Pioneering Stem Cell Surgery Announced


Claudia Castillo, the patient in the ground-breaking operation. Photo: AP

PARIS — Physicians at four European universities have completed what they say is the first successful transplant of a human windpipe using a patient’s own stem cells to fashion an organ and prevent its rejection by her immune system, according to an article in the British medical journal The Lancet. One of the physicians said the surgery could herald a “new age in surgical care.”

The transplant operation was performed on the patient, Claudia Castillo, in June in Barcelona, Spain, to alleviate an acute shortage of breath caused by a failing airway following severe tuberculosis. It followed weeks of preparation carried out at the universities of Barcelona, Spain, Bristol, England and Padua and Milan in Italy.

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Half of primary-care doctors in survey would leave medicine

Experts say if many physicians stop practicing, it could be devastating to the health care industry.
Experts say if many physicians stop practicing, it could be devastating to the health care industry.

(CNN) — Nearly half the respondents in a survey of U.S. primary care physicians said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative.

The survey, released this week by the Physicians’ Foundation, which promotes better doctor-patient relationships, sought to find the reasons for an identified exodus among family doctors and internists, widely known as the backbone of the health industry.

A U.S. shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 primary care physicians by 2025 was predicted at last week’s American Medical Association annual meeting.

In the survey, the foundation sent questionnaires to more than 270,000 primary care doctors and more than 50,000 specialists nationwide.

Of the 12,000 respondents, 49 percent said they’d consider leaving medicine. Many said they are overwhelmed with their practices, not because they have too many patients, but because there’s too much red tape generated from insurance companies and government agencies.

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Cancer Drugs Make Tumors Grow

(NaturalNews) Drugs like Avastin that are used to treat some cancers are supposed to work by blocking a vessel growth-promoting protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. With VEGF held in check, researchers have assumed tumors wouldn’t generate blood vessels and that should keep malignancies from growing. In a sense, the cancerous growths would be “starved”. But new research just published in the journal Nature shows this isn’t true. Instead of weakening blood vessels so they won’t “feed” malignant tumors, these cancer treatments, known as anti-angiogenesis drugs, actually normalize and strengthen blood vessels — and that means they can spur tumors to grow larger.

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HEALTH CARE: Providers close doors to poor


University Medical Center

Medicaid cuts leave no choice, says doctors, hospitals

Budget cuts in the state’s Medicaid program are forcing a major shift in where Nevada’s poor can seek health care.

Cancer patients who had received outpatient treatment at University Medical Center, for instance, will have to seek treatment at other hospitals and clinics because UMC, citing reductions in Medicaid payments, says it can no longer afford to offer cancer treatment.

Low-income children with bone and spine problems may need to leave Las Vegas altogether for treatment, because pediatric orthopedists are no longer accepting payment from Medicaid because of cutbacks to their reimbursements.

And on Tuesday, UMC administrators will tell Clark County commissioners what treatments and programs they may need to drop because Medicaid payments don’t cover the hospital’s costs, and the hospital can’t afford to go in the hole.

Indeed, the Nevada State Medical Association said other pediatric specialists may also stop taking Medicaid patients because the government reimbursements don’t cover the cost of delivering the care.

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US places ban on Chinese food imports


More than 1200 Chinese children have been hospitalised after drinking tainted milk formula (AFP)

Products from the dairy company whose tainted formula killed at least four babies are back on the shelves in China just as the United States issued a ban on Chinese food imports in case of similar contamination.

Such a broad ban by the Food and Drug administration on goods from an entire country rather than from a new rogue manufacturer is unusual and reflects the level of concern over how widespread the problem is in China.

Importers to the United States must now certify that food products are free of dairy or of the industrial chemical melamine that has been found in a vast array of Chinese products – from baby powder to milk powder to creamy confectionery. Failing that, the goods will be stopped at the border.

The FDA order said: “The problem of melamine contamination is not limited to infant formula products. Chinese government sources indicate contamination of milk components, especially dried milk powder, which are used in a variety of finished foods.” These are believed to spread throughout the food chain in China.

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Rare Treatment Is Reported to Cure AIDS Patient

Doctors in Berlin are reporting that they cured a man of AIDS by giving him transplanted blood stem cells from a person naturally resistant to the virus.

But while the case has novel medical implications, experts say it will be of little immediate use in treating AIDS. Top American researchers called the treatment unthinkable for the millions infected in Africa and impractical even for insured patients in top research hospitals.

“It’s very nice, and it’s not even surprising,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “But it’s just off the table of practicality.”

The patient, a 42-year-old American resident in Germany, also has leukemia, which justified the high risk of a stem-cell transplant. Such transplants require wiping out a patient’s immune system, including bone marrow, with radiation and drugs; 10 to 30 percent of those getting them die.

“Frankly, I’d rather take the medicine,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, referring to antiretroviral drugs.

