Pioneering plant technology unveiled at the London Design Festival

Researchers Sebastian Fuller and Professor Julian Ma have been closely involved in work that is being presented at this week's London Design Festival.

“Plant Designer” showcases the state-of-the-art technologies involved in plant molecular farming, which uses engineered plants to produce large quantities of molecules for uses including medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and cosmetic products.


Air pollution may be related to heightened dementia risk

Air pollution may be related to a heightened risk of developing dementia, according to research carried out by St George’s and King’s College London.

Air pollution is an established risk factor for heart disease/stroke and respiratory disease, but its potential role in neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, isn’t as clear.The researchers used carefully calculated estimates of air and noise pollution across Greater London to assess potential links with new dementia diagnoses. They looked at patient data on 131,000 Londoners aged 50 to 79, and based on their residential postcodes, the researchers estimated their yearly exposure to air pollutants. These were specifically nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter and ozone, as well as proximity to heavy traffic and road noise, using modelling methods validated with recorded measurements.The health of the Londoners was then tracked over an average of 7 years. During the monitoring period, 2181 patients (1.7%) were newly diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.These new diagnoses were then examined with regard to concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter estimated at the patients’ homes at the start of the monitoring period in 2004.Those living in areas in the top fifth of nitrogen dioxide concentrations ran a 40% heightened risk of being diagnosed with dementia than those living in the bottom fifth. A similar increase in risk was observed for higher particulate matter levels. These associations were consistent and unexplained by known influential factors, such as smoking and diabetes, although when restricted to specific types of dementia, they remained only for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, and the findings may be applicable only to London. Nor were the researchers able to glean longer term exposures, which may be relevant as Alzheimer’s disease may take many years to develop.Many factors may be involved in the development of dementia, the researchers point out, the exact cause of which is still not known, and while there are several plausible pathways for air pollutants to reach the brain, how they might contribute to neurodegeneration isn’t clear.But Dr Iain Carey, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at St George’s, said; “While these findings need to be treated with caution, they do replicate results from other recent international studies which have suggested a link between exposure to air pollution and dementia. More research is now needed to investigate whether curbing exposure to pollution might be able to delay the progression of dementia.”


Researchers provide compelling evidence for multiple STI-detecting device

Strong evidence in support of a rapid diagnostic test for multiple STI infections has been put forward by researchers at St George’s.

Using mathematical modelling, researchers within the Applied Diagnostics Research and Evaluation Unit at the university concluded that a bespoke point-of care diagnostic device could significantly reduce the number of return clinical visits and the average time-to-cure from about a week to one day.


Research trial aims to reduce major cause of birth disabilities

Researchers are beginning recruitment in a trial to see if changing pregnant women’s hygiene habits could reduce the risks of a major cause of childhood disabilities.

Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is the most common congenital infection in the UK, affecting around 1000 babies every year. If babies are infected while in the womb it can result in serious health problems, such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay and hearing loss.


Death from cardiac disease in young football players is far higher than estimated, study shows

Researchers have found that silent heart conditions that cause sudden death in young athletes affect 1 in 266 football players affiliated with the English Football Association.

