- FDA Approves Glaxo Swine Flu Vaccine
- Ricin Antitoxin First To Go Into Production: U.K. Scientists
- Genes Linked to Melanoma Patients' Survival
- U.S. Should Review Marijuana's Legal Status: AMA
- Vets Struggle to Get Counseling/Substance Abuse Treatment: Survey
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
FDA Approves Glaxo Swine Flu Vaccine
A swine flu vaccine made by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline is now approved for use in the United States.
In a news release, the company said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved the unadjuvanted influenza A (H1N1) pandemic vaccine, Agence France Presse reported.
"The United States Department of Health and Human Services has placed an order to fill 7.6 million doses of unadjuvanted H1N1 pandemic vaccine from GSK, which will contribute to the approximately 250 million doses secured by the U.S. government," the company said.
The makeup of the GSK swine flu vaccine approved for use in the United States is different than that of Pandermix, the company's drug recently approved in Europe to treat swine flu, AFP reported.
Ricin Antitoxin First to Go Into Production: U.K. Scientists
British scientists say their antitoxin against the deadly poison ricin is the first to move into production and should be available within a few years.
They said the antidote can protect against death when given up to 24 hours after exposure to ricin, which is about 1,000 times more toxic than cyanide and could be used in a bio-terror attack, BBC News reported.
To produce the antitoxin, an inactive form of ricin is injected into sheep, which triggers the production of antibodies. The antibodies are harvested from the sheep to create a freeze-dried product that can be reconstituted with water and injected into patients.
"In the past there has been lots of research carried out using different methods. But this is the first [antitoxin] that has been moved into production," Dr. Jane Holley, of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, told BBC News. "It is anticipated that a product will be available for use in the next couple of years."
Genes Linked to Melanoma Patients' Survival
Genes that may predict survival and help determine treatment options for patients with advanced melanoma have been identified by U.S. researchers.
A team at New York University's Langone Medical Center studied 38 patients whose melanomas had recurred after being surgically removed and pinpointed 266 associated with shorter or longer survival, United Press International reported.
"We found that patients who survived longer had gene activity consistent with an immune response," said study senior author Dr. Nina Bhardwaj. "Patients who didn't survive as long didn't have an up-regulation of those genes, but tended to have higher levels of genes associated with cell proliferation, suggesting that if your cells are growing more actively, the tumor is going to grow faster."
Bhardwaj noted that if doctors knew more about "what was happening in those patients, within the tumor itself, perhaps we'd be able to help them in terms of what therapy they might go on," UPI reported.
The study was published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
U.S. Should Review Marijuana's Legal Status: AMA
The American Medical Association wants the U.S. government to review marijuana's status as an illegal drug, a move that's considered important by supporters of medical marijuana.
"This shift, coming from what has historically been America's most cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic," Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which seeks to reform U.S. marijuana laws, said in a news release. "Marijuana's Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable, given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it's been a major obstacle to needed research."