news 2014

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Law - Health - 31.12.2014
New Year Honours 2015
Some breathalysers on sale to the UK public vary considerably in their ability to detect potentially unsafe levels of breath alcohol for driving, Oxford University researchers have found. The findings call into question the regulatory process for approving these sorts of devices for personal use, say the researchers, particularly as false reassurance about a person's safety to drive could have potentially catastrophic consequences.

Health - Life Sciences - 23.12.2014
First results from Ebola vaccine trial show acceptable safety profile
o GSK/NIH Ebola vaccine is 'well tolerated' and generates an immune response o Larger trials in West Africa are needed to tell whether immune responses are large enough to protect against Ebola infection and disease o Results from Oxford University and other safety trials will inform plans for larger trials The first results from a trial of a candidate Ebola vaccine at Oxford University suggest the vaccine has an acceptable safety profile at the doses tested, and is able to generate an immune response.

Life Sciences - Health - 23.12.2014
Using light to understand the brain
Using light to understand the brain
UCL researchers have developed an innovative way to understand how the brain works by using flashes of light, allowing them to both 'read' and 'write' brain signals. The new technique, described , combines two cutting-edge technologies for reading and writing electrical activity in the brain. First, genetically encoded activity sensors enable neuroscientists to engineer nerve cells to visibly light up when they are active.

Health - Life Sciences - 23.12.2014
Armed virus shows promise as treatment for pancreatic cancer
A new combination of two different approaches - virotherapy and immunotherapy - is showing "great promise" as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, according to new research from QMUL. The study, funded by the UK charity Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, investigated whether the effectiveness of the Vaccinia oncolytic virus - a virus modified to selectively infect and kill cancer cells - as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, would be improved by arming it with a gene which modulates the body's immune system.

Health - Life Sciences - 22.12.2014
Researchers sweep cells apart for use in medical research
Scientists have developed a new method to separate cells, which could lead to more efficient medical research. In a new paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry's journal Lab on A Chip, University of Glasgow researchers outline how they have used moving acoustic waves to very gently separate clinically useful cells from cellular debris.

Life Sciences - Health - 19.12.2014
Some E. coli bacteria hijack key proteins to survive longer
Some E. coli bacteria hijack key proteins to survive longer
A new study shows how two strains of the intestinal bug E. coli manage to hijack host proteins used to control the body's immune system. The research shows how E. coli bacteria can block key human enzymes, in a way that has not previously been shown in any other biological context. The enzymes, known as kinases, are molecular switches that control processes such as immune responses to infection and cancers in humans.

Health - Administration - 19.12.2014
The hunt for botanicals
Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science. Co-written by King's College London experts, the article reviews botanicals that have shown promising results in treating fibrosis or tissue scarring, along with some other herbs that are associated with pro-fibrotic damage to the liver, the kidney and some other organs.

Health - Life Sciences - 19.12.2014
Peanut component linked to cancer spread
Cancer patients are advised to avoid regular consumption of peanuts Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body. In the first study of its kind, scientists showed that a protein in peanuts, called peanut agglutinin (PNA), binds to a special sugar chain, which occurs mainly on pre-cancerous and cancer cells, and interacts with a larger protein expressed on the surface of tumour cells in the bloodstream.

Life Sciences - Health - 18.12.2014
’Hairclip’ protein mechanism explained
New study describes a fundamental mechanism regulating a protein's shape and function, with potential applications in biotechnology and drug development. The power of such multi-disciplinary studies is that we can begin to answer questions that neither of us could do alone Jane Clarke New research has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function.

Health - Economics / Business - 16.12.2014
Study recommends GPs should be more open when referring patients for cancer investigations
16 December 2014 GPs should consider a more overt discussion with patients when referring them for further investigation of symptoms which may indicate cancer, according to a paper published in the British Journal of General Practice. In an NIHR-funded study, researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Durham and Exeter conducted's with patients being referred for possible lung and colorectal cancer.

Agronomy / Food Science - Health - 15.12.2014
Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children
Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children
Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality. Obesity and malnutrition are often thought of as problems at opposite ends of the nutrition spectrum, but the study found that 6.7% of Egyptian mothers were obese and had stunted children.

