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Masks Cut Distance Coronavirus Travels in Half, Study Finds

Face masks are touted as a key tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and a new study offers more proof that they work.

Florida researchers found face masks cut the distance that airborne pathogens such as the coronavirus can travel by more than half.

The findings suggest that some

  • Robert Preidt
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  • January 14, 2022
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  • Even Symptom-Free, People With Omicron Much More Likely to Spread COVID: Studies

    Researchers say they've uncovered a clue to why the Omicron variant spreads COVID-19 so much more rapidly than its predecessors.

    People who are infected but have no symptoms are still far more likely to infect others than they would have been with earlier variants, the data shows.

    "As we witness the quick, global spread of

  • Cara Murez
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  • January 10, 2022
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  • Exposure to Common Cold Might Help Shield Against COVID

    Vaccination is still the best way to protect someone from COVID-19, but new research suggests that immune system activation of T-cells by common colds may offer some cross-protection.

    The study might also provide a blueprint for a second-generation, universal vaccine that could prevent infection from current and future variants, the research team said.

    "Being exposed to the

    Could New Blood Test Predict Pregnancy Complications?

    A simple blood test may help spot pregnant women who are at risk for developing preeclampsia -- dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy -- before it becomes a threat to both mother and child.

    Marked by a sudden spike in blood pressure, protein in urine or other problems during pregnancy, preeclampsia occurs in about 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States, according to the lates...

    New Clues to How Ovarian Cancer Begins -- and Might Be Prevented

    Researchers say they may be closer than ever to detecting ovarian cancer earlier and improving the odds for women with this life-threatening disease.

    In a new study, scientists used stem cells created from the blood samples of women with BRCA mutations and ovarian cancer to fashion a model of fallopian tube tissue.

    There, they found first hints of ovarian cancer in the fallopian tu...

    Genes 'Switched On' Much Earlier in Human Embryos Than Thought

    Genes in human embryos become active far sooner than once thought, according to a study that provides fresh insight into development.

    Contrary to the old view that gene activity begins two to three days after conception when the embryo is made up of four to eight cells, researchers found that it actually begi...

    FDA OKs Pfizer Pill as First At-Home COVID Treatment

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the emergency use of Pfizer's new antiviral pill Paxlovid in people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19. It's the first approved treatment for COVID-19 meant to be taken at home.

    "Today's authorization introduces the first treatment for COVID-19 that is in the form of a pill that is taken orally — a major step forward in...

    U.S. Army Reports Progress on COVID Vaccine That Fights All Variants

    The U.S. Army says it has developed a COVID-19 vaccine it believes could work against any and all coronavirus variants, including Omicron.

    Results from early human trials of the Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) COVID vaccine are expected by the end of the month, the Army added.

    Lab studies have already shown that the new vaccine protects monkeys from the original strain of COVID-...

    Could Sharks Help Fight the Coronavirus of the Future?

    Far from terrorizing people as they did in "Jaws," sharks may offer humanity hope in fending off future coronavirus outbreaks, new research suggests.

    That's because their immune systems have unique antibody-like proteins called VNARs that can prevent the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants from infecting human cells, the researchers said. The findings have so far only b...

    Scientists Find Clue to Links Between Autism, Epilepsy

    Kids with autism have low levels of a protein that quiets overactive brain cells, which may explain why so many have epilepsy, according to a new study.

    Because the protein can be detected in cerebrospinal fluid, it may have promise as a marker to diagnose autism and as a potential treatment target for the epilepsy tha...

    Drug Combo May Fight a Tough Form of Breast Cancer

    An experimental drug, added to chemotherapy, may benefit women with an aggressive form of breast cancer, suggests an early study offering much-needed good news.

    The study involved women with "triple-negative" breast cancer, which accounts for about 15% to 20% of breast cancers among U.S. women. It is so called because the cancers lack receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, ...

    Drug Can Keep Leukemia in Remission for Years in Younger Patients

    For certain leukemia patients, some welcome findings: New research confirms long remissions after treatment with the drug ibrutinib and chemotherapy.

    The study involved 85 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). All were 65 or younger, and 46 had more aggressive, unmutated IGHV subtype of the d...

    Could Gene Therapy Help Cure Sickle Cell Disease?

    A gene therapy that could provide a permanent cure for sickle cell disease continues to show success through a third wave of patients, researchers report.

    The therapy, LentiGlobin, restored normal blood function in 35 sickle cell patients who had the one-time procedure, according to clinical trial findings published Dec. 12 in the

  • Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
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  • December 13, 2021
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  • T-Shirt Study Shows Importance of Mom's Smell to Bond With Baby

    The sound of mom's voice can soothe a fussy baby like nothing else, but now new research suggests that an infant is also calmed by the scent of its mother.

