UCL Research Domains


Media Digest: March and April 2018

23 April 2018

A roundup of current news articles and stories related to our core research themes in March and April 2018.

newspaper digest


Is Alzheimer’s caused by disruptions to the brain’s energy supply? [THE CONVERSATION, 4 April 2018]

When brain cells become active, they need energy in the form of glucose and oxygen, which is delivered by an increase in blood supply to that part of the brain. But in Alzheimer’s disease the blood supply is often impaired, so the amount of energy supplied to the brain cells is compromised. 

The healthy diabetic cavefish conundrum [NATURE, 21 March 2018]

Some Mexican cavefish have a mutation in an insulin receptor protein that affects blood-glucose regulation. The same mutation causes diabetes and health problems in humans, but the diabetic cavefish thrive.

Diabetes-linked gene alters the development of fat cells [MRC UK, 10 April 2018]

Scientists have identified a gene that in women is linked to the creation and location of new fat cells contributing to female body shape may increase risk of type 2 diabetes by altering the development of fat cells.

Bloodless revolution in diabetes monitoring [MRC UK, 9 April 2018]

Scientists at Bath University have created an adhesive patch, which promises the measurement of glucose levels through the skin without a finger-prick blood test. 

Have we got the causes of type 2 diabetes wrong? [THE CONVERSATION, March 16 2018]

The proportion of adults with diabetes around the world has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to more than 8.5% today. More than 422m people now suffer from diabetes – so there is an urgent need to better understand the disease and develop new treatments. However, new research from Heidelberg University in Germany suggests that we may have got the causes of type 2 diabetes wrong. But have we? And if so, how might it affect treatment? 

Yes, too much sugar is bad for our health – here's what the science says [THE CONVERSATION, March 9 2018]

The research shows a link between high-sugar diets and diseases such as dementia and cancer. It doesn't show that sugar causes them, but it's compelling enough to prompt us to cut down on sugar. 

Diabetes is actually five separate diseases, research suggests [BBC NEWS, 2 March 2018]

Scientists say diabetes is five separate diseases, and treatment could be tailored to each form. 



Food deserts may not matter that much - A desert mirage [THE ECONOMIST, 8 March 2018]

Demand, not supply, looks like the key to healthier eating. 

Is there life after plastic? The new inventions promising a cleaner world  [THE GUARDIAN, 2 March 2018]

Can we - or should we - aim to move beyond plastics altogether? What are the alternatives to a material that has dominated packaging for 70 years? Promising new technologies are vying for attention, but plastic is so ubiquitous – and so useful – that it will not simply disappear. 

How plastic-eating bacteria actually work - a chemist explains [THE CONVERSATION, 18 April 2018]



The evolution of body fatness: trading off disease and predation risk [JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, March 2018]

Understanding the evolutionary background of fat storage is important for understanding why we have a modern obesity epidemic. 

Bubbles of life from the past [EUREKA ALERT, 2 March 2018]

Microbes are of special interest: They were not only the first life forms on Earth. They also turned our planet into a tolerable environment for plants and animals and thus their activity paved the way for life as we know it today. 

Human ancestors had the same dental problems as us – even without fizzy drinks and sweets [THE CONVERSATION, 1 March 2018]

Dental erosion is one of the most common tooth problems in the world today. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, wine, and other acidic food and drink are usually to blame, although perhaps surprisingly the way we clean our teeth also plays a role. This all makes it sound like a rather modern issue. But research suggests actually humans have been suffering dental erosion for millions of years.