Senior U.S. Health & Science Correspondent, 3 Times Square
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Mar 29, 2015

Battling nightmare infections: US CDC’s plan to beat supberbugs

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) – With painstaking
effort, a group of Chicago hospitals has managed to cut by half
the number of infections caused by an especially deadly type of
superbug. Now U.S. health officials want that kind of campaign
to go national.

The White House on Friday told the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to slash rates of infections from
antibiotic-resistant bacteria by 2020 as part of a plan to
prevent patient deaths and curb overuse of antibiotics
administered to humans and animals.

Mar 26, 2015

Two experimental Ebola vaccines pass safety test in African trial

NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) – Two experimental Ebola
vaccines, one from GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the other
from biotech start-up NewLink Genetics Corp, “appear to
be safe” part way through a clinical trial being conducted in
Liberia, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on

The two vaccines, each given in a single injection, are
being tested for safety and efficacy on more than 600 people in
Liberia in a mid-stage clinical trial sponsored by the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of NIH.

Mar 26, 2015

Olympus issues ‘urgent’ steps for cleaning device linked to superbugs

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The largest manufacturer of medical devices at the center of recent superbug outbreaks in the U.S. issued an “urgent safety notification” to health providers on Thursday, detailing new procedures for disinfecting the equipment and urging them to adopt the procedures “as soon as possible.”

Manufacturer Olympus Corp said in a 13-page letter and detailed instructions for cleaning the devices, called duodenoscopes, that a small-bristle brush required for the new cleaning procedures would be shipped “no later than May 8.”

Mar 26, 2015

Employer incentives for U.S. worker wellness programs set record

NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) – Employers have ratcheted up
the financial incentives they offer workers to participate in
wellness programs to a record $693 per employee, on average,
this year from $594 in 2014 and $430 five years ago, found a
report released on Thursday.

And fewer employers are imposing penalties such as charging
more for insurance if workers do not participate or achieve
goals such as losing weight.

Mar 24, 2015

Angelina Jolie has ovaries removed to reduce risk of cancer

By Patricia Reaney and Sharon Begley

(Reuters) – Two years after her double mastectomy, actress, director and humanitarian Angelina Jolie said she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to avoid the risk of ovarian cancer, the disease that killed her mother at age 56.

The wife of actor Brad Pitt and the mother of six children said in an op-ed column in the New York Times on Tuesday that she had the surgery last week after blood tests showed what could have been early signs of the disease.

Mar 24, 2015

Online platform ‘Open Humans’ launches to share DNA, other data

NEW YORK (Reuters) – People eager to share personal information beyond what’s on their Facebook profile have another outlet: an online platform launching on Tuesday will let them give scientists information about their genomes, gut bacteria and other biological data.

The “Open Humans Network” aims to make more health-related data available for scientists to mine for discoveries and also help volunteers make that data more accessible to more researchers. Rather than volunteering for only a single study, participants would let any legitimate researcher use their data, even though that poses potential threats to privacy.

Mar 23, 2015

Uncommon form of heart attack likely runs in family: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Although oncologists increasingly distinguish breast, lung, and other cancers by their molecular drivers, cardiologists have lagged behind in efforts to do something similar for heart disease.

A study published on Monday could help remedy that: Researchers have found evidence of a genetic basis for an enigmatic kind of heart attack that preferentially strikes young women.

Mar 18, 2015

Exclusive: U.S. to roll back ‘lost pleasure’ approach on health rules

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is preparing to roll back a widely criticized approach to public health, in which the “lost pleasure” people might suffer if they quit smoking or chose to eat healthier foods was used to reduce the projected benefits of new regulations, government officials told Reuters.

Economists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration incorporated lost-pleasure calculations last year in analyzing proposed rules for e-cigarettes and the posting of calorie counts on restaurant menus. The agency said the analysis provided a more accurate picture of the estimated benefits of a regulation.

Mar 17, 2015

Aspirin’s colon-cancer benefits backfire for some DNA types: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Although numerous studies have shown that regular use of aspirin or related drugs can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by about 30 percent, scientists have found an important exception: The medicines can actually increase the risk in people with certain genetic variants, new research shows.

The result, published on Tuesday, is yet another step on the road to “precision medicine,” which aims to match treatments to patients’ genetic make-up. If confirmed, it could alter recommendations for preventing colorectal cancer, which is projected to kill 49,700 people in the United States this year.

Mar 12, 2015

Scientists call for halt on experiments changing DNA of human embryos

NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) – With rumors that scientists
are about to announce they have modified the genes of human
eggs, sperm, or embryos, five prominent researchers on Thursday
called on biologists to halt such experiments due to fears about
safety and eugenics.

The call for a self-imposed research moratorium, which is
extremely rare in science, was based on concerns that the work
crosses an ethical line, said Edward Lanphier, president and
chief executive officer of California-based Sangamo BioSciences
Inc, senior author of the commentary published in the
science journal Nature.

    • About Sharon

      "After covering science and medicine at Newsweek, then the Wall Street Journal, then Newsweek again, I joined Reuters in 2012 to report on neuroscience, genetics, cognitive science, and other research. My books have focused on the brain: 2007's Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (the first popular account of the revolution in neuroplasticity), and 2012's The Emotional Life of Your Brain (with Richard J. Davidson)."
      Joined Reuters:
    • More from Sharon

      The Emotional Life of Your Brain (2012)
      Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (2007)
      The Mind and the Brain (2002)
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