Today's news

July 19, 2006

Prescribing of drugs training urged
Patients are being seriously harmed and even dying because many doctors are not given enough training to prescribe drugs properly, experts warned. Leading doctors have accused the General Medical Council of putting people at risk by not placing enough emphasis on pharmacology in degree courses. The problem is said to have existed since 1993, when the GMC issued guidance that allowed medical schools more freedom to set their own curricula. Professor Sir Mike Rawlins, professor of pharmacology at Newcastle University, who is also chairman of the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence, said doctors could prescribe virtually anything from the moment they graduate.
The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times

England's apartheid roots
The Anglo-Saxons, who invaded Britain from the 5th century AD, used a system of “medieval apartheid” to drive the indigenous population to extinction, according to new genetic research. Scientists have discovered that genes from a small population of Anglo-Saxon immigrants supplanted almost completely those of the native Britons, most probably by using institutionalised discrimination to outbreed them. When the Anglo-Saxons reached Britain from what is now Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, between the 5th and 7th centuries, they were outnumbered by indigenous Celts. The Anglo-Saxon invaders numbered between 10,000 and 200,000, compared with an estimated 2 million natives.
The Times, New Scientist

Emotion centre of autistic brains have fewer cells
People with autism have significantly fewer nerve cells in the part of the brain that processes emotions, according to a new post-mortem study. This abnormality helps to explain the social and communication deficits found in autistic patients, the researchers say. The deficiency in the emotion processing centre – called the amygdala – had been predicted, but the new analysis provides the first quantitative evidence, according to David Amaral of the University of California Davis in the US, who led the study.
New Scientist

Debate continues over stem cell research
In the birthplace of embryonic stem cell research, debate rages on over the morality of using human embryos to look for cures to diseases. The research has advanced here since University of Wisconsin researcher Jamie Thomson first isolated embryonic stem cells in 1998, even as it remains a subject of controversy from the Capitol the Catholic Church. "It's intriguing that Wisconsin is having this debate because it is a state that has more to gain than most others from promoting all areas of research relating to embryonic stem cells," said Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin law professor and bioethicist.
The Guardian

Is this the oldest human virus?
Hundreds of millions of years ago, a relative of this virus made dinosaurs sprout warts. When our ancestors split from the apes up to seven million years ago, the virus split with them. Among the earliest modern humans, it was still multiplying, spreading and evolving. Today, this virus, perhaps the oldest to afflict humankind, is causing more suffering than at any time in its history. Although many kinds of the virus - the human papillomavirus or HPV - still cause warts, certain types are now known to cause cervical cancer, too, an idea first suggested three decades ago by the German scientist Harald zur Hausen.
The Daily Telegraph

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