Health Highlights: Oct. 26, 2011

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

Researchers Examine Gene Makeup of Very Elderly

Researchers conducting whole-genome sequencing of very old, healthy people to learn why they've lived so long say the findings may lead to new medicines that could help others live longer, healthier lives.

Whole-genome sequencing involves deciphering a person's complete collection of DNA, the Associated Press reported.

One effort is the Wellderly Study, which will include thousands of Americans 80 and older with no history of chronic disease.

"Why are these people Teflon-coated? Why don't they get disease?" asked Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Health of San Diego study, the AP reported.

Another project is called the Archon Genomics X Prize competition, which is offering $10 million in prize money to scientists who complete DNA code from 100 people older than 100.

The competition is just a first step in discovering the genetic secrets of a long and healthy life, according to genome pioneer and contest co-chair J. Craig Venter.

"We need 10,000 genomes, not 100, to start to understand the link between genetics, disease and wellness," he said.


'Super Broccoli' Makes Its Debut

"Super broccoli" is hitting store shelves in Britain and is expected to begin appearing across the United States this fall.

The hybrid of traditional British broccoli and a wild Sicilian variety contains nearly three times the normal amount of a plant nutrient called glucoraphanin, which is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease by breaking down fat in the body, CBS News and the Associated Press reported.

The British researchers who created super broccoli are currently conducting clinical trials comparing the heart health of people who eat the new product with those who eat regular broccoli or no broccoli.

The health benefits of super broccoli are likely to be limited because it doesn't change people's heart-risky behaviors, such as smoking or not getting enough exercise, according to some experts.

"Eating this new broccoli is not going to counteract your bad habits," noted Glenys Jones, a nutritionist at Britain's Medical Research Council.


Sepsis Drug Xigris Pulled From Market

A drug used to treat severe sepsis (blood infection) is being withdrawn from markets worldwide after a recent study concluded that the drug is no longer effective.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said there is no safety issue with Xigris but the study found that the drug failed to reduce deaths among patients with septic shock, the Associated Press reported.

Patients should stop taking the drug, the company advised.

The study results were "quite unexpected" and may be partly due to the fact that the standard of care for patients with severe sepsis has improved since Xigris was introduced, Lilly Chief Medical Officer Dr. Timothy Garnett said in a news release, the AP reported.

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