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Briefs: First stem cell lines approved for research

First stem cell lines approved for research

Scientists can start using taxpayer dollars to do research with 13 batches of embryonic stem cells and the government says dozens more cell lines should be available soon, opening a new era for the potentially life-saving field. President Barack Obama lifted eight years of restrictions on these master cells last spring. But $21 million in new projects were on hold until the National Institutes of Health determined which of hundreds of existing stem cell lines were ethically appropriate to use. "This is the first down payment," Dr. Francis Collins, NIH's director, said Wednesday as he opened a master registry. "People are champing at the bit for the opportunity to get started." Thirteen stem cell lines — created by Children's Hospital Boston and Rockefeller University — are first on that list, which includes projects aimed at repairing damaged heart tissue and growing new brain cells.

Diabetes projected to exact heavy toll

The number of Americans with diabetes will nearly double over the next 25 years, while the cost of care will almost triple, as patients live longer and develop more of the disease's long-term complications, a new analysis said. The projections estimate that the population will rise to 44.1 million in 2034, from 23.7 million now, with medical spending increasing to $336 billion from $113 billion. The calculations were published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care. The projections differ from earlier calculations by other researchers because they take the natural history of diabetes into account, as well as the fact that Americans are being told that they have the condition at younger ages. As affected people live longer, they will have more opportunities to develop complications, including end-stage kidney disease, amputations and blindness, the paper's authors said.

Soda can stay-tabs don't always stay

Soda can manufacturers replaced pull tabs with "stay-tabs" because children had a habit of pulling off the tab, throwing it into the drink to avoid throwing it on the sidewalk and then swallowing it when they took a big swig. But it turns out that even stay-tabs are not childproof. In March, a 7-year-old was taken to a Cincinnati emergency room with a stomachache after swallowing a stay-tab. Aluminum is hard to see on an X-ray, but a scan spotted it. That led Dr. Lane F. Donnelly, radiologist in chief at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, to look for other reports of stay-tab swallowing. Donnelly found 19 such reports from hospitals since 1993, he reported Nov. 20 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. And though younger children are generally more likely to swallow things accidentally, most of the swallowers were in their teens, he said. "We've never heard this before," said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, an industry group. "These tabs stay on unless you tear them off, and they don't come off readily."

Associated Press, New York Times

Briefs: First stem cell lines approved for research 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 6:05pm]

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