European Research Council takes shape
This month, the European commission published its proposals for Framework 7, the next EU programme for research funding. The proposals contain good news for researchers - a doubling of the EU research budget, including cash to build large research facilities. However, the showstopper is the 12 billion euros (£8.2 billion) it suggests should be distributed to the best researchers in Europe via a new European Research Council. The money would be doled out over seven years, beginning in 2007. By comparison, the UK government currently spends about £2.2 billion a year through the national research councils.
Daughter cured of diabetes with cells taken from mother
Doctors in Japan have reversed type 1 diabetes in a woman by transplanting cells donated by her mother. Three months after the operation both women are well and the recipient is free from daily insulin injections, the team reports today in the online edition of The Lancet .
The Times, The Independent
Happiness helps people stay healthy
People who are happier in their daily lives have healthier levels of key body chemicals than those who muster few positive feelings, a new study suggests. This means happier people may have healthier hearts and cardiovascular systems, possibly cutting their risk of diseases like diabetes. Previous studies have shown that depression is associated with health problems compared to average emotional states. But few studies have looked at the effects of positive moods on health. Now, researchers at University College London, UK, have linked everyday happiness with healthier levels of important body chemicals, such as the stress hormone cortisol.
New Scientist, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Guardian
Statins cut risk of most deadly prostate cancer, study shows
Statin heart drugs halve the risk of men developing advanced prostate cancer and cut the risk of the most deadly form of the disease by two thirds, a study has found.
Plastic linked to breast cancer
Two ingredients of common household plastics may cause genetic changes in breast tissue, raising the possibility of a link with cancer.
Space station aims to spot seismic shocks
An experiment aboard the International Space Station will check the theory that imminent earthquakes can be spotted from space. Researchers hope that tracking changes in the radiation belts that blanket the globe will give them early warning of tremors hundreds of kilometres below. If successful, the work could help pave the way for a system of satellites that watch for earthquakes. Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori arrived at the space station on Sunday aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and will set up the experiment during his eight-day stay on the station.
Nature, New Scientist
Pioneering city scientists in arthritis cure breakthrough
A cure for a common and painful form of arthritis is one step closer after pioneering new research by city scientists. Every year, the country loses millions of pounds in NHS expenses and lost working days to osteoarthritis, which can only be eased through pain relief and, in severe cases, joint replacement. But now a two-year study by researchers at Edinburgh University has made a breakthrough which looks set to lead to a cure for the disease.
Children of working mothers have healthier diet
Children with mothers who go out to work have healthier diets than those whose mothers stay at home, says research published yesterday. Academics at Glasgow University said their findings suggest that working mothers think more carefully about their children's eating habits than those mothers caught up in the hurly-burly of 24-hour-a-day child care. The researchers analysed the diets of 2,500 children aged 11 who live in the west of Scotland. In families where the mother stayed at home, 63 per cent of children were categorised as "less healthy eaters". They ate more cake, biscuits, chocolates, carbonated drinks and high-fat foods.
The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman
'Garden of Eden' dying of poison
Farmers and fishermen are devastating Iraq's marshes, considered by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden, with uncontrolled use of chemicals and fishing using electric shocks, researchers warned yesterday. The illegal methods are wiping out wildlife, polluting water, endangering human health and undermining the recovery of one of the world's great wetlands, they say.
Children's humour under the microscope
Academics across the globe have been given funding to try to find out what makes children laugh, it was revealed today. A professor from the University of Ulster is teaming up with counterparts in the US, Germany, Israel and South Africa to see what tickles children’s funny bones. One of the tests involved will examine whether the Simpsons make kids in all five countries chuckle. Professor Maire Messenger-Davies, based at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus, said: “The purpose is to determine what children laugh at and whether there are national or cultural differences that influence their sense of humour.”