This time each year, the College is rooting for its top scientists as the Nobel Prizes are awarded. Although no one from Imperial won an award in 2012, many leading scientists were keen to give their praise to the recipients. Dr Bernadette Byrne [Life Sciences] explained to the BBC on Wednesday how Professors Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka, who won the prize for Chemistry revolutionised the understanding of cellular functions. Their research is paving the way for new treatments to be developed on a vast array of diseases thanks to their pioneering work in the field.
With so much taking place at Imperial, next year’s awards might feature prominent names from within the College’s community, and you can keep abreast of the exciting advances led by staff here via the news pages.
In a move dubbed “a positive development” by Professor Stephen Curry [Life Sciences] GlaxoSmithKline have announced that they will be making their drugs research more transparent and approve requests from researchers to access the data from trials, making headlines in The Daily Telegraph.
Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK, made the announcement following record fines for the company after pleading guilty to providing misleading information about some of the products it manufactures. He said: “We need to take a different approach – one focused on partnership, collaboration and openness. By being more open with our clinical trial data, we also hope to help further scientific understanding.”
On Monday, the Daily Express reported on a blood test trial that could phase out mammograms as the most common technique to screen for breast cancer. The trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, will be conducted by researchers from the University of Leicester and Imperial College London.
As well as improving diagnoses, this new test can also monitor the health of patients following treatment. This will help doctors and researchers track patients’ developments and potentially identify novel approaches to beating breast cancer, as explained further on the Imperial website.
Research on MDMA, the pure form of the drug ecstasy, will be the focus of a two-part programme called Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial to be shown on Channel 4 tonight and tomorrow night. The study examines how the resting brain responds to MDMA and is led by David Nutt, Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and Professor Val Curran from University College London.
From the Channel 4 website: ‘In a UK television first, Jon Snow and Dr Christian Jessen present two shows following volunteers as they take MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy, as part of a groundbreaking scientific study.’
BBC Radio 4’s Life Scientific programme features Professor David Nutt [Medicine] talking about his research on MDMA, the pure form of the drug ecstasy (Tuesday, 18th October)
‘Prof David Nutt explains why the drug ecstasy or MDMA is being studied in clinical research and how it could be useful for treating post-traumatic stress disorder by controlling intrusive, traumatic memories. Professor Nutt is a psychiatrist and one of the country’s leading experts on the effects of drugs on the brain. He was sacked in 2009 as the government’s chief drugs adviser after criticising its decision to reclassify cannabis. Hear the full interview with David Nutt on Radio 4’s Life Scientific’
Results of a major study of diabetes and ethnicity were reported on the BBC News website:
‘British people of South Asian, African or African Caribbean descent are significantly more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than their European counterparts, researchers have warned. Half had developed the disease by the age of 80 in a study of 4,200 people living in London – approximately twice the figure for Europeans. The researchers said the rates were “astonishingly high”. The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.’
The BBC news website features a report on a possible new strategy for tackling hayfever.
‘Sneezing through summer with a runny nose could become a thing of the past if researchers in London are successful at developing a new hay fever vaccine. The researchers, at Imperial College London and King’s College London, say their “targeted” approach could lead to a cheaper and more effective vaccine. In tests, they have injected into a layer of skin on patients they think is a “hotline” to the immune system. Allergy UK said it was a very exciting development.’
Professor Wendy Barclay [Medicine] discusses pandemic planning strategies in The Independent (Thursday 30 August 2012).
“If you are reaching for your handkerchief it might be too late to stop the spread of flu, research suggests. Flu and cold viruses are carried in mucus droplets that spray out when a person coughs or sneezes, but the latest research indicates that flu can be transmitted before symptoms show. The findings, from a study of ferrets, support earlier research suggesting that viral particles can be expelled into the air through normal breathing. Lead researcher Professor Wendy Barclay [Medicine], from Imperial College London, said the result had important implications for pandemic planning strategies.”
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