Highlights: 21 – 27 Jan 2012
New research in Nature by David Horn sheds new light on how sleeping sickness drugs work and raises hope for the development of better treatment: “If we knew how the drugs work, we could perhaps design better ones… this new understanding of how these medications kill parasites, or fail to kill parasites, could lead to the development of tests that guide the intervention strategy, as well as more active and safer intervention options.” New Scientist, Voice of America, Wellcome Trust, Sanger Institute, Health Canal, Daily Me, Medical Express, Zmarter, E Science News, Science Codex, MedIndia and other media worldwide.
Rosanna Peeling on the potential advantages of a new HIV test that uses saliva rather than blood (co-authored research in Lancet Infectious Diseases): “Oral HIV tests can be a powerful tool for high-risk populations, but self-testing must be accompanied by linkage to care to achieve good health outcomes” Daily Mail, PSL, Health Canal, Science Blog, Biology News, Science Codex, McGill University, Infection Control Today, MedIndia, Armenia Medical Network, ANSA (Italy), Health 24, MediLexicon, Medical News Today, The Cutting Edge, Innovations Report
Tony Fletcher on new findings suggesting that perfluorinated compounds found in food packaging reduce the efficacy of vaccinations: “Most of the results would suggest that vaccine protection is being reduced by these exposures, either exposures during childhood or their earlier exposures prenatally passed on from their mothers.” Daily Mail, Scientific American
Colin Sutherland on a new chemical process that could reduce price and increase production of anti-malarial artemisinin: “A new more reliable supply of cheaper artemisinin could resolve many of the supply problems, and by making the drugs cheaper may also reduce the problems of drug counterfeits.” SciDevNet, Nature
Val Curtis on the importance and impact of disgust in shaping our behaviour in The New York Times: “It’s in our everyday life. It determines our hygiene behaviours. It determines how close we get to people. It determines who we’re going to kiss, who we’re going to mate with, who we’re going to sit next to. It determines the people that we shun, and that is something that we do a lot of.” Also in The Economic Times
Joanna Busza on the sex trafficking scare and disproportionate interventions in advance of the London 2012 Games: “Police crackdowns and brothel closures displace these women from flats and saunas to less safe venues like the street. They also make them wary of authorities, so they’re less likely to report violence or crime.” East London Advertiser
Professor Polly Roy awarded the most prestigious Indian prize for scientific merits: Times Higher Education
David Leon on how increase in life expectancy is making firms rethink their pension and retirement schemes: “It is likely (life expectancy) to carry on rising as more people stop smoking and eat healthily, though increasing obesity and diabetes could reverse the effect.” The Observer
Jenny Roberts is among the authors of a policy and practice note focused on reducing risks of human E. Coli O157 infections in the countryside. The Scottish Farmer, TheCattleSite and other online media.
Highlights: 14 – 20 Jan 2012
Totally resistant tuberculosis reaches 12 cases in India. Ruth McNerney’s analysis of the possible reasons behind the phenomenon covered in New Scientist, BBC News Health, NHS National electronic Library for Medicines, ADNKronos (Italian Newswire), Il Messaggero (Italy), Informazione (Italy), CBS21, Joy, Pressetext (Germany), Wallstreet Online (in German).
BMJ editorial on the difficulties in understanding the new NHS reforms: Martin McKee interviewed by Dr Mark Porter on BBC Radio 4 Inside Health, 17 Jan 01:40 – “I have tried very hard, as have some of my cleverer colleagues, but no matter how hard we try, we always end up concluding that the bill means something quite different from what the secretary of state says it does.” Also in Science Codex, MediLexicon, BioPortfolio, Medical News Today
Forthcoming LSHTM seminar on sex trafficking features on BBC Woman’s Hour: presenter Jenni Murray leads a discussion on the evidence and myths around sex trafficking during the London Olympics. BBC Woman’s Hour (19.01.12 – from 0:33:40) Also in the East London Advertiser
Norman Noah comments on refusal by the Falkland Islands to allow a cruise ship with an outbreak of stomach flu to dock: “The decision was over the top. The illness normally passes within a couple of days and is unlikely to overwhelm hospitals.” Article picked up by Herald Sun, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Examiner, Adelaide Now and more than 30 other outlets worldwide.
Hazel Dockrell profiled in The Lancet: She is described as an Ambassador for international health research in the article, which highlights her research and advocacy globally.
Aubrey Cunnington speaks to Claudia Hammond on the BBC World Service Health Check about his research into the link between malaria and salmonella infections, 18 Jan –13:00.
Vikram Patel calls for action on the neglected burden of mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) disorders in PLoS Medicine: “The time has come for recognition at the highest levels of global development, namely the UN General Assembly, of the urgent need for a global strategy to address the global burden of MNS disorders.” Yahoo News, France24, AFP, El Universal (Colombia), La Estrella (Paraguay), BaoMoi, Viet Nam News, MSN Philippines, Samaa, MediLexicon, MedIndia, The Arab Times, El Heraldo de Chihuahua and more than 20 other Spanish language outlets.
