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Scientists develop malaria vaccine

Bioengineers have developed a new vaccine against malaria from parasite–containing extracts derived from mosquitoes. The scientists have been breeding mosquitoes in a sterile environment and allowing them to feed on blood that has been infected by the malaria-causing parasite. The insects are then irradiated and the parasites are extracted from them and used to create the vaccine.

The FDA has approved the newly synthesized vaccine for clinical trials. The Maryland-based firm that has developed the vaccine claims that it is different from already existing vaccines as it is made up of the entire parasite and not just parts of it. Clinical trials for the vaccine are scheduled to begin in May.

Source: CNN.com

Vein grafts help dialysis patients

Researchers have grown the first vein grafts made up entirely of the patients’ cells and believe that these can help kidney dialysis patients. The grafts were made as a part of a long-term study of 10 kidney dialysis patients. The grafts were made by tissue engineering techniques and were grown over a period of six months.
Traditionally, dialysis patients have their blood filtered through a plastic tube, but this has a high rate of failure. Segments of veins from the patient’s body can be used to create a vein graft, but it is usually hard to find suitable segments from the body to do so. Using this new technique, however, vein grafts can be constructed from the cells of the patient and segments of existing veins are not needed.

Source: Reuters

Swine flu spreads in the Southwest

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that a less common strain of swine flu has been affecting people in the Southwest, but it has not caused any deaths so far. Out of the seven infected, five were from California. Doctors are still unsure of the cause of the flu, as none of the patients had any contact with pigs. These cases are of special concern as the swine flu has caused 61 deaths in Mexico.

The strain of the flu was unusual, as it contained gene segments from North American swine and bird flu strains, segments from human flu strains, and segments from Eurasian swine flu strains. Swine flus are not known to affect humans and, although there have been a few cases since 2005, all affected since then had been in close contact with pigs.

Source: The New York Times

Weight gain in teens harms the heart

The results of a new study published in the journal Diabetes suggest that adults who gained a lot of weight in their teenage years are more susceptible to heart disease. This is mainly because teens tend to accumulate deep abdominal fat, which increases the risk of heart disease later in life.
Swedish researchers conducted the study on 612 men between the ages of 18 and 24 years. They found out that those patients whose body mass index increased in their teens tended to have more fat around the organs in their abdomen. This abdominal fat has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Source: Reuters