Losing your teeth linked to losing your mind

2 02 2011

A press release I recently wrote for BioMed Central’s open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions has again hit the newstands. I can’t find an online archive of the original release I wrote, but some lazy journos have reproduced it verbatim, so I definitely know it’s mine!

The release describes a study from the Nara Medical University in Japan whereby elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease were found to lose more teeth than those without the degenerative neurological disorder. Not only is this tooth loss associated with failing to remember to brush one’s teeth and a general poor state of hygiene, but gum disease may in fact accelerate dementia by affecting the sensory neurones in the gums, leading to the brain.

Read the original article in Behavioural and Brain Functions: Relationship of tooth loss to mild memory impairment and cognitive impairment: findings from the fujiwara-kyo study

Read some of the news articles using this press release:

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Household bugs – a risk to human health?

27 01 2011

The evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria – so-called “superbugs”, such as MRSA – is a real problem in our hospitals. People entering hospital for routine operations are more and more frequently suffering from complications arising from nosicomial infection with a strain of bacteria that is not killed with conventional antibiotics.

New research published in BMC Microbiology describes findings that implicate farm animals and insects in the propagation of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Because antibiotics are frequently given to farm animals in order to increase meat yield, the natural bacteria in their intestines is developing resistance to these antibiotics. The bacteria, which leave the animal’s body via the faeces, can be spread to humans by dung-dwelling cockroaches and flies.

Read the original article in BMC Microbiology: Insects in confined swine operations carry a large antibiotic resistant and potentially virulent enterococcal community

Read the press release I wrote on this story at EurekAlert: Household bugs – a risk to human health?

Read some of the news articles using this press release:





‘Mum! I’m hungry!’ Hungry chicks have unique calls to their parents

26 01 2011

Scientists studying Jackson’s Golden-Backed Weaver birds have discovered that not only can the parent birds identify their own chicks by the unique sound of their calls, but they can also tell if their chick is hungry, and how hungry.

A press release that I wrote for BioMed Central, following a study published in BMC Ecology, reveals that the more hungry a baby bird is, the more frenetic and unique the call becomes, so that parent birds not only know that they need to gather food for their young, but also how much.

Read the original article at BMC Ecology: The effect of hunger on the acoustic individuality in begging calls of a colonially breeding weaver bird

Read the press release I wrote at EurekAlert: ‘Mum! I’m hungry!’ Hungry chicks have unique calls to their parents

Read some of the press articles that used the press release:





It’s grim up North! Northern men have dirtier hands than Southerners

12 01 2011

A study recently published in the open access journal BMC Public Health has found that men “oop North” seem more likely to carry harmful bacteria on their hands. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took swabs from the hands of commuters travelling through some of the UK’s major rail stations, and the further north they went, the more bacteria – and the more harmful bacteria – they found.The dirtiest men were found to be students and people who worked with soil.

Read the original article at BMC Public Health: Male commuters in north and south England: risk factors for the presence of faecal bacteria on hands

Read the press release I wrote on this article at BioMed Central: It’s grim up North! Northern men have dirtier hands than Southerners

Read some of the articles that used my press release:

The story was also discussed on BBC Radio 5 Live (no longer available)





DVT and pulmonary embolism linked to immune diseases

9 01 2011

Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that people with certain immune-related diseases such as type 1 diabetes, arthritis and lupus are much more likely to suffer complications due to vascular disease – even if they didnt have any cardiovascular problems before.

Having surgery and being laid up in bed increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism anyway, largely because immobility reduces the circulation. Taking certain medications for other diseases might also affect blood flow. Even taking these factors into consideration however, immune disease sufferers still had a significantly greater chance of developing DVT and embolism.

Read the original article at BMC Medicine: Risk of venous thromboembolism in people admitted to hospital with selected immune-mediated diseases: record-linkage study

Read the press release I wrote about this article at BioMed Central: DVT and pulmonary embolism linked to immune diseases

Read some of the stories that used my press release:





Genetics linked to increased risk of heart disease in African Americans

7 01 2011

New research published in BMC Medicine has revealed clear genetic markers that help to explain why cardiovascular disease is more prevalent in African Americans compared to Caucasians.

It has been known for some time that African Americans are more prone to certain diseases than people of white ethnicity, but this small scale study shows for the first time what the reasons for this might be, at the genetic level. In particular, the researchers from the Vascular Biology Department at the University of Minnesota found that the blood outgrowth endothelial cells of African Americans respond differently to shear stress.

Read the original article at BMC Medicine: Differential endothelial cell gene expression by African Americans versus Caucasian Americans: a possible contribution to health disparity in vascular disease and cancer

Read the press release I wrote about this article at BioMed Central: Genetics linked to increased risk of heart disease in African Americans

 





Back to square one? Mouse virus may have no role to play in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome after all

17 12 2010

A few years ago in 2006, scientists made what they felt was a breakthrough discovery: the mouse virus XMRV was found in a significant number of samples of prostate cancer. They felt they had stumbled upon something very exciting and if they were right – if this virus was in fact a cause of prostate cancer – the future looked very bright for the development of new treatments, cures and maybe even a vaccine.

A few years later in 2009 and a different group of researchers found the same virus in tissue samples from people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS; also called myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME). Sufferers of this syndrome have fought – and continue to fight – a long battle with the medical profession to have their disease recognised as a genuine medical condition with a tangible cause rather than being something psychological or all in their heads, so this news was exciting. In the States, chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers are even banned from donating blood because of the supposed viral link.

Four new research papers published this week in the journal Retrovirology however, have potentially quashed any hope that ME or prostate cancer sufferers may have garnered from the formerly suspected link between their conditions and the virus. One lab claims that rather than patients being infected with XMRV, their tissue or blood samples taken for diagnostic testing have been contaminated with mouse DNA, which itself may contain XMRV virus markers. Another group have gone so far as to blame a particular manufacturer of DNA testing kits with having mouse DNA-contaminated reagents.

I recently wrote a press release for Retrovirology that covered the publication of these four research articles, plus a Comment from Prof Robert Smith from the University of Washington. The story, which has been picked up by UK national newspaper, The Guardian, has caused quite some controversy (see the Virology blog article below and read the comments from disgruntled ME sufferers). I’m chuffed that one of my PRs has got into the national press – again!

Read the original articles at Retrovirology:

Read the press release I wrote at BioMed Central: Back to square one? Mouse virus may have no role to play in chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer after all.

Read some of the news stories on these articles:








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