Death rates in these young players are also three times more prevalent than previously thought. Most deaths were due to heart muscle diseases that were not detectable with screening at the age of 16. The study highlights the importance of more regular heart screenings to detect these conditions, which, in most cases, are treatable and athletes can return to competitive sport.The study, which is the first comprehensive study into deaths caused by these inherited conditions, screened 11,168 young football players affiliated with the English Football Association over a 20-year period (1996-2016).It found that 42 of the players (0.38%) had cardiac irregularities that can lead to heart attacks, most of who (93%) presented no symptoms. The chance of sudden cardiac death was seven in every 100,000 players. This compares to previous estimates, which were crudely based on media reports, search engines and insurance claims, of 0.5 to two in every 100,000 players.The study was led by Sanjay Sharma, Professor of Inherited Diseases and Sports Cardiology at St George’s, University of London, who is Chair of the Expert Cardiac Committee of the Football Association (FA) and Dr Aneil Malhotra, Clinical Lecturer in Cardiology.Along with their team, they have been seeking to get an accurate picture of the numbers and causes of sudden cardiac death among adolescent soccer players in the UK, since there is no systematic registry of deaths in young athletes. Professor Sharma said:“The death of a young athletes is highly tragic when one considers that most deaths are due to congenital/inherited diseases of the heart that are detectable during life. Affected athletes lose decades of life. Such deaths raise questions about possible preventative strategies. One of the main obstacles to implicating cardiac screening in the young is the lack of information on the precise incidence of sudden cardiac death in athletes. It is well known that adolescent athletes are most vulnerable but, before this study, nobody has ever reported outcomes in a well-defined screened cohort.”Players were tested in the FA’s mandatory cardiac screening programme, which involves all youth academy players across the 92 professional clubs in the soccer league system. They were given a health questionnaire, physical exam, ECG and echocardiography. The assessments took place when young players signed their first professional contract, usually at age 16.Where possible, the 42 athletes who were found to have cardiac conditions were medically or surgically treated and allowed to return to sport safely, others were given medical advice to stop competing. In most cases (70%) the athletes could be treated and returned to competitive sport. Forty of the players are still alive and two, who went against medical advice to stop competing, have since died.During the study follow-up, the authors found that there had been a further six deaths from cardiac diseases due to inherited conditions that had not been picked up at the initial screening. At this time, the players were displaying normal screening results but had died an average of 6.8 years later.This suggests that screening at 16 will miss some cardiomyopathies in predisposed individuals; and that more serial assessments may be required.As a result of this the FA has already put serial evaluations into place at age 18 and then again at 20 and 25.Sanjay Sharma said: “Our results represent the minimum incidence of sudden cardiac death among screened adolescent soccer players. Since we may not have captured all cases of sudden death, the death rate could be higher. On our advice the FA has now extended the screening process to protect this cohort of young athletes.”This research, “Outcomes of Cardiac Screening in Adolescent Soccer Players”, is published today (Wednesday 8 August) in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was supported by funding from the England Football Association and the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

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Professor Denis Mitchison 1919-2018

Professor Denis Mitchison, who has died aged 98, will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the field of tuberculosis research.

‘Denny’ as he was known, was Emeritus Professor in the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St George’s, and only formally retired from academic life in 2015.


Researchers discover new genes associated with heart function

A new study from an international research team, led by Dr Yalda Jamshidi at St George’s, University of London, has identified new genes associated with heart function and development. 

An electrocardiogram (ECG), which records a heart's rhythm and electrical activity, can be used to identify life-threatening heart problems which often have a strong genetic basis. The team compared ECGs and the genetic makeup of almost 200,000 individuals to gain insight into the genetics that underlie heart rhythm. This was done using large-scale genetic association studies focusing on protein-coding parts of the genome. They chose to focus on rare variants that are often missed in large scale population studies, for follow-up.


Research revealing ‘persistent bacteria’ could be key to future tuberculosis trials

Research carried out by St George’s, University of London into tuberculosis treatments has clearly shown the ‘persistent bacteria’ that make treating the disease so difficult for the first time, using a new combination therapy.

1 June 2018

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Jon Friedland, infectious diseases expert, to lead research and enterprise

Leading tuberculosis and infectious diseases expert Professor Jon Friedland has been appointed as Deputy Principal (Research and Enterprise) at St George’s, University of London.

25 May 2018


New research reveals wide variety in asthma outcomes across England

A new study by researchers at St George’s, University of London shows that asthma outcomes still vary widely across England and seem to be influenced by region and affluence despite falling rates of asthma deaths, emergency hospital admissions and prevalence.

15 May 2018


Study investigates whether pregnant women are willing to go home after an induction

A study conducted by St George’s, University of London is discovering if pregnant women who need inductions will opt to go home after the process has been started in hospital. 

120 women are being recruited across two sites; St George’s Hospital in Tooting, and at the Medway Hospital in Kent. The study randomises low-risk women who have agreed to the process to either a new mechanical method, a trans-cervical balloon catheter; or to a pharmacological method, a Prostaglandin vaginal suppository.

