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roundups & rapid reactions
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Fiona fox's blog

roundups & rapid reactions

Rapid reactions: responding to breaking news. The demands of the 24-hour media machine mean that news journalists often don’t have the luxury of time to track down the best scientists when a science story lands on their desks, so availability can sometimes win out over expertise. This is where the Science Media Centre steps in. When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic or health scare, or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment.


Roundups: putting new research into context. One of the other ways the SMC ensures that the media have easy access to scientists and their views is by offering journalists a variety of comments from scientists reacting to the latest research. This service differs from our ‘rapid reactions’ as scientists have time to react before new research is announced, rather than in response to breaking news.

With access to embargoed journals before publication, we can pick stories of most interest to journalists, asking third party experts to provide comments and information to put research into context before it appears in the media. The SMC’s unique roundups help busy journalists critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of new research, and highlight when studies are very preliminary or display a correlation that should not be read as causation. Equally, when leading scientists are excited about a significant study this can reassure journalists that the study should feature strongly in their coverage.

expert reaction to study looking at LDL cholesterol levels and heart events in people that have heart disease and are taking statins

A group of scientists have published their work in JAMA Internal Medicine which reports that, in patients with preexisting ischemic heart disease, those with ‘moderate’ levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol had lower risk of adverse cardiac outcomes when using statins compared to those with ‘high’ levels of LDL cholesterol. However no additional benefit was seen for those with levels defined as ‘low’. read more

expert reaction to IARC Evaluation of the carcinogenicity of Coffee, Maté and Very Hot Beverages (IARC Monographs volume 116)

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has issued its latest report which classifies hot drinks as group 2A carcinogens, meaning they are “probably carcinogenic to humans”, while coffee and maté (a herbal drink) served cold are in group three, which means there is insufficient evidence to believe that they cause cancer. read more

expert reaction to study on e-cigarettes and future cigarette use

The effect of e-cigarettes on the risk of taking up smoking is the subject of a paper published in the journal Pediatrics which reports that youths who never smoked but use e-cigarettes may have an increased risk of subsequently taking up smoking when they are legally allowed to purchase tobacco products. read more

expert reaction to antidepressant use in children and teens

While major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, the use of pharmacological intervention to treat it remains controversial. A meta-analysis published in the Lancet has reported that of 14 different antidepressants trialled, only one was significantly more effective than a placebo. read more

expert reaction to preclinical application of pronuclear transfer to prevent mitochondrial DNA disease

Faulty mitochondria contribute to a range of diseases and a research group working towards the use of mitochondrial donation techniques for women at risk of passing on those diseases to their children have described their preclinical work in the journal Nature. They report that embryos which underwent the donation techniques were largely similar to normal ones, and that they were able to minimise ‘carryover’ of the original faulty mitochondria to the new embryo. read more

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