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January 17, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


Pharma giant Pfizer pulls out of Alzheimer’s research (BBC)

The US-based pharmaceutical giant said it would be ending its neuroscience discovery programmes following a review, and 300 jobs would be lost. The Alzheimer's Society called the news "disappointing" and a "heavy blow" to those living with dementia…The move means Pfizer will also stop looking for treatments for Parkinson's disease, but the company said it planned to create a new fund dedicated to neuroscience research in the future.

Administration to shield health workers who don’t want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients (Politico)

The Trump administration is planning new protections for health workers who don't want to perform abortions, refuse to treat transgender patients based on their gender identity or provide other services for which they have moral objections.

French salmonella baby milk scandal 'affects 83 countries' (BBC)

The boss of French firm Lactalis says up to 12 million boxes of formula are now subject to a recall.

BRCA gene mutation 'doesn't affect breast cancer survival' (BBC)

The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, found 12% of 2,733 women aged 18 to 40 treated for breast cancer at 127 hospitals across the UK between 2000 and 2008 had a BRCA mutation.  The women's medical records were tracked for up to 10 years. During this time, 651 of the women died from breast cancer, and those with the BRCA mutation were equally likely to have survived at the two-, five- and 10-year mark as those without the genetic mutation. This was not affected by the women's body mass index or ethnicity. About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy. This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark.

Florida monkeys excreting rare diseases that can kill humans, scientists warn (Guardian)

Wildlife agency says free-roaming monkeys at state park are a public health concern, as 30% may have Herpes B that can spread to visitors via bodily fluids

Salmonella May Have Caused Massive Aztec Epidemic, Study Finds

The 16th century epidemic, likely set off or exacerbated by European invaders, was one of the most deadly in human history. New evidence traces it to a type of salmonella that causes a deadly fever.


Martian ice deposits could sustain human outposts in future (Reuters)

Scientists using images from an orbiting NASA spacecraft have detected eight sites where huge ice deposits near the Martian surface are exposed on steep slopes, a potential source of water that could help sustain future human outposts.

These birds of prey are deliberately setting forests on fire (Science Alert)

It's pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that's incinerated temperature records threatens devastating bushfires – and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons.

Space-X defends rocket performance after loss of U.S. spy satellite (Reuters)

SpaceX on Tuesday defended the performance of one of its rockets used to launch a U.S. spy satellite that is believed to have been lost after failing to reach orbit, adding that no changes were anticipated to its upcoming launch schedule.

Senate advances bill to renew NSA's internet surveillance program (Reuters)

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday advanced a bill to renew the National Security Agency's warrantless internet surveillance program, as a final push by privacy advocates to derail the measure came up one vote short.

21 states sue to keep net neutrality as Senate Democrats reach 50 votes (Reuters)

A group of 21 U.S. state attorneys general filed suit to challenge the Federal Communications Commission's decision to do away with net neutrality on Tuesday while Democrats said they needed just one more vote in the Senate to repeal the FCC ruling.

Scientists Say a Fluctuating Jet Stream May Be Causing Extreme Weather Events (NPR)

A new study says unusual patterns of the polar jet stream circling the Northern Hemisphere may have led to dramatic weather in Europe and North America.

Researchers Spot Massive Black Hole in Double 'Burp' (NPR)

The cosmic sinkhole is at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years from Earth and supports the theory that such objects can switch their power output on and off in relatively short time-scales.

Australia's Heat Wave Fries Bats' Brains, Hundreds Found Dead (NPR)

Sweltering temperatures killed bats outside Sydney over the weekend as temperatures soared up to 117 Fahrenheit, the hottest it's been since 1939.