Tobacco Could Provide Anthrax Vaccine
Linknet Health News Digest - December 20, 2005 - In a recent story that sounds too good to be true, it has been reported that a molecular biologist, Professor Henry Daniell of the University of Central Florida, has developed a method of using genetically engineered tobacco to grow anthrax vaccine.
The anthrax vaccine gene is injected into the chloroplast genome of tobacco cells. The plant then grows seeds -- roughly a million seeds per plant -- which contain the vaccine.
According to Daniell this technology produces anthrax vaccine that is free of the anthrax toxin contamination that plagues traditionally fermented vaccines. The process could also be used for growing treatments for diabetes, hepatitis C, plague and cholera.
But don't go putting tobacco into the back forty just yet. Seeds are so plentiful in the tobacco plant that if this process works, one acre of tobacco would produce enough vaccine to supply the entire U.S.
==>Websites Selling TamiFlu Vaccine Identified by British Authorities
According to an AFX report, 18 websites worldwide have been identified as claiming to sell Tamiflu online. Seven sites were in the US, three in the UK, and two in Canada. Sting operatings have been mounted to track down and catch the would-be drug suppliers.
Tamiflu is made by Roche Pharmaceuticals of Switzerland, and is condidered the most effective treatment against the much-publicized H5N1 strain of bird flu.
US, Austrian and Dutch authorities have traced counterfeit pills back to producers in Asia. Online sales of counterfeit copies of hard-to-get drugs are widely feared to pose serious risks to public health.
==>Women Still Live Longer, but Men Are Closing the Gap
The current "Longevity Index" put out by Credit Suisse First Boston indicates that the longevity gap between men and women is gradually decreasing. Women (in the U.S.) now live to be an average of 82.6 years, and men 78.1 years.
The average annual improvement rate for the last 10 years has been 2% per year for men, and only 1% per year for women. So the gap is slowly closing.
The reasons, according to researchers, are that men are smoking less (less lung cancer), and learning better how to avoid heart disease. Women, on the other hand, are smoking more (relatively speaking), and living more stressful lives, and are therefore more susceptible to more heart diseases.
==>Pharmacists set to Challenge Contraception Law
An Illinois law passed in August, requires pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control "without delay" if they have the prescribed contraception medications in stock. If the medications are not in stock, they must either get it or transfer the patient to another pharmacy that has it.
Some pharmacists object to this law on moral and religious grounds claiming their opposition to specific kinds of contraception. But the law does not make exception for these pharmacists. Abby Ottenhoff, a spokesperson for the Illinois governor said, "If a pharmacist objects (to the rule), he or she is free to work in a pharmacy that doesn't stock and dispense" emergency contraception.
A group of pharmacisits who object to dispensing contraceptives is challenging this law in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Illinois. The group is funded by evangelist Pat Robertson's organization, American Center for Law and Justice.
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