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Local students sought for meningitis B vaccine trial

St George's, University of London is recruiting local school students as part of a major national trial for a meningitis B vaccine.

St George's, alongside St George's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is the south London site for the ‘Be on the Team' trial, which involves recruitment from local colleges and schools. The study is aiming to recruit a total of 24,000 teenagers nationally over the next two years.

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People with diabetes face increased risk of infections and death

Diabetes patients have an increased risk of suffering serious infections or death compared to the general public, new research has shown.

25 January 2018

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What medical breakthroughs are imminent?

Professor Sanjeev Krishna, of the Institute of Infection and Immunity at St George’s, has taken part in a roundtable discussion previewing the medical breakthroughs we can anticipate in the coming year and beyond.

22 January 2018

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Stores help fund sudden heart death research

A Halloween fund raising campaign by staff at the convenience stores chain McColl’s helps fund vital research to prevent sudden cardiac deaths.

11 January 2018

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Experts reveal how exercise is key to successfully quitting smoking

New research has confirmed that exercise can help smokers finally kick the habit.

20 December 2017

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Regular take-aways linked to increase risk of heart disease in children

Children who regularly eat take-away meals may be increasing their risk factors for heart disease, suggests new research.

13 December 2017

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Experts discover ways to tackle drug resistant parasites that cause the killer disease malaria

A new analysis of all relevant previously published clinical data shows how parasites causing malaria become resistant to a commonly used treatment for malaria in travellers.

11 December 2017

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Meet the researcher: How is the battle against HIV/AIDS going?

In the first of a series of articles called Meet the researcher, highlighting the research at St George’s, University of London, Dr Qinxue Hu, Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Infection & Immunity, discusses his work and marks World AIDS Day which happens each year on December 1.

11 December 2017

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Experts tackling deadly tuberculosis say thousands are dying of the curable disease each day

Researchers from across the world who are tackling the deadly bacterial disease tuberculosis (TB) attended a symposium at St George’s, University of London to discuss the way forward in treatment and prevention.

28 November 2017

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New hope for osteoarthritis patients suffering severe pain in hands

Researchers have undertaken the world’s first drug trial aiming to tackle the pain caused by osteoarthritis in patients’ hands.

10 November 2017

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Childhood obesity levels are highest among South Asians

Childhood obesity levels in UK are highest among South Asian children, according to new research that completely changes the current understanding of the link between ethnicity and weight status in young people.

1 November 2017

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Deaths from the use of heroin have hit a grim milestone

Researchers have found that deaths from heroin and morphine use now make up more than half of all reported drug-related deaths.

24 October 2017

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Jenner Symposium and Lecture

Eminent clinical microbiologist Professor Sharon Peacock will deliver this year's Jenner Lecture, Are bacterial pathogens isolated from animals a common cause of drug-related infections in humans?

12 October 2017

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Ebola vaccine tested in adults and children in Africa hailed a success

Experts at St George’s, University of London, have reported that an Ebola vaccine is safe for children as well as adults and produces an immune response.

9 October 2017

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Cannabinoids used in sequence with chemotherapy are a more effective treatment for cancer

New research has confirmed that cannabinoids - the active chemicals in cannabis - are effective in killing leukaemia cells, particularly when used in combination with chemotherapy treatments.

5 June 2017


Drug market blamed for problems treating sick children

Antibiotics used to treat a variety of common bacterial infections are becoming more difficult to access, mostly because the drugs are less profitable for manufacturers to produce and market, say experts.

23 May 2017


Institute director gets prestigious Fellowship

Professor Dorothy Bennett, Director of our Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute, has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

9 May 2017

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Could ‘love hormone’ help drug addicts stay clean?

Experts say oxytocin, a key hormone made naturally by the brain, could hold the key to treating drug addicts and help them avoid relapse.

12 April 2017


MRC awards £2 milllion to St George's lymphoedema research

Researchers at St George's have been awarded a major MRC programme grant, worth £2 million over five years, to investigate different causes of swelling of the extremities due to an underlying weakness in the lymphatic system, primary lymphoedema.

