news 2014


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Law/Forensics - Medicine/Pharmacology
31.12.2014
New Year Honours 2015
Some breathalysers on sale to the UK public vary considerably in their ability to detect potentially unsafe levels of breath alcohol for driving, Oxford University researchers have found. The findings call into question the regulatory process for approving these sorts of devices for personal use, say the researchers, particularly as false reassurance about a person's safety to drive could have potentially catastrophic consequences.
Physics/Materials Science
26.12.2014
Simple model explains complex problems in an ageing heart
Simple model explains complex problems in an ageing heart
Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a model that helps explain why we are more likely to develop an abnormal heartbeat with age. The simple mathematical model also suggests why current treatments for the condition are not always successful. The model mimics how heart muscle tissue changes as we get older, focusing on how the muscle cells in the heart link together to pass electrical signals that create the heartbeat.
Environment/Sustainable Development - Earth Sciences
24.12.2014
Climate change threat to mussels’ shells
The world's mussel population could be under threat as climate change causes oceans to become increasingly acidic, scientists have discovered. In a new paper published today (Wednesday 24 December) in the Royal Society's journal Interface , researchers from the University of Glasgow describe how mussels' shells become more brittle when they are formed in more acidic water.
Life Sciences
24.12.2014
Ants show left bias when exploring new spaces
24 December 2014 Unlike Derek Zoolander, ants don't have any difficulty turning left. New research from the University of Bristol, published today in Biology Letters, has found that the majority of rock ants instinctively go left when entering unknown spaces. PhD student Edmund Hunt and colleagues studied how Temnothorax albipennis ants explore nest cavities and negotiate through branching mazes.
Life Sciences
23.12.2014
Cholesterol in food causes inflammation in gut lining
Cholesterol in food causes inflammation in gut lining
Scientists have discovered a possible way in which high fat diets might lead to inflammation in the gut. Working with mice and zebrafish, researchers at Imperial College London discovered that cholesterol, a component of fatty foods, triggers an inflammatory response in the cells lining the gut and impairs the movement of food through the gut.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
23.12.2014
First results from Ebola vaccine trial show acceptable safety profile
o GSK/NIH Ebola vaccine is 'well tolerated' and generates an immune response o Larger trials in West Africa are needed to tell whether immune responses are large enough to protect against Ebola infection and disease o Results from Oxford University and other safety trials will inform plans for larger trials The first results from a trial of a candidate Ebola vaccine at Oxford University suggest the vaccine has an acceptable safety profile at the doses tested, and is able to generate an immune response.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
23.12.2014
Using light to understand the brain
Using light to understand the brain
UCL researchers have developed an innovative way to understand how the brain works by using flashes of light, allowing them to both 'read' and 'write' brain signals. The new technique, described , combines two cutting-edge technologies for reading and writing electrical activity in the brain. First, genetically encoded activity sensors enable neuroscientists to engineer nerve cells to visibly light up when they are active.
Administration/Government
23.12.2014
First scientific report shows police body-worn-cameras can prevent unacceptable use-of-force
As Obama pledges investment in body-worn-camera technology for police officers, researchers say cameras induce 'self-awareness' that can prevent unacceptable uses-of-force seen to have tragic consequences in the US over the past year - from New York to Ferguson - but warn that cameras have implications for prosecution and data storage.
Chemistry - Administration/Government
22.12.2014
Concerns raised about variable performance of some UK personal use breathalysers
The official UK-wide assessment of all university research, the Research Excellence Framework, found that Oxford has the largest volume of world-leading research in the country.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
22.12.2014
Researchers sweep cells apart for use in medical research
Scientists have developed a new method to separate cells, which could lead to more efficient medical research. In a new paper published in the Royal Society of Chemistry's journal Lab on A Chip, University of Glasgow researchers outline how they have used moving acoustic waves to very gently separate clinically useful cells from cellular debris.
