Recent posts from our blogs

From: BioMed Central blog

Are combinations of re-purposed drugs the answer for treating rare diseases?

Guest on December 19, 2014 at 11:52 - 0 Comments

Ségolène Aymé is a medical geneticist and Emeritus Research Director at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). She is founder of Orphanet, a portal for rare diseases and orphan drugs, and chair of the Topic Advisory Group on rare diseases at the World Health Organization. In this blog post, she talks about a recent study published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, where she is Editor-in-Chief, that could set an example as a new way forward for treating rare diseases.

The results of a Phase 2 clinical trial recently published in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases opens new avenues for the development of effective therapies for rare diseases, a field where unmet needs are common.

Thousands

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From: BMC series blog

Sterile Insect Technique- Next Generation Pesticides

Christopher Foote on December 19, 2014 at 11:09 - 0 Comments

A new Supplement published in BMC Genetics titled “Development and evaluation of improved strains of insect pests for SIT” explores the environmentally friendly method of sterile insect technique (SIT) that aims to control pests through genetic, not chemical means. The articles included came from a Coordinated Research Project initiated by the Joint FAO/IAEA Insect Pest Control Subprogram “Development and Evaluation of Improved Strains of Insect Pest for SIT applications”. Read about the clever genetics tricks employed to control insect populations!

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/15/S2/S12

 

 

 

From: BioMed Central blog

The Global Burden of Disease: non-communicable diseases increase premature death

Lin Lee on December 19, 2014 at 10:35 - 0 Comments

Up-to-date knowledge of cause-specific mortality is essential for the formulation of health policies. Obtaining this evidence is a massive undertaking, and probably the largest attempt to do so is the landmark Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010). This was the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors.

In the first in a series of papers has been published in the Lancet today, GBD 2010 has been updated to GBD 2013 three years later. The authors aimed to ascertain changes in the global, regional and national burden of mortality for 240 causes of death across 188 countries between 1990-2013. Using similar methods to those...

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From: BioMed Central blog

SRST2: a new tool for genomic epidemiology

Andreia Cunha on December 18, 2014 at 12:56 - 0 Comments

“We began this project because we needed more reliable methods to do our own research work, which involves detecting resistance genes and other genetic markers in thousands of bacterial genomes, but we quickly saw that it had direct and important implications for diagnostic labs.”

In this Q&A, Michael Inouye and Kathryn Holt, authors of a Software article recently published in Genome Medicine, tell us about the development of the software SRST2. SRST2 is a read mapping-based computational tool that allows fast and accurate detection of genes, alleles and multi-locus sequence types from whole genome short sequencing reads.

Why did SRST2 need to be developed?

“Genomic surveillance is being adopted by diagnostic and public health labs all over the world, as

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From: BioMed Central blog

Theory and practice: Finding common ground between health economics and implementation science

Guest on December 18, 2014 at 11:57 - 0 Comments

Can health economics and the practical realities of delivering healthcare work side by side? Michel Wensing, professor of implementation science at Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands, and co-editor-in-chief of Implementation Science considers a new editorial on this question.

Many health professionals and health researchers have little interest in the costs of healthcare, perhaps with the exception of their personal reimbursement. Published economic studies have little relevance for them.

And, in fact, they may be correct. Economic analyses in healthcare are often designed to support decision-making on the reimbursement of treatments, devices and programs in national healthcare systems. Therefore a societal perspective and long-term time horizon are taken, non-healthcare costs are included, and non-clinical utilities are preferred

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From: BioMed Central blog

Update on peer review manipulation

Jigisha Patel on December 17, 2014 at 17:06 - 0 Comments

Following the discovery amongst a handful of BioMed Central journals that some author-suggested reviewers appeared to be fabricated, we have undertaken a systematic and thorough investigation together with other publishers and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

What we have found suggests that some third party agencies may be providing services to authors which include fabricated contact details for peer reviewers during the submission process and then supplying reviews from these addresses.

COPE has issued a statement. We will be working with COPE and other publishers to find ways to address this situation and will now proceed with the retraction of the affected articles that were published and rejection of those that are currently held in our systems.

We are contacting all institutions where

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From: Open Access in the Developing World

Mapping inequities in maternal care

Philippa Harris on December 17, 2014 at 13:43 - 0 Comments

In 2000 the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) designed to improve outcomes for those in low-income countries. These 8 goals range from tackling infectious diseases to reducing extreme poverty and hunger and all have targets to achieve by 2015.

Picture: Marisol Grandon/Department for International Development

Goal 5 aims to improve maternal health by achieving universal access to reproductive healthcare, such as contraceptives and antenatal care, and by reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In Kenya the MMR in 1990 was 400 which means the country is aiming to reduce this...

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From: BioMed Central blog

What should donors do? New learning on health systems in fragile settings

Guest on December 17, 2014 at 09:30 - 0 Comments

This is a guest blog by Steve Commins from Thematic Working Group on Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States.

 

Despite fifteen years of donor efforts to define and address fragile and conflict affected states, the global aid system remains inconsistent in its approach to situations of conflict – veering from rapid (and solely) humanitarian, short term responses, to more nuanced investments in longer term tactics and support for health systems. A new set of papers provides evidence on the particularities of local fragility and the innovative ways that health systems can be strengthened even in settings in crisis.