Led by Dr Pia Ostergaard, together with Professor Steve Jeffery and Professor Peter Mortimer from Molecular and Clinical Sciences Genetics, the group is a large collaboration between St George's and the Trust, including Professor Franklyn Howe (MCS Neuroscience), Derek Macallan (Institute of Infection and Immunity), and clinicians Dr Sahar Mansour and Dr Kristiana Gordon from the Trust's national Primary and Paediatric Lymphoedema clinic.


Analysis of letters written by ‘Mad’ King George III supports psychiatric diagnosis of mania

Researchers have concluded that King George III was probably suffering from a mental illness after computer analysis of hundreds of his letters.

23 March 2017


New BMI readings for children of different ethnicities

New research has produced adjusted Body Mass Index (BMI) values that, for the first time, accurately reflect ethnic minority children’s physical makeup.

22 March 2017


Genetic study identifies a new form of congenital muscular dystrophy

A new form of congenital muscular dystrophy has been discovered which is caused by mutations in a previously un-linked gene.

9 February 2017


First study into the safety of e-cigarettes seeks volunteers

The first study to closely follow toxicity markers in smokers who replace tobacco for e-cigarettes is seeking volunteers.

1 February 2017


McColl’s stores help fund sudden cardiac death research

Cash raised at convenience stores across the UK during a Halloween charity campaign has led to a donation of £300,000 to researchers at St George’s University of London tackling sudden cardiac deaths in younger people.

25 January 2017


Doctoral training studentships offered by new partnership

St George’s, University of London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have formed the London Intercollegiate Doctoral Training Partnership, which is funded by the Medical Research Council. 

21 December 2016


Double award win for St George’s researchers

Two St George’s researchers have won prestigious awards from the British Pharmacological Society.

15 December 2016


St George’s to provide TB expertise to a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded project

St George’s, University of London, will be directly collaborating in a far-reaching project with longstanding commercial partner QuantuMDx to further develop and test its diagnostic technologies for tuberculosis, which causes nearly three deaths every minute.

2 December 2016


New study shows fewer aortic aneurysm repairs, more deaths in the UK versus the US

A new study has shown that surgeons in England operate significantly less often on aortic aneurysms in the population than in the US, and that the death rate here for the condition is over twice that in the States.

24 November 2016


St George’s and Helperby join ENABLE project to tackle antimicrobial resistance

St George’s, University of London has joined the ENABLE project, which aims to combat the major threat of antimicrobial resistance by bringing together research organisations and biotechnology companies.

16 November 2016


Major new study examines the health legacy of the London Olympic Village

The first stage of the ENABLE London project, which is studying the effect of the living environment on people’s activity levels and bodies, has been outlined today in a paper published in BMJ Open.

28 October 2016


Worldwide study reveals new genes for heart function

The way the heart muscle functions appears to be much more complex than previously assumed.

30 September 2016


New immunotherapy treatment could lead to better, cheaper results for pancreatic cancer

A new immunotherapy treatment has shown dramatic results in treating advanced pancreatic cancer, a deadly cancer that has seen little progress in treatment over the last 20 years.

7 September 2016


Modifying ECG guidelines could result in cheaper cardiac evaluations for athletes

A new study is holding out the possibility of more affordable electrocardiograph screening evaluations for young athletes.

26 August 2016


Further Education College students to be offered rapid STI testing and on-site treatment

Rates of chlamydia are as high as eight per cent in sexually active students at some London further education colleges. A new trial will aim to diagnose infections within 90 minutes and provide immediate on-site antibiotic treatment.

23 August 2016


Drug that helps addicts may help treat cancer too, say experts

A drug that has been used to beat alcohol and heroin addiction could be used to treat cancer, according to researchers.

13 June 2016


Experts urge more research to discover how many babies die from antibiotic resistance

No one knows how many newborns are dying each year due to antibiotic resistant infections, because of a lack of funding to research the issue fully, Professor Mike Sharland from St George’s, University London said.

18 May 2016


Heart problems more likely if you grow up in a working class family, says new research

People who grew up in working class families are more likely to suffer heart problems later in life even if their own socioeconomic status changes, says new research.

