Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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A professional organization representing Alabama's osteopathic doctors said it can't support the creation of a new medical college in Auburn. Members of the Alabama Osteopathic Medical Association (ALOMA) said construction of a new medical college in 2015 could dilute the quality of medical school applicants in the state. The Auburn school would open after another one slated to admit students in Dothan beginning next year. Members of the group say the situation could create a glut of students looking to complete medical school requirements at locations throughout Alabama.

Bill Wilson/Anniston Star

Muslims in east Alabama are planning to open a free health care clinic to serve people who lack medical insurance in Calhoun County.

The Anniston Star ( ) reports that the Anniston Islamic Center plans to begin operating the Salam Free Clinic next month in Anniston.

Abdul Kazi is president of the center, and he is also an ophthalmologist who treats eye diseases. He says the clinic has been in the planning stages for two years.

A small, fanged dinosaur called Pegomastax africanus was identified this week, more than half a century after its skeleton was dug up in South Africa. The dinosaur looked like a fierce cross between a chicken and a porcupine, and had long fangs which it used to eat plants and compete for mates. Pegomastax was a diminutive beast, standing less than two feet tall and weighing no more than a small house cat.

When a California company developed a product to be used in spinal fusion surgeries, the firm's president said he knew it faced a new "ethical dilemma," even noting a recent NPR news investigation questioning the high profits some firms were making from donated human tissue.

States Struggle To Manage Meningitis Scare

Oct 6, 2012



Nearly two-dozen states are watching for new cases of a rare kind of meningitis, caused by fungal contamination in injections for back pain. Officials say the shots were custom made by a Massachusetts pharmacy that shipped about 17,000 doses to states from New York to California. While the disease cannot spread from person-to-person, at least five people have died and dozens more are sick. The outbreak first showed up in Tennessee as we hear from Daniel Potter of member station WPLN.

It now appears that the new coronavirus found on the Arabian Peninsula is more widespread than initially thought, even though only two people are known to have gotten sick from it.

At first it seemed likely that the two known cases of illness from the new cousin-of-SARS virus may have been exposed in or near the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast.

After Ebola Fades, What Happens To The Quarantined?

Oct 5, 2012

The Ebola outbreak in Uganda, which started two months ago, has come to a close.

"The Ministry of Health [of Uganda] has been very prudent of declaring the outbreak over," Gregory Hartl, a World Health Organization spokesman, tells Shots. The last case was detected over 42 days ago — or twice the incubation period for the hemorrhagic fever — so new infections are highly unlikely.

Whole genome sequencing has become an essential tool for researchers. But slow speeds and high costs have helped keep the technology from becoming a routine diagnostic test for doctors.

But that's starting to change. And results from two studies published this week suggest that in-depth personalized genome sequencing could be inching closer to clinical reality.

Why were their bees producing honey in shades of blue and green, wondered beekeepers in the Alsace region of France?

The answer, according to France 24 and Le Monde, was that the bees apparently like M&M's.

Should you take Vitamin D supplements to prevent colds and shorten the misery?

Like other theories about the benefits of vitamin D, it seems like a reasonably good idea. After all, some lab studies suggest vitamin D might enhance immunity. And as everybody knows, people are more prone to respiratory infections during winter, when they cover up and get less vitamin D-generating sunlight.

For a long time now, winter storms that cause significant headaches are named posthumously. Think about the Knickerbocker Storm of 1922, which got its name after it collapsed the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington, D.C, or the School House Blizzard of 1888, which killed hundreds, including many students making their way to school.

Survey: Bald Man Are Perceived As Manlier

Oct 2, 2012



Beau Gunderson's fascinated by what he might learn from his DNA.

"I'm curious about what makes me tick, essentially," says Gunderson, 29, who writes code for a Silicon Valley startup.

So Gunderson has signed up for every genetic test he's been able to afford. And he can't wait for the price of getting his entire genetic code — his genome — to drop to about $1,000, as many are predicting is imminent.

"Yeah, if the price does drop — to a thousand bucks for example — I might pay that. That's a good personal price point for me," Gunderson said.

The idea that milk may diminish the potential heart-health benefits of tea has been a topic of some debate. Lots of us can't imagine black tea without a little dairy to cut the bitterness. But, according to this research going back to 2007, we might want to at least consider trying, say, a nice cup of green tea sans sugar or cream.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

"You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan," NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

Medical Electronics Built To Last Only A Little While

Sep 27, 2012

Most engineers build things to last.

But a group of mechanical and electrical engineers are working on electronics that will break down in as little as a couple of days. On purpose!

The electronic circuits they're developing don't crash. It's more dramatic than that. They dissolve in liquid.

