Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tuberculosis in the news

And now back to work.

The Guardian carries a story of a man with XDR-TB who flew from the USA to Europe and then back again.

BBC Look East, the television news for the eastern counties, has been carrying the story of a school in Luton where several pupils have been found to be carrying TB. There is a story on the BBC website here. While looking for it, I also found a story about (inactive) TB being found in patients at Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen.


I have been in Cromer - look at this BBC webcam for a live picture of the sea there and here for information about the lifeboat.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Social management of TB

A paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing looks at this. Everyone diagnosed at one London hospital with TB was interviewed with regard to factors such as housing, past imprisonment, drug use. 32 percent of those interviewed were homeless (as defined by the authors), 39 percent were in receipt of welfare, 13 percent had no income, and over a third of people had no one to remind them to take their medications.

The paper is:

Craig GM, Booth H, Story A, Hayward A, Hall J, Goodburn A, Zumla A. The impact of social factors on tuberculosis management. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2007; 58 (5): 418–424.

Drug target database, and hepatitis B information

Two items of interest in Lancet Infectious Diseases for June 2007:

The Drug Target Prioritization Database is a WHO initiative, containing drug target information relating to the agents responsible for TB and malaria, and other things. The database is at, and the item in Lancet Infectious Diseases is here.

A list of websites relating to hepatitis B, including sites from CDC and Health Protection Agency.

Plagiarism uncovered by systematic review

A piece in today's BMJ (26 May) leads me to read a paper from last year describing how plagiarism was uncovered by a systematic review. Iain Chalmers, while working on a systematic review of epidural anaesthesia, discovered a paper which repeated data from another, unacknowledged, paper of some years before.

The case continues - it is the outcome of a Croatian government investigation that is reported in today's BMJ.

Drugs as weapons

Today's BMJ (26th May) reports a report (as it were) from the BMA on the use of drugs as weapons, something that gets around conventions on chemical weapons. The report discusses the ethical implications of such things as the apparent use of fentanyl in the Moscow theatre siege. The same report was discussed in yesterday's Guardian.

Read the BMJ
Read the Guardian
Read the actual BMA report "The use of drugs as weapons"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

BBSRC review of microbial science research

The Horizon Press Microbiology Blog had information about this, so I will post it on this blog!

The BBSRC have produced a report for their strategy board, on microbial research. It is dated September 2006, although I don't remember seeing mention of it before. It is at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Virginia Tech

I have wanted since hearing about it on the radio news at breakfast to just write this note, but have not had the chance until now.

As a member of another higher education community, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the terrible events at Virginia Tech.

I was struck by Justin Webb's thought on that radio news (BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme) that now people will associate Virginia or this particular institution with this event, and lose sight of all the other things that the state and institution are. Perhaps a rather trivial example, and I am sure others will have their own, better, examples, but in our house we think of the excellent Judy Moody books when we hear the word Virginia, and we will continue to do so. There is more to a place than any one event.

Later amendment: a regular update from Ruth Rikowski, that I receive by email, drew my attention to the April 16 Archive site, which collects people's stories, and stories of events held to mark the massacre.

AORN Journal: May 2007

This issue (available to University of Leicester people through Science Direct - use Leicester e-link to find the link) includes:

Research on:

Family centred care in the perioperative area
Continuous infusion of local anesthetics
Evaluation of a numbered surgical sponge product - does numbering the sponges reduce the incidence of lost sponges?
Unplanned postoperative hypothermia


Patient literacy

And, AORN recommendations on:

Managing the patient receiving local anesthesia
Prevention of unplanned perioperative hypothermia
Reducing radiological exposure in the perioperative practice setting

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Information for Health Professionals

Internet Scout (mentioned here before) brought this to my attention. It (at includes applications for PDAs, mortality maps, educational resources, and tools like a BMI calculator. Perhaps too much of a US emphasis to be useful in the UK? I don't know, so here it is, for you to decide.

Peer review as literary genre

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Unearthing a genre, by Leon Fink, published in the issue of 18th May) looks at peer review, arguing that peer review is a literary genre.

This came to me from the Library Link of the Day , which I find very useful.

