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South Africa’s Tutu wants "the option of an assisted death"

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a published commentary that when his time comes, he would “want the option of an assisted death”. The 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, reiterated his support for assisted dying in an opinion piece published on the Washington Post on his 85th birthday. Tutu came out in support of assisted dying in 2014 but was more ambiguous about whether he personally wanted that option.

Novartis reshapes research, closes some Swiss, Chinese units

By John Miller ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis is closing some of its research operations in Switzerland and China and cutting 175 jobs, part of the Swiss drug maker's effort to centralize control over its drug discovery programs and contain costs. Novartis, which employs 120,000 globally, is also relocating its tropical disease research arm from Singapore to California. The Basel-based company is consolidating research oversight within its Swiss headquarters and the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) near Boston, now headed by Jay Bradner.

More evidence for Zika virus link to damage beyond microcephaly

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) – The mosquito-borne Zika virus can lead to extensive birth defects that go beyond microcephaly, a Brazilian study suggests. Researchers studied 11 babies diagnosed with Zika and found they had a range of neurological impairments including small skulls and brains as well as an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor skills, and an absence of normal folds in the cerebral cortex, the gray matter that handles memory, language, social skills and problem solving. “Microcephaly is not the only thing that happens with fetal Zika infection,” said senior study author Dr. Amilcar Tanuri, a researcher in the laboratory of molecular virology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

How the AP-GfK poll on the candidates’ health was conducted

The Associated Press-GfK poll on health and the presidential race was conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Sept. 15-19. It is based on online interviews of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters and 1,251 likely voters, who are members of GfK’s nationally representative KnowledgePanel.

Aid delivered to four besieged towns in Syria: ICRC

Seventy trucks of humanitarian aid were delivered on Sunday to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. The aid organisation said convoys were delivered to Madaya and Zabdani near Damascus and to the villages of al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province in the north west. Kefraya and al-Foua, in Idlib province in northwest Syria, have around 20,000 people, according to U.N. estimates, and have been surrounded by insurgents since April 2015.

Thousands march in Dublin, abroad for Irish abortion rights

By Padraic Halpin DUBLIN (Reuters) – Thousands of protestors marched in Dublin, and Irish expatriates joined in demonstrations around the world on Saturday, to put pressure on the Irish government to hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws. Regulations in the once stridently Catholic Ireland are among the strictest in the world and next month Prime Minister Enda Kenny will call a citizens' assembly to advise the government on whether a vote should be held to boost access to abortion. Demonstrators marched in the rain on government buildings from Dublin's main thoroughfare of O'Connell Street, bringing traffic to a standstill by the River Liffey as they chanted, beat drums and held placards saying “My Body, My Choice”.

Novartis drug Zykadia gets positive trial results

ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis cancer drug Zykadia showed positive results in a phase III clinical trial in treating patients with a form of lung cancer, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday. Zykadia, whose generic name is ceritinib, displayed significant improvement in progression-free survival compared to standard chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with advanced anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer, it said. …

United Nations pledges to fight drug-resistant superbugs

United Nations member countries pledged for the first time on Wednesday to take steps to tackle the threat posed by drug-resistant superbugs in a coordinated effort to curb the spread of infections by pathogens that defy antimicrobial medicines. The pledge during the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York followed years of warnings by global health officials about the rise of drug-resistant infections, which threaten to wipe out all effective antibiotics and antifungal medicines, leaving the world vulnerable to simple infections that once could be easily cured.