Blog posts

Malaria research: Scientist industry urged to not underestimate CRISPR’s risks

By IGHI guest blogger Chanice Henry, Editor, Pharma IQ & Pharma Logistics IQ

Similar to new Hollywood feature Rampage, a recent study has urged the life sciences industry not to underestimate the dangers that could hide within CRISPR Cas9.

Although the film has been criticised for wildly exaggerating the capabilities of the gene editing technique, it can be recognised for its effort to draw focus from the excitable buzz around CRISPR Cas9 towards the importance of considering the ethics and dangers associated with the tool.

A recent commentary piece also emphasised the importance of methodically debating the potential outcomes of CRISPR within the task of tackling Malaria.

Mosquitoes, human health and environmental change

By Paul Huxley, Research Postgraduate, Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health

Ronald Ross, a British medical doctor of the late-19th and early 20th centuries, was first to identify the mosquito as the winged-insect carrier of malaria-causing parasites. Prior to this breakthrough, bad air (mal aria in Italian) was thought to have been the culprit. Together, Ross and Giovanni Grassi (who’s work, unlike Ross’, was controversially ignored by the Nobel Committee in 1902) uncovered a truth of huge ecological and epidemiological significance and sparked an ongoing international research effort aimed at answering fundamental questions about the processes that drive patterns of human morbidity and mortality caused by diseases carried by mosquitoes.

The power of our microbiota

by Lily Roberts, Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation

Did you know that not only does your gut do an incredible job of nourishing you by digesting your food, but that the composition of your resident gut bacteria also has a profound impact on your quality of life? While some of the specific mechanisms are still to this day unclear, a plethora of significant research is out there, with answers to our burning questions on how our gut bacteria can affect us.

On day one, the human body is exposed to a multitude of bacteria via the birthing canal.

Taking part in the UHC conversation

By Dr Ryan Li, Adviser, Imperial College London, Global Health and Development Group

Universal health coverage is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship. No one should have to choose between good health and other life necessities.

As part of World Health Day, Dr Ryan Li from the Global Health & Development Group who is an advisor for the International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI), which supports countries to get the best value for money from health spending, reflects on a visit to Vietnam and the principles for developing clinical quality standards in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs):

I remember very vividly two of the hospitals I visited in Vietnam, during my first field trip as a global health advisor for iDSI.

Cholangiocarcinoma – the rare disease that’s on the increase

By Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson, Consultant Hepatologist and Professor of Translational Medicine at Imperial College London

Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare primary malignancy arising from cholangiocytes, the endothelial lining of the biliary ducts, with an incidence 2500 cases of per annum in the UK. The only option for cure is surgical resection, but cholangiocarcinoma usually presents late when it grows sufficiently to block the drainage of bile from the liver, presenting with jaundice. By this point it is often irresectable, and palliative management includes holding open the ducts with stents to prevent blockage, and chemotherapy. One-year survival is only 5%.

The incidence of this insidious disease is increasing, and earlier diagnosis and better treatment are urgently required.

We can, I can, this World Cancer Day

By Caitriona Tyndall, MSc. BSc, Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London.

The 4th of February is World Cancer Day. This is a day to remember and celebrate. Sadly cancer affects us all whether it’s personally or through our friends and family or work colleagues. In fact it’s estimated that 1 in 2 of us will be affected by cancer at some point in our lifetime. But in the face of this depressing statistic there is cause to celebrate. We can celebrate the people we know who have beaten cancer, celebrate the lives of those we have lost and celebrate the ground-breaking research being done by thousands of people across the UK and the world to help beat cancer sooner.

The IGHI Big Data Analytical Unit 2017 – year in review

By Joshua Symons, BDAU, Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation 

2017 has been a very busy year for the Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU). High level accomplishments in data security and researcher outreach have led the BDAU to become one of the most secure and recognised analytic platforms for healthcare data at Imperial.

In May of 2017, the BDAU Secure Environment (SE) became the first ISO 27001:2013 (figure 1) and NHS IG Toolkit 100% Level 3 (figure 2) certified research environment in Imperial College. Over the course of 2017, the BDAU SE was successful in completing a further 11 internal and external audits.

Ending stigma and HIV transmission

By Dr Julia Makinde is a Research Associate with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative at Imperial College London

It is estimated that there are 36.7 million people living with HIV globally with 1.8 million new infections in 2016 alone (1). This number represents an 11% drop in the number of new infections from 2010 . Some might consider this an achievement or a testament to the impact of strategic national and global policies aimed at tackling the epidemic. But in reality, these numbers mask the discrepant pace in the effort to tackle transmission and AIDS-related deaths in countries across the globe.

Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer: a Pathologist’s Perspective

By guest blogger, Dr Yu Zhi Zhang (Dennis), Clinical Research Fellow and Specialist Registrar in Histopathology at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), Imperial College London; on behalf of the National Centre for Mesothelioma Research (NCMR), National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), Imperial College London

The 9th edition of the renowned Osler’s Textbook on the Principles and Practice of Medicine, published in 1921, dedicated only two (out of 1,139) pages to lung cancer, at which point the condition was described as “New Growths in the Lungs”. Almost a hundred years on, the patterns of epidemiology have shifted drastically, and lung cancer now is recognised as a major health problem globally with more than 1.8 million new cases diagnosed every year.