Latest research news
Biobank study to expand across country
UK Biobank, the world's largest medical study, is to be rolled out across the country following the successful completion of a pilot project in Manchester. The £62m programme - described as visionary by its funders, the government and Wellcome Trust - will recruit 500,000 participants aged between 40 and 69 over the next few years. From their health data and biological samples, Biobank researchers will study the complex interplay of genes, lifestyle and the environment that determines an individual's risk of suffering particular diseases.
Financial Times , The Guardian
Maverick genius turns down maths 'Nobel'
In a major snub to the international maths community, one of the winners of the discipline's most coveted prize has refused the award. The enigmatic and reclusive mathematician Grigory "Grisha" Perelman has turned down a Fields medal - an award many consider the Nobel Prize of maths. The Russian genius shocked academics in 2002 with his claim to have solved the Poincaré conjecture. The problem, which has stumped the best mathematical minds for a century, relates to the possible shapes the universe can take.
Early warning test for breast cancer
British scientists have developed a new way to detect breast cancer early. The new technique, pioneered by a team of researchers at Oxford University, homes in on small clumps of calcium salts, known as microcalcifications, which can be one of the earliest signs of a malignancy. Their technology makes it easier to detect the small clusters, and early correct diagnosis of breast cancer can mean the difference between life and death for a significant proportion of women affected by the disease. Many mammograms show calcium deposits that appear like white specks on the X-ray. They are often seen in both breasts and can be the result of ageing, trauma or inflammations. They are usually not signs of cancer, but when they form in clusters that can be signify a malignant tumour.
EU urged to ban US rice in genes row
The European Union was yesterday facing calls to ban all imports of rice from the US, after Washington conceded that traces of an unauthorised variety of genetically modified rice had entered the food and feed supply in the US. The news has already sparked a backlash in Japan, which suspended US imports of long-grain rice on Saturday. In Brussels, the European Commission said yesterday it was treating the issue as "a matter of utmost urgency". A Commission spokeswoman said officials were trying to get more information on the GM variety and its potential risks from US authorities and Bayer CropScience, the company that developed the GM rice.
By train, plane or car, we risk DVT after just 4 hours
Travellers whose journeys last more than four hours are doubling their risk of getting deep vein thrombosis whichever form of transport they use, scientists claimed yesterday. The chance of developing a potentially fatal blood clot soars for longhaul passengers whether they travel by plane, car, bus or train - and women on the Pill are at particular risk. Previously, DVT has been mainly linked to air travel, especially 'economy class syndrome' when passengers spend many hours immobile, often in cramped conditions on long-haul flights. However, a study by Dutch researchers has found that sitting stationary for long periods in other forms of transport can be just as hazardous.
Human hobbit more likely to be a pygmy, scientists admit
It was described as the most significant anthropological find in a century, but further doubt has been cast on claims that remains found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004 were those of an entirely new species of humans dubbed "hobbits". An international team of scientists said yesterday that the skeleton was probably an ancestor of the modern pygmies who now inhabit a nearby island. "The question that I and my colleagues have asked ourselves is how anyone could possibly believe this," said Robert Eckardt at Pennsylvania State University, who co-authored the critique in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . "There was such a will to believe in the story that critical faculties were suspended on the part of many people." The Guardian , Daily Telegraph , The Independent