10 May 2016


Men could be spared unnecessary treatment for prostate cancer with new detection method

Researchers are working to find a way to determine how serious prostate cancer is when first diagnosed to avoid unnecessary treatments, which can cause life long side effects and even death.

6 April 2016


Multiple STIs could be detected with researchers developing a single 30 minute test

One test that could detect four of the most common sexually transmitted infections in 30 minutes and allow them to be rapidly treated, will be developed by St George’s, University of London and diagnostics company Atlas Genetics.

15 March 2016


St George's ranked best in world for research influence

St George’s, University of London, is ranked best in the world when measured for the quality of citations or research influence in the Times Higher World University Rankings 2015-16 which looks at universities’ role in spreading new knowledge and ideas.

9 February 2016

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Deaths higher after weekend emergency surgery, says new research

Patients who have emergency surgery on the weekend are 11 per cent more likely to die in the 30 days after the operation, compared to people treated on weekdays, new research has found.

2 February 2016

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Baker’s yeast used to discover new ways to tackle the malaria parasite

New anti-malarial drugs could be developed after researchers discovered a new mechanism used by the malaria parasite when it infects humans.

20 January 2016

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Fat disorder’s genetic cause to be researched to help future generations

A chronic condition that causes excessive fat to accumulate in the hips and legs and increases the likelihood of associated health problems will be examined by researchers to find out what genetic defects cause it.

19 January 2016


Simplifying malaria treatment could help children and save nursing time, says new research

One child dies from malaria every 30 seconds in Africa, but a new treatment strategy could help healthcare workers tackle the disease in a simpler way, research has revealed.

18 January 2016

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Overweight young people can avoid diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough, says new research

Obese young people can still turn their chances of developing life threatening illness around if they change before middle age, says new research.

5 January 2016

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Malaria drug as treatment for cancer trial to go ahead but researchers hope for more funds to expand scope

A crowdfunding campaign that will allow researchers at St George’s, University of London, and St George’s Hospital, to investigate the effect of a malaria drug on colorectal cancer, has reached its target but will continue for another 11 days.

9 December 2015

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Researchers to investigate how new physician associates help patients in hospitals

A new study will determine whether new physician associates (PAs), who are increasing being used in the NHS, have a positive impact on the treatment of patients as part of the medical team and have a future role helping fill gaps in healthcare provision.

 

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Dangerous swelling in babies linked to mutated gene

Scientists have discovered a new gene mutation that causes potentially fatal swelling in unborn and newborn babies. Identifying the gene is the first step toward a future diagnostic test and targeted treatment for this condition.

23 September 2015

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New system to detect patients’ antibiotic resistance to take just 30 mins

A new device being developed by medical experts will transform the time it takes to detect antibiotic resistance in patients from several days to just half an hour.

The development will allow doctors to effectively treat patients with infections known to have high levels of antibiotic drug resistance, which has been described as one of the greatest health threats to human health.

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Experts warn the Ebola epidemic could return with a vengeance unless lessons about medical trials are learnt

Health experts have warned that a greater flexibility must be brought to medical trials to combat diseases like Ebola to avoid facing another nightmare outbreak.

Pic credit: Maurizio De Angelis, Wellcome Images

The rapidity and spread of the Ebola outbreak and the urgency of a response led to many challenges not least of which was to advise those managing people on the ground of the best way to treat the illness and which treatments might be effective.

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Smoking at trendy hubble-bubble cafes may increase risk of heart disease, say experts

People who smoke shisha regularly could be increasing the threat of heart disease, according to new research.

Shisha smoking, which is also called hookah or hubble-bubble smoking, is a way of smoking tobacco which is sometimes mixed with flavouring, through a bowl using a hose or tube which has become fashionable in Middle Eastern-style cafes.

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Exercise and the heart: the good, the bad, and the ugly

In a new paper about exercise and the impact on the heart, cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma says: "The benefits of exercise are irrefutable. Individuals engaging in regular exercise have a favourable cardiovascular risk profile for coronary artery disease and reduce their risk of myocardial infarction (heart attacks) by 50%."

