Friday, December 30, 2005

Vioxx: missing data?

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an editorial to express its concern about the apparent loss of data from a trial of Vioxx. There were myocardial infarctions in the group taking Vioxx, which were not reported in the trial. If they are taken into account, the statistics become rather different and the difference in risk of myocardial infarction between the two groups in the trial is understated. The editorial, which asks for a correction from the trial's authors, is available free at

The Leicester-Gondar Link

The link, between hospitals and Universities in Gondar, Ethiopia, and Leicester, features in the University of Leicester eBulletin.

Science breakthroughs of the year

Science has this online feature looking at the big science stories of the last 12 months, with articles showcasing the biggest stories, in the 23rd December issue. There is also a look forward to possible big stories in 2006. The feature is at

Today's Guardian has a similar feature, with its top ten breakthroughs of the year. These include cloning a human embryo, but at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the recreation of the 1918 flu virus, and the Space Shuttle. Read more in the Guardian.

Review article on avian influenza A H5N1

A search of PubMed or Medline will of course find all the latest papers on H5N1, and you can set up search alerts in either database to do this automatically for you.

But this review, in the Journal of Clinical Virology, by researchers from Vietnam, looks especially useful.

de Jong MD, Hien TT. Avian influenza A (H5N1). Journal of Clinical Virology 2006 Jan 35(1); 2-13.

This is available to the University through Science Direct. You will need to use Athens authentication if you are off campus.

Resistance to tamiflu (oseltamivir)

The New England Journal of Medicine for 22nd December carries the report of resistance to tamiflu in patients with the H5N1 influenza virus, and has made this paper and a related commentary available free of charge online. The contents page of the issue is at

Flu: modelling software

Scroll down the page of CDC publications at until you find the National Center for Infectious Diseases, and find links to two pieces of software. One, FluAid, models the impact of a pandemic on a community. The other, FluSurge, is a spreadsheet based model for estimating the surge in demand on hospital services in the event of a pandemic. I have added links to both to my Avian and pandemic influenza page at

Hurricane Mental Health Awareness

The National Mental Health Information Center of the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a webpage about disaster mental health, particularly looking at this campaign to help people affected by the hurricanes. There is information in English and Spanish about the impact of hurricanes on children. The page is at

Christmas CMAJ and BMJ

Both these journals publish rather off beat articles in their Christmas issues.

CMAJ this Christmas considers "refrigerator blindness", where sufferers cannot see items of food that are in the fridge, and need to have help, and also a novel way of removing earwax with a water pistol. There is also a systematic review of nodding and napping in lectures, which builds on a paper published last year, and which has some rather pointed things to say about medical publishing and citation. The contents list for this issue of CMAJ is at

The UK press seemed to pick up on several things in the Christmas BMJ, although I wonder if they realise the nature of the Christmas BMJ. Anyhow, the Christmas BMJ considers disappearing teaspoons, the impact of Harry Potter books on traumatic injuries in children, interventions for hangover, and depictions of substance abuse in reality television. Contents page at

Happy holidays!

Developing practice for thrombosis prevention

The Foundation of Nursing Studies has set up this "microsite" to share good practice on preventing venous thromboembolism. The site is at

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Clostridium difficile

The Healthcare Commission/Health Protection Agency's enquiry into how NHS trusts are dealing with this is detailed at, and there is guidance about C. diff. on the HPA website at

The bug got onto the front page of the Guardian yesterday, and perhaps other places also.

Monday, December 19, 2005


WISER is a National Library of Medicine database of information for first responders in incidents involving hazardous materials.

It is now available on the web, and has been available for PDAs for some time. There is key information, and links to further information in other NLM resources, if you know what the substance is. There is also information on protective clothing, protective distance, and treatment, among other things.

Or you can search WISER using information about state, colour, taste, and various chemical properties, in order to identify what it is, if you don't. Results are refined as you add properties to your search and you can view results at any time.

Lowestoft the cradle of human activity in Europe

I was initially a bit miffed at one national newspaper that talked about the Costa del Cromer, since Cromer and Lowestoft are a few miles apart, but reading the original scientific paper (always a good move, as, of course, would have been reading that newspaper properly!) made me realise that it was indeed the Cromer Forest, which extends into north Suffolk, even if it wasn't Cromer itself.

