Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Breast cancer screens scrutinised

Study questions whether mammography saves lives.

Breast-cancer screening programmes may not save lives, according to a new examination of clinical trials. The controversial findings have led to calls for a re-evaluation of the routine monitoring procedure undergone by numerous women.

Mammography, X-ray breast imaging, is used in Europe and the United States to catch cancers early. “We’ve based a national screening programme on a set of results which do not stand up to scrut

Fat busts fits

A large, long-term study confirms that diet can help some epileptic children.

A strict high-fat, low-carbohydrate, calorie-restricted diet reduces seizures in children with intractable epilepsy. So concludes the largest and longest trial of an eating plan that was first suggested almost a century ago.

For about two years, epileptic youngsters on a ’ketogenic diet’ eat 25% less than normal and consume 90% of their daily calories as fats. They take vitamins and minerals to avo

Cancer risk takes shape

About half of all patients with hereditary breast or ovarian cancer have mutations in a gene called BRCA1. Now the first images of the protein the gene encodes, BRCA1, are helping researchers work out how the mutations cause human disease.

The pictures reveal fine detail of how BRCA1 interacts with other proteins. Such information should help researchers work out how BRCA1 prevents cells becoming cancerous. They suspect that it is involved in DNA repair, controlling cell division and regula

Unisex contraceptive tailed

Sperm go slow without a crucial protein.

The discovery of a protein that is crucial to sperm swimming in mice could lead to new male or female contraceptives or fertility treatments.

The protein forms a channel through the membrane of the sperm tail. It controls the inflow of calcium ions that trigger swimming.

All humans have the gene that encodes the channel, but it is switched on only in sperm cells. This would lessen the risk of side-effects from any channel-blo

Playing tag with the genome

A new way to find genes and map disease.

A new technique should aid the hunt for genes in the human genome sequence. The method, which tracks only switched-on genes in cells, will help researchers to distinguish between diseased and normal tissues, and could point the way to new treatments.

Andrew Simpson, of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and colleagues have produced a whopping 700,000 DNA tags, representing the genes that are active in 24 no

Mice give skin cancer clue

Mouse studies emphasize children’s cancer risk from sunburn.

Serious sunburn in childhood may raise the risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer as an adult, research in mice suggests 1 . The experiments could lead to a better understanding of malignant melanoma and of how and when to protect ourselves from the sun.

“I have my kids wear hats and put sunscreen on like crazy now,” says the study’s leader Glenn Merlino, of the National Cancer Institu

Virus takes advantage of cancer

A virus that exploits a gene defect common to cancer cells and selectively kills them may offer a new avenue for therapy, suggest researchers in Nature.

The gene p53 is mutated in about half of all human cancers (an event directly implicated in tumour progression) so a way of killing such cells offers the attractive possibility of treating multiple cancer types with one drug. The human adeno-associated virus (AAV) selectively induces cell death in p53-defective cells, Peter Beard and his co

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