EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Apr 28, 2014

WHO holds emergency meeting on cross-border spread of polio

LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) began an emergency meeting with experts on Monday on how to halt the spread of the crippling polio virus across international borders in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Polio passes easily from person to person and can spread rapidly among children, especially in the kind of unsanitary conditions endured by displaced people in war-torn regions, refugee camps and areas where healthcare is limited.

Apr 25, 2014

Experts cast doubt on Saudi push for Middle East virus vaccine

LONDON (Reuters) – Official talk in Saudi Arabia of racing to develop a vaccine against a deadly new virus may be a way to reassure a fearful population, but it is scientifically wide of the mark and makes little sense in public health terms.

Experts in virology say the biochemical know-how is there to create a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, but question why authorities would want to spend millions immunizing an entire population against a disease that has affected only a few hundred people.

Apr 10, 2014

Stockpiles of Roche Tamiflu drug are waste of money, review finds

LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) – Researchers who have fought for
years to get full data on Roche’s flu medicine Tamiflu
said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting
billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt.

In a review of trial data on Tamiflu, and on
GlaxoSmithKline’s flu drug Relenza, scientists from the
respected research network the Cochrane Review said that while
the medicines can shorten flu symptoms by around half a day,
there is no good evidence behind claims they cut hospital
admissions or lessen complications of the disease.

Apr 9, 2014

Researchers, regulators and Roche row over stockpiled drug Tamiflu

LONDON (Reuters) – Researchers who have fought for years to get full data on Roche’s flu medicine Tamiflu said on Thursday that governments who stockpile it are wasting billions of dollars on a drug whose effectiveness is in doubt.

The row has drawn in the drugmaker as well as industry regulators and independent scientists. Supporters of Tamiflu said the researchers’ conclusions were flawed and insisted the drug is both safe and effective.

Apr 8, 2014

Scientists regenerate immune organ in mice

LONDON (Reuters) – British scientists have for the first time used regenerative medicine to fully restore an organ in a living animal, a discovery they say may pave the way for similar techniques to be used in humans in future.

The University of Edinburgh team rebuilt the thymus – an organ central to the immune system and found in front of the heart – of very old mice by reactivating a natural mechanism that gets shut down with age.

Apr 2, 2014

Party drug Ketamine could help treat severe depression: research

LONDON (Reuters) – The party drug ketamine could one day be used to help some people suffering from severe depression, according to British scientists who gave infusions of the narcotic nicknamed “special K” to patients.

Researchers who tested the drug on 28 people with major depressive disorder found ketamine quickly helped relieve the condition for some – and made a number of them completely well again for up to several weeks.

Apr 2, 2014

Young male smokers may raise obesity risk in their future sons

LONDON (Reuters) – Men who start smoking before the age of 11 risk having sons who are overweight, British researchers have found, adding to evidence that lifestyle factors even in childhood can affect the health of future offspring.

The scientists said the findings, part of ongoing work in a larger “Children of the 90s” study, could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before the start of puberty in men may lead to metabolic changes in the next generation.

Mar 28, 2014

Smoking bans cut premature births and child asthma attacks

LONDON (Reuters) – Banning smoking in public places has helped to cut premature births by 10 percent, according to new research from the United States and Europe.

A study in The Lancet medical journal found that while the impact of anti-smoking laws varies between countries, the overall effect on child health around the world is positive.

Mar 27, 2014

Scant funds, rare outbreaks leave Ebola drug pipeline slim

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) – Almost 40 years after the Ebola
virus was identified in humans by scientists in a microbiology
laboratory in Belgium, pharmaceutical researchers have yet to
develop an effective drug or vaccine to fight it.

Part of the problem is that the deadly virus is rare and its
victims are often poor people living in rural areas of Africa
without well-functioning health systems. But there is also
little incentive for major pharmaceutical companies to invest in
medical solutions when there is little chance of a return.

Mar 26, 2014

Scientists publish ‘navigation maps’ for human genome

LONDON (Reuters) – A large international team of scientists has built the clearest picture yet of how human genes are regulated in the vast array of cell types in the body – work that should help researchers target genes linked to disease.

In two major studies published in the journal Nature, the consortium mapped how a network of switches, built into human DNA, controls where and when genes are turned on and off.

    • 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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