Latest research news

April 13, 2005

£3m shortfall at John Innes Centre
Dozens of scientists at one of Britain's most prestigious laboratories face redundancy after a £3 million hole was uncovered in its accounts. The John Innes Centre in Norwich, a world-leading research facility for plant and microbial science, blamed changes in European funding and increased costs. Chris Lamb, director of the government-funded centre, said: "A significant shortfall in our income has developed over the last 18 months. Our position will worsen if we don't take action now. It should not be interpreted as a crisis for the centre as it will aid, not hinder, the long-term viability." The centre needs to save £1.6 million a year and will axe up to 35 scientific posts from a staff of 350.
The Guardian

Diet can beat breast cancer, claims study
The right diet could cut the chances of contracting breast cancer by up to 70 per cent, a new study claims. Research shows that a diet rich in foods such as broccoli, carrots and fish could radically reduce the risk of a range of cancers. Michael Donaldson of the Hallelujah Acres Foundation in North Carolina, who led the research, said: "With the correct diet, it is likely that there would be at least a 60 to 70 per cent decrease in breast and prostate cancers, and even a 40-50 per cent decrease in cancers at other sites." It would also help recovery from cancer. The study recommends that people change their lifestyle and diet, and double the recommended daily intake of vegetables.
The Scotsman

Atkins effect on pregnancy under scrutiny
Scientists have launched a study to see if eating an Atkins-style diet when pregnant stresses the unborn child and makes it more prone to diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure in later life. The research, by Edinburgh and Southampton universities, will test a group of 100 people born in Motherwell in the late 1960s whose mothers were advised to eat a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrate - similar to the now popular Atkins diet. Earlier work found that the mothers with less balanced diets had babies who grew up to have higher blood pressure and altered blood sugar levels.
The Scotsman, The Evening Standard

Crop diseases 'linked to pollution'
Scientists have discovered how changes in air pollution over the past 160 years have affected fungal diseases on wheat crops, it has been announced. This has been done by recovering DNA from crop diseases on wheat samples stored as part of a Victorian field experiment. The work has been carried out by scientists at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden and Reading University. The most damaging wheat disease in Europe is leaf blotch, caused by two different fungal species, Phaeosphaeia nodorum and Mycosphaerella graminicola . These species cause the loss of millions of tonnes of grain worldwide each year.
The Evening Standard

Mobiles do not increase tumour risk, research finds
Mobile phone use does not increase the risk of developing a brain tumour, new research has found. In a study of more than 1000 people, Danish researchers questioned 4 people with brain tumours and 822 healthy volunteers about the way they used mobile phones. They found no correlation between cancer risk and the number of years people had used mobile phones, their frequency of use, or length of calls. The researchers backed up their findings with a check on some of the people’s phone bills, to make sure that their reported call patterns were accurate.
The Scotsman, The Independent

Women who smoke may pass asthma risk to grandchildren, scientists say
A child whose grandmother smoked while pregnant has double the normal risk of developing asthma, it was claimed yesterday. Researchers found evidence that the harmful effects of tobacco can pass down the generations for decades. A grandmother’s smoking could have an impact on her grandchild, even if the child’s mother appeared to be unaffected. Scientists from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles questioned the parents or guardians of 908 children about their smoking habits.
The Scotsman, The Daily Mail, New Scientist

The dog that can sniff out cancer
Sitting at his desk in the hospital oncology department, Dr Dog has a busy day ahead of him. Despite his floppy ears, furry coat and penchant for fetching sticks and balls, he is one of the country's top cancer experts and has an admirable reputation for getting an accurate diagnosis where conventional tests fail. Thanks to research led by retired orthopaedic surgeon John Church - who pioneered the once controversial but now well-established practice of using maggots to clean gangrenous and infected wounds - the world's first cancer sniffer dogs are almost fully trained. This new breed of working animals could be based in laboratories alongside scientists helping to detect cancerous cells in tissue, blood and urine samples.
The Daily Mail

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