 

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Experts test new Ebola vaccine on front-line medical personnel and at risk groups after promising results

Experts at St George’s, University of London, are working in collaboration with other international researchers on one of these vaccines called rVSV-ZEBOV-GP. Researchers are now vaccinating a larger population to examine the efficacy of this vaccine.

The initial study, which tested the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine, has been successfully completed, with the first volunteer vaccinated in November 2014. Volunteers in Kenya, Gabon, Geneva and Hamburg participated in this harmonised phase I clinical trial.

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Experts criticise ‘inaccurate’ view that B Vitamins have no role in Alzheimer’s disease prevention

Patients in the very early stages of dementia could miss out on a potentially effective treatment after misleading research was published last year, say medical experts.

The researchers, who claimed that B vitamins were ‘sadly not going to prevent Alzheimer’s disease’ , have been strongly criticised.

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Professor who made paralysed man walk takes St George’s role

Renowned neurologist Professor Geoffrey Raisman has joined St George’s, University of London, as a Visiting Professor and will work with the university and hospital next door to investigate new spinal cord treatments.

Last year the work of Professor Raisman and his colleagues hit the headlines when their pioneering surgery enabled a man who was completely paralysed from the waist down to move his legs. This was the subject of a BBC Panorama programme.  The process involved regrowing the cells of a patient’s severed spinal cord by obtaining olfactory ensheathing cells – specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell – and implanting them in the damaged spinal cord. The olfactory ensheathing cells promote neuronal regeneration and recovery of function. His research has previously used rat models of spinal cord injury.  Geoffrey Raisman, who joined St George's in December 2014, will now work with Marios Papadopoulos, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University’s Cardiovascular and Cells Sciences Institute, to develop olfactory ensheathing cell implantation as a treatment for spinal cord injury in the UK. The investigations will be carried out working closely with colleagues the St George’s Hospital’s Neurosurgery department as the leading centre.

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St George’s in genomes project to fight cancer and rare diseases

Patients in the UK will be the first in the world to participate in an ambitious programme to sequence 100,000 genomes as part of a “paradigm shift” in healthcare focusing on the genetic causes of disease.

The South London-based Genomics Network Alliance has been announced as a successful bidder in the race to become a pioneering Genomic Medicine Centre, as part of the ground-breaking 100,000 Genomes Project.

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Research at St George’s ranked fourth in the UK for global impact

The Research Excellence Framework (REF), a new national assessment of research at UK universities has ranked St George’s, University of London, as fourth for impact of its research on the global community.

The expert panels who carried out the assessment also ranked St George’s joint 42nd in the country overall which is a rise of 24 places from a similar exercise carried out six years ago.

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Drugs used for impotence could treat vascular dementia?

Scientists are to explore whether drugs usually used to treat erectile problems by expanding blood vessels could become the next major way to tackle the dementia epidemic.

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Cheap malaria drug could treat colorectal cancer effectively too, say experts

Medical experts say a common malaria drug could have a significant impact on colorectal cancer providing a cheap adjunct to current expensive chemotherapy.

A pilot study by researchers at St George’s, University of London, has found the drug artesunate, which is a widely used anti-malaria medicine, had a promising effect on reducing the multiplication of tumour cells in colorectal cancer patients who were already going to have their cancer surgically removed.

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Cannabis extract can have dramatic effect on brain cancer, says new research

Experts have shown that when certain parts of cannabis are used to treat cancer tumours alongside radiotherapy treatment the growths can virtually disappear

The new research by specialists at St George’s, University of London, studied the treatment of brain cancer tumours in the laboratory and discovered that the most effective treatment was to combine active chemical components of the cannabis plant which are called cannabinoids.

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Eating breakfast daily may help to prevent early development of diabetes risk in children

Children who eat breakfast daily have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those who skip it or only eat it occasionally, says new research.

They also found that among children eating breakfast, those who eat a high-fibre breakfast cereal also have lower type 2 diabetes risk profiles, indicated by blood samples revealing insulin resistance, compared to children who eat a breakfast with a lower fibre content.

