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Life Sciences headlines

Pharma giants see future of lower healthcare profits

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Professor emeritus David Taylor (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on the benefits and economic costs of pharmaceuticals, arguing cost effectiveness analyses should take a broader view of a drug's benefits. Read: Financial Times

DNA questions

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Dr Matthew Powner (UCL Chemistry) discusses the origins of life and whether DNA could have formed on other planets, while Dr Vitor Bernardes Pinheiro (UCL Biosciences) discusses his research developing synthetic nucleic acids. Listen: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire 'Naked Scientists' (from 32 mins 15 secs & from 50 mins 52 secs)

Britain 'spends twenty times as much on junk food as on cancer drugs'

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A report led by Professor emeritus David Taylor (UCL Pharmacy) criticises the amount of NHS funding for pharmaceuticals. Read: The Telegraph, More: Daily Mail

How did life begin?

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) is interviewed about the origins of life on Earth. Listen: The Guardian's Science Weekly

Population of African elephants reduced 'dramatically'

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) is interviewed about declining populations of numerous animal species worldwide. Listen: BBC Radio 5 '5 live Drive' (from 2 hrs 37 mins 48 secs) 

How the First Farmers Changed History

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Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute) comments on research he was involved in that suggests different groups of early farmers developed agriculture separately, as genetic evidence suggests they were isolated from one another for thousands of years. Read: New York Times

Click at the Crick

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In a feature on the Francis Crick Institute, of which UCL is a founding partner, Professor Nicholas Luscombe (UCL Genetics Institute) is interviewed about his lab's use of computational techniques to analyse genomic data sets and research into the detection of DNA damage. Listen: BBC World Service 'Click' (from 8 mins 59 secs)

Science Museum should drop Statoil sponsorship of children’s gallery

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Numerous UCL faculty members co-signed a letter calling on London's Science Museum to end a sponsorship deal with an oil and gas company. Read: The Guardian, More: The Guardian

Limit to human life may be 115 (ish)

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Professor Dame Linda Partridge (UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing) comments on a US study claiming 115 years is the maximum limit of human life. She says this is very ambitious and although life expectancy is likely to rise, the research doesn't describe what will happen in the future. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 2 from 1 hour 2 mins

Do branded painkillers work better than cheaper generic ones?

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Professor Simon Gaisford (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on tests undertaken for the BBC2 series 'Trust me I'm a Doctor' which compared branded painkillers containing Ibuprofen with against generic products. Read: The Guardian

‘Game-changing’ study suggests first Polynesians voyaged all the way from East Asia

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on the first genome-wide study of ancient DNA from prehistoric Polynesians which supports the idea that the first settlers on Fiji were ancient mariners from East Asia. Read: Science

Garden ponds 'playing role' in frog disease spread

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Dr Stephen Price (UCL Biosciences) comments on his new study finding the lethally infectious frog disease ranavirus has spread quickly across the UK, possibly due to infected animals in ornamental ponds. Read: BBC News, More: The Telegraph, The Guardian, UCL News

Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to Looming Antibiotics Crisis?

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Professor Simon Gibbons (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on the ingenuity and complexity of organic molecules produced by eons of evolution. Read: New York Times

We’ve destroyed one-tenth of Earth’s wilderness in just 2 decades

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Dr Tim Newbold (UCL Biosciences) comments on a new study finding that between 1993 and 2009, areas free of human disturbance declined by 10% globally. Read: Science

UCL researchers reverse memory loss in mice

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Professor Patricia Salinas (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) comments on her study about a key mechanism underlying the loss of nerve connectivity in the brain, and how the findings could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Read: i News, More: Forbes, UCL News

Oldest fossils on Earth discovered in 3.7bn-year-old Greenland rocks

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says evidence there was life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago ties in with recent revelations that the planet wasn’t as inhospitable in that eon as previously believed. Read: The Guardian

How 3D printing could revolutionise medicine

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Dr Stephen Hilton (UCL School of Pharmacy) discusses his lab’s research into how 3D-printed pharmaceuticals could impact medicine. Read: The Times (Raconteur)

Brain imaging and privacy

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Professor Geraint Rees (UCL Life Sciences) discusses potential issues of mental privacy brought about by brain imaging. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘Mind Reading’

We’ve been wrong about the origins of life for 90 years

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Arunas Radzvilavicius (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment) writes that life on Earth originated in deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and not in a surface-level primordial soup as the dominant theory proposes. Read: The Conversation

Tom Wolfe: A man in full

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on author Tom Wolfe's views on Darwinian evolution and academic linguistics. Read: The Sunday Times (£) 

The scientists who only come out at night

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Profile on Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) and her work with bats. Read: The Guardian

Myth busting the Olympic 'cupping' craze

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A number of Olympians have large red circles on their skin caused by 'cupping' which is supposed to help the circulation of blood. Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) explains that it is a bogus treatment that has not been properly tested. Watch: BBC News (from 2 mins 20 sec) More: BBC News, The Week, The Independent, BBC Radio 5 Live 'The Victoria Derbyshire programme', Daily Mail

Women who have appendix or tonsils removed are more fertile, study finds

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New research co-authored by Dr Li Wei (UCL School of Pharmacy) has found that women who have their appendix or tonsils removed are more fertile than the rest of the population. Read: The MailMore: The Telegraph

The world's first farmers were surprisingly diverse

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Farming 10,000 years ago occurred in multiple neighbouring but genetically distinct populations according to a study by Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment), Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute) and Professor Stephen Shennan (UCL Archaeology). Read: BBC News, More: Science, Daily MailLA Times, UCL News

Scientists warn of 'unsafe' decline in biodiversity

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A study led by Dr Tim Newbold (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) warns that biodiversity is dropping below safe levels for the support and wellbeing of human societies. Read: BBC News, More: Guardian, Independent, Washington Post, Daily Mail, Reuters, UCL News

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