EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Jul 2, 2014

Experimental Ebola drugs should be tried in Africa, disease expert says

By Kate Kelland

LONDON(Reuters) – People at high risk of dying in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak should be offered experimental medicines to see if they work, despite the drugs being not fully tested, the head of an influential global health charity said.

Jeremy Farrar, a professor of tropical medicine and director of The Wellcome Trust charity, said Ebola’s spread in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is “out of control” and global health authorities should rethink the approach to potential treatments.

Jul 2, 2014

Nature journal retracts stem cell paper citing “critical errors”

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) – A stem cell paper published by a
team of Japanese and American scientists in the influential
journal Nature has been retracted due to “several critical
errors”, the journal said on Wednesday.

The research, which when published in January was described
as game-changing by many experts in the field, was subsequently
investigated by Japan’s RIKEN scientific institute, which
“categorised some of the errors as misconduct”, Nature said.

Jun 30, 2014

Patients recruited for vital studies on Saudi MERS virus

By Kate Kelland

LONDON(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia says it has recruited patients for a crucial study on the source of the deadly MERS virus, acknowledging it is late but pledging more work on the epidemic after international criticism of its slow response.

Scientists and global public health experts have faulted Saudi Arabia’s response for allowing the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has now killed nearly 300 people inside the kingdom.

Jun 27, 2014

Exclusive: In virus hunt, Saudi Arabia suspects African camel imports

By Kate Kelland

LONDON(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia suspects a virus that has killed hundreds of people there may have arrived in camels from the Horn of Africa, and could ban such imports until it knows more, the kingdom’s chief scientist told Reuters.

Any ban on the camel trade with the region would badly hurt the already fragile economy of Somalia, which is a major livestock exporter to Saudi Arabia.

Jun 24, 2014

Study finds genetic links between schizophrenia and cannabis use

LONDON (Reuters) – Genes that increase the risk of a person developing schizophrenia may also increase the chance they will use cannabis, researchers said on Tuesday after studying more than 1,000 users of the drug.

The results chime with previous studies linking schizophrenia and cannabis, but suggest the association may be due to common genes and might not be a causal relationship where cannabis use leads to increased schizophrenia risk.

Jun 19, 2014

Ancient parasite highlights humans’ role in spread of disease

LONDON (Reuters) – The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6,200-year-old grave in Syria may be the earliest evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to a vast spread of disease, scientists said on Friday.

Schistosomiasis – also known as bilharzia, snail fever, or Katayama fever – is caused by flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. The infection can lead to anaemia, kidney failure and bladder cancer.

Jun 17, 2014

WHO says MERS virus of concern before haj, surge abating

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters)- The deadly MERS virus remains a
serious public health problem, especially with the approach of
haj pilgrimages, but a recent surge in Saudi cases of the
respiratory disease appears to be abating, the World Health
Organisation said on Tuesday.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which
causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, has been
reported in more than 800 patients, mainly in Saudi Arabia.

Jun 16, 2014

cigarettes mostly used by young smokers, would-be quitters

LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly 30 million people across Europe now use e-cigarettes and are most likely to be aged between 15 and 24, who smoke tobacco regularly and are trying to quit, a new analysis shows.

The rising number of users has led to “staggering” growth in the availability of e-cigarettes with around 10 new brands coming to market every month, a second study showed.

Jun 12, 2014

Insight – Saudi MERS response hobbled by institutional failings

RIYADH/LONDON (Reuters) – When Saudi Arabia announced last week it had found 113 more cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it didn’t just force a rethink of the threat the virus poses, it exposed institutional failings.

Saudi health sources and international virologists said poor communication and a lack of accountability in government departments, inadequate state oversight and a failure to learn from past mistakes have all hindered Saudi Arabia’s battle against the SARS-like virus.

Jun 12, 2014

Saudi MERS response hobbled by institutional failings

RIYADH/LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) – When Saudi Arabia
announced last week it had found 113 more cases of the deadly
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it didn’t just force a
rethink of the threat the virus poses, it exposed institutional
failings.

Saudi health sources and international virologists said poor
communication and a lack of accountability in government
departments, inadequate state oversight and a failure to learn
from past mistakes have all hindered Saudi Arabia’s battle
against the SARS-like virus.

    • 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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