Health Highlights: Jan. 22, 2013

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

Golden Retriever Study Focuses on Cancer in Dogs

A study involving 3,000 golden retrievers will seek to find ways to prevent cancer in dogs.

The purebred participants will be followed for their entire lives -- typically 10 to 14 years -- for genetic, nutritional and environmental risk factors for cancer, the Associated Press reported.

Cancer is widely believed to be the leading cause of death in older dogs, according to Rodney Page, the study's principal investigator and a professor of veterinary oncology and the director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study -- the longest and largest study conducted in dogs -- will focus on three types of cancer: bone, lymphoma, and a blood vessel cancer called hemangiosarcoma, the AP reported.

It's likely that the study will also provide new insight into other dog diseases such as arthritis, hormonal and skin problems, epilepsy and hip dysplasia, Page said.

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Study Will Test Drug for Alzheimer's Prevention

An experimental drug called solanezumab will be used in a large U.S. government-funded study that will assess if it's possible to prevent Alzheimer's disease in seniors at high risk for the brain disorder.

Previous research found that the drug -- which is meant to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a main cause of Alzheimer's -- did not help patients with moderate to severe disease, the Associated Press reported.

However, solanezumab did show some promise in people with milder Alzheimer's and researchers believe it might help this group of patients.

"The hope is we can catch people before they decline," Dr. Reisa Sperling, who is director of the Alzheimer's center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and will help lead the new study, told the AP.

The clinical trial will include 1,000 people ages 70 to 85 whose brain scans reveal plaques but who do not yet show any signs of dementia. The patients will receive monthly infusions of either solanezumab or a placebo for three years.

The main objective of the study will be to slow the rate of the patients' mental decline. Sperling said the research will be conducted at 50 locations in the U.S. and possibly others in Australia, Europe and Canada, the AP reported.

Solanezumab is an Eli Lilly & Co. drug.

About five million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's, which is the most common type of dementia. Current medicines can easy symptoms, but there is no known cure.

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Posted: January 2013


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