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Health Highlights: Oct. 13, 2015

Cancer Drug May Offer New Treatment Against MRSA 'Superbug:' Study Gene-Modified Pigs Could Supply Organs for People

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

Cancer Drug May Offer New Treatment Against MRSA 'Superbug:' Study

The breast cancer drug tamoxifen may offer a new treatment against a deadly drug-resistant "superbug," a new study suggests.

Researchers have spent decades trying to find an effective therapy for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) but have had little success. MRSA is resistant to most antibiotics and is estimated to have contributed to 5,000 deaths in the United States in 2013, the Washington Post reported.

It's known that tamoxifen boosts the body's defense system against infection. So researchers at the University of California, San Diego gave tamoxifen to mice and then injected them with normally lethal levels of MRSA.

Tamoxifen improved the rodents' chances of survival by one-third, according to the study in the journal Nature Communications.

These are early findings and more research is needed before this approach can be tested in people, investigator Victor Nizet told the San Diego Union Tribune, but added that he hopes the study "inspires clinical trials in patients with severe infections," the Post reported.


Gene-Modified Pigs Could Supply Organs for People

It may be possible to genetically modify pig organs to make them suitable for use in people, according to researchers.

They altered the DNA of pig cells to make them a better match for humans, which would reduce the risk of rejection and infection by viruses contained in pig DNA, BBC News reported.

The early-stage research appears in the journal Science.

It would be years before it may be possible to use genetically modified pigs to grow organs for people. But if this line of research is successful, it could help reduce the shortage of human donor organs, BBC New reported.

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