The Health News – 27 February 2014

Overview

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearings opened Tuesday on a controversial fertilization technique that uses the DNA from three people — two women and one man — with the goal of preventing inherited genetic diseases.
  • In New South Wales, Health Minister Fiona Nash is set to a face a grilling at a parliamentary committee hearing over her office’s involvement in the removal of a food star rating website.
  • Scientists have reported in the Journal Of Nutritional Biochemistry that by adding strawberries to the diets of 23 healthy volunteers, they were able to significantly lower the amount of LDL and triglyceride fat in their blood by 14 per cent.
  • Meanwhile, in the Middle East, a respiratory virus that has killed dozens of people, is widespread in camels and may be jumping directly from camels to humans.
  • In Canberra, a big blue bus has set off on a 16-month national tour aimed at helping people cope with depression and anxiety.

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FDA Explores ‘3-Person’ Embryo Fertilization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearings opened Tuesday on a controversial fertilization technique that uses the DNA from three people — two women and one man — with the goal of preventing inherited genetic diseases. The technique involves the unfertilized eggs from two females. Parts of each egg are combined to weed out inherited genetic disorders contained in one woman’s DNA, and the resulting healthy egg is then fertilized using a male’s sperm.

The FDA’s two-day hearing is meant to provide a forum for discussing how this technique might be tested in human clinical trials.

Hearing to examine food website scandal
In New South Wales, Health Minister Fiona Nash is set to a face a grilling at a parliamentary committee hearing over her office’s involvement in the removal of a food star rating website.

She will front a Senate estimates hearing on health matters on Wednesday with opposition senators expected to ramp up their attack.

Senator Nash’s chief of staff resigned a fortnight ago after he failed to declare a shareholding in his wife’s public relations company.

Earlier, the staff member had ordered the removal of a health department food-rating website leading to claims he had a conflict of interest in the decision.

Labor and the Greens have called for Senator Nash to resign over the scandal, accusing her of breaching the ministerial code of conduct and of misleading parliament in her initial defence of her staff member.

Strawberries lower cholesterol
Scientists have reported in the Journal Of Nutritional Biochemistry that by adding strawberries to the diets of 23 healthy volunteers, they were able to significantly lower the amount of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglyceride fat in their blood by 14 per cent. HDL levels of the participants remained unchanged.

But the participants had to consume 500 grams of the fruits, or two average-sized punnets, every day for a month.

Camels likely source of MERS virus
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, a respiratory virus that has killed dozens of people, is widespread in camels and may be jumping directly from camels to humans.

Called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, it has killed 79 of the 182 people infected since September 2012, according to the World Health Organisation.

Until now, little was known about its source or how it could be infecting people. But a studying from Columbia University said research now shows the virus is ‘extraordinarily common’ in camels and has been for at least 20 years.

‘It is plausible that camels could be a major source of infection for humans.’ One of the researchers stated.

In summary the study found that 74 per cent of camels sampled countrywide during the study had antibodies the virus and the virus that has been identified in these camels is identical to the virus that has been found in humans with disease.

Big bus sets off to tackle the blues In Canberra, a big blue bus has set off on a 16-month national tour aimed at helping people cope with depression and anxiety.

Australia has more than 2300 suicides a year, and the bus could save lives, said Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton.

The beyondblue bus will drive 22,000km across the country and visit dozens of communities.

One of the main aims is to encourage people to seek help for anxiety and depression.

At least one in five Australians experiences depression or anxiety, or both in any 12 months, says beyondblue.

But the latest Roy Morgan research shows fewer than half the Australians with a mental illness seek treatment.

The bus will heads to Sydney, the Blue Mountains, rural South Australia and Adelaide in March.

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