Health Highlights: April 13, 2007

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Court Won't Order FDA to Tighten Rules on Mercury Fillings

A U.S. federal appeals court unanimously ruled Friday that it can't compel the Food and Drug Administration to tighten rules on dental fillings that contain mercury, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that it has no jurisdiction to review the agency's handling of the issue.

Advocacy groups went to court in an attempt to ban mercury fillings and to force the FDA to reclassify the products and impose stricter regulations on them, the AP reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Court Won't Order FDA to Tighten Rules on Mercury Fillings
    • New HIV Drug Shows Promise
    • U.S. Woman Has Baby Conceived with Frozen Egg and Sperm
    • Senate Panel OKs Bill to Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices
    • FDA Approves Ointment to Treat Impetigo
    • Scientists Identify Genetic Mutations Linked to ADHD

The groups argue that mercury vapors from the fillings can harm patients and the dental office employees who handle the fillings.

Significant levels of mercury exposure can damage the kidneys and brain. But the FDA has steadfastly insisted that mercury fillings pose no threat to patients, except in rare cases when patients have allergic reactions, the AP reported.

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New HIV Drug Shows Promise

A new drug called raltegravir shows promise in combatting drug-resistant HIV, concludes an international study in The Lancet medical journal. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Raltegravir belongs to a new class of drugs called integrase-inhibitors, which block an enzyme essential for HIV to replicate itself, BBC News reported.

The study included 178 patients with advanced HIV who failed to respond to the antiretroviral drugs they'd been taking for about 10 years. The patients were assigned to take their usual drugs plus either raltegravir or a non-medicinal placebo.

After 24 weeks, patients taking raltegravir showed a 98 percent drop in the amount of HIV genetic material in their blood, compared to a 45 percent drop among the placebo group. Those taking raltegravir also showed a significant boost in the number of CD4 cells, an indication of immune response, BBC News reported.

"This drug has the potential to become an important component of combination treatment regimens...for patients failing current therapies with multidrug-resistant virus and limited treatment options," wrote the study's authors at Merck Research Laboratories in Pennsylvania.

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U.S. Woman Has Baby Conceived with Frozen Egg and Sperm

A 36-year-old California woman has given birth to the first baby in the United States to be conceived using a frozen egg and frozen sperm.

Adrienne Domasin gave birth to Noah Peter Domasin (8 pounds, 4 ounces) at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, Calif., the Associated Press reported.

While there have been about 200 documented births from frozen eggs worldwide, the only other birth from a frozen egg and frozen sperm took place in Australia. That birth was reported last year in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.

Domasin decided to take part in the California study after she learned two years ago that her fallopian tubes were blocked. She was unable to afford in-vitro fertilization but was determined to have a baby, the AP reported.

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