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Briefings Archive

ACMD report on ketamine

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reviewed the evidence of the misuse and harms of ketamine and its analogues to inform the government’s public health response, as well as the classification of ketamine. read more

G8 Dementia Summit: what the researchers want

Dementia is a hot topic – it affects over 800,000 people in the UK and one in three people aged over 65 will die with a form of dementia. To coincide with the G8 Dementia Summit we brought together some of the leading experts to discuss where the research community want to happen. read more

sexual attitudes & lifestyles: findings from NATSAL

Researchers have completed the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) which assesses whether people are practising safe sex, which age group actually has the most unplanned pregnancies and how our attitudes and satisfaction impact on our physical and mental health. read more

One Medicine – learning from animals as patients

Learning from animals as patients – an approach called ‘Comparative medicine’ or ‘One Medicine’ – is one of the big new trends in science and is being pioneered at universities throughout the UK and supported by medical research funders. The SMC invited four of the leading pioneers in this area to brief journalists about how the approach is now being applied to the big challenges of our time including ageing cancer and heart disease. read more

is big bad?

Intensive farming has a bad name with plenty of assumptions about poor animal welfare and putting commercial gain above environmental damage. The SMC invited leading experts to brief journalists on the views of agricultural scientists and vets on this controversial area. read more

paying mothers to breastfeed

Despite numerous attempts to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies, rates remain stubbornly low in parts of the UK. A feasibility study is starting in which shopping vouchers will be issued to mothers who start and continue breastfeeding from the birth of their child. read more

fish discards

Approximately half the fish caught in marine fisheries are thrown back into the sea because they are un-marketable or over-quota. The reformed European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) now intends to ban the practice by 2019. This has been hailed by campaigners as a triumph. But what does the science say? read more

media launch of PGP-UK

The UK has a strong track record in genomics, most notably as a major contributor to the sequencing of the genome by the Human Genome Project in 2000 and the ongoing 1000 Genomes Project. A new addition to this landscape will arrive in the UK with the launch of the open access UK Personal Genome Project (PGP-UK). read more

aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease

Living in a noisy environment has previously been linked to increased blood pressure. A new study, published in the BMJ, investigates whether there is a link between living in an area with high levels of aircraft noise from Heathrow and hospital admissions and deaths from stroke and heart disease. read more

bees and pollution: new research published in Scientific Reports

The decline of the UK’s bee population is rarely out of the headlines, but with discussion often focused on pesticides are there other factors in the environment that might also affect bee behaviour and health? Researchers cam to the SMC to explain their investigation of the impact of common air pollutants in diesel exhaust fumes on the foraging efficiency of honeybees. read more

predicting future violence among individuals with psychopathy

The question of whether or not individuals should be released from mental health institutions generates huge public interest. Mental health trusts use controversial tools created by psychiatrists to predict future violent behaviour and these controversial tools have been coming under increased scrutiny. read more

breast cancer prevention and treatment – critical research gaps

Breast cancer remains a significant scientific, clinical and societal challenge. Breast Cancer Campaign has facilitated a comprehensive analysis of the current gaps in scientific knowledge and treatment of breast cancer, in attempt to identify how to make the most significant impact on the disease. read more

pornography on the brain: are young people at risk?

Pornography has never been more immediately available than now, and smartphones mean parents have little control over their children’s exposure to the full gamut of sexually explicit material on the web. But what does the science say? And how do scientists even go about researching such a contentious subject? read more

delaying motherhood – the science of reproductive ageing

Mary Herbert is best known for her role in the pioneering research around mitochondrial DNA transfer, but is actually one of the UK’s leading experts on the biology of reproductive ageing. Her team’s research findings indicate that it may be impossible to reverse the damage to eggs during the ageing process, and she and her colleagues are concerned that too many women are leaving it too late to start having babies. read more

the science of reducing, refining and replacing animals in research

Every year the annual home office statistics on animal research report a steady increase in the number of animals used. Yet the scientific community insists it is committed to reducing, refining and replacing animals in research. Is the UK really making strides in the 3Rs or just paying lip service to them? What is the science behind the 3Rs and what gains have been made? read more

stem cell promises and pitfalls: meet mesenchymal stem cells

The identity, capabilities and sources of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been the subject of great controversy among researchers. Where is research on MSCs at, and why have these cells been at the centre of recurring debates about what they can do and how they might truly be used in therapies? read more

shale gas and fracking

Shale gas extraction has become a polarised issue with claims and counterclaims on each side of the debate and it’s hard to know what’s true. This background briefing featured four senior experts with knowledge of the major issues around shale gas and fracking. read more

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