Health Highlights: Jan. 4, 2010

Jan. 5, 2010 -- Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Leukemia Vaccine Shows Promise

British scientists say they've developed a vaccine that stops leukemia from returning after chemotherapy treatment or a bone marrow transplant.

The vaccine -- created by genetically manipulating cells from the patient's blood -- activates the body's immune system to fight against a recurrence of cancer cells, said the London Telegraph, according to CBS News.

The new treatment prevented relapse in half of mice treated for leukemia. The study results will appear in the Journal of Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy.

The vaccine is now available for patients in a clinical trial at King's College London. The researchers said they hope the vaccine treatment will prove successful against other forms of cancer, CBS News reported.


Gene May Be Linked to OCD: Researchers

A gene that causes compulsive behavior in dogs may improve understanding of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans, say U.S. researchers.

A team at the Broad Institute in Cambridge analyzed the DNA of 92 Doberman pinschers with compulsive behavior and found that a common link among the dogs was a gene called Cadherin 2, a gene recently linked to autism in humans, said a story in the The Boston Globe, according to United Press International.

The effect of the Cadherin 2 gene will be studied in more than 300 people with OCD and about 400 of their relatives, said Dr. Dennis Murphy, a researcher at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"Identifying a specific gene that could be a candidate gene for a complex disorder like OCD is a gift to have,'' Murphy said. "This might be a quick route in to a meaningful gene that just could be involved in the human disorder, as well,'' UPI reported.


U.S. Lifts Entry Ban on People With HIV/AIDS

On Monday, the United States lifted a 22-year ban that prevented people with HIV/AIDS from entering the country.

The ban wasn't compatible with U.S. plans to lead the fight against HIV/AIDS, said President Barack Obama, BBC News reported.

When he announced the policy change in October, Obama said the entry ban had been "rooted in fear rather than fact."

The United States plans to host a bi-annual global HIV-AIDS summit for the first time in 2012.

"The 2012 World Aids Conference, due to be held in the United States, was in jeopardy as a result of the restrictions. It's now likely to go ahead as planned," Rachel Tiven, head of the group Immigration Equality, told BBC News.


No Evidence Supports Special Diets for Autistic Children: Experts

No evidence shows that children with autism have more digestive problems than other children or that special diets help them, says an expert panel report released Monday.

The panel said medical treatment is recommended for children with autism who experience painful digestive problems that can cause behavior problems, the Associated Press reported.

The consensus report was written by more than 25 experts who reviewed medical research. The effort was funded by the Autism Society and other autism groups.

The experts called for more rigorous research into the prevalence of digestive problems among children with autism and whether special diets might prove beneficial in some cases, the AP reported.