Health Highlights: Oct. 22, 2009

HealthDay + More
  • Researchers Report Successful Womb Transplants in Rabbits
  • Protein Controls Other Proteins' Access To DNA: Study
  • Check Commercial Drivers, Ship Pilots for Sleep Apnea: NTSB
  • Most Owners Would Perform CPR on Pets: Survey
  • Samsung Fined for Laptop Pesticide Claims: EPA
  • FDA Cracks Down on Misleading Food Labels

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Researchers Report Successful Womb Transplants in Rabbits

Research in rabbits suggest that the world's first successful human womb transplant could be achieved within two years, according to British researchers.

They found a way to transplant a womb with a regular blood supply so that it lasts long enough to carry a pregnancy, BBC News reported.

The Royal Veterinary College team implanted wombs in five rabbits using a technique that connected major blood vessels, including the aorta. Two of the rabbits lived for 10 months and post-mortem examinations showed the womb transplants had been successful.

The findings were presented at an American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in Atlanta. The next step is to determine whether rabbits with transplanted wombs can get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, BBC News reported.

The ability to transplant wombs would provide a new option for women who want children but whose wombs have been damaged by diseases such as cervical cancer. Currently, these women are limited to adoption or surrogate pregnancies.


Protein Controls Other Proteins' Access To DNA: Study

A protein that randomly travels along a single strand of DNA and selectively allows other proteins access to the DNA has been identified by U.S. researchers. It's the first time this type of protein has been found.

It had been assumed that the single-stranded DNA binding protein SSB attached to a site on DNA and later detached. But University of Illinois and Washington University scientists discovered that SSB moves along single-stranded DNA and the protein's movement is independent of the sequence of nucleotides that comprise the DNA, United Press International reported.

The researchers believe that SSB may modulate the activity of a number of proteins involved in DNA repair, recombination and replication. The study appears in the journal Nature.

"SSB may be a master coordinator of all these important processes," said team leader Professor Taekip Ha, UPI reported.


Check Commercial Drivers, Ship Pilots for Sleep Apnea: NTSB

Commercial truck and bus drivers and merchant ship pilots need to be screened for sleep apnea, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board says in letter sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Coast Guard.

The NTSB said medical examiners should be required to ask commercial drivers and ship pilots about sleep apnea and develop programs to identify the disorder, which involves disruptions of breathing during sleep, the Associated Press reported.

Earlier this year, the agency made similar recommendations for airline pilots and train operators.

The letters cited a number of incidents in which sleep apnea was believed to play a role in fatal incidents, including a 2008 bus crash in Utah that killed nine and injured 43, and a 2001 train crash in Michigan that killed two crew members, the AP reported.


Most Owners Would Perform CPR on Pets: Survey

A new survey finds that 63 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners in the United States would be at least somewhat likely to attempt CPR on their pet in a medical emergency.

Women were much more likely than men (65 percent vs. 50 percent) to say they'd perform CPR on their pets, according to the Associated poll of 1,166 pet owners.

Among the other findings:

  • Only 20 percent of pet owners have a pet first-aid kit in the home and 54 percent don't have a fire evacuation plan for their pets.
  • About 41 percent of respondents said they'd had at least one situation that required an emergency trip to the vet and 11 percent have had a pet hit by a car.
  • Seven percent said their pets have eaten something poisonous and 16 percent said their pets have had suffered allergic reactions.
  • One-third of cat owners and 62 percent of dog owners said they let their pets ride in their cars unrestrained, instead of in a special pet carrier, while 11 percent of respondents said they leave their pets unattended in a vehicle.