Taking action to overcome breast cancer


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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Managing dyspnea: development of the Breathlessness Intervention Service

Attribution: Sara Booth; http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes-hospital/services/breathlessness-intervention-service-bis

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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Air quality questioned at oil and gas sites

Researchers trained community volunteers to take measurements in the study

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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Developing compassionate health care

Christos Lionis

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.


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 evidence to …

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Questioning regeneration: answers from Alejandro Sánchez-Alvarado


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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New Open Access Button launched


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

Flatback turtle hatchling

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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A movement with momentum – the potential of clinical trials registries

people and globe

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

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

Bryony Graham

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.


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, I’m constantly …

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