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Peabody Energy exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts

Peabody exploited ebola crisisPublic health experts involved in the response to the Ebola crisis have condemned what they described as a ludicrous, insulting and opportunistic attempt to exploit the disease for corporate gain by the world’s largest privately-held coal company.

As part of a PR offensive to rebrand coal as a “21st-century fuel” that can help solve global poverty, it has emerged that at the height of Ebola’s impact in Africa, Peabody Energy promoted its product as an answer to Africa’s devastating public health crisis.


'Groundbreaking' treatment found for cystic fibrosis

cystic fibrosis treatmentCystic fibrosis treatment has generally been focused on easing symptoms, but a combination of drugs used in a recent study prevented many of the pulmonary exacerbations that lead to patients being hospitalized.

Researchers gave patients a combination of Ivacaftor, used primarily for patients with a specific genetic mutation that causes cystic fibrosis, and Lumacaftor, an experimental drug that addresses another mutation which a high percentage of patients have. The success of the study is being considered groundbreaking because it addresses that disease instead of symptoms.


World Trade body rejects country of origin labels on meat

packaged meat labels The World Trade Organization has ruled against U.S. labels on packaged steaks and other cuts of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Monday that the WTO has rejected a final U.S. appeal, deciding the U.S. "country of origin" labels put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage.


Food industry braces for Obama trans fat ban

trans fat ban comingThe Obama administration is expected to all but ban trans fat in a final ruling that could drop as soon as next week, killing most uses of an ingredient that has been put in everything from frozen pizza to Reese’s Pieces but since deemed harmful to human health.

The agency may create some very limited exemptions, but the ruling could force food companies to cut trans fat use beyond the 85 percent reduction already achieved over the past decade — a key piece of the Obama administration’s broader agenda to nudge Americans toward a healthier diet.


Cellphone therapy: New apps help track and treat mental illness

cell phone therapy“Reminder: Eat breakfast.” That’s the notification Jennifer receives on her phone every morning after waking. After eating, she picks up her phone again to record what she ate and how she felt. Throughout the day, the app she uses, Recovery Record, acts as an online diary of sorts, reminding her to eat a snack or log her supper.

“It takes a lot of the anxiety out of eating,” said Jennifer, a 20-year-old Londoner who has had an eating disorder for three years.

Alongside therapy, recording these dietary details on her mobile app is a crucial part of coping with her disorder — as is the privacy of her recovery, so Jennifer is not her real name, and the information she punches in (both food and feelings) is protected.


Colombia ends aerial spraying, shelving air war on cocaine

Cocaine spraying columbiaThe futility of Colombia’s two-decade air war on the cocaine trade was laid bare on Thursday when the government, following President Juan Manuel Santos’ recommendation, agreed to halt the aerial spraying of coca crops with the herbicide glyphosate — a pillar of Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar U.S. aid package to fight drug trafficking.

Drug war opponents and environmentalists have long panned the use of aerial spraying in Colombia. Ironically, though, it’s the U.S. government that recently shed light on the policy’s impotence. The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy announced last week that the cultivation of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, had spiked 39 percent in 2014 over the previous year — despite the U.S.-funded aerial spraying program that has fumigated 4 million acres of crops at a cost of nearly $2 billion since it began in 1994.


New class of molecules kills cancer cells, saves healthy ones

New class of moleculesThe most effective drugs in the battle against cancer work well, but kill good cells in the body while also eliminating the bad. Now, a researcher has found a class of molecules that causes cancer cells to die while protecting healthy ones.

Using femtosecond time-resolved laser spectroscopy, University of Waterloo Faculty of Science professor Qing-Bin Lu studied when DNA becomes damaged, how cancer treatment drugs interact with cells, and tested molecules that may be able to eliminate cancer without harming healthy cells.


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