Latest research news

October 19, 2005

Magnetic fields set senses tingling
Patients who suffer a stroke could get their movement and feeling back with the helping hand of magnetic pulses fired at their brains, according to new research. The experimental technique, called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves placing an electromagnetic coil above the scalp and releasing magnetic pulses that pass through the skull. The alternating magnetic fields cause ionic compounds inside nerve cells to flow, affecting brain activity.
Nature

Call for scientific collaboration on bird flu
UK scientists should work alongside Chinese researchers in an effort to fight bird flu, researchers from the Medical Research Council said today. In a press briefing on the outlook for the disease, the council's chief executive, Colin Blakemore, told reporters that the MRC was "always looking at opportunities to support high-quality research." He said that the research could be based in the UK or abroad, and that a joint research facility "in China with the Chinese is a possibility."
The Guardian

US scientists develop new stem cell techniques to avoid ethical concerns
US scientists have developed two new ways of generating embryonic stem cells, designed to avoid some of the ethical objections to current methods that involve destroying "potential human life". They work well in mice and the researchers believe they could be applied to human stem cells. The more positive technique comes from Advanced Cell Technology, a Massachusetts biotechnology company, working with scientists at the University of Wisconsin. In a procedure similar to that used in pre-implantation diagnosis to test human IVF embryos for genetic defects, they removed a single cell from a newly fertilised mouse embryo and grew embryonic stem cells from it.
The Financial Times

Pollution 'cuts boy births'
Men exposed to air pollution father significantly fewer boys than girls, says new research. Analysis of records covering more than 100,000 births in Brazil showed that parents had one per cent fewer male babies in areas with high pollution compared with those with lower levels. Experiments carried out by the same research team showed that female mice that mated with males exposed to pollution produced more than a third fewer male offspring than those that mated with non-exposed males. Dr Ana Lichtenfels, of São Paulo University, told the conference: "The findings of our study support the concept that ambient air pollution may have a direct negative correlation with sex distribution of exposed population."
The Daily Telegraph

Call for scientific collaboration on bird flu
UK scientists should work alongside Chinese researchers in an effort to fight bird flu, researchers from the Medical Research Council said today. In a press briefing on the outlook for the disease, the council's chief executive, Colin Blakemore, told reporters that the MRC was "always looking at opportunities to support high-quality research". He said that the research could be based in the UK or abroad, and that a joint research facility "in China with the Chinese is a possibility".
The Guardian

Genetic recipe for 1918 flu 'more dangerous than an atom bomb'
After a decade of painstaking research, US government and university scientists have reconstructed the 1918 influenza virus that killed 50 million people worldwide. Like the flu viruses now raising alarm bells in Asia, the 1918 virus was a bird flu that jumped directly to humans, the scientists reported. To shed light on how the virus evolved, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the full genome of the 1918 influenza virus on the Internet in the GenBank database.
The Scotsman

Fat diet may aid recovery from surgery
A dose of fat in the diet helps to create a safe haven for the trillions of useful bacteria in the gut - and could help to reduce complication after surgery. A study in rats shows that fat kicks into action a hormone that keeps inflammation in the gut at bay, protecting intestinal bacteria from harm. The researchers don't suggest that people start chomping on hamburgers to keep their intestines happy. But they do think their finding might have implications for patients.
Nature

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