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Health Highlights: May 10, 2018


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

FDA Targets Clinics Offering Unapproved Stem Cell Therapies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched legal action to stop two stem cell clinics from providing unapproved treatments that have caused serious, long-term harm to some patients.

On Wednesday, the FDA filed complaints in federal court seeking permanent injunctions against U.S. Stem Cell Clinic LLC of Sunrise, Florida, and California Stem Cell Treatment Center Inc./Cell Surgical Network Corporation and their executives.

Along with marketing unapproved stem cell treatments, inspections of the clinics revealed improper manufacturing practices, which could affect the sterility of their products and put patients at risk, the FDA said.

The agency said U.S. Stem Cell Clinic did not correct violations outlined in a warning letter sent in August 2017. The clinic claims its unapproved therapies can treat a number of serious diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and pulmonary fibrosis.

California Stem Cell Treatment Center Inc./Cell Surgical Network Corporation markets its unapproved stem cell therapies as treatments for cancer, arthritis, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, Parkinson's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.

"Cell-based regenerative medicine holds significant medical opportunity, but we've also seen some bad actors leverage the scientific promise of this field to peddle unapproved treatments that put patients' health at risk," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an agency news release.

"In some instances, patients have suffered serious and permanent harm after receiving these unapproved products. In the two cases filed today, the clinics and their leadership have continued to disregard the law and more importantly, patient safety. We cannot allow unproven products that exploit the hope of patients and their loved ones," Gottlieb said.

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104-Year-Old Australian Scientist Ends Life in Switzerland

David Goodall, the 104-Australian scientist who traveled to Switzerland to end his life because he could not do so in Australia, died Thursday.

Goodall ended his life at a Swiss clinic by administering a lethal drug under the guidance of doctors, according to a spokesperson for the pro-euthanasia group Exit International, CNN reported.

The renowned botanist and ecologist passed away while listening to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" at the Life Circle clinic in Basel.

Goodall, who pushed for legalization of assisted dying in Australia, received more than $20,000 in donations from the public to fund his trip to the clinic in Switzerland.

On Tuesday, Goodall told CNN that his life stopped being enjoyable "five or 10 years ago," due to issues such as declining mobility and eyesight.

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U.S. Soldier's New Ear Grown in Arm

A U.S. soldier who lost an ear in a car crash received a new ear that was "grown" in her arm, doctors say.

The team at William Beaumont Army Medical Center created the new ear for Pvt. Shamika Burrage, 21, by using cartilage from her rib cage. The cartilage was inserted beneath the skin on her arm so that it could grow new blood vessels, according to a U.S. Army article, Fox News reported.

Burrage is scheduled to have two more surgeries in what is believed to be the first such case in the military branch.

"(The ear) will have fresh arteries fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it," said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at WBAMC, Fox News reported.

Burrage didn't lose hearing in her damaged ear and doctors reopened the canal, which closed after the car crash, according to the army article.

Johnson said he and his team are hopeful that Burrage's new ear will end up looking and acting like the original one, Fox News reported.

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