Latest research news

April 5, 2006

Transplant patients receive own cell organs
A milestone has been passed in the field of tissue engineering: the first group of patients has received organs that were grown from their own cells in a laboratory. Scientists hope that laboratory-grown organs may one day help bring to an end the shortage of organs for transplantation, while avoiding the risk of rejection and infection that accompanies a donor organ. Dr Anthony Atala will announce a long-term success today relating to seven children and teenagers who had implanted bladders grown from their own muscle and bladder cells. He is working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, New Scientist, The Scotsman, The Independent, Nature

Scotland pioneers designer drugs
Scotland is to lead the world in the development of "personalised drugs", which are expected to revolutionise treatment for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mental illness. In a unique £50 million collaboration between universities, NHS boards and the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, the medical records of thousands of Scottish patients will be used to design new treatments tailored to individual patients depending on their own genetic make-up. Jack McConnell, the First Minister, said yesterday that the project will push forward revolutionary research. As well as new drugs, experts believe the techniques being pioneered will help to find better ways of preventing serious conditions, such as heart disease.
The Scotsman

Food companies 'failing to tackle diet crisis'
The world's 25 biggest food companies are failing to take the global crisis in diet seriously and often only change their practices when faced with adverse publicity that could damage their sales, a new study claims. The world leaders of the food industry are accused of a "pathetic" performance on meeting targets set by the World Health Organisation in 2004 to tackle obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Researchers at City University in London, who studied the annual reports, accounts and websites of the companies, said the only factor which seemed to produce action on issues such as salt and fat content was public discontent. Tim Lang, professor of food policy, who led the study, said: "Our findings are worrying.”
The Independent, The Guardian

Childhood TV and gaming is 'major public health issue'
Research shows that exposure to TV and video games can increase obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, risky sexual behaviours, violence and social isolation, say Dimitri Christakis and Frederick Zimmerman, from the University of Washington in Seattle, in a controversial editorial. The data linking violent media to aggression, for instance, are “just as strong” as those linking smoking and lung cancer, says Christakis. US children spend more time watching TV and playing videos than any other activity except sleeping. More than a third of those under six have TVs in their bedrooms. And things are only set to get worse, as every child with a cellphone will soon to be toting a TV in his pocket, says Christakis.
New Scientist

25-a-day man breaks record for ecstasy use
Doctors believe a man who claims to have taken 40,000 ecstasy pills during his lifetime is the biggest user of the drug on record, it has emerged. The 37-year-old, known as Mr A, still has trouble working out the time of day or knowing what is in his supermarket trolley despite having stopped taking it seven years ago. At the height of his drug use he was consuming 25 pills every day. Researchers from London University believe his condition could indicate the use of ecstasy leads to irreversible memory problems and other cognitive defects.
The Daily Telegraph, The Observer

Four minutes of sun a week is enough
Fair-skinned people need little more than four minutes in the summer sunshine to produce enough vitamin D to keep bones healthy, a study has found. Between two and 14 minutes of midday summer sun three or four times a week on the face and arms will produce an adequate dose of the vitamin for those living in Australia. But people living in Britain would need twice the exposure because the sun's rays are not as intense. And dark-skinned people need up to six times as much sunlight to produce the same levels of vitamin D as those with fair skin, the study found. The Australian National University research provides guidance about acceptable levels of sun exposure in the face of mixed messages about the affect of the sun's rays.
The Daily Mail

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