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Radioactive Beer Kegs Menace Public, Boost Costs for Recyclers

Scrap metal is processed at the Jewometaal Stainless Processing B.V. in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on Tuesday, April 22, 2008. Photographer: Roger Cremers/Bloomberg News

Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) — French authorities made headlines last month when they said as many as 500 sets of radioactive buttons had been installed in elevators around the country. It wasn’t an isolated case.

Improper disposal of industrial equipment and medical scanners containing radioactive materials is letting nuclear waste trickle into scrap smelters, contaminating consumer goods, threatening the $140 billion trade in recycled metal and spurring the United Nations to call for increased screening.

Last year, U.S. Customs rejected 64 shipments of radioactive goods at the nation’s ports, including purses, cutlery, sinks and hand tools, according to data released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. India was the largest source, followed by China.

“The world is waking up very late to this,” said Paul de Bruin, radiation safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing BV in Rotterdam, the world’s biggest stainless-steel scrap yard. “There will be more of this because a lot of the scrap coming to us right now is from the 1970s and 1980s, when there were a lot of uncontrolled radioactive sources distributed to industry.”

On Oct. 21, the French nuclear regulator said elevator buttons assembled by Mafelec, a Chimilin, France-based company, contained radioactive metal shipped from India. Employees who handled the buttons received three times the safe dose of radiation for non-nuclear workers, according to the agency.

Operations at the factory are now back to normal and the company has cut ties with the “source” of the radiation, Mafelec said in a statement. “In the worst-case scenario the exposure would have been under that of a medical scan,” Chief Executive Officer Gilles Heinrich said.

1 Million Missing Sources

Many atomic devices weren’t licensed when they were first widely used by industry in the 1970s. While most countries have since tightened regulations, it is still difficult to track first-generation equipment that is now coming to the end of its useful life.

Abandoned medical scanners, food processing devices and mining equipment containing radioactive metals such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 are often picked up by scrap collectors and sold to recyclers, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear arm. De Bruin said he sometimes finds such items hidden inside beer kegs and lead pipes to prevent detection.

There may be more than 1 million missing radioactive sources worldwide, the Vienna-based IAEA estimates.

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Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

£13m shed-size reactors will be delivered by lorry

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. ‘Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,’ said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. ‘They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.’

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Tyson Foods Injects Chickens with Antibiotics Before They Hatch to Claim “Raised without Antibiotics”

(NaturalNews) Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat processor and the second largest chicken producer in the United States, has admitted that it injects its chickens with antibiotics before they hatch, but labels them as raised without antibiotics anyway. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) told Tyson to stop using the antibiotic-free label. The company has sued over its right to keep using it.

The controversy over Tyson’s antibiotic-free label began in summer 2007, when the company began a massive advertising campaign to tout its chicken as “raised without antibiotics.” Already, Tyson has spent tens of millions of dollars this year to date in continuing this campaign.

Poultry farmers regularly treat chickens and other birds with antibiotics to prevent the development of intestinal infections that might reduce the weight (and profitability) of the birds. Yet scientists have become increasingly concerned that the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture may accelerate the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could lead to a pandemic or other health crisis.

After Tyson began labeling its chicken antibiotic-free, the USDA warned the company that such labels were not truthful, because Tyson regularly treats its birds’ feed with bacteria-killing ionophores. Tyson argued that ionophores are antimicrobials rather than antibiotics, but the USDA reiterated its policy that “ionophores are antibiotics.”

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Harvard Psychiatrists Hide Millions of Dollars Received from Drug Companies

(NaturalNews) A congressional investigation has revealed that a group of Harvard psychiatrists, instrumental in pushing the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and its off-label treatment with antipsychotics, concealed from university officials the millions of dollars they earned in consulting fees for the companies that make those drugs.

Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley requested the financial disclosure reports that Drs. Joseph Biederman, Timothy E. Wilens and Thomas Spencer had filed with Harvard University between 2000 and 2007. He then asked a handful of pharmaceutical companies for their own records on how much had been paid to the researchers in that time.

The numbers reported by the drug companies were much higher than those on the researchers’ forms.

“Basically, these forms were a mess,” Grassley said. “Over the last seven years, it looked like they had taken a couple hundred thousand dollars.”

Upon being confronted with the discrepancies, the researchers admitted to having concealed certain consulting fees and upped their estimates. These new numbers still fell short of those reported by the drug companies.

Biederman, for example, originally told Harvard that he had received no money from Johnson & Johnson in 2001. When Grassley asked him to double check, Biederman admitted to receiving $3,500. The drug company’s records, however, recorded payments of $58,169 to Biederman in that year alone.

A more thorough investigation revealed that Biederman and Wilens had received at least $1.6 million from the pharmaceutical industry between 2000 and 2007, while Spencer had received at least $1 million.

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