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UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Atlantis makes its final landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 26 (UPI) -- Space shuttle Atlantis made its last scheduled Earth landing Wednesday, touching down at the Kennedy Space Center and ending its final mission into space.

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NASA said Atlantis, with its 8:48 a.m. EDT landing, ended not only a 12-day mission to the International Space Station, but also its 32nd mission into orbit. The space agency said Atlantis traveled more than 120 million miles since it was first launched Oct. 3, 1985.

According to Wikipedia, Atlantis -- the fourth operational shuttle built for NASA -- is named after RV Atlantis, a two-masted sailing ship that operated as the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966.

The shuttle's STS-132's six-member crew -- astronauts Ken Ham, Tony Antonelli, Mike Good, Garrett Reisman, Steve Bowen and Piers Sellers -- delivered an integrated cargo carrier and a Russian-built mini research module to the space station.

Only two flights remain in NASA's shuttle program -- space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission and Discovery's STS-133 mission.


Survey: People uncaring to mentally ill

WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults say people show caring and sympathy to those with mental illness, a government survey indicates.

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The national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the estimated 9.8 million U.S. adults living with serious mental illness, found the prevalence of serious mental illness is highest in the 18-25 age group.

The HealthStyles Survey, by SAMHSA and Porter Novelli, indicates 72 percent of young adults ages 18-24 say a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. However, only 33 percent say a person can eventually recover from mental illness.

Forty percent of the survey respondents say a person with mental illness can succeed at work and 65 percent say treatment can help people with mental illness.

SAMHSA and The Advertising Council are beginning a national public service announcement campaign aimed at encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to support friends and family experiencing a mental health problem.

"We know that people can recover from mental health problems," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, says in a statement. "Today we are getting the word out that support from friends and family can make a difference in helping people overcome these illnesses."

No survey details were provided.


Scientists measure extinct species' temps

GAINESVILLE, Fla., May 26 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have found a way to measure the body temperatures of extinct vertebrates and reconstruct the temperatures of ancient environments.

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The study describes how scientists could use carbon and oxygen isotopes from fossils to more accurately determine whether extinct animals were warm-blooded or cold-blooded and better estimate temperature ranges during the times the animals lived.

"The method described in the study has been shown to work with 12-million-year-old fossils from Florida and the next step is to look at even older fossils," said study co-author Richard Hulbert, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.

The new "clumped-isotope" paleothermometer method used in the study analyzes two rare heavy isotopes, carbon-13 and oxygen-18, found in tooth enamel, bones and eggshells.

"Clumping is temperature dependent, so at low temperatures you get more clumping together in a mineral while high temperatures mean less clumping," said California Institute of Technology postdoctoral scholar Robert Eagle, the study's lead author. "If you can measure the clumping accurately enough, you can work out the temperature at which a mineral formed. In the case of teeth and bone, this will be the body temperature of the organism."

The research that included John Eiler, Aradhna Tripati, Edwin Schauble and Thomas Tutken appears in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Xenical, Alli labels warn of liver injury

WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new label for Xenical and Alli to include information about rare, but possible, severe liver injury.

"Xenical and Alli are medications used for weight-loss that contain different strengths of the same active ingredient, orlistat," the FDA said. "Xenical (orlistat 120 mg) is available by prescription and Alli (orlistat 60 mg) is sold over-the-counter without a prescription."

The federal agency said healthcare professionals should weigh the benefits of weight-loss with the potential risks associated with Xenical and Alli before prescribing or recommending the medications to their patients.

The FDA said patients should stop use of orlistat and contact their healthcare professional if they develop the signs and symptoms of liver injury, including itching, yellow eyes or skin, dark urine, light-colored stools, or loss of appetite.

Xenical is manufactured by Genentech USA Inc., while Alli is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline plc.

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