Reporting bias widespread in medical literature

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The selective reporting of trial results is a concern for those basing clinical or policy decisions on the results of published studies. In a review published last week in Trials, McGuaran and colleagues assess the prevalence of publication bias (non-publication of studies with negative or inconclusive results) and outcome reporting bias (non-reporting of specific outcomes within a published study) in the medical literature.

Review
  
Reporting bias in medical research – a narrative review
Natalie McGauran, Beate Wieseler, Julia Kreis, Yvonne-Beatrice Schuler, Heike Kolsch, Thomas Kaiser
Trials 2010, 11:37 (13 April 2010)

This review of published articles on reporting bias identified cases relevant to 40 different conditions – including depression, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease – …

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BioMed Central prize winners announced for BSP 2010

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Congratulations
to those who left The British Society for Parasitology Spring Meeting 2010 with a £150 prize, awarded by BioMed Central
on behalf of Parasites &
Vectors
and Malaria Journal,
for exceptional presentations.

The meeting brought together parasitologists from the UK and
overseas, with over one hundred oral and poster presentations entered for the
Student Prize. Whilst the standard was high throughout the meeting, prizes were
awarded to the following oral and poster presentations:

Will
Proto for ‘Best oral presentation’ – awarded on behalf of Parasites & Vectors:
Trypanosoma brucei metacaspases – surprises from the fourth family member

Hanafy
M. Ismail for ‘Best poster presentation’ – awarded on behalf of Parasites & Vectors: Developing Novel Chemical Probes …

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MicroRNA regulation in autism

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Research by Valerie Hu and colleagues, recently published in Genome Medicine, suggests that microRNAs (miRNAs) have a role in the gene expression changes which can underlie autistic spectrum disorders.

Autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental in origin and often include behavioral and language abnormalities.  In their article “Investigation of post-transcriptional gene regulatory networks associated with autism spectrum disorders by microRNA expression profiling of lymphoblastoid cell lines”, Hu and colleagues suggest that expression changes in 43 miRNAs are seen in patients with this condition.  These miRNAs may regulate genes which have previously been linked to roles in autism and other comorbid disorders.

A recent article from the same group, published in The FASEB Journal, suggests that differential methylation may …

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Section Editors leading peer-review for BMC series journals

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BMC Cancer, BMC Genomics, BMC Bioinformatics, and BMC Neuroscience have all begun operating under an enhanced editorial structure with the appointment of academic Editors to head up different sections of each journal. We are proud to be working with such esteemed scientists and we look forward to other journals in the BMC series adopting this editorial structure in the near future.

Under the new structure, each journal is categorised  into sections, and each section is led by a Section Editor with extensive knowledge of the discipline. The Section Editors work closely with a group of Associate Editors to peer-review manuscripts and with the Editor-in-Chief and BioMed Central’s editorial staff to develop their journals by formulating …

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SPIRIT: New guidance for protocol authors

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Taking an evidence-based approach comparable to that used in the development of the recently-updated CONSORT statement, an overlapping group of expert trialists recently finalized a new checklist of 33 essential items for trial protocols.

Developed in response to increasing calls for transparency and thoroughness in published protocols, the Standard Protocol Items for Randomized Trials (SPIRIT) guidelines are intended to address the sub-standard reporting of protocols by providing authors with the tools they need to ensure that key methodological, ethical and administrative details are included. The importance of protocol publication is not a new issue. Like prospective trial registration, protocol publication provides a permanent, public record of a clinical trial, helping to reduce the potential for bias due …

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Ten free review articles published in Critical Care

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The latest issue of Critical Care features 10 free review articles co-published as part
of a joint effort with the Springer Yearbook of Intensive Care and Emergency
Medicine
.  The articles were selected by
Editor-in-Chief Prof Jean-Louis Vincent, Belgium, for their relevance to health
care professionals and researchers working in the area of intensive care
medicine. Contributions include a paper by Julia Wendon and colleagues, King’s
College Hospital, UK, on renal dysfunction in liver disease; the prevention of infections
caused by catheters written by Olivier Mimoz’s group, Centre Hospitalier
Universitaire, France, and venous oxygen as a physiological transfusion trigger
by Editorial Board member Benoit Vallet et
al
, University Hospital of Lille, France.

The Yearbook compiles the most recent
developments …

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Sloth fur has symbiotic relationship with green algae

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Sloth hair is long and coarse and depending on the species can contain either a number of grooves or irregular transverse cracks that increase in number and size with the age of the animal. These features are ideal for inhabitation by a wide variety of organisms, ranging from moths, beetles, and cockroaches to ciliates, fungi, and algae. It is a popular assumption that algae in particular form a symbiotic relationship with the sloth, obtaining shelter and a good supply of water as sloth fur absorbs water extremely readily, and providing in return camouflage and extra nutrients via diffusion and absorption through the hair and skin.

Until now, there has been no good evidence to support this hypothesis. New research published recently …

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Clinical challenges of iPS stem cells should be met

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Hailed as Breakthrough of the Year by Science back in 2008, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) have recently come under fire from some experts who question whether they are ever going to be suitable for transplanting to patients to treat disease.  iPS cells, created using cell reprogramming techniques, are a source of stem cells without the need to destroy embryos.  Thomas Okarma for example, in a recent article in The Times, recognises their usefulness as a research tool but remains sceptical about their clinical application.

So should we be abandoning research efforts into their potential uses in cell therapy? Douglas Sipp, from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, doesn’t think so.  In a commentary published in the latest …

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Lessons learned from failed Alzheimer’s trials

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The amyloid hypothesis has led to a greater understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and has provided a foundation for the development of drugs to tackle the disease.  Two large clinical trials investigating the clinical effects of two such novel compounds, bapineuzimab and tarenflurbil, on Alzheimer’s disease, have been recently published.  Both drugs were designed to modulate the pathophysiology of the disease by interfering with the beta-amyloid metabolism, albeit through different modes of action, but both trials have disappointingly yielded negative findings, leading to questions being asked of the respective study designs and dosing regimes.

In a commentary published recently in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, Prins et al. discuss the lessons that can be learnt from these studies. They suggest …

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Biology flagships join forces

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The two flagship biology journals of BioMed Central, BMC Biology and Journal of Biology, are combined today to become a single title with all the best features of both. The combined journal will be called BMC Biology, reflecting the strong relationship with the subject-specific BMC-series journals, but will include high-profile commissioned content that to date has appeared only in Journal of Biology.

The new BMC Biology will publish research and methodology articles of special importance and broad interest across all areas of biology and biomedical sciences, importing from Journal of Biology the re-review opt-out experiment introduced last year to answer the widespread frustration of researchers with current peer review procedures.

The fused journal will be edited by Miranda Robertson, …

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