Anyway, as someone with ancestral roots in the area, I was very interested to see that old human tools, dating from far before any previously discovered, were found near Lowestoft in Suffolk. If you are a University of Leicester member and on campus, you can read the Nature paper at I have also found the Eastern Daily Press's report (a paper based in Norwich, but it was the one my grandparents read).


MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee have accused, according to the BMJ, the MRC of panicking about bird flu. Read more at . The Lancet's take on this meeting is that the Committee showed a lack of knowledge of the workings of the MRC, and asked questions about things that are outside the remit of the MRC. Read an editorial (you will need a password which is on the Library webpages, and also available from me).

The Guardian has reported concerns over food shortages in the event of a pandemic, if delivery drivers are struck down en masse, and also reports the foundation of a new cabinet committee to be chaired by Patricia Hewitt. Read more at,11381,1668729,00.html

IgA nephropathy Biobank

This is a database of genetic information relating to IgA nephropathy, or Berger's Disease, described in a paper in BMC Nephrology, available at

PDA Resources

This is a new Room, part of our Rooms web portal. It brings together information about PDAs (personal digital assistants, or handheld computers) for those new to the field, and also information on resources that you can put onto a PDA.

Comments and suggestions are welcome, to me, as the builder of the Room - khn5 at

Lab Tests Online

Copyrighted by the Association of Clinical Biochemists, this site gives information on laboratory tests, and is designed to give patients information about the tests that they are undergoing.

I tried it out on a couple of tests. It was a bit picky about "c-reactive protein", needing the hyphen, but it did suggest that I meant that, so there was no problem. I saw information on the test sample, what the test was for, what might happen afterwards, and links to information on this same site and elsewhere about the disease or condition in question.

On the home page you can go directly to a test, or a condition, and also look at information on screening for particular age groups.


Medapteq is a database of information about appropriate medical technology for the developing world, that is, technology that takes into account low resourcing, unreliable infrastructure. It includes information on who can recycle equipment and send it to where it is needed, as well as information on suppliers of appropriate or improvised equipment. The members of Medapteq are all currently based in Sydney, Australia.

Interview with Sir Iain Chalmers

This appeared a few weeks ago in BMJ Careers Focus. Sir Iain was the director of the first Cochrane Centre and is now editor of the James Lind Library.

James Lind was the physician who found that vitamin C prevented scurvy, and the Library is a collection of material showing the development of fair tests of medical treatment. The Library is at

SciDev.Net dossier: malaria

News, policy briefings, opinions and features from the Science and Development Network.

Marine Microbiology: Microbial Sequencing Project

Gene sequences for marine microbes, searchable using maps of where the organism is found, or by using the complete list of strains. There are links to the lab where the sequence was worked out.

Crystallography Open Database

A database of publically available crystallography data. Anything uploaded into the database is put into the public domain.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hemel Hempstead oil depot explosion

The Health Protection Agency has a webpage of advice. It includes advice for those living nearby, and more general advice on the health effects of explosions and of smoke inhalation. The page is at

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Open Access

Here are some things I have noticed recently:

SciDev.Net have published an article on the benefits of open access archiving to developing countries.

The Royal Society of London are not happy with developments in open access journals and argue that it will lead to the demise of some learned journals.
SciDev.Net report this, and provide a link to the Royal Society's statement.

Meanwhile Oxford University Press continue to experiment with their Oxford Open initiative, where certain of their journals offer the opportunity to pay author fees and publish your article as open access. OUP are extending the list of journals that are involved in this experiment, and there are details of the experiment and the journals on their website.

Stem cell information

This is the National Institutes of Health's official stem cell resource.

The Information Center includes basic information, information on ethics, stem cells and diseases, and links to all sorts of other resources. There is also research information - research protocols, research being undertaken at universities and at NIH itself, and citations and abstracts of literature (full text is available to NIH members but don't forget that we may have access as well through our usual University channels). There is also a mouse stem cell literature database and information on NIH stem cell libraries. And there are links to news.

