Health Highlights: July 20, 2011

By on July 20, 2011

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

Sales Resume of Frogs Linked to Salmonella

Sales have resumed of African dwarf frogs linked to a salmonella outbreak that made more than 240 people sick, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

Blue Lobster Farms, based in Madera County, Calif., voluntarily suspended sales of the frogs after the illnesses. Most of those sickened were children, some younger than age 5, the Associated Press reported. No one died, although some victims were hospitalized.

The CDC said it wasn’t happy about the resumption of sales of the frogs, which could still pose a serious health risk.

The agency warned that young children, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems should avoid contact with water frogs and their tanks.

The wire service reported it could not reach the company for comment.


Missing Sperm Protein May Lead to Infertility

A protein that normally coats sperm that swim to an egg may contribute to infertility if the protein is missing, California researchers said Wednesday.

About 20 percent of men may have a gene mutation that leads to an absence of the key protein, University of California, Davis, researchers said. Of 500 Chinese couples they interviewed who were attempting to bear a child, birth rates were 30 percent lower among couples in which the male had the gene mutation, the Associated Press reported.

The finding could lead to a test that screens for the problem, which could be resolved by methods such as having sperm implanted directly into the uterus, the wire service said.


FDA Experts Reject New Diabetes Drug

The new diabetes drug dapaglifozin should not be approved in the United States because it might increase users’ risk of breast and bladder cancers, among other safety concerns, a panel of experts advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended.

The advisory panel voted 9 to 6 on Tuesday against recommending that the FDA approve the drug, which was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca. It’s the first among a new class of medications designed to lower blood sugar by having type 2 diabetics excrete excess sugar in urine, The New York Times reported.

The full agency is supposed to make a decision on the drug by Oct. 28, and usually heeds the advice of its expert panels.

Most of the more than 25 million Americans with diabetes have type 2, formerly called adult onset diabetes, the Times reported.

In clinical testing, some 0.4 percent of women who took the drug developed breast cancer, compared with 0.1 percent among participants who didn’t take the drug. About 0.3 percent of men who took dapaglifozin developed bladder cancer, compared with 0.05 percent of male participants who didn’t take the drug, the newspaper said.

Panel members also evaluated concerns that the drug could cause liver or kidney problems, the Times reported.


Alzheimer’s Blood Test Moving Closer to Reality

A blood test to screen people for brain plaques that are telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease appears closer to reality, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Clinical results found an experimental test was successful in detecting the sticky clumps of beta amyloid protein on the brain that indicated the potential onset of Alzheimer’s before memory and cognitive problems became apparent, the wire service said.

The test appears to offer a way to screen out people with memory problems who are candidates for more definitive testing, the AP said.

Results on the test, developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, were reported at Wednesday’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Paris.

While brain scans may also reveal the presence of these plaques, the scans “are too expensive and impractical for routine use,” the wire service reported.

A clinical study of more than 1,100 people found that the test correctly identified 83 percent of people with high amyloid levels and correctly ruled out 85 percent of people who didn’t have this condition.

More than 5.4 million Americans and 35 million globally have Alzheimer’s, which has no cure, the AP said.

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