Latest research news

June 9, 2004

Venus puts on morning show
Clear skies across England and Wales on Tuesday morning gave thousands of people almost perfect conditions to observe an event that no living person has witnessed: the transit of Venus across the Sun. The event, last witnessed in 1882, does not occur again until June 6, 2012.
(The Times)

Sainsbury promises 'major initiative' on animal research
Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, has said there will be a 'major initiative' to protect animal researchers from extremists in the next four to six weeks. "The government is considering the proposals for a single piece of legislation as a matter of urgency," he said. Lord Sainsbury was speaking at the world's largest biotech conference, where he pledged more action to maintain Britain's leading position in world biotechnology.
(Financial Times)

Senators urge backing for stem cell research
A majority of US senators have urged George Bush to reverse swingeing restrictions on stem cell research, with some calling on him to use the moment of Ronald Reagan's death from Alzheimer's to revitalise a science that may offer a cure, it emerged last night.
(The Guardian)

Olympics will damage ecosystem, says WWF
The Olympic Games in Athens this summer will do irreversible damage to the environment, says a report from the World Wildlife Fund. The Greek government promised the "greenest" Games when it won the right to host them in 1997, but it is now accused of reneging on a number of environmental pledges.
(Daily Telegraph)

Cancer experts scorn pro-sunshine theory
A doctor who dared to champion the health benefits of sunshine won few converts yesterday among cancer experts in Britain. Michael Horlick, a professor of dermatology at Boston University, was in Britain to promote his book, The UV Advantage. Its thesis, which cost Horlick his job, claims that only by exposure to adequate sunlight can the body generate enough vitamin D, a vital protection against many internal cancers. John Troy, medical director cancer research, said: "There is not one single piece of evidence that vitamin D prevents cancers, but skin cancers are zooming up"
(Times)

Britain rated poor for cancer survival rate
Britain's cancer record is the worst in the English-speaking world and waiting times for some treatments are growing longer, according to studies published yesterday. Death rates for five major cancers, including those of the breast, cervix and bowel, were higher in the UK than in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Foundation study found.
(The Independent)

Bowel disease drug 'will save lives'
A new drug to treat bowel cancer gets better results, at lower cost and with less disruption to patients’ lives, researchers revealed yesterday. The drug, Xeloda, is the first new treatment for the disease in more than 50 years and doctors are urging its rapid introduction.
(The Times)

Corpse of dolphin left at ministry
A dead dolphin encased in ice has been delivered to the London headquarters of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Greenpeace in protest at the number killed by UK fishing boats. The dolphin, which with the ice weighs around two tonnes, was killed by a trawler and recovered recently in the Channel by a Greenpeace ship.
(The Guardian)

Higher status leads to a longer life
People of higher social status have better health and happiness than their lowlier contemporaries, according to a leading epidemiologist. But the effects of this "social gradient" on health can vary widely depending on time and location, reveals the latest research by Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London.
(New Scientist)

Lost city of Atlantis 'found in Spain'
Ancient ruins that appear to match Plato's description of the fabled lost city of Atlantis have been found in southern Spain. The structures, resembling two rectangular buildings at the centre of concentric circles, appear in satellite images of salt marshes near the port of Cadiz. German scientist Rainer Kuehne's preliminary paper is reported online by Antiquity, the archaeology journal.
(Daily Telegraph)

Crop circles set skylarks soaring
Crop circles and unsown patches in fields could lead to a dramatic increase in the numbers of skylarks, according to research. Farmers could now be paid to leave patches free of crops as part of the government’s commitment to encourage wildlife conservation. Besides skylarks, the practice could also help other declining species of farmland birds, such as the grey partridge and yellowhammer.
(The Times)

Rat genes solve mystery of great Pacific odyssey
A great mystery of human migration, the origin of the Polynesian islanders of the Pacific Ocean, may finally have been solved by a study of the rats they brought with them. A genetic analysis of ancient and modern rat populations throughout South-East Asia and Polynesia has indicated that the Pacific islands were colonised by the seafaring Lapita culture of the western Pacific — but only after a slow and complex expansion.
(The Times)

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