 

The papers in a special issue for, Conflict and Health, provide new reference points to literature on health in fragile...

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From: Bugbitten

Happy Birthday, Chikungunya (in the Americas)!

Krisztian Magori on December 16, 2014 at 22:52 - 0 Comments

Almost a year ago today, an alarming report was published by the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance  (InVS) describing a novel mosquito-borne disease on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. A patient, who started having symptoms of fever, joint pain and fatigue, was diagnosed with chikungunya virus infection. This started the first documented outbreak of chikungunya in the Americas. I remember trying to explain the reason for my horror at this to colleagues, friends and relatives during the Christmas holiday last year, and I’m sure many of you did the same.

For those of you not yet familiar with this disease, chikungunya fever (pronounced as “chik-en-gun-ye”, here you can hear the correct pronounciation) is a disease...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Pubic hair microbes as a forensic tool

Sam Rose on December 16, 2014 at 15:32 - 0 Comments

After watching CSI, and with forensic science being more advanced than ever, it’s easy to presume that criminals leave DNA traces everywhere that can help to make a conviction if they are caught.

Human hairs come to mind as a great place to start, however, the majority of samples recovered at crime scenes are shed hairs containing insufficient levels of nuclear DNA, meaning they cannot be used to make an identification. This is because short tandem repeat (STR) analysis is performed on crime-scene DNA, where probes are attached to the sample, then it is amplified in length by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to create a DNA fingerprint. Two samples can then be compared to find if there’s a match. With

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From: Open Access in the Developing World

What impact will malaria have on the ape community?

Alanna Orpen on December 16, 2014 at 09:30 - 0 Comments

“Drastic drop in global malaria deaths” read last week’s news headlines. Every year come December the World Health Organization (WHO) publish the World Malaria Report. This is an assessment of global and regional malaria trends, and the latest highlights are mostly positive.

 

The worldwide malaria mortality rate has decreased by 47% and by 54% in Africa, where about 90% of malaria deaths occur. It is good to see we are gaining ground in the malaria fight, but it’s too early for a celebratory ‘hip hip hoorah’, especially as insecticide resistance is on the raise in dozens of countries and a third of households in Africa are still without the basic treated nets. Last year 198 million people were infected and

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From: BioMed Central blog

How can ‘conservation genomics’ help the recovery of the most endangered species?

Guest on December 12, 2014 at 12:43 - 0 Comments

Cheng Cheng is from the School of Life Science & Technology at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, and Jun Yu is from the Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. They are authors of an article published in Genome Biology which has revealed the genomic ‘signatures’ of extinction events in birds. In this post they talk about how these new insights could be used to help conservation efforts of the endangered Crested Ibis in China, and prevent the extinction of other species.

Birds play important roles in ecological balance. They are found everywhere around the globe, with their species numbering nearly twice that of mammals. Unfortunately, the rate of their extinction appears to have increased in the past millennium.

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From: BioMed Central blog

Cooking skills program brings about changes in food attitudes and behaviors

Guest on December 12, 2014 at 10:25 - 0 Comments

Research published today in BMC Public Health by Jamie Oliver’s back–to-basics home cooking skills program (Jamie’s Ministry of Food), shows that participants who completed a 10 week-cooking course, increased their vegetable consumption and cooking confidence, as well as changed their cooking and eating behaviors. In this guest blog, Alicia Peardon, CEO of The Good Foundation and Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia, talks about the merits of the program and how Australians can take steps towards combating diet-related disease.

 

The Good Foundation is a not-for-profit established in 2010 to focus on programs that promote good health and nutrition, with our first priority being Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia. We partnered with Jamie Oliver and The Good Guys to

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From: GigaBlog

A Flock of Bird Data Comes to Roost

Scott Edmunds on December 12, 2014 at 00:17 - 1 Comment

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

—Attributed to Charles Darwin

In 1839 Charles Darwin published his famous account of the 5-year second voyage of the HMS Beagle, describing the flora and fauna he encountered surveying South America and circumnavigating the globe, including the famous Galápagos finches that helped develop much his theory of evolution. Providing his descriptions of these species in this 175 year old work, as well as donating his collected specimens to the Zoological Society of London, it was not until 20 years later, in the 1859 “On the Origin of Species” that the true implications of this work was...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Acetate helps hypoxic cancer cells get fat

Guest on December 11, 2014 at 09:30 - 0 Comments

Today’s guest blog is a Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellow, Jurre Kamphorst, a researcher focusing on the metabolic stress responses in cancer cells and lead author of a study published in Cancer & Metabolism.

Unlike normal cells, cancer cells are wired to just keep on growing. This continued growth requires a constant supply of cellular building blocks, including fatty acids for cell membranes. Normally, fatty acids are mostly being made from glucose. However, tumors often face reduced oxygen levels (hypoxia), causing glucose to be only partially metabolized and secreted as lactate, instead of being used for fatty acid synthesis. We discovered that acetate substitutes for glucose as a source for fatty acid synthesis in hypoxic cancer cells.

We were initially

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