Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?


September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Today’s guest author, Marc Wortmann, the Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Disease International talks about the international campaign and the recommendations laid out by this year’s annual report.

World Alzheimer’s Month is the global awareness month for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This is an important month to have because in large parts of the world dementia is still considered a normal part of ageing, rather than a disease of the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease International coordinates awareness and public policy efforts and uses this month to launch its World Alzheimer Report.

This year, the World Alzheimer Report 2014 focuses on modifiable risk factors. It shows there is strong evidence that cardiovascular risk factors, as well as …

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Not motivated enough? How you can get walking more (with the help of science)


Today is World Car-free Day. As the planet heats up and our sedentary behavior increases, it may be time to face up to the facts: we really ought to walk more often. That’s easier said than done. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to find the encouragement to ditch our vehicles. 

You may have seen in the news last week that commuters who choose public transport, ride a bike or walk to their offices will often feel better, both mentally and physically, compared to those that go by car. Yet despite that, people still decline the healthier option. Why is this? Sometimes it requires the right dose of motivation – but we all know motivation can be hard to come across. Thankfully …

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Time to reduce needless deaths from liver cirrhosis


Our guest author, Ali. A. Mokdad is based at University of Texas and affiliated with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE). He is the lead author of a recent study published in BMC Medicine, focusing on deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. 


Liver cirrhosis is a costly disease that is devastating to families and their finances. Most of these deaths are preventable, however. Countries can reverse the tide of liver cirrhosis by implementing a variety of cost-effective solutions.

When my colleagues and I saw just how many deaths occurred each year as a result of liver cirrhosis, we decided to write a paper to raise awareness about these disease trends and the steps that could be taken …

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Frontiers in Zoology article wins IgNobel Prize

Body orientation in dogs from Hart et al. Frontiers in Zoology 2013

When people ask me why I like working in scientific publishing I tell them that one of the many reasons is it gives me the chance to inspire curiosity in people in some of the amazing scientific and medical research being done. This is exactly what the IgNobel Prizes are about – “honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

Last night the IgNobel Prizes were awarded during a ceremony that took place at Harvard University. The winner in the Biology category was Hynek Burda and colleagues for their article ‘Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field’ published in Frontiers of Zoology. It certainly has piqued so many people’s curiosity – …

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Jeans for Genes Day: putting the spotlight on genetic diseases


While not all rare diseases are genetic, individual genetic disorders are rare. But despite individual genetic disorders being rare, collectively they affect 1 in 25 children. Furthermore, 80% of rare diseases are caused by faulty genes. Therefore when we discuss genetic diseases it is in essence a discussion on rare diseases.

Today marks Jeans for Genes Day, a fundraising event organized by Genetic Disorders UK to raise money for causes that help children with genetic diseases. There are more than 6,000 known genetic disorders, and this number is constantly increasing as patient sequencing technologies become more accessible. Genetic diseases can affect a person’s senses, movement, ability to learn or appearance, and can range from split-hand/split-foot malformation, a congenital …

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The Jolie effect – increasing options for patients

Angelina Jolie 2 June 2014 (cropped)" by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Celebrity endorsements for campaigns are so common they can feel meaningless – see the ‘stars’ who added their Yes or No in the run up to the Scottish referendum or, more pertinently the array of hot twenty-somethings who will line up in pink T-shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Occasionally though something happens that has a genuine effect on patients’ – or prospective patients’ – lives.

Last summer, actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie published a moving article, ‘My medical choice’, in the New York Times about her decision to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation and subsequently to have a double mastectomy to protect against her 87% chance of developing breast cancer.

A BRCA mutation confers a …

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We need stronger evidence to make the case for close-to-community health providers

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In this guest post, Dr Miriam Taegtmeyer, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine writes for Human Resources for Health on the need for better evidence on the benefits and implementation of close-to-community health provider programs in low- and middle- income countries.

I am currently a member of the Thematic Working Group on Supporting and Strengthening the Role of Community Health Workers in Health System DevelopmentandtheREACHOUTConsortium. REACHOUT is a research consortium working in six countries in Africa and Asia. The Thematic Working Group brings together academics, policy makers and practitioners interested in strengthening the use of evidence on community health workers.

Many countries are rolling out or scaling up the use of community health workers – …

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Publication ethics in North America – COPE North American Seminar 2014


The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) North American Seminar was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA this August with a record breaking attendance from across the region of 81 delegates, including myself representing BioMed Central. The focus of the seminar was new technologies and behaviors for identifying publication ethics issues and those present were fortunate to be involved in an engaging and informative program covering a wide breadth of topics including persistent identifiers in the authoring process, linked content, open access and copyright, and a panel discussion on the use of plagiarism checking software and its effectiveness in identifying misconduct.

Publication ethics are vitally important to editors and the scientific community as they are the foundation for the integrity of the published literature. …

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Together we are stronger: charities join forces to support open access


A consortium of six leading UK medical research charities will support the costs of making research articles from their funded research immediately and freely openly available to scientists, patients, and donors alike, through the recently announced joint Charity Open Access Fund. David Carr of the Wellcome Trust, Sanjay Thakrar of the British Heart Foundation and Matt Kaiser of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research explain how this new partnership came about.

As charitable funders of medical research, we are dedicated to maximizing the societal benefits that flow from the research we fund. We know that making research publications openly available ensures that the knowledge and data they contain can be more widely accessed, corroborated and used to advance research …

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Implementing nature’s solution to dirty bacteria with the bioinspired Sharklet™ micropattern


A guest blog from Dr. Ethan Mann, a research scientist at Sharklet Technologies, Inc, in which he discusses how different materials can prevent the spread of human disease bacteria.

Microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses  are contacted during interaction with everyday surfaces. Picking up germs from surfaces contributes to transmission of infectious diseases. Bacteria are able to survive on hard surfaces for days to weeks before they are reintroduced to a host. Once in a host, the bacteria are able to cause an illness often resulting in further propagation of the microorganism and potentially the need for treatment.

High touch public surfaces such as door handles and railings would benefit from a self-cleaning surface technology to reduce the amount of microorganisms …

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