Latest research news

September 28, 2005

Man leaves £1m for medical research
A businessman has left more than £1 million to researchers to help find a cure for Parkinson's disease, which killed his wife. Winston Godward Edmonds, known as Bill, left the money in his will to Manchester University to help its research into the killer disease. Parkinson's killed his first wife, Sheila, whom he nursed until her death in 1990. Mr Edmonds died aged 92, in July, with his estate valued at £5 million.
The Daily Mail

Air pollution linked to sperm damage
Air pollution can damage sperm, potentially leading to birth defects or miscarriages, according to research published yesterday. Scientists said the results were a warning of the number of chemicals commonly present in the air that can cause damage to human DNA. The study led by Jiri Rubes of the Veterinary Research Institute in the Czech Republic, in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, found a "significant association between exposure to periods of high air pollution (at or above the upper limit of US air quality standards) and the percentage of sperm with DNA fragmentation".
The Guardian

Deadly lakes may explode again
Researchers involved in an unusual project to prevent natural disasters in two African lakes say the first few years of the attempt have gone well but have not yet made things safe. The project aims to remove dangerous levels of carbon dioxide from the bottom of two lakes sitting over volcanic sites in Cameroon. One of these, Lake Nyos, exploded in 1986 suffocating more than 1,700 people in the surrounding area with a plume of carbon dioxide.
Nature, New Scientist

Seaweed takes the junk out of burgers
A seaweed extract could be used to produce healthy burgers, pies and cakes that taste just as good as the full-fat varieties, scientists said yesterday. Alginates could replace the fats in many junk foods, increasing their fibre content while adding the moisture that gives them an appealing texture. Scientists at Newcastle University said substituting alginates for unhealthy fats could prove valuable in the battle against obesity, diabetes, heart problems and diseases such as bowel cancer. Alginate, which is high in fibre, is already in widespread use by the food industry as a gelling agent and to thicken the frothy head of premium lagers.
The Daily Telegraph

Statin drugs could cut heart attacks by third
Anybody at risk of heart attack or stroke should be prescribed a statin drug regardless of cholesterol levels. An analysis by British and Australian scientists has shown that the benefits of the drugs are not limited to those who have high cholesterol. Taking statins daily can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by about a third, concludes a team from the Medical Research Council, in Oxford, and the Clinical Trials Centre, at the University of Sydney. The study also sets aside fears that the use of statins increases the risks of cancer. Over five years there was no evidence of this, the team reports in the online edition of The Lancet .
The Times

Net losses kill sharks
Abandoned deep-sea fishing nets are killing large numbers of fish and sharks in the northeast Atlantic, report researchers after initial surveys of the area last month. The warning comes from a joint project between Britain, Norway and Ireland that is examining the largely unregulated fishing in that area. The researchers involved with the project, called DEEPNET, say the situation may warrant emergency measures that would close the fishery for six months while an improved management policy is put in place.
Nature

Mouse gene could hold key to treating baldness
A study in which scientists were able to regrow the fur of mice that were bald because of a genetic defect could offer insights into human hair loss. When the mice in the study were treated with a protein called hairless, their fur began to grow again. The research, undertaken in America, could result in new approaches in the treatment of baldness, because the gene that produces the “hairless” protein also occurs in human beings. When the human form of the gene mutates, the result is Alopecia universalis . Sufferers are born with no eyebrows, eyelashes or body hair and their head hair fails to regrow.
The Times

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