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Health Highlights: Jan. 5, 2012

Vaccine Shields Monkeys From HIV-Like Virus Shredded Cheese Recalled in 3 States Sickle Cell Trait Sidelines Steelers Player in Playoff Game New Safety Studies Required for Women's Surgical Mesh: FDA

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

Vaccine Shields Monkeys From HIV-Like Virus

Scientists say an experimental vaccine's success in protecting monkeys against a monkey version of HIV offers major clues about important elements needed to create an effective HIV vaccine for humans.

Rhesus monkeys were given a vaccine against simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and then exposed to a difficult-to-treat strain of SIV that was different than the one used to create the vaccine, ABC News reported.

The vaccine reduced the monkeys' susceptibility to infection by 80 percent and vaccinated monkeys that did become infected had substantially lower levels of the virus than unvaccinated monkeys, according to the study in the journal Nature.

The vaccine contained an element called Env, which helps bind SIV to antibodies that can destroy it.

"The study demonstrates very clearly that in order to prevent acquisition of the virus, a vaccine needs to have an Env glycoprotein component," Eric Hunter, a professor of pathology and co-director of the Center for AIDS Research at Atlanta's Emory University who was not involved with the study, told ABC News. "I would say this is significant progress in the process of trying to develop a protective HIV vaccine."


Shredded Cheese Recalled in 3 States

Possible bacterial contamination has prompted the recall of Nordic Creamery brand shredded cheese called "Grumpy Goat Shreds."

The recall by Bekkum Family Farms LLC of Wisconsin includes 8-ounce bags with a code date of 10-MAR-12. The cheese was sold in stores in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin beginning Nov. 11, the Associated Press reported.

Consumers who bought the cheese are being advised to throw it away or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

The decision to issue a recall was made after a processor told Bekkum that its cheese was shredded on the same equipment as other cheese that has since tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, the AP reported. The Bekkum shredded cheese hasn't tested positive for Listeria but the company decided to recall the product out of an abundance of caution, according to spokesman Al Bekkum.


Sickle Cell Trait Sidelines Steelers Player in Playoff Game

A Pittsburgh Steelers player with a blood disorder called sickle cell trait will not play in this weekend's playoff game against the Denver Broncos because he could suffer life-threatening organ damage in the high-altitude, low-oxygen conditions in Denver.

Safety Ryan Clark, 32, experienced sickle cell crisis when he played a game in Denver in 2007. As a result, he lost his spleen and gallbladder. He's sat on the bench in the two games the Steelers have played in Denver since then, ABC News reported.

People with sickle cell trait carry an abnormal version of the hemoglobin gene. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

"It was an easy decision for us," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a news conference Tuesday, ABC News reported. "When looking at all of our data, we came to the determination he is at more risk so we are not going to play him. It's just that simple."


New Safety Studies Required for Women's Surgical Mesh: FDA

Manufacturers of surgical mesh widely used to repair women's pelvic problems must conduct follow-up safety studies, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An FDA report released in April found that women who receive surgical mesh implants to support their reproductive organs are more likely to experience pain, bleeding and infection than those who have traditional surgery with stitches, the Associated Press reported.

In an online post, the FDA said 33 makers of medical mesh will have to submit follow-up safety studies proving the safety and effectiveness of the products.

The FDA is considering reclassifying the mesh as a high-risk device, a process that could take years, the AP reported.

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