Physics/Materials Science - Astronomy
19.12.2014
Origin of polar auroras revealed
Origin of polar auroras revealed
Researchers from UCL, University of Southampton and Cambridge University together with ESA and NASA have uncovered the origin of a colourful display in the night sky called 'theta aurora', explaining for the first time how auroras at high-latitudes form. Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the sun's effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
19.12.2014
Some E. coli bacteria hijack key proteins to survive longer
Some E. coli bacteria hijack key proteins to survive longer
A new study shows how two strains of the intestinal bug E. coli manage to hijack host proteins used to control the body's immune system. The research shows how E. coli bacteria can block key human enzymes, in a way that has not previously been shown in any other biological context. The enzymes, known as kinases, are molecular switches that control processes such as immune responses to infection and cancers in humans.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Administration/Government
19.12.2014
The hunt for botanicals
Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science. Co-written by King's College London experts, the article reviews botanicals that have shown promising results in treating fibrosis or tissue scarring, along with some other herbs that are associated with pro-fibrotic damage to the liver, the kidney and some other organs.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Life Sciences
19.12.2014
Peanut component linked to cancer spread
Cancer patients are advised to avoid regular consumption of peanuts Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body. In the first study of its kind, scientists showed that a protein in peanuts, called peanut agglutinin (PNA), binds to a special sugar chain, which occurs mainly on pre-cancerous and cancer cells, and interacts with a larger protein expressed on the surface of tumour cells in the bloodstream.
Life Sciences - Medicine/Pharmacology
18.12.2014
’Hairclip’ protein mechanism explained
New study describes a fundamental mechanism regulating a protein's shape and function, with potential applications in biotechnology and drug development. The power of such multi-disciplinary studies is that we can begin to answer questions that neither of us could do alone Jane Clarke New research has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function.
Administration/Government - Business/Economics
18.12.2014
Research is ’world-leading’, major review finds
University of Sussex research is 'world-leading', major review finds The University of Sussex carries out world-leading research that has a positive impact on people's lives, the outcome of a review of research in the UK has revealed today (Thursday 18 December). The results of the Government-commissioned Research Excellence Framework (REF) show that 98 per cent of research activity at Sussex is categorised as ‘world-leading' (4*), ‘internationally excellent' (3*) or ‘internationally recognised' (2*).
Social Sciences
17.12.2014
Bristol poverty measurement methods go global
17 December 2014 Researchers at the universities of Bristol and Cardiff have shown how the process of defining and measuring poverty in low-income countries can be made more democratic. In a paper published this month in the journal Social Indicators Research , the team's study (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) demonstrates how methods developed to assess poverty in high-income countries can also be used successfully in low-income countries, where poverty is more deeply entrenched.
Life Sciences
16.12.2014
Do you speak cow? Researchers listen in on conversations between calves and their mothers
Researchers have been eavesdropping on ‘conversations' between calves and their mothers — measuring the process of how cows communicate using detailed acoustic analysis for the first time. The team from The University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University of London, spent ten months studying to the ways cows communicate with their young, carefully examining acoustic indicators of identity and age.
Mathematics - Life Sciences
16.12.2014
Researchers develop more reliable method for working with mathematical models
Researchers develop more reliable method for working with mathematical models
Scientists from Imperial College London have developed a way to make the conclusions drawn from mathematical models more reliable. The work has implications for fields as diverse as medical research and ecology. Models are, by necessity, gross simplifications and, as such, there is always the risk that the model – and so the conclusions we draw – are wrong Most scientists choose to work with one mathematical model and change the input parameters to see what different outcomes result.
Medicine/Pharmacology - Business/Economics
16.12.2014
Study recommends GPs should be more open when referring patients for cancer investigations
16 December 2014 GPs should consider a more overt discussion with patients when referring them for further investigation of symptoms which may indicate cancer, according to a paper published in the British Journal of General Practice. In an NIHR-funded study, researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Durham and Exeter conducted's with patients being referred for possible lung and colorectal cancer.
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