Health Highlights: Feb. 14, 2018

Transgender Woman Able to Breast-Feed Infant Bill Would Enshrine 'Right to Health Care' in Oregon Constitution New Studies Target Gene Therapy Agaimst AIDS Some Genes Remain Active After Death: Study

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

Transgender Woman Able to Breast-Feed Infant

In what doctors say is the first documented case in the world, a 30-year-old transgender women was able to breast-feed her infant.

Doctors said the case shows "modest but functional lactation can be induced in transgender women," The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reported.

The case is described in the journal Transgender Health. Dr. Tamar Reisman, of Mount Sinai hospital in New York, was one of the authors.

"Transgender medicine is becoming part of mainstream medicine. We're getting more evidence-based data, we're getting more standardized care, we're getting more reproductive options," Reisman said, The Guardian reported.

"There have been self-reported cases online of transgender woman trying DIY regiments to induce breastfeeding, but this is the first case of induced functional lactation in the academic literature," Reisman said.

She added that there are also cases of transgender men carrying pregnancies and breast-feeding, The Guardian reported.


Bill Would Enshrine 'Right to Health Care' in Oregon Constitution

A bill to enshrine the right to health care in Oregon's constitution was passed by the state's House of Representatives in a 35-25 vote on Tuesday.

If approved by the state Senate, the proposed constitutional amendment would appear on the ballot for Oregon voters in the November election, the Associated Press reported.

The bill would amend the constitution to declare: "It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right."

If voters support the move, Oregon would be the first state to make health care a constitutional right.

"Some states have an extensive history of considering universal health coverage, going back 15 to 20 or more years," Richard Cauchi of the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the AP.

"However, no such binding ballot question language has been passed and added to a state constitution," he noted.


New Studies Target Gene Therapy Agaimst AIDS

New studies to test the use of gene therapy for HIV/AIDS are being launched.

To date, this approach has had little success, but researchers believe they can improve the treatment, the Associated Press reported.

Some of the new studies are being funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Director Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn't think gene therapy for HIV/AIDS will become common, but believes it could help patients whose medication fails to control the virus and also has the potential to lead to a cure.

"They're very bold, innovative techniques, mostly to try and cure people," he told the AP. "It's worth trying because the science is there."

"Gene therapy techniques have advanced greatly," said Dr. Otto Yang of the UCLA AIDS Institute, one of the centers investigating gene therapy for HIV/AIDS, the AP reported. "A lot of people are thinking it's the right time to go back."


Some Genes Remain Active After Death: Study

Some genes keep working after a person dies, researchers say.

They analyzed samples from a number of people within 24 hours after death and said their findings provide important data for other scientists and might lead to a new forensic tool for criminal investigations, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

It's not clear why some genes remained active after death, but one possible explanation was offered by study author Roderic Guigo, a computational biologist at the Barcelona Institute for Science and Technology in Spain.

"I would guess that one of the major changes is due to the cessation of flow of blood, therefore I would say probably the main environmental change is hypoxia, the lack of oxygen, but I don't have the proof for this," Guigo told BBC News.

He said much more work is needed before this research might prove useful in criminal investigations.

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