New gene mutation reveals new cause of rare neurological diseases

Scientists have discovered a new cause of spastic ataxia, and believe this cause is also a trigger for other mitochondrial diseases – neurological disorders that can lead to serious coordination, growth, visual, speech, and muscle defects.

Researchers at St George’s, University of London have found a gene mutation mechanism that causes a new type of defect in mitochondria – the parts of cells responsible for creating energy from food and oxygen. They made the discovery when they found a new gene that, when mutated by this mechanism, can cause spastic ataxia.

Professor Sheila Hollins appointed to the House of Lords

Sheila Hollins, professor of psychiatry of learning disability at St George’s, University of London, has been appointed to the House of Lords – the UK parliament’s upper chamber – and awarded the title of Baroness. The accolade recognises her contribution to learning disability and mental health in the UK.

Baroness Hollins, who has worked at St George’s since 1981, was named a life peer as a crossbencher – a non-party-political peer – by the House of Lords Appointments Commission today (Tuesday 5 October). 

New collaboration to improve healthcare delivery and education

St George’s, University of London is part of a collaboration of NHS, education and social care organisations to form a major new government-funded network that aims to improve healthcare delivery and education in the South London.

The collaboration, made up of around 30 organisations, forms the South London Health Innovation Education Cluster (HIEC) - one of 17 the new government funded networks aimed at delivering high quality patient care through better trained clinicians and faster translation and adoption of research and innovation.

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.