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Health Highlights: Sept. 16, 2016

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

U.S. Pushes for Quicker Sharing of Medical Research

The U.S. government on Friday announced new policies aimed at shortening the time it takes for new research on drugs and medical devices to be openly shared.

In a Friday news briefing, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, pointed to one 2014 study that found that after four years, 30 percent of 400 research studies had still not reported their findings to clinicaltrials.gov. That website is the government repository for this type of information.

"We, as a community, have a disappointing record of making those results available," Collins said at the briefing, the Washington Post reported. "This is about maintaining the trust that we have with participants in clinical trials who volunteer to take part in these efforts with the expectation that it will add to the body of knowledge."

Now, the government says that universities and other institutions that don't quickly reveal their study findings may find their future federal funding cut off. A similar stance was taken earlier this year by Vice President Joe Biden as part of the 'Cancer Moonshot' initiative, aimed at speeding research into that disease.

According to the Post, Biden said that fewer "than 5 percent of cancer patients enroll in a clinical trial, often because patients and doctors don't know what trials are available."

The new rules go into effect Jan. 18. After that time, researchers in most trials of drugs or devices funded by the NIH or regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have 90 days to comply with the new data-sharing rules, the Post said.

That includes data on trials where the research failed to meet its goals, Collins stressed. He said that data is often very important to future studies, and to assess the value of therapies up for approval by the FDA.

Biden noted that there are also planned improvements to the federal website trials.cancer.gov, to make it easier to locate clinical trials for specific cancers.

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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak at Florida State University

Florida State University in Tallahassee is reporting an outbreak among students of the viral illness known as hand, foot and mouth disease.

Highly contagious, it typically strikes children, and manifests with fever, sores on the hands, feet and mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet, CNN reported.

Although outbreaks are more common among the very young than young adults, hand, foot and mouth disease does sometimes pop up on college campuses, according to the American College Health Association.

The current outbreak started as a "trickle" on Monday, FSU director of University Health Services Lesley Sacher told CNN.

"So far, "we've seen less than 16 cases on-site," although more students have reported the illness but are being seen by health providers elsewhere, she added.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by "a virus that lives in the intestines, and it is very contagious," William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, told CNN. It seems to spread most easily in late summer and early fall, he added.

He also noted that Tallahassee has just gone through a Hurricane Hermine. "We're thinking days without electricity, [and] hot, humid conditions make germs very happy," he said.

The disease is treated using pain relief and plenty of hydration, Atlanta pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu told CNN.

FSU is implementing a "full sanitation effort," Sacher said, and because some patients were fraternity members, certain events -- including Rush Week -- have been cancelled to help curb the outbreak.


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