Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
E-Cigarette Restrictions Take Effect in New York, Chicago
Laws that place the same restrictions on electronic cigarettes
as tobacco products take effect in New York City and Chicago
Tuesday. Similar rules were recently implemented in Los
Health officials and other supporters of the new rules say
they're meant to prevent the re-acceptance of smoking as normal
behavior. There are also concerns that teens who use e-cigarettes
are more likely to eventually start using cancer-causing tobacco
Allowing e-cigarettes in bars and restaurants would undermine
current bans on tobacco products, explained Dr. Thomas Farley, the
New York City health commissioner under former Mayor Michael
"Imagine for a moment you're at a bar and there are 20 people
who are puffing on something that looks like a cigarette and then
somebody smells something that smells like tobacco smoke," Farley
AP. "How's the bartender going to know who to tap on the
shoulder and say, 'Put that out'?"
Sellers and users of e-cigarettes oppose the new rules. One of
their arguments is that the devices help people quit using tobacco
cigarettes, but there is no clear evidence of that, the
While ingredients in e-cigarettes are not as dangerous as those
in tobacco products, they do contain highly addictive nicotine,
noted Robin Koval, chief executive officer of the anti-smoking
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released
proposed regulations for e-cigarettes.
White House Unveils Plan to Curb Sexual Assaults at Colleges
The Obama administration has announced plans to pressure
colleges and universities to fight the growing problem of sexual
assaults on campuses more aggressively.
A recent series of high profile rape cases prompted the White
House to create a special task force to look at the issue, but
sexual assault is not something new to college campuses. Nearly one
in five women and one in 16 men are victims of an attempted or
completed rape while in college, according to a 2007 study
commissioned by the U.S. National Institute of Justice.
In a report by the task force and released by the White House
Monday night, new recommendations call for colleges to conduct
anonymous surveys among students, craft better anti-assault
policies and to work to guarantee that confidentiality is
maintained for the victims who report these crimes,
The New York Timesreported.
"Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual
assault," Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. said in a statement. "No
more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn't exist. We need to
give victims the support they need -- like a confidential place to
go -- and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The White House plans to ask Congress to pass measures that
would back the recommendations and institute fines for universities
that fail to follow the new guidelines.
A new website, called NotAlone.gov, will also be created to
publish information on enforcement of the new guidelines and to
give victims access to information on sexual assault. Campus
counselors will also get backing from the U.S. Department of
Education that allows them to talk to victims in confidence.
Camels Likely Source of MERS: Study
Scientists have concluded that camels are almost certainly the
source of the MERS respiratory virus plaguing the Middle East.
The team conducted genetic tests on camels and found that many,
if not most, are infected with a strain of the virus that's almost
identical to the one found in people,
The findings, published in the journal
mBio, are being followed up with an investigation into
potential routes for human infections through products such as
camel milk and meat.
There have been more than 250 confirmed cases of MERS (Middle
East Respiratory Syndrome) and 93 deaths since the virus was first
identified in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.
However, Saudi Arabia announced more cases over the weekend,
bringing the total to more than 300, with more than 100 deaths,
Scientists Use Cloning to Create Stem Cells
Using cloning technology, researchers created stems cells from a
woman with type 1 diabetes that are genetically identical to the
woman and her disease, a new study says.
It may someday be possible to use such cells in transplants to
treat or even cure the condition, which affects millions of people.
Currently, there are few treatment options for patients, other than
the use of insulin and careful diet,
The study, published in the journal
Nature, is the second this month to report successful use of
cloning technology to create human embryonic stem cells. Scientists
want to find ways to use these cells to treat a wide variety of
health problems, ranging from diabetes and Parkinson's disease to
injuries that cause organ damage or paralysis.
"I think this is going to become reality," study author Dr.
Dieter Egli, of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, told
NBC Newsreported. "It may be a bit in the future but it is
going to happen."
He and his colleagues used a technique called somatic cell
nuclear transfer. The nucleus is removed from a normal skin cell
and human egg, and the nucleus from the skin cell is injected into
the egg. In this case, the researchers used DNA from the women with
type 1 diabetes.
The egg was tricked into growing as if fertilized by sperm.
Cells from the growing egg were removed and prompted to grow into
pancreatic cells that make insulin, but are destroyed in diabetes.
These cells matched the women's DNA, including the genetic errors
that caused her diabetes,
"These stem cells could therefore be used to generate cells for
therapeutic cell replacement," the study authors wrote.
This is only the third time that scientists have successfully
created human embryonic stem cells. Earlier this month, researchers
made cells by cloning two men. Last year, another team created
cells from babies.
"I think these papers show conclusively it's possible," Dr.
Douglas Melton of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, told
NBC News. He who was not involved in the research.