Viagra protects the heart: back to the future for the love pills

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Viagra pills

New research published today in BMC Medicine shows that Viagra could be used as a safe treatment for heart disease. In this guest post, lead author on the paper, Andrea M. Isidori of Department of Experimental Medicine at Sapienza University of Rome, tells us more about the background to this research and what they found out.

Everybody’s heard of Viagra (sildenafil). It was the first phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i) marketed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. But few people are aware of the other beneficial effects and potential new uses for this class of drugs.

Viagra was originally tested for heart problems – angina pectoris, a chest pain associated with coronary heart disease – on the basis of its vasodilatory …

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Biology – The foreseeable future

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BMC Biol iconic image

It’s a year and a half since we last looked at what our Editorial Board thinks we still need to know about biology, and it’s Biology Week in the UK. Good enough reason for another look at the open questions our expert Board thinks are most pressing, interesting or neglected in biological science.

Do we know our planet?

Ecology, not surprisingly is replete with open questions. We don’t know how biodiversity comes about (Anne Magurran), or how to predict what our blundering footprints will do to it (Anne Magurran and Charles Godfray, who roped in Robert May to help frame the questions), or whether biodiversity offsetting is a real possibility for making good the damage done by …

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Breast cancer awareness: genes, behaviors and subtypes

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Wikimedia Commons (MesserWoland)

With October in full swing, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is underway to highlight the importance of breast cancer prevention, early detection and prompt treatment. Understanding the risk factors for breast cancer is key for prevention, and in BMC Medicine we take a look at how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the chance of developing the disease.

Can disease risk genes be modified by environmental factors?

While a number of validated genes are known to confer breast cancer risk, increasing evidence suggests that certain behavioral factors, such as alcohol consumption and smoking, are thought to modify the effect of genetic risk markers. In a commentary article published as part of our Spotlight on breast cancer article collection,

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From plants to publishing – a biologist’s story

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"I still remember those classic experiments, counting bugs and plants in a quadrat, covering a leaf with black paper and seeing what happened."

As part of this year’s Biology Week celebrations, organised by the Society of Biology, we interviewed Elizabeth Moylan, Biology Editor here at BioMed Central and asked her about what first got her interested in biology and how she ended up working in publishing.

Tell us about what first got you interested in biology, and what you went on to study.

I can’t really remember a ‘light bulb’ moment where I fell in love with the subject so to speak. I guess growing up, the natural world is all around you and it was just fascinating to find things out.

I liked messing around in the garden, and enjoyed all those Attenborough programmes, and at school biology lessons were fun! I still remember those classic …

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Eating for two? The impact of diet, exercise and obesity during pregnancy

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As the global obesity epidemic continues, more and more overweight and obese women are becoming pregnant. It is estimated that around 15-20% of pregnant women in the UK have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, which can have serious health consequences for both mothers and their children.

The consequences of obesity during pregnancy

Obesity poses risks to mothers throughout gestation and childbirth, as well as in the postpartum period. During pregnancy, the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia is elevated in obese women, and those with a BMI over 30 are more likely to suffer miscarriages and infections. There are also many risks to babies born to obese women, including stillbirth, preterm delivery, congenital …

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Fungal all the way: kicking off #fungalfortnight

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rebus 1

Let me ask you all a question. What have fungi ever done for you?

Well, from that slice of toast you had for breakfast to inspiring a medical breakthrough that has meant we can now survive once-fatal infectious diseases, the truth is fungi have done more for us than we give them credit for.

In fact, the fungal kingdom is the one we tend to forget when we think about the kingdoms of life, but despite this, fungi are surprisingly ubiquitous and, quite frankly, rather important. So important in fact, that we have launched an open access scientific journal entirely dedicated to them: Fungal Biology and Biotechnology.

 

Fungal Biology and Biotechnology publishes original scientific research and reviews covering all areas …

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House fly genome could reveal insights into insecticide resistance

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A global team of researchers, led by Jeffrey Scott at Cornell University, have successfully sequenced the house fly genome, published today in Genome Biology. In this guest post, Professor Scott tells us more about why the research represents a significant scientific advance.

An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out

George Jean Nathan

 House flies are responsible for a great deal of human misery. They transmit over one hundred human diseases, including antibiotic resistance strains. Fly transmitted trachoma alone causes 6 million cases of childhood blindness each year. We hope that the house fly genome will open new opportunities for controlling this pest.

House fly larvae also live in a virtual sea …

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Making multiple changes to lifestyle factors can reduce risk of developing colorectal cancer

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Intestines (cropped)

Deborah Gilbert from Bowel & Cancer Research and Mohamed A Thaha the National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation at Queen Mary University of London discuss a recent article published in BMC Medicine in which it has been found that adoption of a combination of five key healthy behaviors is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer and the second most common cancer killer. In recent decades, although cancer care has improved and more people survive longer, many CRC cases are still diagnosed at a late stage, when survival is much less likely. For this reason, much attention is now focused on …

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Thrombosis – what you need to know

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Thrombosis facts

Thrombosis – blood clots that form in an artery or vein – is the one disorder that causes all three of the world’s top cardiovascular killers: heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Today is World Thrombosis Day, and to mark it, the Editors of Thrombosis Journal have put together some of the key things you ought to know about thrombosis and the associated risks.

An estimated 17.3 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, making it the number one cause of deaths globally. This is estimated to increase to 20.3 million deaths by 2030. Given these numbers, it is undoubtedly vitally important for us to understand the mechanisms and causes of these diseases.

Heart attacks and strokes are, …

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Life after the Millennium Development Goals: Raising the voices of marginalized communities

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Eight goals for 2015

Whilst not perfect, the Millennium Development Goals have helped to focus the work of the global health community. But what happens post 2015? Guest blogger Ana Lorena Ruano, Managing Editor of International Journal for Equity in Health tells us about new research into giving a voice to marginalized communities.

The Millennium Declaration of 2000 presented the world with eight Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to improve social and economic development and to eradicate poverty.

Despite the goals’ shortcomings, the last decade and a half has shown the global health community how useful they can be when it comes to focusing attention and funding into specific areas. Today, the global consensus is to renew these goals through the embracement of …

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