In the last few months we have seen increased attention and alliances around the world to develop interventions to address the challenge presented by drug-resistant infections. For example, a landmark declaration at the United Nations General Assembly on the matter of Antimicrobial Resistance was signed by 193 countries, providing a historic opportunity for experts, governments and citizens to collaborate on a global response to this worldwide threat to patient safety. Only the fourth time in history that a health topic had been at the centre of attention at the UN, the meeting supported commitment of adequate resources to guarantee a much needed sustained and robust response.
Combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is high on policy agendas internationally. One of the key means advocated is judicious antibiotic prescribing. Over 80% of all NHS antibiotic prescriptions are issued in primary care, where despite numerous campaigns, mandates and financial incentives, rates have fallen only slightly in the past year. Acute respiratory infections and associated complications, such as pneumonia, are the commonest justification for primary care antibiotic use, despite strong evidence of small to modest symptomatic benefits.
By Eve MacKinnon, PhD candidate at University College London
To mark World Toilet Day on Saturday 19 November, guest blogger Eve MacKinnon takes a look at the developing innovation in sanitation.
In 2015 Google held a technology festival in South Africa aiming to develop ways to digitify billions of people in the continent, who as yet unconnected are a significant potential new market for their products and therefore hugely valuable for future growth.
By Student Challenges Competition 2015/16 Audience Choice Award winners, Antonios Chronopoulos and Tyler Lieberthal
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers and is widely regarded as a death sentence. The 5-year survival rate is still in the single digits at 3% and this figure has not changed over the past four decades largely due to lack of specific therapies and inability of early detection. Symptoms rarely develop with early disease, which translates to more than 85% of patients receiving their diagnosis at an advanced stage when the tumour is metastatic and no longer treatable. Modern imaging techniques, such as CT and MRI are expensive and unable to detect early-stage lesions.
Big data and advanced data mining methods are becoming a crucial element of everyday life, business and research. The new insights that these methods can provide have allowed many different industries to find new opportunities, products and markets.
The new EPSRC Centre for Mathematics of Precision Healthcare which will launch on Wednesday 23rd November, aims to bring these methods into healthcare.
Precision Healthcare uses big data and mathematics to provide unprecedented insights into individual and population health. The Centre will link up mathematical, computational and medical departments from Imperial, to bridge traditional silos and drive innovation in this area.
The prevalence of diabetes has increased dramatically in recent years and in some countries this is still occurring. The increase applies mainly to type 2 diabetes but there are indications that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes is also rising. Diabetes of either type has major personal and societal implications, being associated with an inevitable requirement for some modification of lifestyle, living in the shadow of serious complications such as circulatory disorders and disease of the eyes and kidneys, and ultimately reduced life expectancy.
The last week has been very busy in Mzuzu, northern Malawi. Scientists there have been packing blood and urine samples collected from 506 children with pneumonia in preparation for shipment to Dublin, Ireland. These samples will travel 12,000km at -80oC with constant monitoring of their temperature and dry ice being packed around them at stops along the journey to ensure they remain frozen in the warm heat of Africa as they travel across the African and European continents.
Over the past twelve months the researchers from the gHealth Research group based in University College Dublin, Queens University Belfast & Imperial College London have been working with colleagues in Malawi to collect these samples.
By Harriet Gliddon, winner of the IGHI Student Challenges Competition 2015-16
During March 2016, I blogged for IGHI on World TB Day about my experiences of entering the Student Challenges Competition.
The intervening six months have been busier than I could have imagined, and filled with things like delivering an invited talk at the Biosensors Summit in Sweden, submitting my PhD thesis and completing an internship at the World Health Organization.
Despite the chaos, I’ve managed to make some exciting advances with the nanomaterial-based diagnostic test for TB that I presented at the Student Challenges Competition. One component of this work has focused on validating the genetic markers that are the biological targets, or biomarkers, of the test.
By Hamdi Issa, PhD Candidate, Institute of Global Health Innovation
On the 20th and 21st October 2016, the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) hosted their annual conference: ‘Evidence, Effectiveness and Impact’. This two day conference brought together academics, health care professionals, policy makers, government officials and students from all over the world, to celebrate and perhaps more importantly, learn how different health partnerships are changing the face of development.
Day one of the conference explored various elements of health partnerships, notably: the UK’s contribution to health globally and how the UK can best respond to the challenges thrown down by the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the 8th and 9th October, I had the opportunity to attend the Open Data Science Conference in London. In addition to the United Kingdom, the ODSC also occurs on both the East and West Coast of the US, as well as Tokyo. The 2-day conference had an array of speakers presenting problems and solutions they have worked on as data scientists. It was an opportunity to meet some of the leaders in the field of data science such as Gael Varoquaux. Gael is a core contributor to the popular Python machine learning resource scikit-learn and he spoke about the new and existing features of this package which help ensure rapid development in data science.