Recent posts from our blogs

From: BioMed Central blog

Taking action to overcome breast cancer

Guest on October 31, 2014 at 14:29 - 0 Comments

To mark the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, guest blogger Katherine Woods, Senior Research Communications Manager at Breast Cancer Campaign tells us more about their research recently published in Breast Cancer Research and the Off-patent Drugs Bill which they are now collaborating on.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (or ‘BCAM’ to those of us at Breast Cancer Campaign who refer to it on a daily basis, all year round) is unsurprisingly our busiest and most exciting time of year.

In October 2013, with the dedicated hard work of over 100 international experts, we published our second ‘gap analysis’ paper in Breast Cancer Research, which highlighted the gaps in our knowledge which – if filled – would bring the...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Managing dyspnea: development of the Breathlessness Intervention Service

Guest on October 31, 2014 at 09:36 - 0 Comments

A randomized controlled trial published today in BMC Medicine reports that the multidisciplinary Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) is effective in helping patients with advanced cancer cope with breathlessness. In this guest post, Sara Booth, co-author on the trial and founder of BIS, explains the research.

Breathlessness (also called dyspnea) is becoming recognized as one of the most important symptoms that patients with advanced disease experience – whether their condition is malignant or non-malignant.

Chronic breathlessness was neglected for many years; detection rates were low, with little research carried out, probably because clinicians did not know what to do if they diagnosed it. Happily, that situation is now changing with important statements on the subject from the American Thoracic...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Air quality questioned at oil and gas sites

Guest on October 30, 2014 at 04:01 - 0 Comments

A paper published today in Environmental Health has raised concerns about air quality in areas surrounding oil and gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites. Caroline Cox, an author on the paper, is Research Director for the Center for Environmental Health, a US nonprofit working to end health threats from toxic chemicals in air, water, food, and the products we use every day. Here she tells us more about what their new study has found.

Decades ago, when I was a graduate student, my advisor often said that our job as scientists was to put numbers on the obvious. Maybe it should be obvious that oil and gas production, including as it does the extraction, transport, and processing of enormous

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From: GigaBlog

Uncovering the tangled roots of plant evolution

Scott Edmunds on October 29, 2014 at 19:53 - 0 Comments

Using big data to understand the tree of life
New work just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and GigaScience reveals important details about key transitions in the evolution of plant life on our planet, and present a huge cache of computational results, data and tools for plant biologists.

In closing the Origin of Species, Darwin described a “tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds”, and this metaphor is apt for our still tangled understanding of how the key branches of the tree of life fit together, particularly the plant kingdom. From strange and exotic algae, mosses, ferns, trees and flowers growing deep

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From: BioMed Central blog

Developing compassionate health care

Sara Ho on October 29, 2014 at 15:45 - 0 Comments

Our new journal, the Journal of Compassionate Health Care launched today. In a Q+A, we asked the Editors-in-Chief, Sue Shea and Christos Lionis, to tell us more about the field and what they hope to achieve with the journal.

 

Sue Shea

Christos Lionis

What is compassionate health care and how has it developed?

Compassionate health care is a rapidly growing field which has come to the forefront following concerns that despite the increasing scope and sophistication of health care, it sometimes fails at a fundamental level.   Although there are many reported gaps in the humanity of health care, there is general agreement that care, compassion, and basic care delivery should form an important aspect of health care globally.

In addition, there is

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From: BioMed Central blog

Questioning regeneration: answers from Alejandro Sánchez-Alvarado

Ann Le Good on October 29, 2014 at 13:38 - 0 Comments

Alejandro Sánchez-Alvarado’s dynamic enthusiasm comes through as he talks about his passion: regeneration. In an interview for Biome he reflects on his personal experiences in science that have shaped his current research.

 

Planarian flatworms have remarkable regenerative capacity, being able to regenerate a whole organism from a tiny fragment of its body (for a general introduction see his Q&A  in BMC Biology ) but what led Alejandro to work on this organism?

 

A focus on the past and a chance meeting at a conference were his inspiration. His interest was aroused on finding the book ‘Regeneration’ by TH Morgan, who is as Alejandro comments “the father of modern genetics on Drosophila”, and who undertook “forgotten classic”...

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From: BioMed Central blog

New Open Access Button launched

Guest on October 29, 2014 at 11:33 - 0 Comments

On Tuesday last week, a brand new version of the Open Access Button was launched. Here, we get the lowdown on the new features and the team’s plans for the future from one of the founders of the Button – David Carroll.

If you are reading this, I’m guessing that you are a student, researcher, innovator, or just someone interested in learning about the latest research. You may be doing incredible work, writing a manuscript or presentation, or just have a burning desire to know everything about anything. In this case I know that you are also denied access to the research you need by pages asking you to pay up to $40 for one piece of research. This happens

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From: Open Access in the Developing World

The 'Process Map': guiding scientific collaboration

Alanna Orpen on October 28, 2014 at 09:30 - 0 Comments

“the substantive findings of science are a product of social collaboration and are assigned to the community…The scientist’s claim to ‘his’ intellectual ‘property’ is limited to that of recognition and esteem…” proclaimed the American historian and socialist Robert K. Merton in 1942. He believed science to be a ‘communist activity’ and an institution where researchers share their work with their community for the common good.

