Posts tagged: Medicine

‘You might as well patent oxygen’ – an unashamedly unbalanced take on Australia’s support for gene patents


Last year, a rainbow coalition of civil liberties campaigners, cancer patients and eminent geneticists – heck, even Jim Watson! – argued before the US Supreme Court that gene sequences are a product of nature and therefore ineligible for patent protection.

And the Supreme Court replied, in all its refined wisdom:

'Well, duh!'

A nine-to-nothing unanimous decision.

A difference of opinion

But the US has long known that truths held to be 'self-evident' are not always in for a smooth ride, and so we perhaps should not be too surprised – if still perplexed and saddened – to learn that the Australian Federal Court, when faced with the same question, responded: 'um, maybe not'.

I do not pretend to understand what brand of logic could …

Read more

Large hypomethylated blocks could be a universal cancer ‘signature’

Figure 1 Many of the methylation changes at single probes between cancer and normal 
are far from CpG islands. Irizarry et al. Genome Medicine

In this guest post, Dr Andrew Teschendorff of University College London and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai, examines a new Genome Medicine study.

In an exciting research article published today in Genome Medicine, Rafa Irizzary and colleagues provide evidence for a gradual systems-level deregulation of the epigenome in stages prior to the onset of cancer and which later is seen to progress further in cancer. Thus, these insights could potentially lead to a clinical test with the ability to predict cancer risk in cells that are not yet malignant.

The authors focused on a specific epigenetic mark, known as DNA methylation, a molecular modification of DNA which can regulate the activity of nearby …

Read more

Spotlight on breast cancer: progress, challenges and controversies


Breast cancer – the most common type of cancer affecting women – is often thought of as a single disease. However, mounting evidence suggests that there are multiple subtypes, all of which occur at different rates, have varying levels of aggressiveness, and respond to different types of treatment.

One of the better understood subtypes is HER2-positive breast cancer, defined by high expression of the HER2 protein. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer are often treated with targeted therapies such as trastuzumab, which has dramatically improved survival rates from HER2-positive breast cancer in the past decade.

Progress in treating HER2-positive breast cancer

In a Q&A podcast published in BMC Medicine to launch our Spotlight on breast cancer

Read more

Ebola – what is it, and how do you recognize it?

The Ebola Virus. Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith Content Providers(s): CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith

Reports over the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa are rife, and fears are growing that the virus could spread to other continents. We spoke to Greg Martin, Editor-in-Chief of Globalization and Health to get some answers about what Ebola is, how it presents, and what to do if you suspect a case. Dr Martin is Consultant to the World Health Organization.

What is your experience of Ebola?

I was working as a medical student in 1996 when a nurse, Marilyn Lahana, was treated for Ebola virus by the unit I was connected to. Marilyn had contracted the disease from a doctor who had flown into Johannesburg from Gabon for treatment. You can hear more about this …

Read more

How do we ensure we use new technology appropriately?

Tatsumi et al

The field of imaging and diagnostics is constantly advancing, with new technologies and innovations regularly being introduced. In this changing environment, how do clinicians ensure they keep up, and that their patients are receiving the right services? In this guest post, Rosa Sicari, co-Editor-in-Chief of Cardiovascular Ultrasound introduces a new ‘How I do it’ article series to help tackle these challenges.

Today echocardiography is one of the most widely used diagnostic tests in cardiology. Largely due to its cost-effectiveness, its high clinical yield, the ability to assess anatomy and function, contractility and coronary flow reserve, and heart valve status, all in the same sitting; and, most importantly, an ease of communication as it is performed by the cardiologists who translate …

Read more

Neglected tropical diseases – not just a danger for the tropics

Leishmania donovani - credit CDC

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 infectious diseases caused by pathogenic viruses, protozoa, helminths and bacteria. As a group, the socio-economic impact of NTDs on countries where they are endemic is comparable to malaria, AIDS or tuberculosis but, as you might guess from the term ‘neglected’, research into them doesn’t receive as much funding or attention.

We tend to consider NTDs as a problem for tropical areas of Asia, Africa and the Americas, but just because they are traditionally a burden to these regions, doesn’t mean that they can’t be a real issue for people from outside the tropics.

With climate change we are seeing (and will continue to see) the migration of parasite vectors from tropical regions to more …

Read more

July blogs digest: Impact Factors, swimmer’s itch, dodos, and more

Impact factors planet

It’s been a bumper month on the BioMed Central blogs, so we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve missed a few posts. Not to worry though, as we’ve pulled together all the highlights right here.

The new Impact Factors are coming…

(Or rather, they’ve now arrived!) Now is the time of year when journal editors all over the world sit repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on their browsers. Up? Down? Staying the same? What will happen to their journal’s Impact Factor when the Journal Citation Report is published? Diana Marshall, Senior Managing Editor of the BMC series, wrote about how the new Impact Factors will affect her journals, and the publishing world as a whole.

Swimmer’s itch: sailors, fishermen and swimmers beware

For those in the …

Read more

SASA! Trial: the community intervention that is reducing violence against women


Findings from the SASA! Study, a trial assessing the impact of a community intervention in preventing violence against women in Uganda, were published today in BMC Medicine. In this guest post, Tina Musuya, one of the activists implementing the intervention in local communities writes about her personal experience of being involved in the study.

Since 2004, I’ve worked as a grass roots activist for women’s rights, working with both men and women to prevent violence against women in Uganda. I have come face to face with women who experience violence from their partners and many men who thought that controlling their partners and disciplining them whenever necessary, was normal. Shockingly, I heard many community members say that violence was …

Read more

From Shell shock to PTSD – a century of military psychology

- 1 Comment
Image credit U.S. Army Europe Images

In the history of medicine, it’s a rather morbid fact that war often leads to great medical breakthroughs – as the weapons of war change, doctors must innovate in order to meet these new challenges.

When the First World War started 100 years ago today, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) setting out for France envisaged an entirely different war to the one with which they were faced. Trench warfare was a new concept, the use of gas was almost unknown, and this war would involve mechanized weaponry on a scale never before seen.

A new condition

Within months, some of  the highly-trained BEF soldiers started to experience  intense panic and fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as an inability to speak or walk. …

Read more

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

Read more