    Prior animal studies had already shown that olfaction -- smell -- "is very important, that mother's smell is very critical for attachment," noted study author Ruth Feldman. "Young recognize mother by her smell, and mother and habitat a...

    Antiviral Treatments Should Work Well Against Omicron, Experts Say

    The Omicron variant could prompt a reshuffling of the way doctors treat COVID infections in the United States, and antiviral pills will likely lead the way in that redoubled effort, Harvard experts say.

    New antiviral pills developed by Merck and Pfizer are expected to remain effective against the Omicron variant, mostly because they interfere with the ability of the coronavirus to replica...

    New Asthma Drug Helps Kids, But Price Tag Is High

    Children with hard-to-control asthma may get relief from adding an injectable antibody drug to their standard treatment, a clinical trial has found.

    The drug, called dupilumab (Dupixent), has been available for several years to treat stubborn asthma in adults and teenagers. Based on the new findings, the

  • Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter
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  • December 9, 2021
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  • Stool Samples From the 1980s Hold Clues to Fighting HIV Today

    What do all the microbes living rent-free in your gut have to do with disease risk? Perhaps a lot.

    A groundbreaking analysis of decades-old stool and blood samples from the early AIDS epidemic suggests that men who had high levels of inflammation-causing bacteria in their intestin...

    Could Cochlear Implants Cause Harm to Hearing Over Time?

    People who get cochlear implants to treat severe hearing loss may develop new bone growth in the ear — and it may lessen any hearing they have left, a new study hints.

    The researchers found that among 100-plus adults with cochlear implants, two-thirds showed evidence of new bone formation near the implant within four years. And of patients who still had some hearing when they received t...

    MRI Might Spot Concussion-Linked CTE in Living Patients

    Right now, the devastating concussion-linked brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death via autopsy. But new research could help change that, allowing doctors to someday spot the illness earlier.

    According to the new study, MRI may be able to detect CTE while people are still alive.

    "While this finding is not yet ready for the ...

    New Hormonal Pill May Boost Outcomes for Older Breast Cancer Patients

    An experimental hormone therapy pill can effectively stall the progression of breast cancer, even in older patients whose tumors have mutated to make such therapy less effective, new trial results show.

    The drug elacestrant reduced the risk of breast cancer progression and death by 30% in postmenopausal patients whose cancers were fueled by the female hormone estrogen, compared to people ...

    Could Viagra Help Prevent Alzheimer's?

    Viagra, a drug long used to treat erectile dysfunction, may double as a potential weapon against Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.

    Looking at data on more than 7 million Americans, researchers found that those taking the drug were 69% less likely to develop Alzheimer's, when compared to non-users.

    Then, in lab experiments, the investigators showed that the medication seeme...

    Vaping Can Trigger Gene Changes in Cells: Study

    For those who think vaping is safer than smoking, think again.

    A new study warns that vaping triggers the same gene regulation changes that smoking does, so it may raise the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.

    "Our study, for the first time, investigates the biological effects of vaping in adult e-cigarette users, while simultaneously accounting for their past smoking exposur...

    WHO Approves First Long-Acting Device to Shield Women From HIV

    With HIV a continuing threat to women's health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first long-acting device to protect women from sexually transmitted HIV.

    The device is a vaginal ring made of silicone elastomer, a flexible rubber-like material that makes it easy to insert and comfortable to use. The ring releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine into the vagina slowly...

    Even T. Rex Had Bone Trouble

    They once ruled the planet, but even the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex could suffer from bone disease, new research shows.

    Scientists used imaging to examine the lower left jaw of a fossilized T. rex skeleton discovered in Montana in 2010. The skeleton, which is about 68 million years old and one of the most complete skeletons of the carnivorous dinosaur ever found, is at the Museum für Natur...

    FDA Panel Mulls Merck's COVID Antiviral Pill

    A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is meeting Tuesday to weigh both the safety and power of Merck's new antiviral pill in preventing severe COVID-19.

    There are already two strikes against the pill: Fresh data from Merck shows that the drug, molnupiravir, isn't as effective as first reported; and FDA documents prepared for the panel meeting show the pill may pose a risk of ...

    Could Coffee Help Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer's?

    Coffee lovers know a steaming cup of java can quickly deliver energy and mental clarity every morning, but new research suggests it may also guard against Alzheimer's disease in the long run.

