A project to understand the body's most mysterious organ could help us tackle everything from pregnancy complications to heart disease, says Cathy Spong
Landing on the Red Planet may remain a distant dream for now, despite ambitious plans by aerospace companies to take people there in the next decade
According to WHO's 2014 World Malaria Report there were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2013, occurring in around half of the world's countries. These infections resulted in some 584 000 deaths, principally associated with Plasmodium falciparum infection, of which 90% occurred in equatorial Africa. Most distressingly, malaria mortality is concentrated in children, with about 453 000 deaths of children aged younger than 5 years in 2013, the vast majority in African countries.
Last week, the USA and the African Union (AU) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to support the establishment of a new African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this year. An African CDC Surveillance and Response Unit will be set up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, including an Emergency Operations Centre to provide technical expertise and response coordination during large outbreaks. Regional Collaborating Centres in the five AU geographic regions are also planned. The US CDC will provide expertise and advice along with fellowships for African epidemiologists to help to staff the centres.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently published its first recommendations on cognitive ageing, in response to the needs of an ageing population that increasingly turns to health professionals for help with the effects of growing older on their daily lives and health choices. Cognitive ageing is not a disease, but a natural part of growing up and getting older that starts in utero and continues until death. Cognition describes memory, attention, and processing, and encompasses wisdom, learning, and understanding.
In 2013, as many as 6·3 million children worldwide died before their fifth birthday.1 Children have an increased risk of health-care-related harm because of factors including the complexity of prescribing and dispensing of drugs, a reduced physiological reserve compared with adults, and dependency on others (ie, parents and health-care providers) to recognise the emergence of a hazardous situation.2 Despite these factors, little research has been done of the contributions of substandard care and iatrogenic harm to deaths in childhood.
Aldous Huxley saw science—and its claims to be the catalyst for human progress—as a means to concentrate political power in the hands of a ruling minority. Corruption, despotism, and spiritual degradation were the logical consequences of a science-based culture, or so Huxley argued. In his 1947 book, Science, Liberty, and Peace, Huxley took aim at the post-war triumph of science. “Science”, he wrote, “is one of the causative factors involved in the progressive decline of liberty and the progressive centralisation of power”.
In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has unveiled several new initiatives to tackle climate change. The Lancet's Washington correspondent, Susan Jaffe, reports.
A recent European Union-wide election to appoint a director for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has failed to select anyone. John Maurice reports.
UN agencies and non-governmental organisations are warning of a worsening health and humanitarian situation in Yemen as fierce fighting continues. Talha Burki reports.
Some events leave an indelible mark on our collective consciousness and in doing so prove to be catalytic and transformative. The brutal rape and subsequent death of Jyoti Singh Pandey was just such an event. When the young medical student was gang-raped on a bus late one night in Delhi, India, her story shocked the world into taking notice.
Protecting the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is one of the biggest concerns to voters ahead of the 2015 general election. However, the recent political leaders' television debate gave mixed messages on health care in the UK. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband accused the Conservatives of a “tide of privatisation” and top-down reorganisation. Prime Minister David Cameron claimed he has cleansed the NHS of bureaucrats. Liberal Democrats Party leader Nick Clegg bluntly denied there has been a push towards privatisation, to which Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party could only cry out in disbelief.
When British Prime Minister David Cameron was unable to translate the words “Magna Carta” on live television 3 years ago he raised a few eyebrows. A similar gaffe in 2015 would be harder to live down. For the 800th anniversary of the signing of the contract at Runnymede—by which King John bought peace with England's rebel barons at the price of ensuring their legal rights—has been marked by so many events that “great charter” has virtually become a household word. There have been Magna Carta hog roasts, school projects, and television programmes, while Members of Parliament have extolled the document's “democratic”, “quintessentially British” character.
Pedro L Alonso has pioneered many innovations in public health during his 30-year long career in malaria research and global health. Known as someone who thrives on a challenge, some think he faces one of his biggest challenges yet in his role as the Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, which he took up in October, 2014. Alonso and his team in Geneva coordinate WHO's work to control and eliminate malaria.
Laissez-faire is part of “the air we still breathe”, wrote John Maynard Keynes in 1926. “We do not dance even yet to a new tune.” Conservative individualism of 18th-century luminaries such as David Hume, conveniently underpinned by the supposed free market economics of Adam Smith, led to the view that enlightened self-interest operates in the public interest. Hence, leave things to the market. This idea appealed to businessmen, it seemed to have delivered prosperity, said Keynes, but unfortunately it was wrong: self-interest was not generally enlightened and can lead to great inequality, impairment of efficiency, and unemployment.
Cell biologist and pioneer of cell fusion. He was born in Pochep, Russia, on Jan 28, 1925, and died in Oxford, UK, on Oct 31, 2014, aged 89 years.
With the completion of the Human Genome Project, interest in the provision of patient-centred approaches for clinical diagnosis and treatment of disease that allow for individual variability, known as precision medicine or personalised medicine, has increased. On the basis of the belief that only genetics can be used to definitively explain common features of our physiology and pathophysiology, our genome might be able to accurately indicate the individual risk of developing a life threatening impairment during our lifetimes.
The results from the study by Dipak Kotecha and colleagues1 are surprising. In view of the differences between patients with heart failure and sinus rhythm and patients with atrial fibrillation, Kotecha and colleagues' warning against the use of β blockers needs to be viewed in context and several important points have been overlooked.
In their Article,1 Dipak Kotecha and colleagues state that β blockers should not be preferred compared with other heart rate control drugs in patients with heart failure, reduced ejection fraction, and atrial fibrillation, which is misleading. Their study did not compare the efficacy and safety of β blockers with those of other drugs; therefore on the basis of their study alone, Kotecha and colleagues cannot state that β blockers are more beneficial or harmful in those patient populations compared with the other drugs.
We thank Rahman Shah and Juan Pérez-Calvo and colleagues for their correspondence and interest in our Article.1 The Beta-Blockers in Heart Failure Collaborative Group analysis is the most robust and powerful assessment of the efficacy of β blockers published.2 We were able to include individual patient data from nearly all of the placebo-controlled randomised trials, with a sample size of about 14 000 participants in the sinus rhythm group and more than 3000 in the atrial fibrillation group.1 These individual data permitted a unique assessment of treatment efficacy and safety in patients with heart failure, reduced ejection fraction, and concomitant atrial fibrillation, which have previously been underpowered.