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Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2018

Last Updated: January 29, 2018.

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

Human Genome Can Now Be Mapped Using Handheld Device

Scientists who created a handheld device that can sequence the human genome say their achievement could pave the way for using genetics in day-to-day medicine.

The new device highlights the rapid progress in this field. The first sequencing of the human genome began in 1990 and took 13 years. It involved laboratories worldwide and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, BBC News reported.

An article about the device -- which the developers say is 99.5 percent accurate -- was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

"We've gone from a situation where you can only do genome sequencing for a huge amount of money in well equipped labs to one where we can have genome sequencing literally in your pocket just like a mobile phone," researcher Nicholas Loman, a professor at the University of Birmingham, U.K., told BBC News.

"That gives us a really exciting opportunity to start having genome sequencing as a routine tool, perhaps something people can do in their own home," Loman added.

Sequencing technology could change the practice of medicine. For example, it could help improve cancer treatment or detect antibiotic resistance early. Loman used the new device to track the spread of Ebola during the recent outbreak in West Africa, BBC News reported.

"Our ability to sequence whole genomes quickly and cheaply continues to improve," according to Sobia Raza, head of science at the PHG Foundation genomics think tank.

"But short-term patient benefits also depend on how well and how fast we can analyze and make sense of the genomic data, and that is still quite a challenge," Raza told BBC News reported.


Panera Recalls Cream Cheese Products

Possible listeria contamination has led to the recall of 2 oz. and 8 oz. cream cheese products sold across the U.S. by bakery/sandwich chain Panera Bread.

The recall covers all unexpired 2 oz. and 8 oz. cream cheese products with an expiration date on or before 4/2/18.

While listeria infection may cause only short-term symptoms in healthy people, it can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, and can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled cream cheese products, according to Panera.

Consumers with the recalled products should throw them away and can contact Panera at 1-855-6-PANERA or go to the company's website to get a full refund.

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