The conventional wisdom has always been that newborn babies need to be kept warm at all costs. As soon as they’re born they’re rushed underneath heaters, dressed in a jumpsuit and have a woolly hat plonked unceremoniously on their heads. Of course, this is the best way to treat the vast majority of newborn babies.
But for the small numbers of babies injured by a lack of oxygen during labour, an Action Medical Research team has turned orthodoxy on its head and shown that actually cooling the brain can have remarkable healing properties.
If it caused pain each time you took a step, your quality of life would be severely affected.
There are 600,000 people in Europe who have a lower limb amputation as a result of diabetes, cancer, circulatory and vascular diseases, or because of an accident. Some 70 per cent of these people have an artificial lower limb below the knee and for years doctors and prosthetists have studied how to get the best fit.
Most cases of this severe lung disease are caused by infection with a highly contagious virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). All children are likely to get infected with RSV, and most suffer only mild cough or cold-like symptoms.
Pioneering plastic surgery techniques helped maintain her quality of life after surgeons had originally predicted that Olivia’s arms and legs would have to be amputated above the elbows and knees to stop the gangrene that had spread into them.
The Edinburgh based lawyer has been telling her dramatic story in a bid to raise awareness of the devastating illness and also to raise many thousands of pounds to fund more medical research and help others struck down by meningococcal disease.
They are also equally as debilitating and cause a great deal of pain and suffering. The best known SpAs are ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, where inflammation of the spine and joints is common. In ankylosing spondylitis the bones of the spine can eventually fuse together. The diseases target the sites where tendons and ligaments insert into bone (the ‘insertion site’), but the underlying cause of the conditions is poorly understood.
Professor Nicholas Fisk is a driven man. When I met him in his laboratory in Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, London, he was fizzing with energy. He’d just got back from Dublin the previous weekend where he’d been attending a meeting of the International Society of Cell Therapy, and was later that evening to catch a flight to South Africa to lecture at their national conference on foetal medicine.
Can the brain be ‘re-wired’ to help children overcome disability? Remarkably, a two-year research programme at the Sir James Spence Institute of Child Health at Royal Victoria Hospital, Newcastle, has shown that if damage occurs to a baby’s or young infant’s brain, its functions can be reorganised.
The annual cost to the NHS for treating leg ulcers is estimated to be as high as £600million. Poor circulation is a common feature of leg ulcers and the resulting lack of oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissue (called ischaemia) has a profound effect on healing and maintenance of the skin.
With more than £84,000 from Action Medical Research, researchers based at the University of Bristol and Southmead Hospital, Bristol are investigating the causes of leg ulcers with the ultimate aim of developing new treatments for this distressing problem.
Many of us will have seen the moving documentary on Channel 4 in the Spring about Jonny Kennedy — a man with the rare skin condition Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB. 36-year-old Jonny was quite extraordinarily courageous as he battled with the terrible condition which made his skin liable to shed at the slightest touch. His body was covered in agonising sores which eventually led to his final fight against skin cancer.
For example, many women now know that taking folic acid before conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy substantially reduces the risk of having a baby with spina bifida — a fault in the spinal column in which one or more vertebrae fail to form properly, causing damage to the central nervous system. But without Action Medical Research funding, the link between folic acid and the prevention of spina bifida may never have come to light.
The symptoms are troublesome, such as the need to pass water frequently, and diagnosing the actual problem may not be straightforward.
But now a project funded by Action Medical Research has developed a new and non-invasive way of testing bladder pressure, to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis and recommend treatment.