Health Highlights: May 28, 2007

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

Game Show Features Kidney Donation

A terminally ill woman on a Dutch reality TV show will choose which of three contestants receives one of her kidneys, the Associated Press reported.

Those responsible for the "Big Donor Show" on the BNN network say they're trying to draw attention to the shortage of organ donors in the country. Critics say the show is tasteless and unethical.

The show will feature a 37-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumor. She'll interview the three contestants, along with their families and friends. She'll then decide who gets one of her kidneys before she dies, the AP reported.

    • Game Show Features Kidney Donation
    • Bird Flu Survivors' Antibodies Protect Mice Against H5N1 Virus
    • Secondhand Smoke Kills 100,000 Chinese Each Year
    • China to Tighten Food-Safety Rules
    • Apple Juice May Reduce Asthma Risk
    • Contact Lens Eye Solution Pulled From Market

"We know that this program is super-controversial and some people will think it's tasteless, but we think the reality is even more shocking and tasteless: waiting for an organ is just like playing the lottery," Laurens Drillich, chairman of the BNN network, said in a prepared statement.

Drillich said patients on organ-transplant lists have to wait more than four years and 200 patients die each year due to a lack of donor organs.


Bird Flu Survivors' Antibodies Protect Mice Against H5N1 Virus

Antibodies from human survivors of bird flu protected mice against the H5N1 virus, says a study in the open access journal PLoS Medicine. The research could lead to treatments for people infected with bird flu.

"We are very confident that this data can be reproduced in humans," study co-author Antonio Lanzavecchia, director of the immune regulation laboratory at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Switzerland, told Agence France-Presse.

Inoculation with antibodies generated from the blood of four people in Vietnam who survived bird flu provided mice with near total protection against the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The antibodies also proved highly effective in neutralizing H5N1 in mice already infected with the virus.

No untreated mice exposed to H5N1 survived, AFP reported.

Unlike a vaccine, an antibody-based drug would offer protection against bird flu for only a few months. But vaccines are ineffective once a patient is already infected. Because antibody-based drugs are effective immediately and relatively easy to produce on a large scale, they could prove vital in the event of a bird flu pandemic, the researchers said.


Secondhand Smoke Kills 100,000 Chinese Each Year

Secondhand smoke kills as many as 100,000 people in China each year and makes nearly half a million more people sick, says a report released Tuesday by the country's health ministry.

The Xinhua news agency said the report also stated that the nation has nearly 350 million smokers and that about one million people are killed by smoking-related diseases each year, Agence France-Presse reported.

China has banned smoking on public transportation, but it is still allowed in many public places, including restaurants.

"We hope the report can prompt authorities to institute and implement laws or regulations to prevent passive smoking inside office buildings," Xinhua quoted an official with China's National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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