Sounds a little bit crazy, but circuits that work for a while then disappear could be pretty useful in medical devices implanted in the human body.

One night in 1984, British scientist Frances Ashcroft was studying electricity in the body and discovered the protein that causes neonatal diabetes. She says she felt so "over the moon" that she couldn't sleep.

By the next morning, she says, she thought it was a mistake.

But luckily, that feeling was wrong, and Ashcroft's revelation led to a medical breakthrough decades later, which now enables people born with diabetes to take pills instead of injecting insulin.

Scientists have known for a while that breast cancer is really four different diseases, with subtypes among them, an insight that has helped improve treatment for some women.

But experts haven't understood much about how these four types differ. A new report, published online in the journal Nature, provides a big leap in that understanding.

A large children's hospital in Durban, South Africa, is being rebuilt two decades after it closed owing to apartheid. It opened in 1931 as a facility for all races, but racial tensions in the 1980s forced its closure.

Now with Durban and the surrounding province of KwaZulu-Natal extremely hard hit by AIDS and tuberculosis, local leaders are hopeful they can begin reopening the hospital early in 2013.

The Food and Drug Administration approved two new medications this year to help obese and overweight individuals lose weight.

Diet drugs have been around in different forms for a while, but now researchers hope one of these two might actually help make a dent in the obesity epidemic.

Is CrossFit Training Good For Kids?

Sep 24, 2012

For thousands of people across the country, going to a regular gym just doesn't cut it. Instead, they prefer CrossFit routines: like swinging kettlebells, flipping tires, and doing squats and dead lifts until they drop. Now kids as young as 4 are taking part.

The idea behind CrossFit Kids, says co-founder Jeff Martin, is to pair fitness and fun. Since he started the program with his wife Mikki in 2004, it has taken off. There are hundreds of CrossFit Kids classes across the U.S., and more in cities across the world.

Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Cornell. What do these medical schools have in common?

Beyond their first-rate reputations, they're also on the short list of top U.S. med schools that don't have departments of family medicine. Elite schools have long focused on training specialists and researchers, but with the federal health law's emphasis on primary care, some schools are looking harder at family medicine.

One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. Significant numbers of those young people are grappling with health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Those conditions can be difficult for children to manage in any setting, but they can pose particular challenges for children during the school day.

Dr. Yolandra Hancock used to be an elementary school teacher, and it shows. She's patient, encouraging and has an endearing way of ending her sentences with "my love" and "my sweet."

Ben Raines/Press-Register / The Press-Register

A new chemical analysis shows that virtually all the tar balls now washing on to the Alabama coast are directly linked to the BP oil spill more than two years ago.

The report released Thursday by Auburn University says that tar balls caused by the spill are hundreds to thousands of times more common than another type of asphalt-like tar deposit that's been in the Gulf for years.

There's some big news out today about one of the most sensitive issues in medicine: Who's next in line for a transplant?

The United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, a nonprofit in charge of distributing organs, wants to revamp the system for distributing the most sought-after organ — kidneys — for the first time in 25 years.

The Affordable Care Act survived a near-death experience at the Supreme Court earlier this year. And the overhaul law's fate again hangs in the balance come Election Day. Mitt Romney has vowed to work for its repeal, if he's elected president.

Meanwhile, the law continues to take its hits.

Why would a billionaire energy trader-turned-philanthropist throw his foundation's dough behind a new think tank that wants to challenge scientific assumptions about obesity?

John Arnold, 38, whose move from Enron to a spectacularly successful hedge fund got him on the list of wealthiest Americans, isn't crazy about talking to the press. But certainly his decision with his wife Laura to back a newly launched operation called the Nutrition Science Initiative, or NuSI, is an intriguing one.

An experimental drug that helps people who have Fragile X syndrome is raising hopes of a treatment for autism.

The drug, called arbaclofen, made people with Fragile X less likely to avoid social interactions, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine. Researchers suspect it might do the same for people with autism.

David Herholz / Flickr

Alabama's infant mortality rate has reached an all-time low, but it's still high nationally.

Figures released by the state health agency on Thursday show Alabama's infant death rate was 8.1 infant deaths for every 1,000 births last year.

The figure is a record low, but it's high compared to the most recent national average. The U.S. rate was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 births in 2010, the latest year available.

So you're minding your own business when all of a sudden, a nuclear bomb goes off, there's a shock wave, fires all around, general destruction and you, having somehow survived, need a drink. What can you do? There is no running water, not where you are. But there is a convenience store. It's been crushed by the shock wave, but there are still bottles of beer, Coke and diet soda intact on the floor.

So you wonder: Can I grab one of those beers and gulp it down? Or is it too radioactive? And what about taste? If I drink it, will it taste OK?