Medical science

Johns Hopkins researchers find toxic levels of heavy metals in e-cigarette vapors

By Benjamin Mateus, 28 February 2018

Electronic cigarettes have high concentrations of heavy and toxic metals in their vapors caused by the release of these metals from the heating coils.

Insights into a new class of HIV retroviral drugs

By Benjamin Mateus, 30 December 2017

Recent investigation into the process of the HIV virus capsid maturation suggests a new method of disrupting its ability to infect.

A health statistics system in shambles

The real maternal mortality rate in the United States

By Benjamin Mateus, 24 November 2017

The true scope of maternal mortality rate in the US remains uncertain due to inconsistent and under-reporting on death certificates.

Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded for discoveries on the circadian rhythm

By Benjamin Mateus, 4 October 2017

The three scientists explored the molecular processes through which the body adapts physiologically to the Earth’s rotation, including the sleep-wake cycle and much more.

FDA recommends approval of new leukemia treatment

By Benjamin Mateus, 23 September 2017

This is the first time that white blood cells have been successfully engineered to fight off a cancer.

Inherited genetic disorder corrected in human embryos

By Benjamin Mateus, 2 September 2017

New research in the study of the human genome has provided a new way to reduce or potentially eliminate inherited genetic disorders by correcting harmful genetic mutations while the subject is still an embryo.

As World Health Organization, drug companies meet

Why is there no vaccine for Ebola?

By Patrick Martin, 25 October 2014

There are several reports that after the US National Institutes of Health developed an Ebola vaccine that worked in monkeys, major drug companies refused to develop it further because it was not profitable.

Nobel Prize for Medicine for gastric ulcer breakthrough

By Perla Astudillo, 6 March 2006

Last year’s Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded in December to two Australian scientists who revealed the bacterial basis for the world’s second most prevalent disease—gastritis and peptic ulcers. Ulcers were previously connected to bad diet or a stressful lifestyle—to the point that it pervaded popular culture, including in film and literature. The breakthrough paved the way for relatively straightforward treatments for a debilitating and potentially fatal disease.

Research reveals link between tiny genetic structures and cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 5 September 2005

The complex connection between genes and cancer has been further clarified in fascinating findings published in the June 9 edition of the British science journal Nature. Separate studies by three major US cancer research laboratories have positively correlated the relationship between over 200 types of miRNA (also called microRNA) and the development of cancer tumours.

Nanotechnology and the treatment of cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 20 June 2005

Recent successful medical trials of a cancer treatment involving the use of “nanotechnology” may open up important new avenues for the diagnosis and treatment of other cancers and diseases.

New malaria study reveals huge underestimation of disease

By Barry Mason, 31 March 2005

A new study using epidemiological, geographical and demographic data has demonstrated that there are over 500 million cases of malaria each year. This figure is more than double that previously estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of around 210 million. Of these cases, 70 percent occur in Africa and 25 percent in Southeast Asia. Around 2 billion people, i.e., a third of the world’s population, are at risk of contracting the disease.

Scientists identify a gene that may block HIV

By Perla Astudillo, 6 May 2004

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School in the United States have identified a human gene, known as TRIM5-alpha, which is capable of preventing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from replicating inside cells. While the discovery, announced in February, is unlikely to lead to any immediate medical breakthrough, it is an important step in understanding the life cycle of HIV and has the potential to enable the future development of a drug to block HIV infection.

Hormone replacement therapy: Study reveals increased dementia risk

By Joanne Laurier, 4 June 2003

Postmenopausal women over the age of 65 using combined hormone therapy face significantly increased risks of dementia and strokes, according to new findings from a sub-study of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The research, part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) and reported in the May 28 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that older women taking Prempro, the most commonly used form of estrogen plus progestin, were twice as likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, than their placebo-taking counterparts.

The science and sociology of SARS

Part 2: Science, internationalism and the profit motive

By Joseph Kay, 13 May 2003

The outbreak of a new virus responsible for what is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) raises a number of scientific, medical and social problems. Thanks in part to the quick response and collaborative effort of a team of international scientists, the virus has remained fairly well contained. However, it has infected 7,000 people worldwide and has killed over 500. It is still an enormous health risk in China, and there is still the possibility of an international epidemic that would have devastating consequences.

The science and sociology of SARS

Part 1: Viruses and the nature of present outbreak

By Joseph Kay, 12 May 2003

The outbreak of a new virus responsible for what is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) raises a number of scientific, medical and social problems. Thanks in part to the quick response and collaborative effort of a team of international scientists, the virus has remained fairly well contained. However, it has infected 7,000 people worldwide and has killed over 500. It poses an enormous health risk in China, and there is still the possibility of an international epidemic that would have devastating consequences.

