Genetic mutation in African malaria parasite shown to give resistance to best drugs

Scientists have identified genetic mutations in the deadliest malaria parasite in Africa that are giving it resistance to one of the most powerful anti-malarial drugs. The researchers say their findings are a further warning that the best weapons against malaria could become obsolete.

The artemisinin group of drugs are the most effective and widely used treatments for malaria. They are most powerful and less likely to be resisted by the malaria parasite when used with other drugs as artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). But the new study confirms previous suggestions that mutations in a key part of the parasite can provide resistance to artemether, one of the two most effective artemisinins.

Scientists find evidence of a biological trigger for high blood pressure

Scientists have identified what could be a biological tipping point in the development of high blood pressure, in a discovery that could one day lead to new treatment.

High blood pressure affects around one in three adults, the equivalent of approximately 16million people in the UK. People with high blood pressure are at much greater risk of heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease, and it is the main risk factor for stroke.

St George’s launches medical training app

Medical students can now hone their clinical reasoning skills in authentic scenarios on Apple mobile devices with the aid of a new app called MedEdCases. The app, launched by St George’s, University of London, uses 39 interactive scenarios based on real-life patient cases to create a realistic training experience, where students are able to learn the consequences of their actions without the risk of harming a real-life patient.

Within the scenarios, which are set in medical environments such as a GP surgery or hospital, students take on the role of a medical professional and are required to treat a virtual patient as they would in real life. Using videos and text-based conversations about the virtual patient’s symptoms, the student is provided with all the information he or she needs to diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment. If he or she recommends the wrong treatment, either the virtual patient will react badly or a virtual senior doctor will intervene. On the other hand, when the patient’s condition is correctly diagnosed and treated, students will follow them until discharged and, where scoring is available, they will gain high scores.Throughout the scenarios students will test their skills and knowledge further by answering additional questions, to which they receive instant feedback.The app can be downloaded now at the Apple Store for an introductory price of £14.99. Money raised will be invested back into the app to cover the costs of maintenance and to update the app with more features or functionalities.Although currently only available on Apple devices – iPhones, iPads and iPods – the e-Learning Unit at St George’s, which developed the app with the help of developers at iBos Solutions, plan to release an Android version before summer 2012.The app was developed in response to positive feedback about previous computer-based virtual patient training programs initiated at St George’s, coupled with the growing popularity of smart phones among students. St George’s medical students have been involved in the testing phase of this latest product, and their feedback has been incorporated into the MedEdCases app.Other developments in the pipeline include a ‘Lite’ version of the app so that students can play a scenario for free before they commit to buying the full version, and a specialist collection of themed cases, for example 20 cases on medical ethics.

Short-sighted cuts to training places will lead to a crisis in care, says faculty dean.

Fiona Ross, dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, which is jointly ran by Kingston and St George’s universities, gives her thoughts about the recent reduction in training places for nurses in London, the political context of education commissioning and the impact on care quality for the future.

“Everyone has a view about nursing – it has lost its way, it is too academic, nurses have the wrong attitude and lack compassion. Many argue that nurses do not need degrees and that universities are responsible for producing nurses ’not fit for purpose’.

Nurses need less paperwork and more time with patients, new head of forum says

Nursing needs to be about patients not paperwork, according to the first chair of the newly formed Nursing and Care Quality Forum.

Speaking following a public lecture hosted by Kingston University, St George's, University of London and St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sally Brearley, who heads the independent body, said it was timely that the quality of nursing care was coming under public scrutiny.