Scientists have used cloning technology to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, an experiment that may revive the controversy over human cloning.
The researchers stopped well short of creating a human clone. But they showed, for the first time, that it is possible to create cloned embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the person from whom they are derived.
These stem cells could go on to differentiate into heart, nerve, muscle, bone and all the other tissue types that make up a human body.
Since the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1996, researchers have cloned about 20 species, including rabbits, goats, cows and cats. Yet they have been unable to create biologically identical copies of any monkey or primate, including humans, possibly because their reproductive biology is more complicated.
But the refinements described Wednesday in the latest experiment suggest that "it's a matter of time before they produce a cloned monkey," said Jose Cibelli, a cloning expert at Michigan State University, who wasn't involved in the study. It also means, he added, "that they are one step closer to where the efficiency is high enough that someone is willing to try" to clone a person, though that remains a distant—and to some, disturbing—prospect.
The experiment was published online in the journal Cell. It was funded by Oregon Health and Science University and a grant from Leducq Foundation of France.
Read more from Wall Street Journal.
Ovarian cancer rates in the U.S. began to decline faster in 2002 around the time many older women went off hormone replacement therapy, according to a new study.
That year, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) found that estrogen or estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy, prescribed for the symptoms of menopause, was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart attack.
In a new analysis using census data, researchers found that ovarian cancer rates were falling by about one percent each year before 2002, then dropped by more than two percent per year.
The findings don't mean there's a cause-effect relationship between ovarian cancer and the hormone treatments, lead author Hannah Yang of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, told Reuters Health by email. But the association is compelling, she said.
"Understanding exposures, such as (hormone therapy), within at-risk populations is useful for overall cancer prevention and control strategies, particularly for tumors that are difficult to treat, such as ovarian cancer," Yang said.
There were more than 22,000 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in 2012, with 15,500 deaths, Yang said.
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U.S. prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged 89 people with falsely billing Medicare $223 million in fraud schemes.
The arrests were the eighth takedown by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a joint statement. The strike force, created in 2007, is a joint program by the two departments.
In one case, in Miami, 25 people were allegedly involved in a series of fraud schemes that brought in $44 million in false billings for everything from mental health services to treatment for AIDS. The lead defendant allegedly spent ill-gotten gains on luxury cars, including two Lamborghinis, a Ferrari and a Bentley.
In New Orleans, a total of five individuals, including two doctors have been charged with millions of dollars in false billings.
The group allegedly paid "patients" for their Medicare information, using it to bill for services not supplied.
In Los Angeles, 13 people were charged with a series of schemes that brought in $23 million. In one case, defendants allegedly supplied powered wheelchairs that were not needed.
In Houston, a brother and sister, one a nurse and the other a medical social worker, allegedly billed Medicare $8.1 million for services not supplied.
Eighteen people were charged in Detroit. Three of the defendants allegedly posed as doctors and prescribed psychoactive drugs for patients in psychotherapy.
In Tampa, four people allegedly operated clinics that were actually fronts for Medicare fraud.
Seven people, including two doctors, were charged in Chicago. In New York City's Brooklyn borough, two doctors and two others were charged.
Read more at UPI.
Despite public health progress in cutting calories, as well as salt and fat from fast foods and supermarket products, neighborhood restaurants are still packing big helpings of each into their meals, a trio of studies suggests.
Small independent eateries are not required to display nutritional information for consumers - if they did, the researchers report, patrons would routinely see single meals containing nearly a full day's worth of calories and fat plus one and half times the daily recommended intake for salt.
"It's really a disgrace. Every day the newspapers say things about the obesity epidemic… To a large extent, you can trace that to too many calories," said Susan Roberts, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Energy Metabolism Lab and professor of nutrition at Tufts University, in Boston.
About two thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. And as American waistlines continue to expand, public health policy has focused on the quality of food available in supermarkets and restaurants.
For their analysis, Roberts and her colleagues measured the calories in 157 meals at small Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Thai restaurants in and near Boston between June and August 2011.
Overall, the researchers found the average meal at those restaurants contained 1,327 calories. That's about 66 percent of the 2,000 daily calories recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
About 8 percent of the meals exceeded 2,000 calories.
The meals from small restaurants also contained up to 18 percent more calories than comparable dishes from larger chains - suggesting the requirement to display nutritional information is keeping the large-chain restaurant meals healthier, according to the researchers.
Read more from Reuters.
The Obama administration on Monday filed a last-minute appeal to delay the sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill to girls of any age without a prescription.
The legal paperwork asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to postpone a federal judge’s ruling that eliminated age limits on the pill while the government appeals that overall decision.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman has said that politics was behind efforts by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to block the unrestricted sale of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill and its generic competitors.
Last month, he ordered that the levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives be made available without prescription and without age restrictions. He then denied a request to postpone his ruling while the government appealed, but gave them until Monday to appeal again.
Government attorneys warned that ‘‘substantial market confusion’’ could result if Korman’s ruling were enforced while appeals are pending. On Monday, lawyers argued that the district court ‘‘plainly overstepped its authority,’’ and that they believe they will win the overall appeal.
Attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights have said in court papers that every day the ruling is not enforced is ‘‘life-altering’’ to some women. They have 10 days to respond to the most recent government filings, after which the appeals court will issue a decision.
If the government fails, it would clear the way for over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill to younger girls. The FDA announced earlier this month that the contraception could be sold without a prescription to those 15 and older, a decision Korman said merely sugarcoated the appeal of his order lifting the age restriction.
Sales had previously been limited to those who were at least 17.
The judge said he ruled against the government ‘‘because the secretary’s action was politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent’’ and because there was no basis to deny the request to make the drugs widely available.