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'Big leap' towards curing blindness in stem cell study

blindness The prospect of reversing blindness has made a significant leap, according to scientists in the UK. An animal study in the journal Nature Biotechnology showed the part of the eye which actually detects light can be repaired using stem cells.

The team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London say human trials are now, for the first time, a realistic prospect.

Experts described it as a "significant breakthrough" and "huge leap" forward.

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Four mosquito repellent ingredients effective and safe

mosquitoOfficials at the Environmental Working Group say four compounds are most effective at warding off mosquitoes without risking a person's health.

"While consumers are aware that bug bites may affect their health, many people are also concerned about the possible drawbacks of common repellents such as DEET," David Andrews, senior scientist at EWG, said in a statement. "It is hard to find objective scientific evaluations of the many different repellents on the market."

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Science for hire - Trial over plastic exposes disclosure deficit

Science for hireBy 2012, Eastman Chemical seemed to be perfectly positioned when it came to producing plastic for drinking bottles. Concerns about a widely used chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) had become so great that Walmart stopped selling plastic baby bottles and children's sippy cups made with it and consumer groups were clamoring for regulators to ban it.

Medical societies were warning that BPA's similarity to estrogens could disrupt the human hormone system and pose health risks, especially to fetuses and newborns.

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New surgical knife can instantly detect cancer tissues

Surgical knife detects cancerSurgeons may have a new way to smoke out cancer.

An experimental surgical knife can help surgeons make sure they've removed all the cancerous tissue, doctors reported Wednesday. Surgeons typically use knives that vaporize tumors as they cut, producing a sharp-smelling smoke. The new knife analyzes the smoke and can instantly signal whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy.

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Birth defects linked to bad water in California's San Joaquin Valley

San Joaquin ValleyAn extensive new study confirms a long-suspected link between crippling birth defects and the nitrate contamination that threatens drinking water for 250,000 people in the San Joaquin Valley.

The study took place in the Midwest, but its findings hit hard in the Valley, where research last year showed farm-related nitrate pollution is extensive and expanding in the underground water of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.

The birth defects involved include spina bifida, cleft palate and missing limbs.

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Anti-smoking Australia prevails in dry run of WTO dispute

igarettes in AustraliaIn a dry run of one of the biggest legal battles in public health, an advocate for Australia's tobacco policies has delivered seemingly strong rebuttals of objections likely to be mounted in a landmark case at the World Trade Organization.

Two top academic lawyers presented the arguments at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, a stone's throw from the WTO, where Ukraine, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are trying to overturn Australia's radical tobacco packaging law.

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Growing antibiotic resistance 'a genuine threat of humanity'

Antibiotic resistanceThe growing antibiotic-resistant infections are a "looming public health issue" for Australia that needs urgent new funding, the country's top scientist warned.

"Antibiotic resistance has the potential to become one of the world's biggest public health challenges, requiring a serious response from our scientists, our industries and the community at large," Ian Chubb, Australia's chief scientist, told the Guardian Australia.

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