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  • McDonald's says 12 Russian branches temporarily closed

    A man walks past a closed McDonald's restaurant, one of four temporarily closed by the state food safety watchdog, in MoscowMcDonald's said on Friday that a total of 12 of its branches in Russia had been temporarily closed over the state food safety regulator's allegations of sanitary violations.


  • BioCryst expects to begin Ebola study in weeks

    (Reuters) - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc said it expects to initiate a study within weeks to test its antiviral in primates for use in Ebola, as it was awarded an additional $2.4 million in U.S. government funding. Birmingham, Alabama-based BioCryst's stock was up about 5 percent at $13.86 in trading before the bell on Friday. The biotechnology company received $4.1 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases earlier this month to advance development of an intramuscular formulation of its drug, BCX4430. ...

  • Drug charges dropped against man over Seymour Hoffman's death: New York Times

    A photo of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman sits on a makeshift memorial in front of his apartment building in the Manhattan borough of New York(Reuters) - The Manhattan district attorney has dropped drug-selling charges against a jazz musician and friend of late film star Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an accidental drug overdose in February, the New York Times newspaper reported. Montreal-born Robert Aaron Vineberg, 58, was arrested after police traced what they believed to have been the source of the heroin suspected of killing the Oscar-winning actor. Vineberg was charged with intent to sell heroin. The district attorney said in an Aug. 14 letter that two police officers who first interrogated Vineberg after his arrest had not read him his Miranda rights -- which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney -- , rendering his statements to them unusable in court, the newspaper said.


  • Gene studies of Ebola in Sierra Leone show virus is mutating fast

    By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters)- Genetic studies of some of the earliest Ebola cases in Sierra Leone reveal more than 300 genetic changes in the virus as it leapt from person to person, changes that could blunt the effectiveness of diagnostic tests and experimental treatments now in development, researchers said on Thursday. It's mutating," said Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University and the Broad Institute, who led the massive study of samples from 78 people in Sierra Leone, all of whose infections could be traced to a faith healer whose claims of a cure attracted Ebola patients from Guinea, where the virus first took hold. The findings, published in Science, suggest the virus is mutating quickly and in ways that could affect current diagnostics and future vaccines and treatments, such as GlaxoSmithKline's Ebola vaccine, which was just fast-tracked to begin clinical trials, or the antibody drug ZMapp, being developed by California biotech Mapp Biopharmaceutical. The findings come as the World Health Organization said that the epidemic could infect more than 20,000 people and spread to more countries.

  • AstraZeneca boosted by start of new cancer drug trial

    A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in MacclesfieldBy Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Hopes for AstraZeneca's promising cancer drug pipeline were boosted on Friday by news the company had moved its immuno-oncology medicine MEDI-4736 into a mid-stage study in colorectal cancer. Analysts at UBS said the decision opened up "a potentially multi-blockbuster opportunity", given that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. AstraZeneca is already studying MEDI-4736 in lung cancer and head and neck cancer. Head of medicines development Briggs Morrison said in July that it might start tests in another tumour type in 2014 but he did not identify colorectal cancer as a target at the time.


  • Guinean security forces break up riot in Ebola-racked south

    A U.N. convoy of soldiers passes a screen displaying a message on Ebola on a street in AbidjanRiots broke out in Guinea's second-largest city Nzerekore over rumors that health workers had infected people with the deadly Ebola virus, a Red Cross official and residents said on Friday. A crowd of young men, some armed with clubs and pistols, set up barricades across the southern city on Thursday and threatened to attack the hospital before security forces moved in to restore order. Gunshots were fired by the rioters and several people were injured, said Youssouf Traore, president of the Guinean Red Cross. "People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to intervene." Local Red Cross workers had to flee to the military camp with their medical equipment.


  • USDA seizes more than 1,200 illegal giant snails

    FILE -This Sept. 30, 2011 file photo shows a collection of giant African land snails in Miami. The Giant African Snail eats buildings, destroys crops and can cause meningitis in humans. But some people still want to collect, and even eat, the slimy invaders. The Department of Agriculture is trying to stop them. Since June, USDA has seized more than 1,200 of the large snails, also known as Giant African Land Snails, all of them traced back to one person in Georgia who was illegally selling them. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The giant African snail damages buildings, destroys crops and can cause meningitis in humans. But some people still want to collect, and even eat, the slimy invaders.


  • No more changes to Nations Cup venues say CAF

    South Africa's Lebogang Manyama is challenged by Burkina Faso's Daila Pierre at the soccer city stadium in SowetoThe Confederation of African Football have ruled out any more venue changes for next week’s African Nations Cup qualifiers in the wake of requests by several countries to move matches following the Ebola virus outbreak and stadium violence in Algeria. CAF had previously ordered Guinea and Sierra Leone to move their qualifiers on the advice of health authorities but said in a statement on Thursday there would be no more changes. The two west Africa countries are at the epicentre of the Ebola virus outbreak, which has claimed more than 1,500 deaths. In recent days, Cameroon, Congo, Mali and Tunisia have asked CAF to move matches in which they are involved but their requests have been rejected.


  • Australia seeks Thai help for Aussie couples, surrogate babies

    Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is fed by his surrogate mother at a hospital in Chonburi provinceBy Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Australia urged Thailand on Friday to allow Australian couples with babies born by Thai surrogate mothers to return home with their children following a crackdown on commercial surrogacy that has left many couples in limbo. Foreigners attempting to leave Thailand, a top destination for infertile couples wanting children, have been prevented from doing so in recent weeks following a spate of surrogacy scandals that have shone a spotlight on Thailand's largely unregulated "wombs for hire" business of commercial surrogacy. "For those who are caught by these transitional arrangements it is obviously a matter of some high concern and we wish to find a fair and workable means of resolving this issue," Peter Varghese, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told a news conference in Bangkok on Friday. "I'm confident that we will be able to find a practical way forward that respects the best interest of the child and the birth mother," said Varghese, adding there are 200 Australian surrogacy cases in Thailand each year.


  • Ebola fears halt rotations of Sierra Leone forces into Somalia

    Sierra Leone, which is battling to contain the deadly Ebola virus, will stop new rotations of its U.N.-led forces into Somalia for now as authorities move to establish safeguards, Somalia's president said on Monday. Sierra Leone is one of the key countries contributing troops to the Africa Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is helping battle Islamic militant al Shabaab insurgents there. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, speaking to reporters during the African leaders' summit in Washington, said there would be no new rotations of Sierra Leone's forces until proper procedures were in place. "AMISOM (will) stop the rotation of the Sierra Leone battalion so that new soldiers won't arrive into Somalia unless we provide a means to ensure" that people arriving are unaffected, he said.