Highlights: 7 – 13 Jan 2012
Ruth McNerney comments on the emergence of a totally drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis: “It’s very worrying, but kind of inevitable, given the gradual emergence of resistance; it’s like watching a slow-motion horror movie unfold.” New Scientist
Research by James Logan to develop a trap for bed bugs baited with their own droppings: “The reason the bugs are attracted to this smell is that they use it to navigate back to their hidey-holes after a night of feeding” The Economist
Ministers have a duty to intervene in a health scare: “This foreshadows the even greater confusion that may arise in the future with similar issues if the Health and Social Care Bill, currently being considered by the House of Lords, ends up on the statute book.” Letter in The Telegraph, 8 Jan, by David Leon, James McEwen and Liam Smeeth on breast implants and implications for the new Bill.
Yaws treatment study prompts WHO review: “More studies are needed to ensure resistance to azithromycin treatment does not develop….” David Mabey comments on research in The Lancet, 11 Jan, showing a one-time oral treatment is as effective as penicillin injections, also IRIN, PSL, AllAfrica
Greek health services struggling in financial crisis: “The financial crisis is brewing a ‘Greek tragedy’ of slowing access to medical care and worsening outcomes for patients” – Martin McKee quoted in Bloomberg and MoneyNews
Professor Michel Coleman discusses UK cancer survival rates: Doctors.net.uk video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqp4qtPewH4
Highlights: 19 Dec 2011 – 6 Jan 2012
Editorial in the BMJ by Martin McKee and Jamie Lopez Bernal suggests the proposed increase in speed limits will increase the death toll on the roads. Read the article on BMJ web site
“It is difficult to see how any benefits of an 80mph speed limit would outweigh the costs… Past evidence shows that speed limit increases lead to substantial rises in road deaths, as well as other potential negative health and economic impacts.”
Print and online coverage: The Times, Press Association, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Evening Standard, Cheshire Online, Birmingham Post, Liverpool Echo, Belfast Telegraph, Berwick Advertiser, Science Codex and more regional coverage. Broadcast: Martin McKee interviewed on LBC with Nick Ferrari (9:35-9:40) and on BBC Radio 5 Live (around 1:15)
Letter in the Times by Martin McKee, Lucy Reynolds et.al. on the implications of the Health Bill
“It is suggested that private-sector generated complications should be taken care of in the public sector. Here we see another example of profits being privatised while complications, costs and problems are nationalised.” The Times, 6 January 2012 –page 27 (paywalled)
Lucy Reynolds raises issues over private healthcare and NHS finance as a result of the PIP breast implant scandal Guardian Online
Karen Edmond and colleagues show antibiotic prophylaxis vital in preventing infant infections
“The study shows the use of prophylactic antibiotics in mothers at risk of Streptococcus B substantially reduces infection rates in newborns, and that such intervention, widely applied in high-income countries, should also be used in the developing world.”
Bayard Roberts, Martin McKee and Preeti Patel (King’s College London) highlight need to support health policy and address non-communicable diseases in post-conflict areas in WHO bulletin
“First, high levels of psychological distress contribute to harmful health behaviours, such as hazardous drinking and increased smoking, which in turn increase the future burden of non-communicable diseases…”
Print and online coverage: Scientific American, Sunday Express, WHO, Health News, Belfast Telegraph, News Medical, Medical Express, MediLexicon, MedCompare, MSN News, Yahoo News, MedIndia, Press Association, Herald (Ireland,) SanteLog (French), Noticias de Salud (Spanish) and more regional UK coverage.
Research by Eleanor Riley and Aubrey Cunnington published in Nature Medicine, explains the link between malaria and salmonella infection for the first time.
“Malaria patients are vulnerable to infections especially by the deadly salmonella bacteria. Now, scientists have found that such fatal infections are a side effect of the body’s attempts to protect itself from the damaging effects of mosquito-borne disease. The finding of the link between malaria and salmonella infections could soon lead to more effective treatments, said the researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. According to them this defence mechanism as a trade-off, where the body fights one enemy but exposes itself to the other.”
Print and online coverage: Times of India, Yahoo! India, Daily India, India Today, NewKerala.com, Zee News, AndrhaNews.net Science Codex, Vaccine News Daily, First Science, Drug Discovery & Development, Infection Control Today, Science Daily, Nu.nl (Netherlands), Daily News & Analysis, Innovations report
Leiden University Ranking based on citation analysis, places LSHTM among world’s top universities for collaborative research. The School ranked overall as 33 in the world, 4th in Europe, and 2nd in the UK just behind Cambridge.
“The London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine tops an alternative ranking based on the proportion of papers that involved collaborations. Nearly 50 per cent of its publications were internationally co-authored.”
Peter Piot’s review of Jacques Pepin’s book “The Origins of AIDS” in Science Magazine.
“The Origins of AIDSpresents the defining pandemic of our modern times as a tragedy embedded in colonization, urbanization, and public health campaigns. It reminds us that well-intentioned human interventions can have unpredictable and disastrous microbiologic consequences.” Science
LSHTM / UCL study casts doubts on effectiveness of genetic testing before prescribing the antiplatelet drug clopidogrel.
“The researchers reviewed previous genotyping studies of clopidogrel and concluded that though there was an “association between the CYP2C19 genotype and clopidogrel responsiveness, overall there was no significant association of genotype with cardiovascular events”