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New trial may be step forward for spinal cord injuries
Stem cells as seen on a computer screen.
April 16th, 2014
03:55 PM ET

New trial may be step forward for spinal cord injuries

In what may be another step forward in treating spinal cord injuries, a safety trial will begin this year on the practice of injecting stem cells directly into the injury site, Neuralstem Inc. announced Wednesday. 

The Maryland company said the University of California, San Diego's Institutional Review Board had approved its clinical trial protocol, which also has approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The first eight patients who will be enrolled will be paraplegics who had a thoracic spinal cord injury one to two years ago and have no motor or sensory function below the point of their spinal cord injury.

Thoracic spinal cord injuries are rare, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, because of the protection afforded by a person's rib cage. In addition to the loss of function in legs, patients also experience a loss of physical sensation, bowel and bladder problems and sexual dysfunction. However, in most cases, function of the arms and hands are not affected.

It's the latest trial designed to inject stem cells into patients' spines. The trial is supposed to show that the drug - stem cells, in this case - is safe, although researchers hope to provide some benefit as well. FULL POST


MERS coronavirus in 74% of Saudi Arabian camels
February 25th, 2014
04:11 PM ET

MERS coronavirus in 74% of Saudi Arabian camels

Scientists are making strides in unraveling the mystery of the MERS coronavirus, which so far has sickened at least 182 people, including 79 deaths.

While human cases have been traced back to September 2012, according to the World Health Organization, researchers in the United States and in Saudi Arabia have found evidence of MERS in camels going back at least 20 more years.

By taking samples from front and hind orifices of camels in all parts of Saudi Arabia, scientists found evidence of MERS in 74% of all dromedaries (single-hump camels) living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to a new study. FULL POST


Vision, sound don't sync for some kids with autism, study suggests
January 14th, 2014
05:11 PM ET

Vision, sound don't sync for some kids with autism, study suggests

Watching a TV show where the words coming out of the actor's mouth are not synched with his lips can be very distracting.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, in a study published Tuesday in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggest this is something some children with autism experience all the time, because they cannot simultaneously process what their eyes are seeing and their ears are hearing.

People with an autism spectrum disorder can have significant communication difficulties and exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior and social challenges. The American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the bible of all diagnostic criteria of mental disorders, says people with autism spectrum disorder "have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations" (among other symptoms). Their new DSM 5 criteria fold symptoms of the disorders into two broad categories: Impaired social communication and restricted or repetitive patterns and behaviors.

FULL POST


Study: Signs of autism may show up as early as first month
As part of the study, researchers tracked babies and toddlers' responses to videos showing actresses playing a caregiver.
November 6th, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Study: Signs of autism may show up as early as first month

The first signs of autism may be visible as early as the first month of a child's life, according to a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

"These are the earliest signs of autism ever observed," says lead study author Warren Jones.

Researchers at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta followed 110 children from birth to age 3, at which point a diagnosis of autism was ascertained. Fifty-nine babies were considered "high risk" for developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because they had siblings with autism; 51 were considered "low risk" because they did not have first, second or third-degree relatives with ASD. FULL POST


Flu under the microscope
October 17th, 2013
05:32 PM ET

CDC back at work to track the flu

Update 10/18 3:30 p.m.: The CDC has released an abbreviated FluView report for the week ending in October 12. See it here

Published 10/17: Now that the U.S. government shutdown is over, federal workers are returning to work, including the furloughed doctors and epidemiologists who work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

One of the many things the CDC does is keep track of the flu, something that was stopped on October 1, leaving the overall flu picture in the United States a little murky.

Every Friday, the CDC is supposed to post how many cases of flu have been reported in the 50 states and U.S. territories. But during the shutdown, the CDC said on its website that it would "not be routinely analyzing surveillance data nor testing laboratory specimens submitted as part of routine surveillance."

So the most recent weekly CDC report provides data for the week of September 21. Under normal circumstances, the CDC would be posting data tomorrow from the week ending October 12 (they are always one week behind).  But since their staff is just now returning to work, it's likely the FluView reports will probably resume next Friday, a CDC spokesperson said.
FULL POST


30,000 may carry human form of mad cow
October 15th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

30,000 may carry human form of mad cow

Up to 30,000 people in Britain may be silent carriers of the human form of mad cow disease, according to new research published Tuesday.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is the human form of the fatal brain-wasting disease found in cows called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - better known as mad cow disease.  So far there have only been 177 confirmed human cases in the United Kingdom, according to the study. Forty-nine more cases have been reported in 11 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Previous research suggested maybe 1 in 4,000 people living in Britain were carrying the protein that causes vCJD, says Dr. Sebastian Brandner, one of the study authors and head of the Division of Neuropathology at Queen Square, one of the largest academic neuropathology departments in the UK. But that estimate was made using a smaller sample, says Brandner.

This new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal BMJ, was much larger. Researchers studied appendix samples from 32,441 people and found 16 that tested positive for vCJD. Given that population of the United Kingdom is a little over 60 million, Brandner says that means about 1 in 2,000 people - or roughly 30,000 people total - have this potentially lethal prion.
FULL POST


MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say
July 4th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say

For the past few months, near-daily reports of new cases and deaths from a new type of coronavirus called MERS raised fears that another pandemic, similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), was looming.

That's not the case, according to new research from France published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

A mathematical analysis of the known cases suggests that "MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential," even when looking at the worst-case scenario, according to researchers. They looked at the "reproduction value" or R-value, which is a calculation of  the number of infections caused by one infected person.

If the R-value is bigger than 1, the number of infections will grow exponentially. For example, if 10 people have MERS and the R-value is two, then those 10 people would infect 20 people, and they would then infect 40 people etc., explains Chris Bauch, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and one of the authors of an editorial accompanying the research. FULL POST


Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives
A women's rally in India. A new study says vinegar could help reduce cervical cancer deaths in the country.
June 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives

In some parts of the world, cancer patients are treated with some of the newest targeted cancer drugs which can cost more than$100,000 per year, while in other regions, patients don't even know they have cancer because they're not being screened.

But where pap smears are not available, there may be a decidedly low-tech way to screen for cervical cancer and reduce cancer deaths, according to a large clinical trial released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago: swabbing a woman's cervix with vinegar.

This study out of India is one of the top five out of more than 5,300 studies presented at the conference. It was given a spotlight usually reserved for the newest blockbuster drug research. FULL POST


Breast-fed babies need Vitamin D supplements
April 30th, 2013
03:32 PM ET

Breast-fed babies need Vitamin D supplements

Most new moms aim to breast-feed their babies - a practice encouraged by experts who tout the many health benefits of breast milk.

But breast milk is not perfect when it comes to vitamin D. A new study published Tuesday in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on child health reiterates that breast-fed babies also need a vitamin D supplement.

The current recommendations to give babies being fully or partially breast-fed 400 IU, or International Units, of vitamin D each day "is quite satisfactory," said lead study author and registered dietitian Hope Weiler of McGill University in Canada. FULL POST


Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks
Research indicates that delivery should not be scheduled before 39 weeks of gestation, the CDC says.
April 10th, 2013
03:53 PM ET

Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks

Moms can be convinced to change their minds about having their babies before they are at full term, according to a study released this week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

For years, medical groups have been encouraging moms to wait until their baby has remained in utero for 39 weeks. At the same time, the number of women choosing to induce labor or have an elective cesarean section for nonmedical reasons has been rising.

Just last month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated its recommendations, encouraging moms to avoid early elective deliveries. FULL POST


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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