Friday, July 15, 2005

Medical and health news

There are links to lots of news sources on the news page in our Medicine and Health Room.
Avian flu H5N1 found in migratory geese

The Guardian reports a paper in the 14th July issue of Nature (which originally appeared as an early online publication). An outbreak has been detected in bar headed geese in western China, in a nature reserve that is nowhere near farms. There is a news report in Science for 8th July which reports an advance online publication in Science from other researchers, but reporting similar results. We do not have online access to Science.

Read the Guardian report
Read the Nature report

The WHO has launched its "plan of war" to tackle avian flu,
the BMJ reports. UN/FAO/WHO plans for helping poorer countries tackle a pandemic are described in SciDev.Net.
Today's Lancet

Here are some selected highlights:

Stem cells of the alveolar epithelium (review)

Music, imagery, touch, and prayer as adjuncts to interventional cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II randomised study (there was a television programme some time ago about this study, I think)

Effect of handwashing on child health - this looks at the effect of soap (ordinary and antibacterial) on the incidence of pneumonia, diarrhoea and impetigo. Two of the authors have links with Proctor and Gamble, but the study did find that soap cuts the incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea.

You'll need a password to access these links and the Library can supply it if you are a member of the University.

Human Tissue Authority draft codes of practice

The HTA has published these on its website and there is an article in the BMJ about them. The codes cover donation for transplants, post mortems, anatomical examinations and removal, retention and disposal of human tissue. There is also a draft code on consent.
How many research protocols make it to publication

I have just caught up with this paper from the BMJ at the beginning of this month. It looked at protocols approved by French research ethics committees, and followed them through to see if they were published or not. 86 percent of these studies were completed, but only 28 percent were published. Those with inconclusive results were less likely to be published than those that had confirmatory results.

Three researchers from Lyon carried out the research, which is published at
Tutorials on My NCBI

MY NCBI is the function in PubMed which allows you to save searches and to set up automatic alerts, as well as set limits and filters on your search. The NLM has produced three animated tutorials (which use Flash) about My NCBI. There are more details at, with a link to the tutorials themselves.
EU regulations on sale of vitamin and mineral supplements

This is the European Food Supplements Directive,
reported in the Guardian earlier in the week. It will come into force later this year, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice.
European Centre for Disease Control

One of these is planned. A paper in Trends in Microbiology argues that it will not be large enough, and that the ASEAN Center for Disease Control, presently being planned by Asian countries, is a better model.

Read the paper in ScienceDirect.
William Osler

Osler was born 150 years ago, on the 12th July 1849. Among many other things, he was a founder member of the Association of Medical Librarians, and so has a place in the history of medical librarianship, as well as of medicine itself.

Here are two sites to visit for more information about Osler:

Celebrating the contributions of William Osler (Johns Hopkins)
Osler Library of the History of Medicine (McGill)
Mobile phone plan to aid identification of accident victims

A paramedic from East Anglia has proposed that everyone puts an entry into their mobile phone address book under ICE ("In case of emergency") with a contact number for someone who can be contacted. This was circulated on some librarians' email discussion lists recently and has now been picked up by the press in the aftermath of the terrible events in London last week.

Read a report in the Guardian
Genome of Trypanosoma cruzi, Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania major

These genomes have been "decoded". A paper in Science (sorry - no online access) reports this, and it is reported in today's press.

Read the Guardian report

Read the Financial Times report
Bacterial meningitis

The same issue of Pediatric Clinics of North America has this review -
read the PubMed abstract.
Viral respiratory infections in children

The latest Pediatric Clinics of North America (no online access) has an article on reducing the impact of this.
Read the PubMed abstract.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ovid gets new interface

Yesterday, Ovid updated its interface. In Medline there is now a "find citation" function, to help you track down incomplete references. Icons have gone, so the icons for basic and advanced search and for options like author or journal searching have been replaced by tabs. There are "find similar" and "find citing articles" functions.

I will be updating the Library's Informs online tutorials, and you will be able to use these to get a guided tour of the new interface.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Referral guidelines for suspected cancer

Have just been published by NICE and
are available from their website. There is a set of Powerpoint slides to be used in conjunction with the guidelines, also available from the NICE site.

