- FDA Advisory Panel Backs Avastin for Brain Cancer
- Infection-Related Molecule May Trigger Leukemia: Study
- Officials Probe Autism Rates Among Young Somalis in Minneapolis
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
FDA Advisory Panel Backs Avastin for Brain Cancer
The drug Avastin should be approved to treat patients with the incurable brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.
The 10-0 vote was helped by Roche Holding AG's promise to conduct a large study to collect more definitive data on the drug's benefits, Bloomberg news reported.
An FDA decision on the drug is expected by May 5. The agency usually follows the advice of its advisory panels.
If approved, Avastin would be the first new drug treatment for relapsed brain tumors in more than a decade. Currently, Avastin is approved for treatment of advanced colon, lung and breast cancers, Bloomberg reported.
Each year, about 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme.
Infection-Related Molecule May Trigger Leukemia: Study
Common infections may trigger childhood leukemia through the release of a molecule called TGF, say U.K. researchers.
They'd previously identified a genetic mutation that occurs in the womb and creates pre-leukemic cells that grow in the bone marrow and can stay in the body for up to 15 years. This genetic mutation may be present in as many as one percent of newborns, but only one percent of those actually develop leukemia, BBC News reported.
The new study found that TGF, which is produced by the body in response to infection, triggers an increase of these pre-leukemic stem cells at the expense of healthy cells. This could lead to leukemia.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
"Identifying this step means we can determine how an unusual immune response to infection may trigger the development of the full leukemia and eventually, perhaps, develop preventative measures such as a vaccine," said Professor Mel Greaves, BBC News reported.
Officials Probe Autism Rates Among Young Somalis in Minneapolis
Young Somali children in Minneapolis are two to seven times more likely than other children to be in classes for autistic pupils, says the Minnesota Health Department.
The finding is "consistent with the observations by parents," that a large number of children born to Somali immigrants in the United States have severe autism, said state health commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan, the New York Times reported.
The health department researchers didn't try to explain why the Somali children had autism. There was no examination of the children or their medical records. The report authors only included 3- to 4-year-olds, only children born in Minnesota, and only children in Minneapolis public schools. There were no comparisons made with Somali children in other cities.
The next steps may include extending the research to Minneapolis suburbs or other cities with Somali populations, Magnan said. Health department researchers might also try to determine autism rates statewide by analyzing medical diagnoses, The Times reported.
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