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Stem Cell Research Breaks New Ground in 2010

Two U.S. companies this year broke new ground by winning regulatory approval to start the first experiments using embryonic stem cells on humans suffering from spinal cord injury and blindness.

The potent but hotly debated cells can transform into nearly any cell in the human body, opening a path toward eliminating such ills as Parkinson's disease, paralysis, diabetes, heart disease, and maybe even the ravages of aging.

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Saudi King Abdullah Leaves NY Hospital

Saudi King Abdullah has left a New York hospital to convalesce, one month after he checked in for back surgery, the royal court announced on Wednesday.

King Abdullah left the hospital on Tuesday evening "for his New York residence for a period of convalescence and physiotherapy," the court said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

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Bill Clinton: Third of Americans Will Be Diabetic

Diabetes is costing the United States up to 160 billion dollars per year and might affect one-third of Americans by the middle of the century, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said in Dubai.

"By the middle of this century, the diabetes rate in the United States could be as high as one-third of our whole population," Clinton said on the sidelines of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Diabetes Leadership Forum held in Dubai.

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New Swine Flu Deaths Reported in UK

Eight people have died from swine flu in England since early September, health authorities have told AFP, with Britain seemingly at the forefront of a winter resurgence in Europe.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) insisted it was to be expected that the H1N1 strain of flu that caused the 2009 pandemic would be the most common strain this winter.

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Haiti Cholera Death Toll Soars

Haiti's cholera toll has risen above 900, including dozens of deaths in the teeming capital, as the epidemic showed no sign of abating just two weeks ahead of presidential elections.

Health Ministry officials reported Sunday more than 120 new deaths since the previous toll, as authorities and international aid agencies struggled to contain the latest crisis afflicting the desperately poor Caribbean nation.

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Promising Parkinson's Drug in Pipeline

A drug designed to treat high blood pressure also diminishes the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease in mice, a study published Thursday has reported.

Because the drug, isradipine, has already been approved for human use, it could soon be available for Parkinson's patients, the lead researcher told AFP.

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Gene Mutation Discovery Could Affect Leukemia Treatment

Mutations in a single gene can predict whether leukemia patients will suffer a more severe form of the disease, said a study released Wednesday that could change treatment for the blood cancer.

Patients with the gene mutation lived for a median of just over one year, while those without it lived for a median of three and a half years, according to the study in the November 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Bilingualism Delays Onset of Alzheimer's

Speaking two languages can help delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms by as long as five years, Canadian scientists said.

The Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute researchers examined clinical records of 211 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and found that those who spoke two or more languages consistently over many years experienced a delay in the onset of their symptoms by as long as five years.

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Aggressive Use of Statins Further Cuts Cardio Risk

Higher doses of statins cut the risk of heart attacks and stroke by one-seventh compared with regular statin treatment, according to a review published online on Tuesday by The Lancet.

The study looked at five trials in which around 40,000 patients, advised to lower their levels of blood cholesterol, received either regular statin treatment or intensive treatment.

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Scientists Turn Skin into Blood

Stem cell researchers have found a way to turn a person's skin into blood, a process that could be used to treat cancer and other ailments, according to a Canadian study published Sunday.

The method uses cells from a patch of a person's skin and transforms it into blood that is a genetic match, without using human embryonic stem cells, said the study in the journal Nature.

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