Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Britain Would Vaccinate All Against Pandemic Flu
U.K. health officials on Thursday announced they are planning to stockpile enough pandemic flu vaccine to protect the entire population, the Associated Press reported.
A flu pandemic was "one of the most severe risks" facing Britain, Health Secretary Alan Johnson told lawmakers. He said he had signed an agreement that would assure the delivery of enough vaccine to protect every citizen.
Experts can only formulate a vaccine once the strain of the pandemic virus had been identified, however. Health officials said it remains impossible to predict when a pandemic might strike or how widespread it might be.
According to an unnamed department of health spokeswoman, the last global flu epidemic occurred in 1968 and killed over one million people worldwide. She told the AP that "we don't believe an influenza [pandemic] is imminent."
Common Gene May Protect Against Cancer
Two variants of the B-MYB gene, which is carried by up to half of the world's people, may shield humans against cancer, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Scientists compared variants of B-MYB found in more than 400 patients with either colon cancer, a brain tumor called neuroblastoma, or chronic myeloid leukemia, to variants found in 230 people without cancer.
Reporting in the journal Oncogene, the team found that patients with malignancies were half as likely to carry the protective B-MYB gene variants as people without cancer.
"People who carry these gene variants might well be protected against cancer," researcher Dr. Arturo Sala of the Institute of Child Health told the BBC. Up to 50 percent of people in Africa appear to carry the protective variant, and perhaps slightly fewer in North America and Europe.
"Discovering exactly how it might protect against [cancer] could allow researchers to explore new avenues of cancer prevention," Henry Scowcroft, senior scientific information officer at Cancer Research UK, told the BBC.
Actor Dennis Quaid's Twins Reported Hospitalized After Medical Error
Two-week-old twins born to actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberley, are recovering from a massive overdose of blood thinner they received at Los Angeles' Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, according to news reports.
The infants, who are being cared for in the hospital's neonatal care unit, each received vials of the anticoagulant drug heparin that was 1,000 times stronger than had been prescribed, the Associated Press reported.
The babies reportedly received doses containing 10,000 units per millimeter of heparin versus vials with a recommended concentration of 10 units per millimeter.
According to the AP, Cedar-Sinai's chief medical officer, Michael L. Langberg, said three patients received the erroneous doses in what he called a "preventable error." Cedars-Sinai has apologized to the patients' families but cannot release their names due to confidentiality issues.
However, celebrity Web site TMZ.com named the Quaid twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace, as two of the patients involved.