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Loss of sensation in the feet of diabetes patients linked to cardiovascular disease, say researchers

Experts have discovered that loss of sensation in the feet, a result of diabetes, may be a predictor of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and strokes.

Diabetes, which affects 3.7million people in the UK, can cause damage to a person’s blood vessels and nerves, especially if their blood sugar is poorly controlled, leading to poor circulation and loss of sensation in the feet, known as peripheral neuropathy.

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New research finds a way to predict which HIV patients will respond better to future therapeutic vaccine

A new study suggests that HIV patients with a higher level of a particular biomarker, or a measurable indicator found in the blood, may respond more favourably to an experimentalimmune activating vaccine.

Experts at St George’s, University of London, and Norwegian vaccine company, Bionor Pharma Researchers, believe the findings might lead to a more customised vaccine for certain patients, which potentially might permit them to come off antiretrovirals, drugs used to treat HIV.

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Experts to combat the potential ‘health catastrophe’ of deadly tuberculosis among people with diabetes

New research aims to estimate the benefits of different ways to carry out screening both patients with tuberculosis (TB) for diabetes and the other way around in parts of the world where both diseases are common.

Those who live in urban areas and on low incomes in less well-off countries are especially at risk of developing TB.

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Smoking at trendy hubble-bubble cafes may increase risk of heart disease, say experts

People who smoke shisha regularly could be increasing the threat of heart disease, according to new research.

Shisha smoking, which is also called hookah or hubble-bubble smoking, is a way of smoking tobacco which is sometimes mixed with flavouring, through a bowl using a hose or tube which has become fashionable in Middle Eastern-style cafes.

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Centre to investigate causes of cardiac deaths in young opens

A cardiac research centre which will provide expert opinion and diagnosis about the causes of death in young people throughout the UK, has opened at St George's, University of London.

The Cardiac Centre for Pathology (CCP), funded by the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), was originally opened in 2007 at Royal Brompton Hospital but transferred to St George's this year alongside the charity’s world-renowned Centre of Inherited Cardiovascular Conditions.

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University pledges openness on animal research

St George’s, University of London endorses the need for transparency in animal research and accordingly has signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK.

This Concordat was developed by Understanding Animal Research (UAR) following extensive consultation with academia, industry, funders and the public.

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New study shows that pre-participation screening guidelines are too restrictive and unfair for black athletes

A new study by researchers at St George’s, University of London published in the journal Circulation has found that current European screening guidelines used by sports organisations to detect heart abnormalities lead to over-investigation and potential false disqualification of black athletes with perfectly healthy hearts. 

To protect the health of young sports people, many sports bodies now recommend or insist that athletes are screened for a number of heart disorders that can lead to sudden death but are easily detectable using an electrocardiogram (ECG) - a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart and detects abnormal heart rhythms. New research has found that the application of new screening criteria could reduce unnecessary investigations and potential disqualifications by around 30%.

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Study shows new drugs can increase the function of good cholesterol particles but may not be enough to reduce heart attacks

Researchers have found a new class of drugs can improve the ability of particles in the blood which can increase so-called ‘good’ cholesterol’s ability to clear away fat from blood vessel walls.

 

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Study shows patients with a deadly condition more likely to die in UK hospital than in the USA

Researchers have found that patients in the USA who suffer from a ruptured aortic aneurysm which is a catastrophic bleeding from a diseased weakening of the body’s largest artery are 13 per cent less likely to die than those in the UK.

They also found they also found that patients in both countries stood a better chance of undergoing surgery, and therefore survival, if they were treated on a weekday.

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Deaths report reflects growing impact of lethal ‘legal highs’

The deadly risk of so-called ‘legal highs’ and other designer drugs, such as the notorious ‘meow meow’, has been confirmed by a huge leap in their links to drug-related deaths in the UK.