Teams, or solo researchers?

Research published in Science for 18 May shows that teams increasingly dominate the production of knowledge, over solo authors. The authors looked at almost 20 million papers, over 50 years, and over 2 million patents, and found a shift towards team research, and an increase in the size of the team. There is some discussion of the reasons why this is so.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Elizabeth Blackwell, First Woman Doctor

I wonder if Judy Moody would enjoy a new biography of Blackwell, "The excellent Doctor Blackwell", by Julia Boyd, reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine? Perhaps her parents would?

Guillain Barre syndrome

I heard about a case of this yesterday (although I had heard of it before) and quick look at a neurology book I happened to see this morning reveals that it can occur after a viral or bacterial infection, so it is of interest to this blog.

Here is some information about Guillain Barré syndrome, also known as acute inflammatory or postinfective polyradiculoneuropathy):

NHS Direct Health Encyclopaedia

Guillain Barré Syndrome Support Group


Who was Guillain? And Barré? (Information from

(Pedantic linguistic note: I know I have missed off the accent in the title of this post but if I include it, I fear it will not be found in searches for "barre").


We usually get involved in this in our house, and will be watching the television programmes later this month, I am sure.

Meanwhile, Springwatch is looking for first sightings on a number of Spring phenomena - seven spot ladybirds, red tailed bumblebees, swifts (seen!), hawthorn (probably seen!), frogspawn, and peacock butterflies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pandemic influenza preparedness

An editorial in the BMJ (12 May) brought my attention to new Department of Health/Cabinet Office guidance on this. The editorial thinks it replaces existing guidance from 2005. That original guidance was produced by all the UK health departments, not just one of them, so I am not sure.

But I have added the new draft (consultation period ends tomorrow: sorry!) to our avian and pandemic influenza webpages, and annotated it and the 2005 guidance.

Bulletin of the WHO

The latest issue is a theme issue on tuberculosis, to coincide with a resolution on TB that is being considered by the World Health Assembly which is meeting now.

See the contents page of this issue here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Silencing Genomes

Another site "found" via the Internet Scout Project.

Silencing Genomes is to do with RNAi. The discovery of RNAi won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2006.

I quote from the Silencing Genomes site:

"RNAi is a mechanism that down-regulates gene expression when double-stranded RNA (ds-RNA) molecules that correspond to a part of a "target gene" are present in a cell. By deliberately introducing defined sequences of dsRNA into living organisms, biologists can observe the physiological consequences of "silencing" virtually any gene in C. elegans, as well as other plants and animals."

There are parts of the site dealing with culturing E. coli, C. elegans, observing wild type and mutant C. elegans, and with RNAi.

Stop the Traffik

Yes, that is Traffik with a K, and yes, it is lunchtime!

At a church service for Christian Aid Week last night, my attention was drawn to this organisation, which is a group of organisations campaigning for the abolition of present day slavery - people trafficking, sex trafficking, call it what you like. You can sign a pledge on their website (also available as a postcard, which you can order), and also find out more about children being trafficked to Cote d'Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations (for chocolate). A substantial proportion of cocoa for chocolate comes from Cote d'Ivoire.

The site is at - sign the pledge, see if your organisation can sign up en bloc, and read about where to buy slavery-free chocolate.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ranalexin and lysostaphin in MRSA

A tiny snippet in Nursing Times mentioned research done at St. Andrews, which looked at inhibiting MRSA with a combination of the antibiotic lysostaphin and ranalexin, a peptide found in bullfrogs.

This is, I am sure, a paper in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy:

Graham S, Coote PJ.
Potent, synergistic inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus upon exposure to a combination of the endopeptidase lysostaphin and the cationic peptide ranalexin.J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Apr;59(4):759-62. Epub 2007 Feb 26.

The PubMed record is here - and the full text link should work for University of Leicester members (you may need to login with Athens off campus).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reed Elsevier and arms fairs

A recent CMAJ ( carries an editorial on this issue, with details of the campaign so far. See my previous postings also, for details.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

MRSA and maggots

I remember hearing about this on the radio news, but have just discovered a piece about it in the Guardian.

