EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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May 29, 2013

Avatars help schizophrenia patients silence tormenting voices

LONDON (Reuters) – Psychiatrists are developing a system that can help people with schizophrenia control and sometimes silence the tormenting voices in their heads by confronting a computer avatar of them.

In a pilot study of 16 patients who underwent the British experimental treatment, known as “avatar therapy”, doctors found almost all of them reported a reduction in how often they heard voices and how severe the distress caused by them was.

May 28, 2013

New vaccine protects kids against hand, foot and mouth disease

LONDON (Reuters) – Chinese scientists have developed the first vaccine to protect children against a virus called enterovirus 71, or EV71, that causes the common and sometimes deadly hand, foot and mouth disease.

The new inactivated EV71 vaccine, made by Beijing Vigoo Biological, was developed for use in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for most of the serious cases of the disease that can cause potentially fatal meningitis and encephalitis.

May 22, 2013

When it comes to deadly viruses, what’s in a name?

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) – For a pathogen with such a short
history, the mysterious new virus killing people in the Middle
East and Europe has already had an amazing array of names.

It first surfaced last year as “human betacoronavirus 2c
EMC”, but the suffixes “2c England-Qatar, “2C Jordan-N3″,
“England 1″ have also appeared and many scientists have resorted
to “novel coronavirus” – new crown-shaped virus – instead.

May 20, 2013

UK tries out new model for gene testing in cancer patients

LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) – Britain launched a research
programme on Monday that should eventually allow all cancer
patients to have access to the kind of genetic analysis that led
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie to decide to undergo a double

The project, involving the Institute of Cancer Research
(ICR) in London, the U.S. gene sequencing firm Illumina
, geneticists and cancer doctors, aims to find a way to
allow more cancer genes be tested in more people.

May 16, 2013

British team hails new embryo selection method for IVF success

LONDON (Reuters) – British fertility experts have devised a new IVF technique that takes thousands of snapshots of a developing embryo that they say can help doctors pick those most likely to implant successfully and develop into healthy babies.

At a briefing in London before publishing their results, the researchers said they are already using the technique to select “low risk” embryos that are the least likely to have chromosomal abnormalities that could hamper their development.

May 16, 2013

Struggling with maths? Plug in to improve

LONDON (Reuters) – Applying painless but targeted electrical stimulation to parts of the brain that play a role in number manipulation may in future be a way to help people who struggle with maths, scientists said on Thursday.

Researchers who experimented with a type of brain stimulation called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) found that in less than a week it improved students’ performance in both calculation and rote learning of mathematical tasks.

May 15, 2013

MRI scans could make baby autopsies more acceptable

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) – Bereaved parents who do not want
to see their dead babies go through a conventional autopsy could
in future be offered a less invasive option which uses magnetic
resonance imaging and blood tests to establish the cause of

Scientists who investigated using a combination of full body
scans and sample tests found this so-called minimally invasive
autopsy (MIA) was as effective in determining the cause of death
as a conventional procedure, which involves an open dissection
of the baby’s body to examine the organs.

May 15, 2013

WHO reports first patient-to-nurse spread of new SARS-like virus

LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) – Two health workers in Saudi
Arabia have become infected with a potentially fatal new
SARS-like virus after catching it from patients in their care -
the first evidence of such transmission within a hospital, the
World Health Organization said.

The new virus, known as novel coronavirus, or nCoV, is from
the same family of viruses as those that cause common colds and
the one that caused the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that emerged in Asia in 2003.

May 9, 2013

Merck, GSK cut price of cervical cancer shots for poor countries

LONDON (Reuters) – Drugmakers Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have cut the price of cervical cancer shots in a deal that will deliver them to poor countries for less than $5 a dose.

The new record low price for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines should mean millions of girls in developing countries can be protected against the disease, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) said on Thursday.

May 6, 2013

Stress study offers clues for new antidepressant drugs

LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) – Scientists have worked out the way
in which stress hormones reduce the number of new brain cells -
a process linked to depression – and say their work should help
researchers develop more effective antidepressants.

The scientists identified a protein largely responsible for
the long-term detrimental effect of stress on cells.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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