Health Highlights: Feb. 7, 2019
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Scientists May Have Made Significant Advance in Adult Gene Editing
In what may be the first successful gene editing inside the body, two patients with a rare genetic disorder now have a corrective gene at very low levels, researchers say.
Even though those low levels may not result in successful treatment of the two men, this is a significant advance in efforts to alter DNA in adults to treat diseases caused by defective genes, the Associated Press reported.
The preliminary results were presented Thursday at a conference in Orlando, Florida.
"This is a first step," said Dr. Joseph Muenzer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who helped test the treatment and presented the results. "It's just not potent enough."
He consulted for the gene therapy's California-based maker, Sangamo Therapeutics. Efforts to develop a stronger version of the treatment are underway, the AP reported.
Sangamo's research involves men with Hunter or Hurler syndrome, who are missing a gene that makes an enzyme to break down certain sugar compounds. Without this gene, sugars accumulate and damage organs, and patients often die by their teens.
New Cases of Cancer Linked to Breast Implants Surface
There's been an increase in the number of U.S. women diagnosed with a deadly cancer caused by textured breast implants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
The number of women with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) now stands at 457, compared with 414 in the last report, the FDA's Dr. Binita Ashar said in a statement, NBC News reported.
Worldwide, there have been more than 600 documented cases of BIA-ALCL, a cancer of the immune system. There have been 16 deaths, including nine in the United States.
"We hope that this information prompts providers and patients to have important, informed conversations about breast implants and the risk of BIA-ALCL," Ashar said in the statement, NBC News reported.
Most cases have been linked to the textured breast implants, which are used in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
In France, regulatory authorities plan to meet Thursday to discuss the safety of textured implants, which account for 85 percent of the French market, NBC News reported.
Late last year, French regulators told Allergan to recall its textured implants after the agency revoked its safety approval.
The FDA first alerted women about the risks from textured breast implants in 2011. The agency said Wednesday, that for the first time, it is sending letters to primary care physicians, gynecologists and other doctors encouraging them to learn more about BIA-ALCL to better diagnose and treat at-risk women, NBC News reported.
Next month, the FDA is meeting to review the safety of all breast implants.
The FDA's decision was welcomed by BIA-ALCL patients trying to increase awareness of the disease.
"Letters to these health care providers, like OB/GYNs, ER Doctors are critical to the diagnosis of this disease. They are some of the first physicians to treat patients symptomatic for BIA-ALCL and these patients are often missed and mistreated for mastitis, shingles and other conditions," Michelle Forney, a California mother of two who was diagnosed with the disease last year, told NBC News.
"This disease is not rare. It's emerging and should not belong in the hands of plastic surgeons," she said.
Ozzy Osbourne in Hospital for Flu-Related Complications
Rock musician Ozzy Osbourne was admitted to hospital for treatment of flu-related complications, wife Sharon Osbourne tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
"As some of you may have heard, Ozzy was admitted to hospital following some complications from the flu. His doctors feel this is the best way to get him on a quicker road to recovery," she tweeted, CBS News reported.
Last week, it was announced that the entire U.K. and European segment of Ozzy's current tour was postponed on the recommendation of his doctor.
"After seeing his physician again, OSBOURNE has been diagnosed with a severe upper-respiratory infection which the doctor feels could develop into pneumonia given the physicality of the live performances and an extensive travel schedule throughout Europe in harsh winter conditions," said a post on the 70-year-old rocker's official Facebook account, CBS News reported.
Last fall, Ozzy developed an infection in his hand and canceled the four last North American shows in his current tour. Those shows have since been rescheduled.
Evidence for Climate Change Strengthens, With 2018 4th Warmest Year on Record
2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, ranking behind 2016, 2017 and 2015, an independent analysis released Wednesday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.
Collectively, the past five years are the warmest in the modern record.
In 2018, global temperatures were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mean temperature between 1951 to 1980, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
"2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend," GISS Director Gavin Schmidt said in a NASA news release.
Since the 1880s, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). That warming is in large part driven by increased greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, Schmidt said.
Regional temperatures affect weather dynamics, so not every region on Earth has had similar levels of warming. The 2018 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 14th warmest on record, according to the new analysis.
The strongest warming trends are in the Arctic, where continued loss of sea ice occurred last year. In addition to rising sea levels, rising global temperatures can also help fuel longer fire seasons and extreme weather events, Schmidt said.
"The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt -- in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change," he noted.