New professor to champion changing face of nursing

Ruth Harris has been appointed as the first Professor of Nursing Practice and Innovation at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London’s School of Nursing. She is set to spearhead new research projects aimed at improving nursing practice and patient outcomes, and aims to work closely with local NHS trusts in developing new services.

Having always harboured a strong interest in research, Professor Harris is looking forward to the challenge of contributing to the new nursing education programmes.

Breakthrough holds promise of helping to stop premature birth

Researchers at St George’s, University of London and King’s College, London have identified a new way of suppressing uterine muscle contractions, which could lead to novel treatments to help stop premature birth.

Premature birth accounts for around seven per cent of births in the UK, and is the single biggest killer of babies under one year old. Despite improved neonatal care and survival rates for babies born early, there has been no corresponding progress in reducing the incidence of premature birth. Drugs called tocolytics can slow labour, but those currently used only delay birth by 48 hours or so which has relatively little effect on a baby’s degree of maturation at birth.

Chemical compound screening could lead to new cancer drug treatments

St George’s researchers and partners are using a new technique to screen chemical compounds for cancer-fighting properties, with the aim of finding new drug treatments.

Professor Dot Bennett and Dr Becca Collinson from St George’s, and colleagues in Senectus Therapeutics – a company set up by a consortium of researchers to develop cancer-ageing drugs – have struck a deal to access a selection of chemical compounds provided by global pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. They aim to find compounds that trigger a form of cancer cell ageing called senescence. The Senectus team will use the world’s first reliable senescence trigger-screening technique, that it developed itself.

Research into life-threatening heart condition backed with £1.4million grant

Researchers are launching a new clinical trial into a rare heart condition, with a £1.4million grant from the British Heart Foundation and funding from the Marfan Trust. The research into Marfan Syndrome will look at a potentially life-saving treatment, in a trial involving 500 patients, led by the team from Royal Brompton Hospital with St George’s and research support from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

Marfan Syndrome is an inherited condition, affecting one in 3,300 people in the UK. It affects the body's connective tissues, which provide support and structure to other tissue and organs. The symptoms vary from person to person and can affect blood vessels, heart and the skeleton. Marfan Syndrome can cause the wall of the main blood vessel in the heart, known as the aorta, to expand. Without treatment, the aorta can eventually rupture, leading to life threatening bleeding and death. The Aortic Irbesartan Marfan Study (AIMS) study will help to investigate whether a commonly used blood pressure treatment, Irbesartan, could reduce the expansion of the aorta and delay the need for major surgery.

Chronic disease care poorer in nursing and residential homes under GP target scheme

The quality of chronic disease care under the GP pay for performance system is poorer for residents of care home than those living in the community, according to a study published on bmj.com today.

The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) for general practice is a voluntary system of financial incentives, which has been in place since 2004 and part of this programme includes specific targets for GPs to demonstrate high quality care for patients with chronic diseases.