Disasters information in MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus is an excellent resource, maintained by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

MedlinePlus has recently added pages on Man made disasters (terrorism, radiation or chemical emergencies, power outages...) and Natural disasters (extreme weather, volcanoes, mudslides...). Both are available in Spanish by clicking the Espanol link at the top of the page.

Emerging infections: MRC statement

The Nursing Times alerted me to this MRC Highlight Notice which talks about the MRC's approach to research on emerging infections with pandemic or epidemic potential. The full Notice is on the MRC website. It includes details of how to apply for funding.

Cardiovascular Sciences/Infection, Immunity and Inflammation research making the news

Two pieces of research done within departments that I support, that have gained some press coverage:

Research looking at genes linked with high blood pressure. This involved local families in Leicestershire.
Read the press release. Read the PubMed abstract. The research is published in the November 29th issue of Circulation.

Research which analyses the time series of peak expiratory flow in asthma, to predict the likelihood of an airway obstruction given the current condition of the airway. The study uses mathematical models usually found in engineering, and found that one particular inhaler actually increased the risk of airway obstruction.
Read the press release. Read the Nature letter.

MMR again

Some of the most recent newspaper coverage of this is discussed in a piece called "Why can't the Daily Mail eat humble pie over MMR", by Michael Fitzpatrick, in the BMJ on 12th November. It would be inappropriate for me to reveal my usual daily newspaper by commenting on the title (although you might get a hint from what is covered in this blog!)... but this article discusses the reaction of certain elements of the press to the publication of the recent Cochrane review on possible links between MMR and autism or bowel disease.

Bird flu in Ethiopia?

Health officials in Ethiopia are investigating the deaths of hundreds of pigeons, near Addis Ababa and in the eastern Somali region, according to a report on the BBC News Africa site. A lot of birds migrate to the region, so the possibility is being taken seriously, even though there have been no reported cases of bird flu yet in Africa.

I get an RSS feed from the BBC News Africa site, which I view using
Bloglines, which is how I knew about this story.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Perioperative fasting in adults and children

The RCN has produced this new guideline, available in PDF format from its website. There is a poster as well.

Genomes Online Database (GOLD)

Found this in Netwatch in Science.

GOLD contains details of nearly 1700 genome projects, both complete and ongoing, around the world. You can search it, or browse the list of complete, eukaryotic or prokaryotic genomes. There are links to information in NCBI databases, and details of institutions and contacts for each project.

GMC suspends doctor for false research claims

A doctor in Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, was suspended for 3 months after he passed off someone else's research as his own. He even forged the signatures of his other two co-authors (neither of whom knew about the paper that their names appeared on) on the licence to publish. There is more in today's BMJ (3rd December).

Human and animal health

The BMJ for last week (26th November) was a themed issue on human and animal health, published also as an issue of the Veterinary Record. Zoonoses, the benefits to health of owning a pet, animal therapy as a treatment for depression (using dolphins), and snake bites, are among the topics covered.

Controlling TB in the United States

My 400th posting.

This is the title of a report from the American Thoracic Society, CDC and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It includes recommendations to improve the control and prevention of TB in the USA (which has decreased 44 percent from 1993-2003) and on working towards its elimination.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Orleans

The 25th November issue of Science carries the news that the Society for Neuroscience has decided to move its 2009 annual meeting from New Orleans, as it thinks the city's infrastructure will not be sufficiently rebuilt. The same issue has a piece on moves to restore Louisiana's wetlands, and about how labs in the city are restarting their work.

No online access to Science (but we will have online access in 2006), but Main and Clinical Sciences Libraries have the journal in good old fashioned print.

Sharing data

This is the subject of an editorial in today's Nature (438(7068), 531, 1 December 2005). The editorial talks about the possibilities of sharing data through web services like Google Base, and stipulating what can be done with the data by others by licensing it with Creative Commons licenses.

Read more (on campus only) at

The same issue of Nature also has an extended news feature on related subjects, covering wikis, blogs, digitisation and Google Scholar. Some reading for the train home, I think.

Somewhat to my surprise, Nature last week published a letter I sent (correspondence, that is, rather than a "letter" in the Nature sense). It was about how librarians can support academic colleagues who are teaching referencing - I feel able to blow my own trumpet about this one week later!

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