Vaccine against fatal salmonella moves closer

A vaccine against a fatal strain of salmonella could be developed thanks to research led by Dr Calman MacLennan from the University of Birmingham.

His research team has discovered a protective salmonella-specific antibody that develops in African children that may help them to fight nontyphoidal salmonella, which can kill up to a quarter of infants under two-years-old in parts of the developing world.

Dr Calman MacLennan, who carried out the work while working for the Universities of Liverpool and Malawi, hopes the study will help to develop a vaccine or a treatment for the disease.

 For more details see the University of Birmingham.  

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Health science centres announced for region

The creation of three academic health science centres (AHSC) in the West Midlands has been announced by West Midlands minister Liam Byrne, MP, during a visit to The University of Warwick’s Medical School.

The AHSC at Warwick will be the first in the Midlands and will bring together all the NHS trusts across Coventry and Warwickshire to draw on the university’s world-leading research expertise in systems biology, engineering and medicine.

Another two AHSCs are planned in the region.

For more details see The University of Warwick.  

First mini medical school launched

Ever wanted to understand more about the human body and the latest treatments for illnesses without the need to spend five years at med school?

Birmingham University has come up with a solution with the first mini-medical school to be run in the UK.

A series of two-hour sessions over the 10-week course will tackle some of the major topics in medicine in a fun and accessible way, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, psychiatric disorders and communication between doctors and patients.

For more information see Birmingham University

Wanna be a doc?

Interested in becoming a doctor?

Keele University is offering the chance to find out what the job’s like at a medicine careers day on Wednesday, March 12.

It’s aimed at school students aged 15-16 who want to find out more about the career.

For more see Keele University.

Medical students could have gaps in knowledge

A rise in the number of patients refusing to take part in medical education could mean that medical students have gaps in their knowledge, experts at Birmingham University Medical School have warned.

The team of experts say medical students will miss out on important opportunities to conduct patient consultations unless more patients are willing to help with training.

Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics (Vol 34, Issue 2)  the team from the university’s department of Primary Care and General Practice argue that students may be qualifying with gaps in their practical experience.

This has potentially damaging implications for the quality of newly-qualified doctors in the UK.

Currently, patients need to give explicit permission before medical students are allowed to become involved in their treatment or care.

The authors believe that this should be replaced by a system that starts with the idea that there is no reason why students who are competent to do so should not be helping to treat patients.

Associate Professor Nick Ross from the Birmingham team said: “Whilst the personal choice of each patient is of paramount importance, it is not in patients’ interests to see doctors who are not fully competent in a clinical environment.

“We believe that the current system does very little to encourage patients to take part in medical education or to explain the benefits of having a student present during a procedure.”

For more see the University of Birmingham

Female hospital consultants ‘less productive’ than male colleagues

Female hospital consultants working in the NHS are 20% less productive than their male counterparts, research has shown.

Researchers from the Universities of York and Birmingham highlighted a 20% difference in the number of episodes conducted between male and female consultants.

On average, male consultants completed 160 more episodes of care each year than their female colleagues.

Professor Nick Freemantle from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Primary Care said: “Studies in the US and Canada have shown similar results, but in those systems doctors are paid by fees-for-service, so lower activity rates may represent a personal choice.

“It’s harder to know why this difference should exist in the NHS, but it’s a substantial and statistically significant difference across a wide range of medical areas.”

The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.  

Journal editor Dr Kamran Abbasi said: “These data do not show that men are better doctors than women. They do, however, highlight potential differences in the way medical careers develop for men and women in our health service.

“It will be fascinating to explore the underlying reasons for this difference in productivity. Does it mean less is more?”

For more see the University of Birmingham

Light powered platinum to treat cancer.

Researchers at The University of Warwick are using a light-activated platinum-based compound to treat cancers. The process can be up to 80 times more effective than other platinum-based anti-cancer drugs.

According to Warwick:

“The compound could be used in particular to treat surface cancers. Patients could be treated in a darkened environment with light directed specifically at cancer cells containing the compound activating the compound’s toxicity and killing those cells. Normal cells exposed to the compound would be protected by keeping the patient in darkness until the compound has passed through and out of the patient.

The new light activated PtIV complex is also more efficient in its toxic action on cancer cells in that, unlike other compounds currently used in photodynamic therapy, it does not require the presence of significant amounts of oxygen within a cancer cell to become toxic. Cancer cells tend to have less oxygen present than normal cells.

Although this work is in its early stages, the researches are hopeful that, in a few years time, the new platinum compound could be used in a new type of photoactivated chemotherapy for cancer.”

More from Warwick…