- Mother, Child Health New Focus for Gates Foundation
- Low-Allergy Peanut May Save Lives
- Brain Influences Cholesterol Levels: Study
- Stroke Prevention Trial Halted for Kids With Sickle Cell Disease
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Mother, Child Health New Focus for Gates Foundation
Mother and child health, family planning and nutrition programs in developing countries are going to be a new focus for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Over the next five years, the foundation will spend $1.5 billion in these areas, The New York Times reported. Much of that money will go to programs in India, Ethiopia and other countries where mothers and children have relatively high death rates, according to Melinda Gates.
Pregnancy and childbirth often "end in tragedy" in poor countries, but most of those deaths could be prevented at a "stunningly" low cost, she said in a speech Monday at the Women Deliver conference in Washington, D.C.
"The world must come together to save women's and children's lives," Gates said.
Until now, the foundation's health efforts have centered on infectious diseases, vaccines and HIV/AIDS. The foundation has assets of $35.2 billion and has spent $10 billion on global health projects, The Times reported.
Low-Allergy Peanut May Save Lives
U.S. scientists have removed or reduced key proteins in peanuts believed to trigger peanut allergies, which can lead to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.
The resulting peanuts are not genetically modified, but simply the result of conventional cross-breeding, BBC News reported.
The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is still in the early stages but could be a major breakthrough. It's believed that children who consume low-allergy peanuts would be less likely to become allergic to peanuts in the first place, according to Professor Soheila Maleki, who presented the findings at a meeting of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"And people that are already allergic would need to have a much higher dose before they suffered a reaction," Maleki said, BBC News reported. "In the case of accidental ingestion, there would be much less of a reaction."
It's also possible that low-allergy peanuts could be used in immunotherapy, in which patients become desensitized by taking low doses of peanuts over a period of time.
Brain Influences Cholesterol Levels: Study
The brain plays a role in regulating the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood, says a study that challenges the belief that cholesterol levels are influenced only by what you eat and by cholesterol production in the liver.
University of Cincinnati researchers concluded that the hunger hormone called ghrelin acts as a "remote control" for cholesterol. Their tests in mice found that higher levels of ghrelin were associated with higher levels of cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream, BBC News reported.
Cholesterol levels in the blood increased when signals from the brain told the liver to store less cholesterol, the researchers said. The study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
"We have long thought that cholesterol is exclusively regulated through dietary absorption or synthesis and secretion by the liver," said study leader Professor Matthias Tschoep. "Our study shows for the first time that cholesterol is also under direct 'remote control' by specific neurocircuitry in the central nervous system."
While the findings need to be replicated in humans, this research "could potentially open up new forms of treatment to control cholesterol levels, which would be great news for people with heart and circulation problems," Fotini Rozakeas, a cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News.
Stroke Prevention Trial Halted for Kids With Sickle Cell Disease