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Life Sciences headlines

Red hair is here to stay - 'extinction of the ginger gene' story is just bad science

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UCL Honorary Professor Debbie Kennett follows in the path of Professors David Balding and Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics) by debunking the promises of simple interpretations of DNA and ancestry. Read: Guardian

Same genes 'drive maths and reading ability'

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Research led by Dr Oliver Davis (UCL Genetics) finds that around half of the genes that influence a child's aptitude for reading also play a role in how easily they learn maths, suggesting that hundreds of subtle DNA changes in genes combine to help shape a child's performance in both. Read: Guardian, More: BBC NewsTelegraphTimes (£), TES, UCL News

Cancer breakthrough as scientists discover how cells spread

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A study led by Professor Roberto Mayor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has uncovered insights into how cells move through the body, which could lead to innovative techniques to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours. Read: Daily Mail, More: UCL News

Antibiotic resistance

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Professor Peter Taylor (UCL Pharmaceutics) explains how no new classes of antibiotics have come on to the market for 25 years and how the use of antibiotics engenders resistance. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live ‘Wake up to Money’ (from 34 mins 30 secs), More: BBC Radio Newcastle ‘Breakfast’ (from 19 mins 36 secs), BBC Radio Kent ‘Breakfast’ (from 1 hour 14 mins)

Sunbathing mice? This kind of silly research is harmful

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Dr Clare Stanford (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) criticises a recent study which claims that mice become addicted to sunbathing, explaining how studies that appear frivolous or unethical can undermine public support for using animals in serious medical research. Read: The Times (£)

Sunbathing 'may be addictive' warning

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Dr Clare Stanford (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on a new study showing that repeated UV exposure led to 'addiction' in mice. Read: BBC News, More: Telegraph, Daily Express, TimesThe Australian, Huffington Post, Evening Standard

Unlocking the secrets of regeneration

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Research led by Dr Max Yun (UCL Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology) has identified a biological pathway that must be constantly active for salamander cells to regenerate. Read: Daily Mail, More: Business Standard, Yahoo News UK, Belfast TelegraphITV, Fox News, The ConversationUCL News

Closed minds: the media and animal research

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As many researchers commit to greater openness regarding the use of animals in research, Adrian Deeny (UCL Biological Sciences) discusses the need for responsible press reporting on the subject. Read: THE

Sat-navs dull the mind: Brain is less active when we blindly follow directions

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Work led by Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Behavioural Neuroscience) finds that how we navigate from A to B is controlled by two brain regions which track the distance to our destination. Read: Daily Mail, More: NPR, Wellcome Trust

New drugs may help patients to cure themselves

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Dr Sergio Quezada (UCL Research Department of Haematology) comments the possibilities of new immunotherapy treatments for cancer which use the body’s own immune system. Read: The Times, More: The Australian (£)

Falling birth rates in Europe and rising ones in Africa could spell decline in atheism

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains how a combination of surging population growth in Christian Africa and population decline in Europe could signal the decline of atheism. Read: Independent

Statins: Do we love them with all our heart?

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) explains how open-access journals are a positive move for the peer-review process. Read: Telegraph

Pfizer takeover bid raises fear for university-industry links

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Professor Sir John Tooke (UCL Vice Provost, Health) proposes the need for biomedical public-private partnerships to protect the ‘R&D ecosystem’ from commercial affairs. Read: THE

AstraZeneca takeover is 'too dangerous' say British scientists

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UCL scientists co-sign a letter to the Telegraph expressing concerns over the proposed Pfizer takeover of AstraZeneca. Professor John Hardy (UCL Institute of Neurology) says “takeover bids like this are a sign of weakness in the pharma sector.” Read: Telegraph

Blessed are the poor? Clergy are the strongest in unfair societies

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) looks at the relationship between social unfairness and religion. Read: The Times (£)

DNA 'satnav' can now pinpoint the village your ancestors once lived in

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) describes a DNA test which claims to pinpoint the geographic region of a person’s ancestors as: “interesting, but a very crude ad hoc technique”. Read: Daily Mail

Test for weak grip to predict how long you are likely to live

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Research led by Dr Rachel Cooper (UCL MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing) has found that middle-aged people who perform poorly in strength tests are more likely to die in the following 13 years than those who performed well. Read: Daily Mail, More: Daily Express, Telegraph

If Pfizer's AstraZeneca takeover succeeds, bad news for UK research

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Professor David Taylor (UCL Practice and Policy) comments on the proposed take over of AstraZeneca by Pfizer and the effects this may have on UK research. Read: The Guardian

Depression drugs linked to child suicide

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Dr Irene Petersen (UCL Primary Care and Population Health) comments on a study which has found that young people given high doses of antidepressants are twice as likely to commit suicide as those on standard doses. Read: Daily Mail, More: The Times

How we can eat more healthily

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Dr Oyinlola Oyebode (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) explains why we tend to pick unhealthier foods and what we can do to make our diets healthier. Listen: BBC London 94.9 'Drivetime with Eddie Nestor' (from 23 mins 30 secs & 33 mins 50 secs)

E-cigarette users in UK have 'tripled' since 2010

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Professor Robert West (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) explains how many smokers are using e-cigarettes as a tool for quitting and that there is no evidence that their use is 'renormalising smoking'. Read: The Guardian, More: Daily Mail, BBC News, Metro

Virtual Earth plays out fate of life on the planet

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains how the Madingley computer model, a mathematical model of all life on Earth, can help us understand how global environmental change will affect ecological communities. Read: New Scientist

Gene factor plays a big part in child obesity

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A study co-led by Dr Clare Llewellyn (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) has found that genes account for 82 per cent of the variation in body mass index in 10-year-olds. Read: The Times (£), More: The Australian (£), The Hindu

NHS and Chinese Medicine

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) criticises Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposal for the NHS to adopt Traditional Chinese medicine. Listen: BBC Radio 5 Live 'Shelagh Fogarty' (from 36 mins 20 secs)

Give primary school pupils lessons on drugs

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Professor Simon Gibbons (UCL Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry), a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, has recommended a broader drugs education in primary and middle schools. Read: Telegraph, More: Daily Mail, Express & Star

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