Britain: Report highlights BSE danger from infected sheep

By Barry Mason, 21 January 2002

The risk to humans developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) could be far greater if the brain-wasting disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has entered the sheep population. This was the conclusion of a study published in the British science magazine Nature on January 10.

Gene therapy trials shut down at University of Pennsylvania following patient death

By Tom Bishop, 13 March 2000

The promising field of gene therapy was rocked by the September 17, 1999 death of 18-year-old patient Jesse Gelsinger. Gelsinger had volunteered to participate in a gene therapy trial for the rare genetic disease ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC) at the Institute for Human Gene Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (Penn). On January 21 the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down all gene therapy trials at the institute.

Promising new insights into early cancer growth

By Perla Astudillo, 3 March 2000

In a significant advance in cancer research, US scientists have pioneered a new technique to record the earliest stages of a tumour's development. Using microscopic pictures, Duke University scientists recorded the tumour's early growth through glass “windows” placed in the sides of live mice. The results showed that tumours began to sprout blood vessels—a process known as angiogenesis—at a much earlier stage than previously thought.

What is involved in the Genetically Modified Food debate?

By Chris Talbot, 9 August 1999

Hardly a week goes by in Britain without headlines related to genetically modified (GM) food, usually opposed to it. This week the Church of England decided that growing GM products in field tests on its land was unethical. Last week the aristocrat leader of Greenpeace, Lord Melchett, was arrested and jailed over night for leading a group who trashed a field full of GM crops which was part of government field tests. Britain was the one country where the big corporations manufacturing GM seeds, Monsanto, Novartis, etc., had hoped for a favourable response to give them a lead into the rest of Europe.

US study establishes link between dioxin and cancer

By Perla Astudillo, 1 June 1999

A recent study published in the journal of the US National Cancer institute provided conclusive evidence of the direct relationship between industry and the cancer-causing effects of the chemical dioxin. Generally ignored by the mainstream press, the study revealed that many thousands of workers in the US chemical industry died of all types of cancer-related illness as a result of exposure to the dioxin known as 2,3,7,8-tetrachorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).

Genes that kill malignant skin cancer cells

By Kaye Tucker, 28 April 1999

Is it possible that our own genes hold the key to finding new ways to fight cancer? Researchers at London's Brunel University think so. In February, they announced the discovery of two new genes that dramatically halt the growth of malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer. It is hoped that by unlocking the secrets of how these genes work, scientists will be able to develop new ways to treat this deadly disease.

Further evidence that chemical crop sprays cause adverse health effects

By Paul Mitchell, 17 April 1999

Recent scientific research has pointed again to the far-reaching health effects of chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers. The results are published in New Scientist magazine. In an article, "It's raining pesticides", Stephan Müller and Thomas Bucheli of the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science show that rain water often contains pesticides above the limits allowed in drinking water. It is already well known that crop sprays drain into rivers and underground supplies, but the Swiss scientists say they can also evaporate from fields and become absorbed into clouds. The highest concentrations of such pollutants are found in the first rainfall after long dry periods.

Origins of HIV virus identified

Impact of the pandemic continues to worsen

By Barry Mason, 19 February 1999

A recent article in the scientific magazine Nature explains that the main type of human immunodificiency virus, HIV-1, which causes AIDS, originates in a subspecies of chimpanzees from equatorial West Africa. The February 4 report details the work carried out by a group of researchers at the Department of Medicine and Microbiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham led by Feng Goa. Monkeys carry viral infections similar to HIV, called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).

International scientists raise concerns over genetically modified food

British Labour government rushes to defend biotech industry

By Keith Lee and Richard Tyler, 17 February 1999

The Labour government has been rocked by a dispute over the possible health dangers posed by genetically modified food. Last week 20 scientists from 13 countries issued a memorandum supporting their colleague Dr. Arpad Pusztai's research into the possible harmful effects of genetically modified (GM) food.

A promising breakthrough in cancer research

By Perla Astudillo and Peter Symonds, 28 May 1998

New research by US medical scientist Dr Judah Folkman into the effect of two drugs, angiostatin and endostatin, on mice may prove to be a significant breakthrough in treating a broad range of cancers in humans.

A new type of breast cancer drug

By Kaye Tucker, 26 May 1998

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr Angelo Bianco announced the results of clinical trials, demonstrating the effectiveness on a new type of anti-cancer drug, Herceptin, in fighting advanced breast cancer.