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Briefings Archive

stem cells and new drugs for hard-to-treat conditions

While we are used to hearing about exciting new breakthroughs involving the use of stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue, some scientists think the really exciting thing about stem cells is their ability to revolutionise the process of discovering and testing new drugs. read more

survival and health outcomes in premature babies

Babies born before 26 weeks face a huge fight for survival and many go on to live with long-term health complications such as lung problems, learning difficulties and cerebral palsy. What’s more, the rates of premature birth are on the rise in many European countries and are particularly high in the UK. read more

civilian unmanned aircraft

Could Civilian Unmanned Aircraft (CUA) herald the next major aerospace revolution? Ideally suited to doing jobs that are ‘dull, dangerous or dirty’, they could help safeguard the environment, critical national infrastructure, our security and quality of life without putting aircrews at risk and at lower cost than conventional aircraft and satellite systems. read more

controlling infection through DNA sequencing

New, faster sequencing technologies have revolutionised our understanding of genomes, exemplified, for example, in the work of the ENCODE Consortium that described new exploration of the human genome. But it is in tackling infectious agents that widespread application of new sequencing technologies is likely to be used most quickly and comprehensively for healthcare improvement. read more

Schizophrenia Commission findings

Schizophrenia affects over 220,000 people in England and an estimated 1 in 6 people will experience some symptoms of psychosis at some stage in their lives. read more

human enhancement and the future of work

Technologies that enhance human functions such as memory, hearing and mobility could dramatically change how people work over the next decade, according to four of the UK’s national academies. read more

pregnancy and mental health

Despite the enduring portrait of a ‘happy, glowing’ expectant mother, mental illness can affect up to 10% of pregnant women. Pregnant women are faced with multitudes of conflicting advice: what to eat, what to drink, whether to work. But for some women, one of the most difficult and important choices to make is whether to take psychotropic medication or risk living with a mental illness while pregnant. read more

openness on animal research

The violent animal rights extremism of the past decade has often had a chilling effect on the scientific community with many scientists and institutions afraid to speak out about animal research for fear of becoming the next target. read more

from drought to flood in 2012

This March was one of the driest on record, but April was the wettest; the summer that followed was the wettest in 100 years, while September saw more flooding as a result of heavy rainfall. As a result, the UK moved from drought to flood conditions within a matter of months. What are the reasons behind this rapid change and how should the UK prepare to respond to these two extremes? read more

depression: discrimination and stigma across Europe

Depression is the most common mental illness in the UK and one of the leading contributors to the global burden of disease. Yet, one of the biggest barriers to treating depression is not that therapies aren’t effective or available – many are. It is the barrier of stigma and discrimination faced by those with depression that often stalls treatment and recovery. read more

the science behind badger culls

The culling of badgers has become a polarised and political debate. We brought together a number of experts who, whilst not necessarily agreeing on the interpretation of the data, came to the SMC to discuss the evidence behind these important issues. read more

drug-resistant TB – the quest for vaccines

To coincide with the World Health Organization releasing its annual figures on the state of global tuberculosis at a major event in the US, vaccine scientists from the UK and the US came to London – dubbed the TB capital of Western Europe –to brief journalists at the Science Media Centre on the global effort to develop effective and affordable TB vaccines. read more

expert encounter: ADHD VOICES report

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common developmental psychiatric disorder in the world, affecting 3-5% of children. Yet ADHD is also one of the most controversial disorders in terms of how it is diagnosed, what causes it, and in particular, how it is treated. read more

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