Largest genetic study of asthma points towards better treatments

Asthma researchers have identified seven genetic variants that greatly increase the risk of developing the condition, and their findings could lead to better treatments. The results of the largest genetic study of asthma could improve the lives of sufferers through new therapies and drug treatments.

The findings of the GABRIEL consortium, which includes St George’s, University of London, suggest that asthma is not caused by allergies, as had been thought, but that allergies are a consequence of the disease. They also show that adult-onset asthma and childhood asthma are different diseases. And they suggest that genetic testing would not help predict who is likely to develop asthma.

Man’s best friend keeps children on the move

Children whose families own dogs are more active than those without, according to new research. Researchers from St George’s, University of London studied 2,065 children aged nine to ten, and found that children from dog-owning families have higher levels of physical activity compared to children without.

The team says owning a dog could encourage more children to be active, and help combat rising childhood obesity.

International nursing conference marks centenary of Florence Nightingale’s death

One of the largest international conferences on the history of nursing is being organised by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London, marking the centenary of Florence Nightingale’s death.

The event, which takes place from 14 to 16 September, aims to showcase innovative and scholarly work on nursing history. More than 300 nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals, historians and experts from around the world are due to attend the conference at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Drug-related deaths in the UK continue to rise

Drug-related deaths reported in the UK have risen by 11.8 per cent to 2,182 in a year, reveals a report released today by St George’s, University of London. The National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) report shows that the annual death rate is continuing to increase, up from the previous year’s 2.7 per cent rise.

The report – which covers notifications of drug-related deaths occurring in 2009 – shows an increase from the 1,952 deaths reported in 2008. Most of the deaths (1,698 – 77.8 per cent) were of men, only a slight increase from the previous year. And most deaths (1,415 – 64.8 per cent) were of people aged 25-44. Again, this was a very slight annual rise.

Smokers trying to give up – don’t stop thinking about cigarettes

Blocking thoughts of cigarettes helps reduce smokers’ intake at first, but means they smoke more than usual when they stop suppressing, according to new research.

The study was carried out by researchers at St George’s, University of London and the University of Hertfordshire.