Health - Life Sciences - 15.12.2014
Scientists to identify which genes could trigger glaucoma
Using the latest microarray technologies, scientists will assess over 2000 microRNAs to understand the links to glaucoma Researchers at the University of Liverpool are using the latest technologies to identify the genes reponsible for glaucoma. The research, co-funded by Fight for Sight and The International Glaucoma Association, aims to uncover what role microRNAs play in regulating the eye's drainage system.

Health - Life Sciences - 12.12.2014
New project receives funding to study asthma responses in zebrafish
New project receives funding to study asthma responses in zebrafish
Imperial research investigating the effect of cigarette smoke on zebrafish is one of four pioneering projects that will study asthma in non-mammals Almost £400,000 has been awarded across four research projects working to better understand the basic biology of human asthma - without the use of traditional mammalian models.

Health - Life Sciences - 11.12.2014
Study sheds new light on relationship between personality and health
Researchers have found new evidence that explains how some aspects of our personality may affect our health and wellbeing, supporting long-observed associations between aspects of human character, physical health and longevity. A team of health psychologists at The University of Nottingham and the University of California in Los Angeles ( UCLA ) carried out a study to examine the relationship between certain personality traits and the expression of genes that can affect our health by controlling the activity of our immune systems.

Health - 11.12.2014
New evidence reveals tamoxifen reduces breast cancer rates by nearly a third for 20 years
The preventive effect of breast cancer drug 'tamoxifen' remains virtually constant for at least 20 years - with rates reduced by around 30 per cent - new analysis published in The Lancet Oncology reveals. The IBIS-I trial (International Breast Cancer Intervention Study), led by Queen Mary University of London and funded by Cancer Research UK, examined the long-term risks and benefits of taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease (aged 35-70 years old, primarily with a family history of breast cancer).

Health - Life Sciences - 11.12.2014
Syphilis sailed the ocean blue: why a bent femur won’t overturn Columbus theory
Following recent dispute over its origins in Europe, Dr Rob Knell from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explains why he is yet to be convinced by any alternative to the theory that Columbus brought syphilis across the Atlantic. In 1495 a horrific new disease appeared in Europe. Acquired by sexual contact and initially spread through Europe by mercenary soldiers from the army of King Charles VIII of France returning from a successful invasion of Italy, this new disease was extraordinarily unpleasant.

Health - Civil Engineering - 10.12.2014
Biomarker discovery sheds new light on heart attack risk of arthritis drugs
Biomarker discovery sheds new light on heart attack risk of arthritis drugs
A class of drug for treating arthritis - all but shelved over fears about side effects - may be given a new lease of life following new research. The new study, led by Imperial College London and published in the journal Circulation , sheds new light on the 10-year-old question of how COX-2 inhibitors - a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) - can increase the risk of heart attack in some people, and suggests a possible way to identify which patients should avoid using it.

Life Sciences - Health - 10.12.2014
Clues to dementia and Parkinson
Press release issued: 10 December 2014 Researchers based in Bristol and London have uncovered a link between Lewy body diseases like Parkinson's and the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's. The findings could help to explain the close relationship between Parkinson's, more commonly known for causing movement difficulties, and dementia.

Health - 10.12.2014
Study probes insulin effect
Analysis of thousands of NHS records has uncovered a link between an increased dosage of insulin in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and a heightened risk of death in patients. In a report published today in the journal of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism , researchers from the School of Medicine were also able to show a correlation between patients treated with a higher dosage of insulin and a raised risk of cancer development, heart attacks and stroke.

Life Sciences - Health - 08.12.2014
Brain mechanism that drives us to eat glucose
Brain mechanism that drives us to eat glucose
Scientists have discovered a mechanism in the brain that may drive our appetite for foods rich in glucose and could lead to treatments for obesity. Glucose is a component of carbohydrates, and the main energy source used by brain cells. By studying rats, a team at Imperial College London identified a mechanism that appears to sense how much glucose is reaching the brain, and prompts animals to seek more if it detects a shortfall.
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