An article in Nursing Times (12-18 July, p. 26-) looks at the implications for nurses of these guidelines.

The University of Leicester's branch of the National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care was involved in writing the guidelines, and so there is a report in the University's ebulletin also.

University students urged to get MMR jab

The Guardian reports that new students will be urged to have the jab before starting their course. There is a mumps epidemic sweeping campuses, and it is estimated that approximately 90000, which is a third of new students, will not have had the MMR jab. Over 42000 people in England and Wales have been affected by mumps in the first six months of this year.

Freemens Common Health Centre is asking new and returning students to check their vaccination status.
New backfiles on PubMed Central

PubMed Central (PMC) is an online archive of biomedical journals, maintained by the National Institutes of Health.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal is now in PMC from vol. 4-43, 1914-1940, as well as from vol. 163, 2000 onwards. Everything in this journal is freely available.

The EMBO Journal has also been archived from vol. 1, 1982- date, although material only becomes free after 12 months. We have immediate access to the EMBO Journal through Nature Publishing Group: use Leicester e-link to link to it.

Africa to create infectious disease centre

Health ministers and the African Union have backed this plan, to create a new centre in Cairo. Ethiopia is one of the countries on the technical committee which is drawing up detailed plans. The centre will focus on research into diseases endemic in Africa and will promote access to affordable medicines, according to the Science and Development Network.

Some African reaction to the G8 communiques

Here is some reaction as submitted to the Science and Development Network site. Go to their home page for more news on the G8.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Indoor air pollution and health in developing countries

Majid Ezzati, of the Harvard School of Public Health, has written this article in today's Lancet (366, 104-6)

Florence Nightingale

A paper in Clinical Infectious Diseases looks at the way Nightingale influenced the development of the fields of infection control and hospital epidemiology. This link may only work on University of Leicester campus computers.

The future of academic medicine

The 9th July issue of the BMJ looks at five future scenarios for academic medicine. The BMJ is part of a campaign called ICRAM - the International Campaign to Revitalise Academic Medicine.

Science is 125

There are essays on 25 of the questions facing scientists over the next 25 years, and a brief mention of another 100 questions. These features are available to all, not just subscribers.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


In the 19th May issue of Nature there is:

An editorial on "policing integrity"
A special report. The report looks at the use of technology to spot plagiarism, the sort of technology that is now used to spot plagiarism in students' assignments.

In the latest issue (7th July) there are three letters responding to this. One argues that it is the nature of science to publish or present findings in stages, then to consolidate them. Another reports that a journal paper they had written appeared after a summary of that paper in a book, because of publication delays.

Read the first letter (click Next under Full text, on the right of the screen, to go to the next one)
Electronic laboratory notebooks

A report in Nature looks at electronic alternatives to the lab notebook.
Tuberculin skin tests and TB vaccines

CMAJ reports cases of serious adverse allergic reactions to this test.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports the decision not to vaccinate 10-14 year olds against TB, but to target babies in high risk areas instead. The old programme was having little impact on the disease, argued the Chief Medical Officer.

School TB vaccination dropped (Guardian, Wednesday 6th)
TB immunisation to be targeted at high risk groups (Guardian, Thursday 7th)

David G. Cogan Ophthalmic Pathology Collection

This online resource from the National Eye Institute is a vast collection of ophthalmology cases and images. I have put it into the Ophthalmology Room I am building as part of the Library's web portal developments. (The room will be launched later in the year). But notices I have seen in various places tell me that this is a new resource - so I am mentioning it here as well!

The collection is at

An article in CMAJ by someone on a locum at an HIV/AIDS clinic. Has some interesting things to say about how patients' lives can be greatly improved if the clinic is able to prescribe antivirals. The clinic is being aided by the Ontario Hospital Association - more information in the article.

Read the article.
Public health implications of asthma

A paper in the Bulletin of the WHO looks at the application of asthma management plans in developing countries, and at reducing costs.

Read the paper online.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Articles on Africa in the BMJ

The BMJ of the 2nd July contains several papers looking at Africa, including surgical realities in Malawi and the migration of health professionals. The editor's choice column highlights many of the papers.

BMJ Careers contains an article putting forward the aims of the Make Poverty History campaign. Student BMJ has also included that article.

