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Health Highlights: Oct. 10, 2017

FDA Panel Considers Gene Therapy for Hereditary Eye Disease Florida Nursing Home Death Toll Rises to 14 California Reduces Penalty for Intentional Exposure to HIV

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

FDA Panel Considers Gene Therapy for Hereditary Eye Disease

A gene therapy to treat a type of hereditary eye disease will be considered Thursday by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.

The treatment, called Luxturna, targets a condition called Leber congenital amaurosis. The vision of people with the condition is often limited to bright light and blurry shapes and most eventually lose all sight, the Associated Press reported.

A study funded by maker Spark Theraeuptics found that that the gene therapy was safe and improved vision for nearly all patients who received it.

The advisory panel will consider whether to recommend FDA approval of Luxturna. The FDA typically follows the advice of it advisory panels.

If approved, Luxturna would be the first gene therapy in the U.S. for a hereditary condition, and the first in which a corrective gene is given directly to a patient, according to the AP.

Currently, only one gene therapy is approved in the U.S. It's a cancer treatment that engineers patients' blood cells in the lab.


Florida Nursing Home Death Toll Rises to 14

The deaths of two more former residents of a Florida nursing home that lost its air conditioning after Hurricane Irma brings the death toll to 14, police said Monday.

The two latest victims, ages 90 and 95, died about a month after air conditioning was knocked out at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Residents were not evacuated from the facility despite sweltering heat, CNN reported.

Eight residents were confirmed dead by Sept. 13, when officials first learned about the problem at the nursing home. Three more residents died the following week and another died the week after.

A notice to state officials says the nursing home is now closed and its 245 employees have been laid off, CNN reported.


California Reduces Penalty for Intentional Exposure to HIV

A bill that reduces the penalty for intentionally exposing someone to HIV was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under the previous law, intentionally exposing someone to HIV was a felony. The new law reduces it to a misdemeanor, placing HIV in the same category as other communicable diseases, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

Brown signed the bill into law on Friday.

The previous harsher law discouraged people from getting tested for HIV and stigmatized those who have it, according to Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco.

Critics of the new law say it will endanger people, CBS/AP reported.

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