One expert described experimentation with such drugs as ‘dancing in a minefield’.‘Meow meow’, officially known as mephedrone and now illegal, is just one of a group of drugs called Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS),  which also includes the amphetamine-like substances Benzo Fury and PMA, amongst others.According to data published in the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (NPSAD) report, compiled by experts at St George’s, University of London, NPS are now linked to more drug-related deaths than ever before.The prevalence of these drugs in the post mortem toxicology tests submitted to the report has increased 800% in three years, from 12 in 2009 to 97 in 2012.The number of cases where NPS were identified as the cause of death rose by almost 600% during the same period – from 10 deaths in 2009 to 68 in 2012.In many cases traces of multiple NPS were found, suggesting that drug users are experimenting with combinations of these drugs, as well as alcohol in some cases.These drugs have undergone little or no human testing so their health effects are virtually unknown.Professor Fabrizio Schifano, spokesman for NPSAD, said: “We have observed an increase in the number and range of these drugs in the post mortem toxicology results and in the cause of death of cases notified to us.“These include amphetamine-type substances, dietary supplements, ketamine derivatives, among a host of others.“The worrying trend is that these type of drugs are showing up more than ever before. Clearly this is a major public health concern and we must continue to monitor this worrying development.“Those experimenting with such substances are effectively dancing in a minefield.”The report also indicates an increase in the proportion of deaths involving stimulants such as cocaine and ecstasy-type drugs, following a decline in 2009 and stabilisation in 2010.In total, the number of drug-related deaths reported to the NPSAD during 2012 was 1,613.Opiates/opioids such as heroin and morphine, alone or in combination with other drugs continued to account for the highest proportion (36%) of reported drug-related deaths in 2012, a 4% increase compared to 2011  - a reversal of the decline in such deaths observed in recent years.Regional Highlights:Hammersmith one of worst areas in UK for drug-related deaths, says reportNew figures reveal that Hammersmith and Fulham recorded one of the highest drug-related death rates across the country in 2012 with 11.34 deaths per 100,000 population.Only Liverpool (12.57) and Blackburn with Darwen (11.45) were higher.The type of drugs related to deaths in London also drew a strong contrast to some other parts of England. As in 2011, London had the highest proportion of cocaine-related deaths in the country (15.2%), contrasting greatly with other regions, such as the Midlands and East of England where cocaine was implicated in just 3.4% of drug-related deaths.However, it is important to note that when taking into account absolute figures, Liverpool alone had more deaths involving cocaine, which was 20, than the whole of the following regions: Midlands and East of England; London; and the South of England.Liverpool overtakes Manchester with highest rates of drug-related deaths in the North West, reveals new reportThe number of drugs-related deaths in Liverpool has risen above those in Manchester for the first time since 2006 according to a new study.For the first time in over five years there were more drug-related deaths in Liverpool, which saw 49 such cases, compared to Manchester with 36.The report, compiled by researchers at St George’s, University of London, also found that Liverpool alone had more deaths linked to cocaine than the whole of the Midlands and East of England region, London and the South of England.Drugs deaths in Northern Ireland buck wider UK trend of lethal heroin useDeaths related to drugs in Northern Ireland show a marked difference from the rest of the UK as fatalities are mostly linked to prescription drugs, says a new report.Whereas the vast majority of drug-related deaths in the UK are linked to opiates such as heroin and morphine, in the province most relate to other drugs.The new research from St George’s, University of London, also shows a small decrease in the overall number of drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland. There were 78 such deaths in 2012 as opposed to 82 in 2011.Northern Ireland contrasts the rest of the UK with higher proportions of deaths attributed to drugs such as tramadol, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. Northern Ireland also displayed a substantially lower proportion of deaths attributed to heroin/morphine and methadone than other regions of the UK, such as the South of England, the midlands and London.

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New £1.2m project launched to speed up introduction of drugs

Researchers at St George’s, University of London will help build a £1.2m data system which will develop ways to quickly identify patients best suited to clinical trials.

The Semantic Data Platform for Healthcare Project (SEMCARE), will help build a data system that will improve how vital data from pioneering clinical trials is used, allowing patients quicker access to new drugs and treatments. The project will determine which volunteers are best suited to a given trial by using clinical criteria such as: age, gender, diagnosis, symptoms and lab results.