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Research reveals how the human brain might reconstruct past events

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Hippocampus activity seen when forming event memories

When remembering something from our past, we often vividly re-experience the whole episode in which it occurred. New UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust has now revealed how this might happen in the brain.

Rats 'dream' paths to a brighter future

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Illustration of sleeping rat

When rats rest, their brains simulate journeys to a desired future such as a tasty treat, finds new UCL research funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.

UCL Academy students become environmental engineers

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UCL Academy students become environmental engineers

144 Year 7 students at UCL Academy have been learning about the waste-energy-food cycle as part of a six-week environmental engineering educational programme led by Dr Aiduan Borrion (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), in the first major collaboration between UCL Engineering and UCL Academy.

Climate change threatens to undermine the last half century of health gains

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Climate emergency

The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, according to a major new UCL-led Commission, published in The Lancet.

‘Core’ immune cells reduce symptoms and spread of flu

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H1N1 influenza virus particles shown in transmission electron micrograph

A four-year study of 1,414 unvaccinated people across England found that 43% of them had immune cells that protected them from symptoms of both seasonal and pandemic influenza, and reduced their chances of shedding the virus by two thirds. The work led by researchers from UCL, Oxford University and Public Health England was funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

Natural genetic variation gives complete resistance in prion diseases

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Prion protein expressed in E. coli

Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Prion Unit at UCL have identified a naturally occurring variant of the human prion protein that produces resistance to prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The findings, published in Nature, could give important insight into other human brain diseases that lead to dementia.

New treatment for polycystic kidney disease

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Small vessels inside a cystic kidney with disorganised vasculature

A new technique for treating polycystic kidney disease has been identified by researchers based at the UCL Institute of Child Health. Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the treatment, which involves targeting tiny blood and lymphatic vessels inside the kidneys, is shown to improve renal function and slow progression of disease in mice.

Starting HIV treatment early improves patient outcomes

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Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T cell

A major international randomised clinical trial has found that HIV-infected individuals have a considerably lower risk of developing AIDS or other serious illnesses if they start taking antiretroviral drugs sooner, when their CD4+ T-cell count—a key measure of immune system health—is higher, instead of waiting until the CD4+ cell count drops to lower levels.

Working with Saracens to monitor concussion in rugby

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Saracens players wear patches in games and training

A team of UCL researchers have joined the ongoing Saracens study for the 2015/16 season, which combines impact sensors with blood samples to determine the effects of concussion on rugby players.

Chemo before surgery benefits patients with advanced ovarian cancer

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Chemotherapy machine

Women with advanced ovarian cancer have fewer side effects and tend to have a better quality of life if given chemotherapy before surgery, according to a Cancer Research UK funded study published in The Lancet.

Missing molecule prevents puberty

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Hormones that trigger puberty in the mouse brain

A molecule important in blood vessel formation and brain wiring is also essential for the onset of puberty, finds new research led by UCL and the University of Milan.

Smoking induces early signs of cancer in cheek swabs

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Ashtray

DNA damage caused by smoking can be detected in cheek swabs, finds research published today in JAMA Oncology. The study provides evidence that smoking induces a general cancer program that is also present in cancers which aren’t usually associated with it – including breast and gynaecological cancers.

New test could identify resistant tuberculosis faster in London

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) disease rates in some parts of London are as high as in Sub-Saharan Africa, and drug-resistant strains are becoming increasingly common. These require specific treatments, and if doctors know that a bug is resistant they can start therapy earlier, often leading to better outcomes.

Starved T cells allow hepatitis B to silently infect liver

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Magnified image of liver sample from Hepatitis B patient showing suppressor cells (brown) approaching T cells (red)

Hepatitis B stimulates processes that deprive the body’s immune cells of key nutrients that they need to function, finds new UCL-led research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

New screening technique could pick up twice as many ovarian cancer cases

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Ovarian cancer under the microscope

A new screening method can detect twice as many women with ovarian cancer as conventional strategies, according to the latest results from the largest trial of its kind led by UCL.

Connecting places causes mental maps to merge

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CASA_Tube

Realising how places connect geographically causes local maps in the brain to join, forming one big map which helps with planning future journeys, finds a new UCL study.

Mummified bodies from 18th century Europe found to have multiple tuberculosis infections

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Bodies found in a 200 year-old Hungarian crypt have revealed the secrets of how tuberculosis (TB) took hold in 18th century Europe, according to a research team involving UCL scientists.

Emotional problems in schoolgirls rose dramatically over past 5 years

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Young student takes exam

Emotional problems in girls aged 11-13 in England increased by 55% between 2009 and 2014, finds new research from UCL and the Anna Freud Centre. On average, this means that a mixed classroom of 30 children today is likely to contain one more girl with emotional difficulties than a comparable class 5 years ago.

Human immune system can control re-awakened HIV, suggesting ‘kick and kill’ cure is possible

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Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T cell

The human immune system can handle large bursts of HIV activity and so it should be possible to cure HIV with a ‘kick and kill’ strategy, finds new research led by UCL, University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Oxford and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

HIV spreads like internet malware and should be treated earlier

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HIV-1 infected T cell (purple) interacting with an uninfected target T cell (brown) during cell-to-cell spread at the virological synapse

A new model for HIV progression finds that it spreads in a similar way to some computer worms and predicts that early treatment is key to staving off AIDS.

New role uncovered for ‘oldest’ tumour suppressor gene

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Professor Sibylle Mittnacht interviewed by Clare Hastings at The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Scientists have revealed a brand new function for one of the first cancer genes ever discovered – the retinoblastoma gene – in a finding that could open up exciting new approaches to treatment.

Teenagers shape each other’s views on how risky a situation is

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Group of teenagers

Young adolescents’ judgements on how risky a situation might be are most influenced by what other teenagers think, while most other age groups are more influenced by adults’ views, finds new UCL research.

Crossing fingers can reduce feelings of pain

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Cold stimulus on the crossed middle finger

How you feel pain is affected by where sources of pain are in relation to each other, and so crossing your fingers can change what you feel on a single finger, finds new UCL research.

Complex genetic ancestry of Americans uncovered

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Approximate geographic sampling location of donor (circles) and recipient (diamonds) populations analyzed.

By comparing the genes of current-day North and South Americans with African and European populations, a new study has found the genetic fingerprints of the slave trade and colonisation that shaped migrations to the Americas hundreds of years ago.

Weight discrimination has major impact on quality of life

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Man on scales

Weight discrimination is linked to significantly lower quality of life, and accounts for approximately 40% of the negative psychological effects associated with obesity, finds new UCL research funded by Cancer Research UK.

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