PCR contamination revealed, adding fuel to XMRV debate

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Xenotrophic murine leukemia-related virus (XMRV) has been associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a debilitating condition of unknown etiology, and also prostate cancer. These associations have been hotly debated, with subsequent studies either supporting or questioning the connection.

However, most studies, whether they support or negate the link between XMRV and the two diseases, rely heavily on evidence provided by PCR testing. Therefore, when Retrovirology published four research articles in December 2010 that revealed underlying contamination issues associated with PCR analysis for XMRV, this impacted dramatically on the validity of previous research. All four studies demonstrate that murine genetic material can contaminate experiments leading to false positive findings.  

Robinson et al show by PCR testing of 437 …

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Extension on article nominations for BioMed Central’s 5th Annual Research Awards

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The nomination deadline for BioMed Central’s 5th Annual Research Awards has been extended by two weeks to Friday 14th January 2011. These awards celebrate some of the most groundbreaking open access research that was published in BioMed Central’s 200+ journals last year. 

In true open access style these awards are open for public nomination to members of the research community. Prizes will be awarded for excellence in research from areas of biology and medicine. The Open Data Award has returned a second year, due to its popularity at the 4th Annual Research Awards and this time it too is open to public nominations. The Open Data Award recognizes researchers who have published in BioMed Central’s journals …

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Developments in diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s

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With our ageing population, and growing focus on caring for that population, managing dementia is an increasingly challenging topic. As with other disabilities, there is a whole segment of the population that acts as unpaid caregivers providing vital support for aged persons with various cognitive impairments. Improvements in diagnosis, treatment and appropriate palliative care are all in great demand as the stresses placed on health services and social support systems reaches saturation. Two new articles in BMC Medicine examine the latest research in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Wagner Gattaz and colleagues provide an update for researchers interested in the early diagnosis of AD. It is extremely difficult …

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Exploring biodiversity

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The close of 2010 marks the end of the UN International Year of Biodiversity,
but the issues remain, and with them a surprising number of fundamental
unanswered questions. These are explored in a Q&A article -
commissioned for BMC Biology
as a contribution to the BioMed Central cross-journal thematic
series on biodiversity research
– by Anne Magurran, author of two key books
on measuring biodiversity.

We all take it for granted that biodiversity is important,
suggesting that at least we know what it is, but it turns out to be surprisingly tricky to define in practice: the
key questions being diversity where, when and of what. In the light of these
difficulties it is perhaps not …

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Epigenetic differences between obese and lean people

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In most industrialized nations today, obesity is highly prevalent and represents a significant cost to society, both in terms of economy and health. Individuals are classified obese when they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over. In the UK, 1 in 4 people are classified as obese and the direct costs to the NHS of this disease are estimated to be £4.2 billion per year. Obesity related mortality by far exceeds that of other common diseases, indicating that, in addition to the commonly unheeded advice of ‘eat less, move more’, there is an urgent need for novel therapeutic strategies. Understanding the underlying genetics of obesity will aid this research effort. New research in …

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Man officially declared cured of HIV

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HIV
enters immune cells by fusing with a target cell’s surface membrane and
releasing viral genome into the host.

The
host membrane protein involvement is predominantly represented
by  chemokine receptor CCR5, which is bound by glycoproteins expressed on HIV
membranes.

It
is estimated that approximately one percent of the population carry a rare genetic mutation of the CCR5 receptor which confers an
innate resistance to HIV. Individuals carrying a deletion mutation called “CCRF-delta 32” lack this receptor altogether and are highly resistant
to infection by the most common forms of HIV-1.

A
recent article in Blood has reported on the first known case of HIV infection being
completely cured in a patient, who received a stem cell bone …

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Death in a unicellular world

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Programmed cell death, a decision made by cells to die via a self-governed process, has been extensively studied in metazoans (multicellular organisms), however, evidence that unicellular organisms also undergo this process and even induce cell death in their host is growing. A new thematic series, Protazoan parasites and cell death, published in Parasites and Vectors, reviews what is currently known about cell death in single-celled protozoan parasites.

The series examines the biochemical pathways and markers of protozoan cell death, highlighting similarities and differences with metazoan cell death, and asks why parasitic protozoa have evolved such a mechanism at all, as logic dictates that cell death …

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Scientific writing – Conference abstracts : online course announced

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Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) has recently announced the launch of an exciting new e-course on writing and submitting conference abstracts: Scientific writing – Conference abstracts. The course, organised in collaboration with Health[e]Foundation, is based on previous scientific writing workshops successfully offered by JIAS at regional and international conferences.

The abstract writing course is available free of charge online and aims to create better opportunities for health professionals, including researchers, to disseminate research and findings at international conferences.

The course covers guidelines on conference abstract preparation, writing and submission, by providing examples and short interactive exercises. It is envisaged that in the future, the scientific writing course will be extended to offer further interactive training …

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Article cover pages revisited

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In September this year, BioMed Central introduced support for article cover pages across its journal portfolio (see blog post).

This feature has been enthusiastically embraced by authors, who have uploaded many striking images to be used to create cover pages for their published articles. Some of our favourite examples are shown below:

Supplying an image to be used for an article cover page is easy to do – a suitable image can be uploaded as part of BioMed Central’s standard user-friendly manuscript submission process.

Veterinary Research goes open access with BioMed Central

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Veterinary Research, ranked number one in the Veterinary Sciences field with an Impact Factor of 3.58, is now accepting submissions for its re-launch as an open access journal in 2011. It will be published by BioMed Central, on behalf of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

Headed by Editor-in-Chief Michel Brémont, Veterinary Research publishes high quality and novel research and review articles focusing on animal infection, and covers the fields of bacteriology, parasitology, virology, immunology, prion diseases, and epidemiology. Further details on the journal’s scope and policies can be found here.

Veterinary Research will be the flagship title in BioMed Central’s expanding publishing programme in this discipline, and we look forward to publishing the first …

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