Senior U.S. Health & Science Correspondent, 3 Times Square
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May 27, 2015

U.S. military mistakenly ships live anthrax to labs in nine states

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. military facility in Utah mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to private laboratories in nine U.S. states and a U.S. military base in South Korea, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

It said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public. But a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said four U.S. civilians had been advised to take preventive measures, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics, or both.

May 21, 2015

‘Top 10′ new species includes cartwheeling spider, ‘chicken from hell’

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some 18,000 species, great and small, were discovered in 2014, adding to the 2 million already known, scientists said on Thursday, as they released a “Top 10″ list that highlights the diversity of life.

The 10 are “a reminder of the wonders awaiting us,” said Quentin Wheeler, president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which issues the list. An estimated 10 million species are still unknown to science.

May 18, 2015

‘Home-brew’ morphine from brewer’s yeast now possible: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Home-brewing could soon take on a more dangerous twist: Scientists have engineered brewer’s yeast to synthesize opioids such as codeine and morphine from a common sugar, an international team reported on Monday.

“It is going to be possible to ‘home-brew’ opiates in the near future,” Christopher Voight of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the research, told reporters.

May 7, 2015

J&J to consult ethicists on requests for experimental drugs

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson will
become the first pharmaceutical company to formally seek advice
from outside medical ethicists on “compassionate use” requests,
in which desperate patients ask drugmakers to let them take an
experimental medication, the company announced on Thursday.

The ethicists’ recommendations will be advisory, with J&J
making the decision.

May 6, 2015

Brain technology patents soar as companies get inside people’s heads

NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) – From ways to eavesdrop on brains
and learn what advertisements excite consumers, to devices that
alleviate depression, the number of U.S. patents awarded for
“neurotechnology” has soared since 2010, according to an
analysis released on Wednesday.

Most surprising, concluded market-research firm SharpBrains,
is that patents have been awarded to inventors well beyond those
at medical companies. The leader in neurotechnology patents,
according to the report, is consumer-research behemoth Nielsen
. For factbox, see.

May 5, 2015

IBM’s Watson to guide cancer therapies at 14 centers

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) – Fourteen U.S. and Canadian
cancer institutes will use International Business Machines
Corp’s Watson computer system to choose therapies based
on a tumor’s genetic fingerprints, the company said on Tuesday,
the latest step toward bringing personalized cancer treatments
to more patients.

Oncology is the first specialty where matching therapy to
DNA has improved outcomes for some patients, inspiring the
“precision medicine initiative” President Barack Obama announced
in January.

May 4, 2015

Overweight diabetes patients outlive slimmer ones – study

NEW YORK, May 4 (Reuters) – Patients with type-2 diabetes
who are overweight but not obese outlive diabetics of normal
weight, scientists reported on Monday, in another example of the
“obesity paradox.”

Although public health officials issue dire warnings about
the consequences of overweight, and employers are pressuring
workers to slim down via “wellness programs,” the relationship
between weight and longevity is paradoxical: Studies show that
although obesity increases the risk of developing cardiovascular
disease (CVD), overweight patients with CVD live longer than
patients of normal weight.

Apr 30, 2015

Nexium, Advair led Medicare drug spending in 2013: officials

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Four brand-named drugs prescribed to older or disabled Americans covered by Medicare’s drug benefit accounted for almost one-tenth of the $103 billion in prescriptions filled under the plan in 2013, U.S. officials reported on Thursday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said AstraZeneca Plc’s Nexium for acid reflux topped the list with prescriptions totaling $2.5 billion, followed by $2.3 billion of GlaxoSmithKline Kline Plc’s Advair for asthma.

Apr 30, 2015

Obama’s BRAIN Initiative yields first study results

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The mouse walked, the mouse stopped; the mouse ignored a bowl of food, then scampered back and gobbled it up, and it was all controlled by neuroscientists, researchers reported on Thursday.

The study, describing a way to manipulate a lab animal’s brain circuitry accurately enough to turn behaviors both on and off, is the first to be published under President Barack Obama’s 2013 BRAIN Initiative, which aims to advance neuroscience and develop therapies for brain disorders.

Apr 27, 2015

Decline in U.S. science spending threatens economy, security: MIT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warning of an “innovation deficit,” scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say declining government spending on basic research is holding back potentially life-saving advances in 15 fields, from robotics and fusion energy to Alzheimer’s disease and agriculture.

Science funding is “the lowest it has been since the Second World War as a fraction of the federal budget,” said MIT physicist Marc Kastner, who led the committee that wrote “The Future Postponed” report, issued on Monday. “This really threatens America’s future.”

    • 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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