Posts tagged: Medicine

The global fight against TB: identifying childhood infection and diagnosing complications

Wikimedia Commons (Jmh649)

Recent estimates suggest that childhood tuberculosis (TB) rates are much higher than previously reported. The predictions, carried out by researchers at the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, took bacterial behavior and adult infection rates into account across 22 countries with the highest incidence of TB, and suggest that more than 650,000 children develop TB each year. This figure is around 25% higher than current World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, suggesting that health officials may be missing a great opportunity to prevent the spread of infection. Leading the research, Peter Dodd highlighted that:

Children are an often ignored but important part of TB control efforts…our findings highlight

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National healthcare: The modern biomedical lab

Brownstein et al

In 2009 Obama devoted $19 billion to healthcare innovation—innovation that was in its first instance quite rudimentary, the very digitisation of healthcare data. Now as the digitised healthcare data infrastructure grows both in the US and worldwide, what is the next phase of innovation?

The answer, from someone who works with researchers, is clear: a data dialogue between researchers and clinicians. Initiatives like the Global Alliance for Sharing Genomic and Clinical Data led by David Haussler are making strides toward doing this for treatment and research for cancer.

Last week I attended ISMB in Boston, where I saw one quantitative analyst (quant) who had similar ideas about better healthcare treatment through research and more data for research through healthcare. His …

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Polio eradication – the race continues…


In May 2014, the World Health Organisation declared the rapidly increasing spread of polio an international public health emergency. The virus, which usually affects children under five years old, is typically spread through faeces contaminated drinking water, causing irreversible paralysis and death in the most severe cases, where respiratory muscles are immobilised.

Polio is currently endemic in three countries; Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is an amazing feat considering that polio was rife worldwide little over 60 years ago. Advances in vaccines in the 1950s, and the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, led to an enormous 99% reduction of cases narrowing the incidence of polio to just a handful of countries.  March 2014 marked a …

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Real evidence-based medicine: a shift away from GPs’ box-ticking exercise

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Mr Jones shuffled into the room. “Good morning, Mr Jones, please take a seat.”

Obligingly Mr Smith settled himself in the little wooden armchair beside the desk, as the GP reclaimed his position at the computer.

“So what seems to be the problem” enquired Dr Smith, eyes fixed on the computer screened.

Mr Jones stared down at his lap. His bony hands cradled one another. He slowly rubbed his thumbs in a soothing rhythmic ritual as he hesitated with his response.

“How’s your appetite? Have you had trouble sleeping or difficulty getting to sleep?” The drilling questioning had begun.

“Well, I haven’t been feeling myself lately. It’s hard to describe.” He paused. Shuffled his feet and slumped forward slightly, curling himself “I feel like …

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The Black Death. Could it make a comeback?


The Black Death(or bubonic plague to give it its official name) was a great pandemic, peaking in 1346–53, that devastated the realms of Europe, killing millions of people and depleting populations. But is this a disease confined forever to the history books or is it a dormant threat?

The Black Death didn’t just kill people when it first struck in Europe in the 14th century, it made a cultural, political, economic, and religious impact on the masses. Why did this horrible disease strike them? Was it an act of God? Whose fault was it? These are just a few of the many questions that were asked.

The disease devastated entire populations and divided people by their beliefs. The feudal system …

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Singing can improve physical and mental health in the elderly


The challenges of an aging population are never far from the headlines, whether it’s concerns over pensions, or the increase in dementia cases. In this guest post, Ichiro Saito tells us about his latest research into singing and how it could benefit older people.

Prior to the development of speech as a way of communicating, humans used songs, humming, and other musical sounds. Songs have been used – and still are – in many different ways, from communicating  when hunting was good, to celebrating after a good harvest, from praying for rain, to mourning at funerals.

We’ve been looking into how understanding human song is useful today for Japan’s ’super-aged’ society. National census data shows the population of Japan is …

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June blogs digest: Alcohol and football, eating disorders in men, irreproducible research, and more

Alcohol advertising Warsaw

Missed out on some of our posts in June? No need to trawl the archives – we’ve pulled together the highlights for you right here.

Do we need a red card for alcohol advertising in football?

With the World Cup kicking off on 12th June, we braced ourselves for the highs and lows of a month of football. But getting bitten by Luis Suarez might not be the only danger of the tournament. In a guest post, Dr Jean Adams, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Newcastle University, UK, told us about her latest research into alcohol advertising in football, published in BMC Public Health.

The perfect body? How eating disorders and body image are a threat to …

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The Evidence-Based Medicine renaissance: holy grail or poisoned chalice?

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Today at our Health Services Research Conference, Professor Trish Greenhalgh announced her new campaign for Real Evidence-Based Medicine. In this guest post, her fellow campaigner Dr Jeremy Howick writes about why we need a renaissance in Evidence-Based Medicine.

A meeting involving critics and proponents of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) took place in September 2013 to discuss how to overcome current problems with EBM.

Led by Trish Greenhalgh, the meeting attendees wrote an editorial that was published last week in the BMJ. The article – Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis? – argues that the many benefits of EBM have too often been obscured by undesirable and often unintended consequences including:

Misappropriation of EBM by vested interests. These interests …

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The failure rate of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s – why we need to raise our game

Dr Simon Ridley

New research published today in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy has shown that the failure rate for Alzheimer’s Disease drug development is 99.6%. In this guest blog, Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, discusses the challenges we are facing in tackling this devastating condition, and what we can do to address them.

Dementia is the name for a collection of many different conditions, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Alzheimer’s is characterised by a gradual decline in memory and changes in behaviour and communication. In the later stages, people often forget their friends and family as well as how to walk and feed themselves …

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What would we do without antibiotics?


At one point antibiotics were a cure-all. Go to the doctor for any little ailment, antibiotics were prescribed and then you’re cured. Overprescription, patients not finishing their full course of antibiotics and some very clever evolution on the part of bacteria has led to antibiotic resistance becoming a wide-spread problem.

Discovery of penicillin
When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928 it changed the world. Common diseases with no cure were suddenly treatable. Antibiotics have saved countless lives and I think we’ve nearly all taken them at some point. I know I have.

I had a sore throat as a child and although on my first visit the doctor said I would be fine in a few days, I soon developed a …

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