Tag: Medicine

Imperial in the news: obese children

Last month’s biggest story involving research at Imperial looked at the increase in children admitted to hospital with obesity-related conditions.

During the period studied there was a four-fold increase in admissions for children experiencing obesity-related conditions, from 872 in 2000 to 3806 in 2009.  Teenage girls with pregnancies complicated by obesity accounted for hospital admissions in 2009.

Surveys suggest that around 30 per cent of children aged 2-15 are overweight and up to 20 per cent are obese.

“The burden of obesity is usually thought to have its serious consequences in adulthood, but we now see it manifesting earlier, in childhood,” said Dr Sonia Saxena, from the School of Public Health at Imperial, who led the study.

Imperial in the news: bird flu is back

A recent outbreak of what is suspected to be a virulent strain of bird flu has appeared in China over the past few weeks, claiming the lives of at least 20 people it has been reported.

However, unlike previous strains of the virus which first came to wider attention in 2003 and has claimed over 500 lives worldwide, this new outbreak appears to have been found in some people who may not have had contact with birds.

Professor Wendy Barclay [Medicine] has been studying the disease and told Reuters: “The incubation time might be quite long, so visiting a market even 14 days before might have resulted in infection.

Imperial in the news: ash fungus

“Ash everywhere,” cricketers say when they bowl out an opponent, referring to the stumps and bails that are made from this wood. Unfortunately, imported trees carrying ash fungus and other diseases are the suspected causes of an outbreak of Chalara ash dieback, which could cost up to £1.3billion to the economy.

The Times has reported that a number of products could still stop the spread of the disease. One developed at Imperial is a fungicide that is taken up naturally by the plants and could possibly be produced at just 10-30p per diluted litre. Visiting researcher Hans Dobson [Centre for Environmental Policy] believes that it would take around 10 litres to cover a hectare, but tests for the product will take time and with winter approaching, the window to act is diminishing.

Imperial in the news: printing body parts

The invention of 3D printing a few years ago has advanced the ways in which new products can be designed or ideas be made into reality. The latest opportunity to test the concept has seen Professor Justin Cobb [Surgery and Cancer] design a replacement knee in the MSk Lab for a soldier whose own one was smashed when he was shot while on duty in Iraq.

The report by Eureka Magazine follows the design and production of the knee at Charing Cross Hospital, where it was intricately modelled down to the micron level.  Although the design itself, made from plastic, won’t be inserted, it will allow those conducting the surgery to better configure the titanium joints prior to the operation, which is hoped to be a quicker and more effective procedure thanks to the 3D model.

Imperial in the news: dementia drugs

Researchers from the College have published new findings on possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, and the Daily Express reports that Dr Magdalena Sastre [Medicine] is “excited about…the potential they may hold for the future.”

In mice bred to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the blood pressure drug prazosin was found to prevent memory loss. High blood pressure has been linked to the onset of dementia, and previous studies have also indicated that drugs to reduce hypertension have also prevented or slowed the development of dementia.

Imperial in the news: rising childhood throat infections

Figures released at the end of last week indicate that the number of children admitted to hospital with throat infections over the past decade has been steadily increasing, and is now over 75 per cent higher than it was in 1999.

In an article on the BBC website Dr Elizabeth Koshy, lead study author from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: “Our findings relating to short hospital stays suggest that many of the children admitted with acute throat infections could have been effectively managed in the community.

“Our study highlights the need to urgently address the issue of healthcare access, with improved models of integrated care within primary and secondary care, to avoid potentially unnecessary hospital admissions for relatively minor infections in the future.”

  • Read the full BBC article
  • Read the related Imperial news story
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  • Imperial in the news: pioneering oesophageal treatment

    Dr Chris Fraser [Medicine], who works at St Mark’s hospital in Harrow, has pioneered a new treatment for people affected by gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), which in time can lead to conditions ranging from heartburn to cancer if left untreated. As an alternative to the more invasive surgery that is the standard treatment for severe conditions, a procedure called Stretta strengthens the muscles at the bottom of the oesophagus to prevent stomach acid from rising. 85 per cent of patients are off of medication within four years of this treatment.

    Featured in the Daily Mail is the story of Jeff Sandford, who was badly affected by GORD.