Health Highlights: July 8, 2016

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

Exercise Beneficial for Pregnant Women: Study

A new review of clinical trial data supports the notion that exercise is healthy for women and the fetus during pregnancy.

According to news agency UPI, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia looked at data from nine studies on the subject. Overall, the research involved more than 1,000 women who exercised between 35 to 90 minutes three or four times a week during pregnancy, and a similar number of pregnant women who did not exercise.

The analysis found no differences in rates of preterm delivery or newborn birth weights, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

There were slightly lower rates of cesarean-section delivery among the women who exercised versus the non-exercisers, and women who did not work out during pregnancy also had higher rates of gestational diabetes and blood pressure disorders, the study found.

“This paper reinforces that exercise is good for the mom and the baby, and does not hold any increased risk of preterm birth,” study lead author Dr. Vicenzo Berghalla said in a university news release.


3 Deaths Spur Suspension of Cancer Gene Therapy Trial

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called a temporary halt to a cancer gene-therapy trial, after three of the leukemia patients involved in the trial contracted a fatal swelling of the brain.

According to The New York Times, the company behind the trial, Juno Therapeutics, announced the move on Thursday.

The deaths were “difficult and humbling for everyone involved,” Hans Bishop, the company’s chief executive, said in a conference call with securities analysts, the Times reported.

The news comes as a blow for the cancer research community, which had high hopes for the new approach, called CAR-T therapy. In this approach, doctors extract immune cells from the patient’s blood, genetically tweak them to target and destroy cancer cells, and then put them back into the patient’s bloodstream.

According to the Times, Juno believes that the three deaths occurred due to a relationship between CAR-T and a standard chemotherapy drug that was also used in the trial. The company is proposing to continue the trial, but without using the drug.

It’s not clear that the FDA will agree, but Juno executives told the Times a decision is expected within 30 days.


Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Barred From Operating Lab for 2 Years

Elizabeth Holmes, the embattled CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, has been banned from owning or operating a medical laboratory for two years by U.S. regulators, The New York Times reported.

Theranos released a statement Thursday noting that regulators will revoke certification of its labs in Newark, Calif., and bar the lab from accepting Medicare or Medicaid payments for services. The company will also suffer a fine, although Theranos did not specify the amount of the fine, the Times reported.

Theranos has experienced a dramatic corporate rise and fall. The start-up company originally gained a high profile with promises that its cheap finger-prick blood tests could quickly determine a patient’s health issues.

But the company’s downfall occurred after government officials scrutinized the lab’s practices and found that all 81 patient results it examined were inaccurate, the Times said.

In a statement, Holmes said, “We accept full responsibility for the issues at our laboratory in Newark, Calif., and have already worked to undertake comprehensive remedial actions.”

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