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The Top 10 Health Stories of 2007, From the Editors of the Harvard Health Letter
Date:12/3/2007

BOSTON, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The editors of Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Letter have chosen the top 10 health stories of 2007. Here are this year's newsmakers:

1. Drug safety failures. This year, rosiglitazone (Avandia), a diabetes drug, became the latest medication found to have serious side effects that weren't apparent when it was approved by the FDA. The FDA needs more money and resources to conduct studies of drugs after they've been approved for sale--and then the clout to take prompt action if safety problems are identified.

2. Genome-wide association studies. These studies take advantage of unique "flags" flying in each "neighborhood" of the vast genome. Researchers find the flags associated with disease and then conduct an intensive search for genetic miscues just in that neighborhood. This process is a lot more efficient than a dragnet through the entire genome. This year, genome-wide association studies have identified genes associated with type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and resistance to HIV infection, to name a few examples.

3. Genome sequencing in a jiffy--and cheap. Sequencing a genome -- identifying all the chemical base pairs of someone's genes -- is getting a lot faster and cheaper. Scientists can now shatter the DNA of the genome into millions of pieces and simultaneously sequence the letters. Then, computers knit the data into a single sequence. Within a decade, the price of sequencing a genome may drop to $1,000, say some experts. Cheap genome sequencing may soon usher in a new era of personalized medicine, with health advice and medical treatments tailored to each individual's genes.

4. Waking up to a new health habit: Sleep. The evidence has reached critical mass--getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night is one of the pillars of good health, along with physical activity and eating a healthful diet. Poor sleep has been linked to health problems ranging from di
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SOURCE Harvard Health Letter
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