Scientists discover new gene that increases the risk of stroke

A genetic variant that increases the risk of a common type of stroke has been identified by scientists in a study published online in Nature Genetics today (Sunday 5 February). This is one of the few genetic variants to date to be associated with risk of stroke and the discovery opens up new possibilities for treatment.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide (more than one in 10 of all deaths, and over six million deaths annually), and also in developed countries is a major cause of chronic disability. As the world’s populations age the impact of stroke on wellbeing is likely to increase further.  

Children dropped off by car at the school gates lead less active lives overall

Children whose parents drive them to school lead less active lifestyles overall than those who walk, cycle or take public transport, according to new research. The findings showed that children who take public transport to school are as active as those who walk or cycle, even at weekends outside school commuting times.

The same research also found that South Asian children, who in previous studies have been shown to be possibly less active and to have higher fat levels than other ethnic groups, are more likely to be driven to school, despite living closer.

Joint Faculty named a preferred bidder to train nurses and physiotherapists by NHS London

The Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences has been chosen by NHS London as a preferred bidder to train adult nurses and physiotherapists. The Faculty – run jointly by Kingston University and St George’s, University of London – is one of a group of preferred bidders selected to provide education in line with new improved standards.

The announcement comes after a competitive tendering process. Bidders had to prove their ability to meet new quality measures introduced by NHS London last June to ensure high standards of training.

New gene discovery provides clue to brain, eye and lymphatic development

Researchers have found a new gene that, when mutated, can lead to lymphoedema (swollen limbs) as part of a rare disorder that can also cause problems with eye and brain development. This is the fourth lymphoedema-related gene found by the same researchers in three years, and the first linked to the eyes and brain. They say it could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for lymphoedema, an area that has been poorly understood previously.

The new study has linked mutations in the gene KIF11 to Microcephaly-Lymphoedema-Chorioretinal Dyplasia (MLCRD), a very rare condition. Patients with this condition have a small head (microcephaly), lymphoedema (swollen limbs caused by problems with the lymphatic system) and eye problems called chorioretinopathy, which frequently result in night blindness. The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the body which is important for draining fluid and preventing swelling.

Benefits of aspirin more modest than previously believed

People without a history of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack or stroke) are unlikely to benefit from a regular dose of aspirin, given the associated risk of internal bleeding. This is the finding of the largest study to date into the effects of aspirin in people without established cardiovascular conditions.

Aspirin reduces the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and thereby protects against heart disease and stroke. It is widely used to prevent a repeat heart attack or stroke among people who have already suffered from one of these conditions, known in the medical field as secondary prevention. Many medical experts have also prescribed regular aspirin as a primary prevention technique – a precaution among people without a previous history of heart attack or stroke, but who may be considered at increased risk of these conditions in the future due to the presence of risk factors for heart attacks or strokes.