment on their decision, the APsaid.

More than a dozen states have sought legislation to prevent organizations that provide abortions from receiving public money, the news service said.

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French Man Dies From Virus Related to SARS

A French man has died of the new respiratory virus that is related to SARS, and just as deadly.

The Associated Pressreported Tuesday that the death is the first in that country.

There have been cases in Britain and Germany, but most of the people who have been diagnosed with the virus in the past year had traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan, according to the wire service.

This latest coronavirus is related to SARS, a virus that killed about 800 people back in 2003.

The Frenchman died Tuesday, and his hospital roommate has also tested positive for the disease, the French Ministry said.

In an update earlier this month, the World Health Organization said that 20 of the 40 confirmed cases of this novel disease have resulted in death, the APreported.

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'Nanoparticle' Flu Vaccine Could Be an Advance

Scientists have used nanotechnology to create a flu vaccine that may be quicker to develop and more adaptable to changing flu seasons.

"This is, I believe, an important advance," Dr. Tony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News.

Researchers at the institute developed the new vaccine, which is made of nanoparticles that self- assemble under laboratory conditions into an "impostor" of the flu virus. This method gets around the traditional method of using a weakened form of live virus that's then grown laboriously over a period of months in chicken eggs, the researchers said.

Use of live virus makes the flu shot's effectiveness less predictable, since the pathogen mutates constantly.

The new technology uses a piece of the flu virus called hemagglutinin, which is then fused with a piece of a compound called ferritin that naturally forms nanoparticles. These nanoparticles end up resembling the hemagluttinin found on the influenza virus.

"They look like flu. They react with [immune system] antibodies like flu," researcher Dr. Gary Nabel told NBC. Nabel, who now works for vaccine maker Sanofi, worked at NIAID previously and helped develop the new vaccine. His team reported their findings in the journal Nature.

According to Nabel, without the need to grow virus in chicken eggs, the speed at which seasonal vaccines could be created would be drastically reduced -- perhaps to just a week or two.

And Fauci said such vaccines might protect against a wide variety of flu strains.

"To me, this is an important step toward the development of a universal flu vaccine," he told NBC. "The definition of a universal flu vaccine is it covers wide range [of virus strains] and you wouldn't necessarily need to get a new one each year."

So far, the new shot has worked in ferrets, which are considered close models to humans in terms of their reactions to flu. Researchers are working on a version that could work in people.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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