    "Worldwide, a high proportion of adults drink coffee every day, making it one of the most popular beverages consumed," said lead researcher Samantha Gardener, a post-doctoral research fellow at Edith...

    Red Light in Morning May Protect Fading Eyesight: Study

    A weekly dose of deep red light in the morning may protect fading eyesight as people age, U.K. researchers say.

    "Using a simple LED device once a week recharges the energy system that has declined in the retina cells, rather like recharging a battery," according to Glen Jeffery, lead author of a small, new study.

    In previous work, the researchers found that daily three-minute exposu...

    New Insights Into What Might Drive Parkinson's Disease

    A defect in the blood-brain barrier may play a role in Parkinson's disease, a groundbreaking research study suggests.

    The blood-brain barrier acts as a filter to keep out toxins while still allowing the passage of nutrients to nourish the brain. This study found that in some people with Parkinson's, the b...

    Gene Therapy Could Be Big Advance Against Hemophilia

    Gene therapy shows promise in reducing, and even halting, potentially life-threatening bleeding events in people with hemophilia, researchers report.

    Hemophilia A is the most common inherited bleeding disorder, affecting one in 5,000 males worldwide. It's caused by a missing coagulation factor called FVIII.

    The current standard of care involves regular infusions of the FVIII protein...

    A Woman May Have Rid Herself Naturally of HIV -- But How?

    Researchers have identified a second HIV-positive person whose body might have naturally cleared the infection -- sparking hope that studying such exceedingly rare events will help lead to a cure.

    The researchers cautioned that they cannot prove the woman has fully eradicated the virus from her body, in what's known as a "sterilizing" cure.

    But in exhaustive tests of over 1.5 billio...

    Study Suggests a Better Blood Thinner Could Be Near

    For decades, doctors have struggled with the fact that the benefit of any blood-thinning pill came with the added risk of excess bleeding.

    Now, an experimental anti-clotting pill called milvexian has been found to be effective in patients who had knee replacement surgery — without adding any excess risk for bleeding.

    The study focused on these patients because they're known to be ...

    Mouse Study Points to Possible Breakthrough Against Spinal Cord Injury

    Severe spinal cord injuries are incurable today in humans, but a new injectable therapy that restored motion in laboratory mice could pave the way for healing paralyzed people.

    The therapy — liquid nanofibers that gel around the damaged spinal cord like a soothing blanket — produces chemical signals that promote healing and reduce scarring, researchers report.

    The treatment...

    Ultra-Low Dose of Rituximab Safely Eases Rheumatoid Arthritis Over Long Term: Study

    "Ultra-low" doses of the drug rituximab may be enough to keep some patients' rheumatoid arthritis under control for several years, a new, preliminary study suggests.

    Researchers found that among 118 patients, low doses of the drug were comparable to standard ones in controlling flare-ups for up to four years.

    The findings, the researchers said, suggest that some patients can try low...

    Millions of Tons of COVID Masks, Gloves Will End Up in Oceans

    While the lockdowns of the pandemic may have done the planet's atmosphere a favor, a new study predicts that discarded masks, gloves and face shields will add more than 25,000 tons of plastic waste to the world's oceans.

    Researchers from Nanjing University's School of Atmospheric Sciences in China and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Scripps Institution of Oceanography used ...

    How Bilingual Brains Shift Quickly Between Languages

    Why is it so easy for bilingual folks to switch back and forth from one language to another?

    Researchers have discovered that the brain uses a shared mechanism that makes using multiple languages completely natural.

    "Languages may differ in what sounds they use and how they organize words to form sentences," said lead study author Sarah Phillips, a doctoral student in the Neurolingu...

    Magnetic Brain Stimulation Helped Rid Him of Decades-Long Depression

    When Tommy Van Brocklin signed up for a trial of a special type of magnetic brain stimulation therapy that could potentially ease his depression, he had already been living with the mood disorder for 45 years.

    Van Brocklin, 60, first underwent an MRI that located the part of his brain that regulates executive functions such as problem-solving and inhibits unwanted responses.

    Then fo...

    Bald Truth: Mouse Study May Get at Roots of Hair Loss

    New research in mice may provide clues to age-related hair loss in men and women.

    Scientists found that as hair stem cells in mice age, they lose the stickiness that keeps them secured inside the hair follicle. This allows the stem cells to drift away from the follicle.

    "The result is fewer and fewer stem cells in the hair follicle to produce hair," said study lead author Rui Yi, a ...

    Is Sheltering Under an Overpass Safe When Tornadoes Strike?

    You're driving down the highway when a tornado warning is issued over your car radio. Is it safe to follow widespread advice and seek shelter under an overpass?

