EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Feb 24, 2015

Britain becomes first nation to legalize three-parent babies

LONDON (Reuters) – – Britain will become the first nation to legalize a “three-parent” IVF technique which doctors say can prevent some inherited incurable diseases but which critics fear will effectively lead to “designer babies”.

After more than three hours of debate, lawmakers in parliament’s upper house voted on Tuesday for a change in the law to allow the treatments, echoing a positive vote in the lower house earlier this month.

Feb 24, 2015

Preventative treatment dramatically reduces HIV risk in gay men

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Gay men at high risk of HIV who
took a daily dose of a Gilead AIDS drug as a
preventative measure cut their risk of infection by 86 percent,
according to results of a British trial released on Tuesday.

Researchers who conducted the trial of so-called
pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) said the results offer real hope
of reversing the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men,
one of the highest risk groups.

Feb 23, 2015

Scientists find peanut-eating prevents allergy, urge rethink

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – In research that contradicts
years of health advice, scientists said on Monday that babies at
risk of developing a childhood peanut allergy can avoid it if
they are given peanuts regularly during their first 11 months.

The study, the first to show that eating certain foods is an
effective way of preventing allergy, showed an 80 percent
reduction in the prevalence of peanut allergies among high-risk
children who ate peanuts frequently from infanthood, compared to
those who avoided them.

Feb 23, 2015

U.N. experts warn of ‘critical knowledge gaps’ on Saudi MERS virus

LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has not done enough to investigate and control a deadly new MERS virus that has killed hundreds of people there and remains in many ways a mystery, United Nations health experts said on Monday.

Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are surging again, but Saudi health officials and scientists appear unable to explain where the infections start and how they spread, the UN experts said.

Feb 20, 2015

UN team investigates Saudi surge in cases of deadly MERS virus

LONDON (Reuters) – An international team of United Nations human and animal health experts has flown to Saudi Arabia to investigate a recent surge in cases of a deadly virus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.

Speaking from Riyadh on Friday, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization-led team said it was worried by a steep rise in cases of MERS, which has infected some 50 people in the Kingdom in February alone — one of the highest monthly rates since it first emerged in humans in 2102.

Feb 20, 2015

Drug-resistant malaria found close to Myanmar border with India

LONDON (Reuters) – Malaria with total resistance to the antimalarial drug artemisinin has taken hold in Myanmar and spread close to the border with India, threatening to repeat history and render crucial medicines useless, scientists said on Friday.

If the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites were to reach into India, they said, that would pose a serious threat to the chances of global control and eradication of the killer mosquito-borne disease.

Feb 19, 2015

WHO urges developing countries to fund tropical diseases fight

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization called on developing countries on Thursday to invest $1 per person per year until 2030 to tackle 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and improve the health and well-being of more than 1.5 billion people.

Forecasting a total of $34 billion needed to fight NTDs for the next 16 years, the WHO said governments whose people are blinded, disfigured and killed by such diseases should recognize the great potential human and economic return on tackling them.

Feb 18, 2015

Global progress against obesity “unacceptably slow”

LONDON (Reuters) – Global progress toward tackling obesity has been “unacceptably slow”, health experts said on Wednesday, with only one in four countries implementing a policy on healthy eating before 2010.

In a series of studies published in The Lancet medical journal, researchers said that in less than a generation, rates of child obesity have risen dramatically worldwide, yet few countries have taken regulatory steps to protect children or implemented recommended healthy food policies.

Feb 17, 2015

Plain tobacco packs likely to deter smoking, studies show

LONDON (Reuters) – Studies on the health impact of “plain” or standardized cigarette packs suggest they can deter non-smokers from taking up the habit and may cut the number of cigarettes smokers get through, scientists said on Tuesday.

In a collection of scientific papers in the journal Addiction, researchers said that while standardized packs were still too new to provide substantial evidence, studies so far showed they were likely to reduce smoking rates.

Feb 10, 2015

Gilead faces challenge to European patent on pricey hep C drug

LONDON (Reuters) – Global health charity Medecins du Monde (MdM) launched a legal challenge on Tuesday to a European patent held by U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc which it accused of charging “exorbitant” prices for a hepatitis C drug.

Arguing that Gilead is “abusing” its patent on Sovaldi, known generically as sofosbuvir, MdM said its challenge marked the first time in Europe a medical charity has used this method to try and improve patients’ access to medicines.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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