Medi watch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am

Halal meningitis vaccine

Malaysia and Cuba hope to develop a halal form of meningitis vaccine in two years, targeting the thousands of Muslims infected with the disease during the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Most existing vaccines are made from pig products, which are forbidden under Islamic law, AFP reports. The joint project plans to develop the vaccine from extracts of animals slaughtered according to Islamic tenets.

Appendix action

That supposedly useless appendage, the appendix, may not be so useless after all. Duke University researchers say it appears to perform 'a novel and unique function' in helping beneficial bacteria from the colon survive and repopulate after they become depleted because of infection or drug treatment. Beneficial, or commensal, bacteria help maintain a proper balance in the intestine and may also kill dangerous microbes, Reuters reports.

Infant day care helps stave off asthma

Attending day care from as early as three months may help protect high-risk children from developing some types of asthma and related allergies, based on preliminary University of Arizona studies. Regular day-care attendance for three months was linked to lower levels of immunoglobulin antibodies that trigger inflammatory responses, WebMD reports. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disorder in developed countries. Apart from allergies, it can be triggered by respiratory infection, second-hand cigarette smoke, exercise and stress.

Mindset and cancer survival

Cancer patients who adopt a positive attitude appear to be no more likely to survive than those who are pessimistic, say University of Pennsylvania researchers who analysed data from a five-year study of 1,100 neck and head cancer sufferers, more than half of whom died. The team expected emotional well-being to affect the outcome but found no correlation, according to Nonetheless, some studies show a possible association between quality of life, which mood and attitude can influence, and survival rates.

Viagra may affect hearing

Impotence drugs such as Viagra will have to carry clearer warnings about the risk of hearing loss under new US Food and Drug Administration guidelines, after what it said was 'a very small number' of people complaining of deafness, ringing in the ears and dizziness, AFP reports. 'Because some level of hearing loss is usually associated with ageing, patients may not think to talk to their doctor about it,' the FDA said.