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U of M expert: The evidence is in (again). Vaccines are safe

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published fraudulent evidence blaming the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination as the cause of autism in young children, prompting parents around the world to stop vaccinating their children. Despite the fact the paper was retracted, the damage was done and the anti-vaccine movement is still prevalent today.

CNN recently addressed the issue of vaccination refusal, and stated once again that children should be vaccinated. Period.

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Health Talk Recommends: U.S. causes of death then & now

Of the many spectacular inventions of the 1900s, it’s safe to say we never may have made it to where we are today without radar, plastics or the once-revolutionary vacuum tube triode (responsible, in case you’re wondering, for launching the age of electronics).

Medical advances made throughout the 20th century, too, are nothing to bat an eye at.

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Is the biggest threat to wild cats … dogs? The research is in.

Big cat populations including the Amur tiger and Amur leopard are in jeopardy of extinction. Fewer than 550 Amur tigers and leopards remain in the wilderness of China and the Russian Far East today. Alongside threats posed by changing climates and human pressures, is another threat to cats that may sound familiar: dogs.

That’s right. A virus carried by the domestic dog may be one of the biggest threats to endangered wild felids like the Amur tiger.

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Health Talk Recommends: Why Pakistan’s polio problem is of global concern

For most Americans, polio is a concern relegated to the past. The crippling disease once plagued so many, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in the decades since vaccines were developed in the 1950’s, the condition has been eradicated in the United States. The disease is still active in a handful of places, however, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Nigeria.

Now, according to reports by Reuters, polio cases are on the rise in Pakistan and appear to be linked to a strong anti-vaccination policy by the Taliban, which maintains a presence along the country’s northern border.

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U of M researchers land $5.7M grant to employ a new approach in the fight against HIV

Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Program in HIV Medicine have been awarded a $5.7 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a new treatment approach in the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In clinical trials supported by the latest grant, University researchers will employ an FDA-approved drug with anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory properties to reverse the inflammatory damage caused by HIV replication in lymphatic tissues in an attempt to restore the population of immune cells (CD4 cells) that are essential for normal immune responses.

If successful, the trials could point to a new adjunctive therapy for HIV that could improve immune function and lead to a functional cure for the disease. The approach could also help protect HIV infected people from diseases associated with ongoing inflammation like heart attacks, blood clots and cancer.

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Health Talk Recommends: Is cat poop dangerous?

The dangers of cat feces exposure for pregnant women is well documented: cat poop can contain Toxoplasma gondii, one of the world’s most common parasites, which can cause the condition toxoplasmosis, which in turn can cause serious complications for a fetus. The condition can also cause dramatic brain infections for patients battling AIDS or other immunodeficiency disorders.

Now, two researchers from Maryland – E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Robert H. Yolken, M.D., director of the Stanley Neurovirology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - are expanding our understanding of additional risks Toxoplasma gondii may entail.

In an Expert Q & A with the duo earlier this month, CNN discussed the additional risks of Toxoplasma gondii, the types of research needed to fully understand the dangers of cat poop and how people can avoid exposure to the parasite.

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