Friday, February 23, 2007

Mysteries of the Human Genome

Thanks to Chris for pointing at this great video about the human genome:

Fact or Fiction: Does Glass Flow?

I can't remember who I was discussing this with recently, but I think it was Joe, so this post's for you Joe. If glass is actually a liquid, are ancient windows thicker at the bottom than at the top because the glass has flowed downwards? Fortunately, Scientific American has just answered this question. You can read the full answer here, but if you want the short version: yes and no. Glass does flow, but it would take longer than the universe has existed for windows to get thicker at the bottom. If you want to know how that happened, you'll have to read the Scientific American article!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

HIV - a chink in the armour?

The AIDS virus evades the immune system because most of the proteins that cover the surface of the virus constantly change their structure. But researchers have now identified a site on the virus which does not change, and shown that antibodies which bind to it can protect monkeys from infection. The major antigen on the surface of HIV is a protein called gp120. During infection, gp120 binds to CD4, allowing the virus to enter cells. New research has found a key part of the gp120 which does not change and can be blocked by antibodies. Some people infected with HIV have similar antibodies, but because they have already been exposed to the virus, it is too late to prevent infection. Vaccines based on this new discovery will only work if they are given before people are exposed to HIV.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

University of Leicester Science News

It's a real buzz to work in a place which feels like it's constantly moving science forward. Here are just few of the items which can across my desk (OK, screen) yesterday:

Anthony Brookes Anthony Brookes, Professor of Bioinformatics in the Department of Genetics has won a major research award in the first round of research awards under the UK-India Education and Research Initiative, recently announced by Gordon Brown. The project will develop a novel database that relates human genetics and disease, emphasizing activities of importance to both the UK and India.

The foundation degree is a new higher education qualification designed for those who wish to attain new skills to further their career whilst still in work, using a combination of delivery methods to provide a range of vocational and work related skills. The foundation degree for science technicians will allow both existing science technicians and those wishing to enter the profession the opportunity to upgrade their skills and to broaden their expertise to cover new and emerging aspects of the job. The course will include aspects of science - from biology to the earth sciences - delivered across all years of study. This will be supported by enhancement of study skills, school curriculum matters, and health and safety issues. The course will cover experimental design, equipment maintenance, and trends of science education.

i-ScienceAnd as if that wasn't enough, the i-Science degree website just got a major makeover.

University of Leicester:
  • England's top ranked University for teaching quality and overall satisfaction amongst universities teaching full time students - National Student Survey 2005 and 2006
  • One of just 19 UK universities to feature in world's top 200- Shanghai Jiao Tong International Index, 2005 and 2006. Ranked as a Top 20 university by The Times Good University Guide.
  • Short listed Higher Education Institution of the Year - THES awards 2005 and 2006
  • Students' Union of the Year award 2005, short listed 2006
  • Founded in 1921, the University of Leicester has 19,000 students from 120 countries. Teaching in 18 subject areas has been graded Excellent by the Quality Assurance Agency- including 14 successive scores - a consistent run of success matched by just one other UK University. Leicester is world renowned for the invention of DNA Fingerprinting by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and houses Europe's biggest academic Space Research Centre. 90% of staff are actively engaged in high quality research and 13 subject areas have been awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level. The University's research grant income places it among the top 20 UK research universities. The University employs over 3,000 people, has an annual turnover of £167.5m, covers an estate of 94 hectares and is engaged in a £300m investment programme- among the biggest of any UK university.

The Price Is Wrong

Ben Goldacre on open access academic journals.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


English firm West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers has turned a web camera on a rack of its maturing cheddar cheeses to give cheese aficionados a chance to watch in real time the slow process of mold growth for a whole year without having to leave home. Click on the cheese to watch ... err, the cheese:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

University of Tesco

Students will be able to pay towards their university fees using points on Tesco Clubcards. The Open University has teamed up with the supermarket giant to offer money off its undergraduate tuition fees in exchange for loyalty card vouchers. For every £10 worth of Clubcard vouchers, students will receive £40 towards the cost of their course.

Slideshow: HIV

Anti-MRSA silver pyjamas

Pyjamas and bed linen made with silver cloth are being trialled in a hospital to help combat the MRSA superbug.
More than 300 people who have tested positive for carrying MRSA on their skin will be recruited for the trial which began this month. Half will be given silver-lined pyjamas and linen while the rest will receive standard hospital gowns and bedding. The results of the two groups will be compared to see if the silver materials led to increased MRSA eradication.


zefrank explains how it works, once again:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Immunisation Against Infectious Disease - The Green Book

The UK Department of Health publishes The Green Book, the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures for all the vaccine preventable infectious dieseases that may occur in the UK. In particular it deals with those immunisations that comprise the routine immunisation programme for all children from birth to adolescence.

Topics include: Immunity and how vaccines work | Consent | Storage | distribution and disposal of vaccines | Immunisation procedures | Immunisation by nurses and other health professionals | Contraindications and special considerations | Immunisation of individuals with underlying medical conditions | Vaccine safety and adverse events following immunisation | Surveillance and monitoring for vaccine safety | Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme | Immunisation schedule | Immunisation of healthcare and laboratory staff | Anthrax | Cholera | Diphtheria | Haemophilus influenzae type (Hib) | Hepatitis | Hepatitis | Influenza | Japanese encephalitis | Measles | Meningococcal | Mumps | Pertussis | Pneumococcal | Polio | Rabies | Rubella | Smallpox and vaccinia | Tetanus | Tick-borne encephalitis | Tuberculosis | Typhoid | Varicella | Yellow fever.

(Thanks to Keith at Browsing for the link)

Eye Candy: Olympus BioScapes