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Health Highlights: July 13, 2005

U.S. Chief Justice Rehnquist Hospitalized Heart Drug Trial Stopped Early Allergy Alert: Some Oreo Packs Contain Another Dairy-Laden Cookie Anorexia May be Linked to Brain Receptor Illinois Will Fund Stem Cell Research

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

U.S. Chief Justice Rehnquist Hospitalized

U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, being treated for thyroid cancer, was hospitalized in Virginia late Tuesday with a high fever, the Supreme Court said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The 80-year-old Rehnquist arrived at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington via ambulance Tuesday night and was admitted for observation and tests, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told the Associated Press.

According to the AP, this is the second time in the past four months that the Chief Justice has been taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was admitted to the center in March after suffering from breathing problems, but did not stay overnight.

On Oct. 25, Rehnquist announced he had thyroid cancer and was undergoing a tracheotomy to aid his breathing. Experts at the time said the need for the operation suggested his cancer was more advanced than court announcements had indicated.

Rehnquist's illness has led to speculation in recent weeks that he might be stepping down. Earlier this month, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she was retiring, creating the first opening on the court in 11 years.


Heart Drug Trial Stopped Early

A phase III clinical trial of a drug designed to stem the effects of a severe heart attack has been stopped early, its manufacturers announced Wednesday.

TNKase/Metalyse (tenecteplase) was being evaluated for its effectiveness when administered before angioplasty -- an invasive procedure to clear clogged arteries -- in people with heart attack. However, in a statement, drugmakers Boehringer Ingelheim and Genentech said early results from the study found that patients who received primary angioplasty/stenting (PCI) alone had a lower 30-day death rate than those who took the drug before undergoing PCI.

Tenecteplase was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2000. The decision to stop the trial does not impact the drug's currently approved use, the drugmakers said.

The two pharmaceutical firms also stressed that the news does not preclude further investigation of tenecteplase's use in combination with PCI.


Allergy Alert: Some Oreo Packs Contain Another Dairy-Laden Cookie

Kraft Foods says it is recalling 4.86-ounce boxes of 100-Calorie Oreo Thin Crisps with a best-used by date of 04DEC05BD, because some of the packages may contain a similar Chips Ahoy! product made with milk.

While the inside packaging reflects that the cookies are Chips Ahoy!, the outer box mistakenly may reflect the Oreo product, which doesn't contain dairy.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk products run the risk of life-threatening reaction if they consume the wrong product. There is no health risk to people who aren't allergic to milk, the company said.

To learn more, contact Kraft at 1-800-433-9361.


Anorexia May be Linked to Brain Receptor

Women with the eating disorder anorexia have increased chemical activity in a brain region that controls reinforcement and reward, says an online study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The findings may clarify why these women are compelled to lose weight but get no pleasure out of doing so, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. researchers using brain imaging technology to study the brains of 10 women who'd recovered from anorexia and 12 healthy women. They discovered that the brains of the women who'd had anorexia displayed overactivity of dopamine receptors in the brain's basal ganglia.

The findings may help in the development of drugs to treat anorexia, said researcher Dr. Guido Frank, a child psychiatry fellow at the University of California, San Diego.


Illinois Will Fund Stem Cell Research

Illinois has become the fourth U.S. state to provide public funding for stem cell research.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday signed an executive order directing the Illinois Department of Public Health to create a program to award $10 million in grants to medical research facilities to conduct stem cell research in order to develop treatments and cures for serious illnesses and diseases.

It's believed the program will be ready by the end of the year. It will provide funding for stem cell research involving adult, cord blood and embryonic stem cells.

"Since the federal government has chosen to stall the medical advancements that will come with stem cell research, it is up to the states to take action. We cannot allow citizens to suffer when relief may be available," Blagojevich said in a prepared statement.

"The federal government's inaction presented two options for Illinois," state Comptroller Dan Hynes said. "We could either refuse to acknowledge the inevitability and worth of scientific progress, or we could embrace and find a means to harness it for the betterment of our citizens. We could be timid and reactionary, or bold and visionary. We chose to be bold."

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