This view that progress in science is reached via cooperation and collaboration between individual scientists, and between generations of scientists, is an idealistic outlook of an institution where competition thrives.

Unfortunately, competiveness is an inherent nature in science. Scientists are set up to fiercely battle it out for limited funding and grants. Dr Trudie Lang, Director

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From: BioMed Central blog

Congratulations it’s a boy: the impact of climate change on turtle gender

Alexander Mulhern on October 27, 2014 at 17:02 - 0 Comments

Climate change is predicted to cause sweeping effects on the world’s biomes, but one of the most peculiar will be on certain reptilian species who employ a physiological mechanism called Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD).

Research published last week in Climate Change Responses has highlighted an anomalous trend in the future sex-ratios of flatback turtles. Where most of the existing literature has warned of an increasing feminized trend in turtles, the rookery of this study has shown quite the opposite. The Cape Domett rookery is a hatching ground for flatback turtles (Natator depressus) located on the northern coast of Western Australia and has been the subject of intensive, long-term study in turtle ecology.

TSD is a type of environmental sex determination only

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From: BioMed Central blog

A movement with momentum - the potential of clinical trials registries

Ella Flemyng on October 27, 2014 at 11:51 - 0 Comments

“The registration of all interventional trials is a scientific, ethical and moral responsibility” – World Health Organization (WHO)

New research published today in Systematic Reviews suggests that the full potential of clinical trials registries is not being realized in the conduct of systematic reviews. The results revealed that only 35% of researchers used clinical trials registries in their search strategy; however, more than three quarters identified at least one completed or ongoing trial for inclusion.

Systematic reviews are the pinnacle of medical evidence available for clinical decision making. One of the greatest challenges a systematic reviewer faces is identifying all relevant studies for inclusion. Without an exhaustive sample of relevant studies the validity of the conclusions will be questionable.

Identifying and

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From: BMC series blog

An ancient rift among giraffes gives us clues on how to conserve them

Christopher Foote on October 27, 2014 at 11:31 - 0 Comments

The number of giraffe subspecies, and the relationship between them, remains controversial. Research, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, uses a new analysis of mitochondrial DNA to help resolve these questions, with implications for the conservation of these unique animals.

 

How to recognise a giraffe

Giraffes, unsurprisingly for such distinct animals, have long attracted considerable interest from we humans. Despite this we still lack a lot of basic knowledge about these animals.

For example, just how many species of giraffe are there? Currently, biologists recognise just one species of giraffe, but nine distinct subspecies. Some researchers have suggested that at least some of these subspecies should actually be classified as separate species.

 

Part of the reason for this confusion is the lack of

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From: GigaBlog

Guest Blog: The 2014 Ebola Epidemic: Approaches and resources to slow the spread of infection

Scott Edmunds on October 27, 2014 at 11:20 - 1 Comment

The Ebola pandemic presents one of the most terrifying world health crises in modern times, with devastating consequences in Western Africa [as this goes to press there are now over 10,000 infections and almost 5,000 deaths]. There is a vast amount of data on this crisis available in rapidly published articles and on the internet (check out PLOS Currents: Outbreaks in particular), including past and current numbers of infected; death and infection rates; predicted outbreak expansion; number of current and needed health care workers and treatment centers; required financial resources; and more. These available data can, and are, being used for a broad range of topics, for example a...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Time for a change: Could additional daylight saving improve public health?

Joel Winston on October 24, 2014 at 14:48 - 1 Comment

With the clocks going back in Europe this weekend, most of us will probably be looking forward to that extra hour in bed. But that joy of catching up on sleep is always short-lived, when throughout the winter we have to cope with longer, darker evenings.

In some countries, there have been intense debates on whether there should instead be permanent daylight saving, with the clocks shifted forward by an additional hour year round. A proposal known as “Single/Double Summer Time” could see the UK enjoying later sunsets, as it adopts the same time as mainland Europe, essentially GMT+1 hour in the winter and GMT+2 hours in the summer.

Supporters of the proposals say that the changes could lead to fewer road

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From: BioMed Central blog

The theory and the practice: what open access publishing means to an early career researcher

Guest on October 24, 2014 at 09:51 - 0 Comments

Continuing our series of Open Access Week posts, today we get the views of Bryony Graham, a postdoctoral researcher at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM). She writes about the theory and the reality of publishing open access as a researcher at the beginning of her career.

 

Bryony Graham

As a postdoctoral research scientist who graduated just over two years ago, I’d say things are going relatively well. I’ve just about managed to convince myself that I’m no longer a student; my project is starting to shape itself into something vaguely publishable; and apparently I can even be trusted to speak at international conferences about my work. All in all: not bad.

But, like many scientists at this career stage,

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From: Bugbitten

Wolbachia as a weapon in the war against malaria

Hilary Hurd on October 23, 2014 at 17:08 - 0 Comments

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has just celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Grand Challenges in Global Health Programme. One of the original projects that holds great promise of success is Scott O’Neill’s plan to combat the spread of dengue fever. His objective is to introduce bacteria that can inhibit the development of the dengue virus into populations of mosquitoes that spread dengue from person to person. This bacterium is Wolbachia. The question now being asked is could this strategy also be used to control the spread of malaria?

Wolbachia is a genus of intracellular bacteria that infect many arthropods (particularly insects), as well as some round worms. Infected females can pass the bacteria on to their offspring in...

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