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.

Vaccines breed viciousness

Vaccinations may increase death toll.

Inadequate vaccines can the encourage emergence of nastier bugs, placing the unprotected at risk, a new mathematical model shows. The effect could undermine future vaccination programmes.

Many vaccines save people from dying of a disease, but do not stop them carrying and transmitting it. Over a few decades this may cause more virulent strains to evolve, predict Andrew Read and his colleagues of the University of Edinburgh, UK 1

Radiation zaps bystanders

Radon may pose a greater cancer threat than has been thought.

Radon damage from irradiated cells spreads to their neighbours, a new study finds 1 . The result suggests that small amounts of this radioactive gas could cause widespread harm.

The study “is a reason for concern but not panic”, says Gerhard Randers-Pehrson of Columbia University, New York, a member of the team that performed the study. “We’re talking about the acceptable level of radon changing pe

GM Bacterium Helps Destroy Advanced Tumors in Mice

Generally speaking, we go to great lengths to rid our bodies of foreign bacteria, whether it’s by brushing our teeth, washing our hands or taking antibiotics. But new research suggests that when it comes to treating tumors, we may one day invite the bugs in. According to a study published yesterday in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a bacterium that normally resides in soil, dust and dead flesh quickly destroys large tumors in mice when injected along

DNA repair could reduce sunburn

An immune system chemical may undo skin damage by sunlight.

A chemical involved in immune-system signalling may be able to reverse some types of skin damage caused by sunlight. It could reduce sunburn by activating DNA-repair mechanisms, a new study suggests, raising the possibility that the chemical might be used to prevent or treat skin cancer 1 .

High-energy ultraviolet light is thought to promote skin cancer by damaging the DNA within cells. Skin cancer,

BSE’s epidemic proportions

While prion diseases seem to be waning in humans, they could be waxing in sheep.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) may claim only around 200 victims, a new model predicts 1 . This degenerative brain disease is thought to occur when people are exposed to misfolded prion proteins from meat infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or ’mad cow disease’).

Meanwhile, another study warns that a huge BSE epidemic could be brewing in the UK

Cystic Fibrosis Study Points to Potential Treatment

Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which the genetic defect underlying cystic fibrosis (CF) leads to fatal bacterial colonization of the lungs. The new findings, published today in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that an aerosol treatment aimed at balancing pH in lung cells could be developed to stave off or delay such infections.

The most common inherited lethal disorder in Caucasians, CF stems from mutations in a gene that

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