    While the U.S. National Weather Service warns that the wind from a tornado can accelerate as it flows under the overpass, creating a wind tunnel effect, a new study found differently.

    "In our research, there is no one findin...

    Ten Years On, Gene Therapy Still Beating Most Cases of 'Bubble Boy' Immune Disease

    Nine of 10 patients with so-called "bubble boy" immune disease who received gene therapy about a decade ago are still disease-free, researchers report.

    The gene therapy was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to treat the rare and deadly immune system disorder formally known as adenosine deaminase--deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (ADA-SCID).

    It'...

    Heartburn Meds Might Be Good for Your Gums

    While they're helping to ease reflux, some heartburn drugs may also be reducing the severity of gum disease, new research suggests.

    For the study, researchers assessed probing depth in the gums (the gap between teeth and gums) in more than 1,000 patients with gum disease who were or weren't using drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), a class of drugs widely prescribed to treat heart...

    Still Too Few Women in Stroke Treatment Clinical Trials

    Men still outnumber women in stroke therapy clinical trials, which means women may end up receiving less effective treatment, researchers say.

    For the new study, investigators analyzed 281 stroke trials that included at least 100 patients each and were conducted between 1990 and 2020.

    Of the nearly 590,000 total participants, 37.4% were women. However, the average rate of stroke amo...

    Long Bouts of Space Travel May Harm Astronauts' Brains

    Prolonged stays in space appear to damage astronauts' brains, a small, new study suggests.

    The researchers studied five Russian cosmonauts, mean age 49, who stayed on the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 5.5 months.

    Blood samples were taken from the cosmonauts 20 days before their departure to the ISS, and one day, one week, and about three weeks after they return...

    Scientists Share Nobel Prize for Discoveries That Changed Pain Research

    Two American researchers have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries that could help ease chronic and acute pain.

    The prize was given jointly on Monday to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, the New York Times reported.

    Julius, a professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, turned to hot chili peppers to ide...

    'Personalized' Brain Zaps May Ease Tough-to-Treat Depression

    Imagine battling debilitating depression for years, trying everything but finding little or no relief.

    That's what Sarah, 36, lived with most of her adult life.

    "I had exhausted all possible treatment options," recalled Sarah, who did not want her last name used. "It [depression] had controlled my entire life. I barely moved. I barely did anything. I felt tortured every day."

    ...

    Powerful New Antivirals for COVID Are Coming

    People newly infected with COVID-19 might soon have access to what essentially is Tamiflu for the novel coronavirus, a breakthrough that experts say would drastically alter the course of the ongoing pandemic.

    At least three contenders are vying to become the first antiviral pill that specifically targets COVID-19, according to reports from drug manufacturers.

    Such a pill could be pr...

    Existing Drugs Could Treat Lung Cancer in Nonsmokers

    There's some encouraging news for people who develop lung cancer even though they've never smoked.

    Precision drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can be used to treat 78% to 92% of their tumors, a new study reports. These precision drugs target specific mutations in tumors.

    Most never-smokers' lung tumors have so-called driver mutations, specific mistakes ...

    Merck to Ask FDA for Emergency Approval of Its New Antiviral Pill for COVID

    Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. said Friday that it will seek federal approval for emergency use of its new antiviral pill molnupiravir, after a clinical trial showed the drug halved the risk of hospitalization or death when given to high-risk people shortly after infection with COVID-19.

    The new medication is just one of several antiviral pills now being tested in studies, and experts s...

    Over Half of Police Killings Aren't Reported, Blacks Most Likely Victims

    While high-profile cases like the 2020 killing of George Floyd have cast a harsh spotlight on police violence in the United States, researchers say deaths attributable to it have been underreported for at least 40 years.

    That's the key finding in a new study published Sept. 30 in The Lancet.

    For the study, a team from the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seat...

    SmartWatches Detect Viral Infection Before Symptoms Surface in Study

    Someday, your smartwatch might be able to tell you if you're coming down with a virus and how sick you'll be — even before symptoms start.

    In a small study, researchers showed that a wearable device, like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, could detect which patients had the H1N1 flu and which had a common cold.

    "One of our goals was to be able to detect that infection before a person feels...

    AI Model Predicts Which Animal Viruses Are Likely to Jump to Humans

    Artificial intelligence (AI) might be able to spot the next virus to jump from animals to humans, Scottish researchers report.

    Identifying diseases before they become a threat to humans is challenging, because only a few of the nearly 2 million animal viruses can infect humans. By developing machine learning models, researchers can analyze genetic patterns of viruses that might infect peo...