Researchers at Manchester University tried bluebottle maggots on patients with MRSA-infected diabetic foot ulcers and found that in all but one case, the infection was cleared up.

I couldn't find the published research that led to this article, until I found the University's own press release which made me remember the first rule of literature searching for authors: can the author be spelt some other way? The Guardian has him as Bolton, but he is in fact Boulton, and the press release cites the publication.

The Guardian does report that the Manchester team has been given a grant by Diabetes UK to run an RCT on this.

Islamic contributions to medical science

The same issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal (see earlier posting) has an interesting article on early Islamic contributions to medicine. The authors seek to counteract the view that all early Islamic scientists did was transmit Greek science to the Renaissance.

The article is:

Islam's forgotten contributions to medical science
Ingrid Hehmeyer and Aliya Khan
CMAJ 2007;176 1467-1468

Genetics articles in CMAJ

The latest Canadian Medical Association Journal has this article:

Testing for HER2-positive breast cancer: a systematic review and
cost-effectiveness analysis
Nandini Dendukuri, Karim Khetani, Michelle McIsaac, and James Brophy
CMAJ 2007;176 1429-1434

and an associated commentary:

HER2 testing: The patent "genee" is out of the bottle
Brian Goldman
CMAJ 2007;176 1443-1444

and a commentary about preimplantation testing:

Where are we going with preimplantation genetic diagnosis?
Timothy Krahn
CMAJ 2007;176 1445-1446

WHO clinical trials search

The WHO have a project called International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, which includes a search engine for clinical trials, available at

This searches a database containing information from a number of sources. It is not itself a clinical trials registry. I can't immediately find a list of these sources, but there may be one somewhere.

I saw mention of this resource in an email from Virginia Ballance, Hilda Bowen Library, College of the Bahamas, to the MEDLIB-L discussion list.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Australian Genome Alliance

The Australian Genome Alliance is lobbying the federal Australian government to get it to fund research into the genomes of things Australian. These things might include the cane toad and boll moth, which are major agricultural pests, and indigenous animals like the wallaby. It is worried that this work will end up being done by other countries if the government does not move quickly.

Their website is at and I am grateful to Kevin Ahern's "Webwatch" column in the journal BioTechniques for this site.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Today's BMJ reports that in Alaska, vaccine against pneumococcal disease has been very effective against the serotypes of pneumococcus covered by the vaccine, but that new serotypes are now emerging that are not resistant. This is a report of a study in JAMA - an article and an editorial (if you are University of Leicester, the Library can supply the password)

Duplicate publication

The BMJ of last weekend discusses a paper in Korean, which was allegedly translated, and then published in an English language journal but with a different title and with different authors.

The BMJ of 5th May reports the decision of the journal Fertility and Sterility, which published the paper in English, which is to withdraw the paper as a duplicate publication. "Plagiarism" has not been mentioned, which has annoyed the author of the original Korean language paper, who was arguing that he was the true author of the English language paper, which was published without his knowledge, and without his name on it.

Stockpiling influenza vaccine

Today's BMJ reports a recent meeting at the WHO, which backed calls for vaccine effective against H5N1 influenza to be stockpiled. The meeting also discussed access to the vaccine.

C. diff rates

Health Service Journal (3 May 2007, p. 8) reports that C. diff rates are up 8 percent, with 55681 cases reported to the HPA in 2006, against 51767 the previous year. The number of cases in January - March 2006 was 15335, but 12814, in October - December. The HPA say it is too early to say if this is a trend. No doubt everyone will view the increase year on year from 2005 to 2006 as a trend, but there we are!

The HPA has been tasked with producing new guidance on C. diff. I shall mention it here when I spot it.

Today's BMJ discusses this as well.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Journal of Medical Microbiology: May issue

The May issue of Journal of Medical Microbiology includes:

A paradigm for the molecular identification of Mycobacterium species in a routine diagnostic laboratory, by authors from the Royal Free and UCL in London;

Real-time RT-PCR for H5N1 avian influenza virus detection, by authors from Beijing and Wenzhou;

Rapid determination of hospital acquired meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus lineages, by authors from St. Georges and Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' in London.

And a lot more besides: see the contents page here.