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Dec 22, 2014

Exclusive: Can the blood of Ebola survivors create a cure?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – For months, Vanderbilt University researcher Dr. James Crowe has been desperately seeking access to the blood of U.S. Ebola survivors, hoping to extract the proteins that helped them overcome the deadly virus for use in new, potent drugs.

His efforts finally paid off in mid-November with a donation from Dr. Rick Sacra, a University of Massachusetts physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia. The donation puts Crowe at the forefront of a new model for fighting the virus, now responsible for the worst known outbreak in West Africa that has killed nearly 7,000 people.

Dec 10, 2014

Genomics startup NextCode stakes claim in pediatric disease market

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Small startup NextCode Health will use gene-hunting tools pioneered by Iceland’s Decode Genetics to help a leading U.S. pediatric hospital identify causes of rare diseases in children, marking the latest foray of genetic sequencing into routine medical practice.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based NextCode, a Decode spin-off, has signed a deal with Claritas, the former in-house lab of Boston Children’s Hospital that is now a stand-alone company focused exclusively on pediatric diagnostics, the companies told Reuters.

Dec 9, 2014

U.S. agency offers legal immunity to Ebola vaccine makers

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services on Tuesday offered liability protections to drugmakers
rushing to develop Ebola vaccines and urged other countries to
follow suit.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell
made the announcement as part of the Public Readiness and
Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act in a move aimed at encouraging
the development and availability of experimental Ebola vaccines.

Dec 4, 2014

CDC says it is too late to make new flu vaccine for this season

By Julie Steenhuysen

(Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday it is too late to make new flu vaccines for the current flu season that could better protect against the predominant flu virus now circulating in the United States.

On Wednesday, the CDC sent an advisory to doctors noting that one component of this year’s flu vaccine was only partially protective against the predominant flu virus, known as influenza A (H3N2), which has mutated since the current flu shots were made.

Dec 4, 2014

CDC says flu shots may not be good match for 2014-15 virus

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A sampling of flu cases so far this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good match for the most common seasonal flu strain currently circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The U.S. health agency issued an advisory to doctors noting that flu virus samples the agency took from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, showed that just under half were a good match for the current influenza A (H3N2) component contained in flu shots for the 2014-2015 season, suggesting the virus has drifted.

Dec 4, 2014

U.S. agency says flu shots may not be good match for 2014-15 virus

CHICAGO, Dec 3 (Reuters) – A sampling of flu cases so far
this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good
match for the most common seasonal flu strain currently
circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

The U.S. health agency issued an advisory to doctors noting
that flu virus samples the agency took from Oct. 1 through Nov.
22, showed that just under half were a good match for the
current influenza A (H3N2) component contained in flu shots for
the 2014-2015 season, suggesting the virus has drifted.

Nov 25, 2014

Only three in 10 Americans have HIV under control: government report

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Just 30 percent of Americans living with HIV have the virus in check, putting others at risk of infection, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday.

The report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 840,000 of the 1.2 million people infected with HIV in 2011 were not consistently taking anti-HIV drugs that keep the virus suppressed at very low levels.

Nov 21, 2014

New data fuels doctors’ demands to rewrite U.S. heart guidelines

CHICAGO, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Controversial heart disease
prevention guidelines that abandoned specific targets for
reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol are under fresh assault after a
major study highlighted the benefits of taking LDL to very low
levels.

Guidelines issued last year by the American Heart
Association and the American College of Cardiology asked doctors
to assess individual patients’ risk for heart disease over 10
years based on a complex calculation of risks posed by
lifestyle, family history and other health conditions. Those
deemed at sufficient risk would be prescribed
cholesterol-lowering statins.

Nov 19, 2014

Illumina teams with U.S. government, researchers to sequence Ebola

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Gene sequencing equipment maker Illumina has teamed up with the U.S. government and academic researchers at the Broad Institute in Boston to train scientists in West Africa to improve tracking of how the Ebola virus is mutating in hopes of fighting it more effectively.

The public-private partnership, announced on Wednesday, is designed to extend research on how the Ebola virus is mutating in real time as it spreads among populations in West Africa. Scientists need the information to develop new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines to fight the outbreak.

Nov 12, 2014

U.S. gene study raises hope for Merck cholesterol drug Zetia

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Rare mutations in a single gene may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of a heart attack by half, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday in a study that could have implications for Merck and Co’s closely watched heart drug Zetia.

The study involved individuals with mutations in a gene called NPC1L1, the gene targeted by Zetia, a cholesterol fighter known generically as ezetimibe.

    • About Julie

      "Julie Steenhuysen has been covering health and science topics for Reuters for the past decade, first as a medical device correspondent, then as team leader for the equities team covering U.S. pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies. For the past 4 years, Julie has worked as U.S. health and science correspondent, focusing on coverage for a general news audience."
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