Health Highlights: Nov. 8, 2007

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

Aqua Dots Toys Recalled Over Poisoning Concerns

Millions of Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys are being recalled in North America because they contain a chemical that can turn into the dangerous "date rape" drug gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB) when ingested, the Toronto Star reported.

Aqua Dots are liquid-filled beads that can be arranged into designs that hold together when the beads are sprayed with water.

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The recall by Toronto-based Spin Master follows the withdrawal of the same toy from store shelves in Australia (where it's called Bindeez), after three children were hospitalized due to swallowing some of the beads. An overdose of GHB can cause seizures, coma or even death.

aqua dots recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it's received two recent reports of children swallowing Aqua Dots. A 20-month-old child who swallowed several beads became dizzy, vomited several times and slipped into a coma for a brief period. He was hospitalized and has since recovered. A second child who swallowed some beads also vomited, lapsed into a coma, and was hospitalized for five days.

In a statement, Spin Master said it's asking retailers across North America to halt sales of Aqua Dots, which had been considered one of the hottest new toys this holiday season, the Star reported.

The CPSC advised consumers to immediately take these toys away from children and to contact Spin Master toll free at (800) 622-8339 for free replacement beads or a toy of equal value.


Scientists Identify Cancer Stem Cell in Dogs

U.K. researchers have identified a cancer stem cell in dogs that could help lead to new treatments for bone cancer in children. Osteosarcoma in dogs is molecularly similar to bone cancer in children, reported BBC News, citing the scientists at the Royal Vet School at the University of Edinburgh.

The cancer stem cell they identified makes copies of osteosarcoma, enabling the disease to spread throughout the body, BBC News reported. By identifying this form of stem cell -- which appears to be highly resistant to treatment -- it may be possible to develop methods of targeting it.

The study appears in The Veterinary Journal.

"The rogue cancer stem cell is key in the whole process," said researcher Professor David Argyle. "We identified it by growing cells in particularly harsh conditions but, whereas other cancer cells died off, this stem cell was able to survive."

This finding offers evidence to support the growing theory that faulty stem cells fuel the development of certain types of cancers, Henry Scowcroft, senior cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, told BBC News.

But he noted that this "finding came from studies of cancer in dogs so it remains to be seen whether it holds true in humans."


Experimental HIV Vaccine May Increase Infection Risk

An experimental HIV/AIDS vaccine made by Merck seemed to actually increase the risk of HIV infection among study volunteers, according to data presented at a scientific meeting in Seattle, The New York Times reported.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

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