Health Highlights: Jan. 19, 2010

Jan. 20, 2010 -- Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Nanoparticles New Weapon Against Heart Disease?

American scientists say their creation of nanoparticles that can find and treat hardened arteries may offer a new way to fight heart disease.

The "nanoburrs," as they are called, look for damaged cells in blood vessel walls. They then attach to the site and release drugs for an extended period, said the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team, BBC News reported.

"This is a very exciting example of nanotechnology and cell targeting in action," said Professor Robert Langer, one of the study authors. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This technology appears "promising," but requires much more work before it might be used to treat people, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News.

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Dietary Supplements Recalled by MuscleMaster.com

Seventeen dietary supplements sold by MuscleMaster.com Inc. are being recalled because they may contain steroids, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The recall covers all lots and expiration dates of the 17 body-building products that were sold online between June 1 and Nov. 17, 2009, the Associated Press reported.

For more information, consumers can call 800-240-4767.

Steroids can cause liver damage and other serious long-term health problems. Massachusetts-based MuscleMaster.com says it hasn't received any complaints of illnesses or injuries associated with the recalled products, the AP reported.

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Artificial Muscles Help Facial Injury Patients Blink

A new technique for implanting artificial muscles enables people with facial injuries to blink, which is essential for healthy eyesight.

The artificial muscles developed by facial surgeons at the University of California, Davis consist of a combination of electrode leads and silicon polymers, CBS News reported.

This medical advance could help thousands of people with facial injuries and paralysis caused by stroke, nerve damage or combat. The research appears in the January-February issue of the journal Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.

Without the lubricating and cleansing effects of blinking, eyes can develop ulcers that lead to blindness, CBS News reported.

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Ground Beef Recalled by California Company

Possible E. coli contamination has prompted the recall of about 864,000 pounds of ground beef sold by Huntington Meat Packing of Montebello, Calif.

The affected ground beef -- sold under the Huntington, Imperial Meat and El Rancho brands -- was sent to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels in California between Feb. 19 and May 15, 2008, and between Jan. 5 and Jan. 15, 2010, the Associated Press reported.

No reports of illnesses caused by the products have been noted, according to the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The possible E. coli contamination was discovered while department personnel were conducting a food safety assessment.

People infected with E. coli can suffer bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most serious cases, kidney failure, the AP reported.

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N.J. Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

A bill making New Jersey the 14th state to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana was signed Monday night by Gov. Jon Corzine.

The measure, which is expected to effect in six months, will allow patients with specific illnesses to get a marijuana prescription from their doctors, the Newark-based Star-Ledger reported.

Eligible patients include those with cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, seizure disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, severe muscle spasms, muscular dystrophy, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, and terminally-ill patients who are expected to die within a year.

Under the bill, the state health department can add other illnesses when it writes the rules implementing it, the Star-Ledger reported.