Editor's choice
Contents of BMJ 2nd July in full
BMJ Careers: Make Poverty History
Migration of health professionals

A paper in PLoS Medicine looks at the migration of health professionals from the less developed to the more developed world, looking particularly at a study of migration from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States.

A paper in the BMJ looks at managing migration of health professionals from poorer to richer nations.
The ethics of medical journals

Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ, has been arguing that medical journals are just a marketing tool for pharmaceutical companies, and that this is immoral.

Read an interview in the Guardian.
Conflicts of interest in dermatology research

A paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looks at the extent of industry conflicts of interest in published dermatology research. They looked for studies where at least one author reported a conflict of interest, and found that these made up 43 percent of the studies they reviewed.

Read the PubMed abstract (the Clinical Sciences Library has the journal in print)
Science and the G8

The most recent issue of Nature looks at what Africa's scientists (or the ones interviewed, anyway) want the G8 meeting at the end of this week to focus on when it comes to science.

Read an introduction in Science and Development Network (with a link to the Nature article)
Is evidence based medicine relevant to the developing world?

Is the subject of a paper in PLoS Medicine, which argues that systematic reviews have yet to achieve their potential as a resource for practitioners in the developing world. This is because they concentrate on conditions and diseases prevalent in the more developed world, and tend to exclude studies from the less developed world. If the condition studied is relevant, it could be that the interventions discussed are not appropriate or affordable. The reasons for these things are looked at, and some solutions are discussed.
PLoS Computational Biology

This new open access journal has just published its first issue. It joins PLoS Medicine and PLoS Biology. PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens are planned.

Read PLoS Computational Biology
Read more about PLoS and its journals
Totally endoscopic robotically assisted coronary artery bypass (TECAB)

NICE has issued guidance on the safety and efficacy of this procedure, which is available with other relevant documentation, from their website.
Endovascular stent-graft placement in thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections

NICE (now called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has issued guidance on the safety and efficacy of this procedure. It is available from their website, along with other documents relating to the same consultation.
C reactive protein

A systematic review in the BMJ looks at the diagnostic accuracy of C reactive protein in detecting pneumonia, and at how well it can distinguish between bacterial and viral infections.
Detecting cheating in written exams

A paper in the BMJ in May looked at using statistical analysis of the similarity of answers as a tool for detecting cheating in exams. The setting was exams set by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the study did identify a small number of candidates with very similar answers.

Two letters were published in the 25th June issue of the BMJ, and there have been a lot of rapid responses. Scroll down to the end of the original paper to see all these, and links to the published letters.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

News of the grants made by the foundation towards health research, including into malaria and TB, are in the Guardian for Tuesday 28th June.
Dual use research - latest!

PNAS recently declined to publish a paper which constructed a model of a bioterrorist attack. The US Department of Health and Human Services expressed concerns over the paper, which they argued would be an excellent source of information for someone who actually wanted to stage a real bioterrorist attack. The paper was subsequently withdrawn. This raises some interesting questions, which are explored in a Nature editorial in the latest issue.

The BMJ of the 18th June also has an editorial.

The paper has now been published - see this report from Nature. The paper is here.
Emergency Care Specialist Library

Emergency Care specialist library of the National Electronic Library for Health is now available, providing links to quality information on all aspects of emergency care.
The St Kilda scientist clergyman

I came across this in a BBC science email. The BBC's Making History radio programme has investigated the story of Angus Fiddes, a Free Church of Scotland minister, who solved the mystery of why so many of the island's babies died within the first eight days after birth. He identified neonatal tetanus as the cause, caused by birth practices which involved dressing the remains of the unbilical cord with fulmar oil that had been stored in a gannet stomach. Once that practice was ended, the deaths stopped.

But not in time to prevent the island from being evacuated in 1930 when it was no longer practical for anyone to live there. The island is now (somewhat ironically) a major seabird colony.
Wendy Stannard

Two of Wendy's friends are doing a hundred mile plus bike ride for Action Research, in memory of Wendy, who was killed just before Christmas in a road accident. You can sponsor them online.
Tintin goes to the neurologist

I have only just spotted this article from the Christmas issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Written by a seven year old, a five year old, and their father, it examines the reasons why Tintin never grew taller and never needed to shave. A raft of correspondence about the article has just appeared, which is why I noticed it.