Posts tagged: BMC Medicine

OA: it’s not just about the access

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It has been over a decade since the launch of the first major open access (OA) journals by  BioMed Central and PLoS, but controversies still  surround the field. Many of these concern the legitimacy of some of the many open access journals that are now available. Of these, a subset of OA journals have collectively been termed ‘predatory’ due to their questionable publication practices. As with every new business model, there are people who try to exploit it, and it is important to know who to trust and how to identify the miscreants. In this blog, I want to continue that discussion about how you - as readers, researchers and prospective authors -  can know which journals to …

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The prostate cancer debate: pros & cons of screening and preventive drugs

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year. There is intense debate over whether men should undergo regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, as outlined in our previous blog post, and clinical trials have come to opposing conclusions about whether PSA screening saves lives or causes unnecessary harm. On one hand, the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) showed that routine PSA testing reduced the risk of dying from prostate cancer by around 20%, whereas the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial found that regular PSA screening did not lead to fewer prostate cancer deaths.

Could stratified screening

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The unintended effects of statins

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This is a guest post from the authors of a paper on statins published on Saturday in BMC Medicine. Statins have hit the headlines a lot over the last few weeks. Here, the authors take us through the findings of their review and analysis into the unintended effects of these drugs.

Statins are widely used in clinical practice and their efficacy for secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is well founded, but their expanding use in primary prevention in low-risk individuals has to be balanced against the risk of potential unintended effects. This assumes particular importance since the new draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends lowering the 10-year risk threshold for considering …

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How 1.3 million women are transforming our understanding of lifestyle factors that affect our health

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“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
Robert F. Kennedy

We’re often told in one way or another that the actions we take can make a difference – voting in elections, turning the light switch off to save energy. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll have had your doubts about just how true that really is. Will I really affect pollution levels and climate change if I don’t own a car? Will my vote in the election really make any difference?

It’s doubts like these that make me grateful for evidence that shows just how much collective power individuals can have. Evidence like the Million Women Study, which has again been in …

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How is healthcare becoming more individualized?

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Last week, we took a look at how mobile healthcare apps can personalize healthcare in our blog post. While such apps represent an innovative way of measuring data and incentivizing a healthy lifestyle, there are also many other approaches to patient-tailored medicine that are currently being explored in the clinic.

In our podcast featured in Biome magazine and accompanying forum article in BMC Medicine, Daniel Hayes discusses the development of targeted therapy  in oncology, where treatments such as trastuzumab – an antibody drug against the HER2 protein – are given to those with certain cancer subtypes. Hayes emphasizes that genomic sequencing and “big data” approaches using electronic medical records will pave the …

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Innovation versus regulation in mobile health technology

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Mobile healthcare applications – or “apps” – are having an increasingly profound impact on medicine; it is estimated that within 5 years, 50% of mobile device users will have downloaded healthcare apps. With drastic improvements in technology in the last few years, mobile medical apps now range from drug databases to sophisticated monitors that can measure blood pressure, heart rate and asthma symptoms.

In a podcast featured in Biome magazine and a forum article in BMC Medicine, cardiologist Eric Topol discusses the huge potential of mobile healthcare apps, describing how the smartphone can function as a “lab on a chip”, and can test for kidney and thyroid function, as well as levels of potassium …

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Celiac disease: controversies and comorbidities

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Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune digestive condition affecting approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide. The symptoms of celiac disease – including diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain – occur as a result of the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking gluten proteins, causing damage to the surface of the small intestine. The symptoms of CD can be well-controlled with a gluten-free diet, and prompt diagnosis is essential for controlling the symptoms. CD is usually detected through a blood test for CD-associated antibodies followed by an intestinal biopsy.

Advances in detecting CD and comorbid autoimmune disease

New research by Carlos López-Larrea and colleagues published in BMC Medicine has revealed that antibodies against the protein MHC class …

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Dementia: innovative approaches in therapy, care and diagnostics

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Late last year, ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities from around the world gathered together at the G8 dementia summit  to make a declaration and commitment for global action against dementia. This led to a significant increase in the budget to spend on research into the prevalence, diagnosis, clinical care, and policy issues in dementia, and the latest advances in these topics were highlighted last week at the 16th national conference on dementias in London. Some of the main discussions from the meeting have been highlighted below.

Prevalence and improving quality of life

Martin Prince gave an excellent overview of groundbreaking global epidemiological studies including some from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group. One of …

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Unravelling the associations between childhood malaria and invasive bacteria infection

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Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. It is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide, accounting  for 7% of deaths in children younger than five years old.

Young children living in stable transmission areas are particularly at risk of malaria, since they have not yet developed protective immunity against the most severe forms of the disease. As clinical outcomes in this group can be poor, there is much interest in understanding what other factors contribute to a poor outcome in order to identify future targets for additional treatments.

Previous data had shown tentative indications that children infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria …

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PSA testing for prostate cancer: balancing the benefits and harms

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Routine screening of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men to detect prostate cancer is very controversial. The higher the level of PSA in the blood, the more likely it is that a man has prostate cancer, and the PSA test has been widely used to screen for prostate cancer and monitor treatment response in those diagnosed with the disease. However, elevated PSA levels can also be indicative of prostatitis or a urinary tract infection, so the test can suggest the presence of prostate cancer when no cancer exists.

International consensus committees are divided in their recommendations about PSA testing. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that all men over 50 should check for …

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