The results they really didn’t want you to see: key ME/CFS trial data released



Researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), have been ordered to release a full data from a controversial ME/CFS (myalgic encaphalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome) study known as the PACE trial. A preliminary analysis of the data reveals a shocking difference to the original published results, if the trials original data analysis method had been followed. The new analysis suggests that the therapies tested in the DWP funded trial are not nearly as effective as the published results claimed them to be.

The new data calls into question the decision by the National Institute for Clinical Evidence (NICE) to recommend the therapies as standard treatment for ME/CFS in the NHS.

After repeatedly refusing to release the data, QMUL were ordered to do so by a freedom of information (FOI) tribunal appeal. QMUL spent £200,000 on legal costs trying to suppress this information.

The data released vindicates the many esteemed scientists and ME/CFS patients, who have heavily criticised the trial and its negative effects on the public perception of ME/CFS. One of the scientists critical of the study is Dr Jonathan Edwards of University College London, who said:

It’s a mass of un-interpretability to me…All the issues with the trial are extremely worrying, making interpretation of the clinical significance of the findings more or less impossible.

CFS is a disease characterised by…

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Featured image via Invest in Me Research, artwork by Wolfgang Stiller

Do you want to live a longer healthier life? New evidence shows eating this food group can help

Increasing the amount of whole grains you eat is good for your health, and the more you eat the greater the health benefits. For every 48 grams of whole grains consumed per day, there is a 25% decline in cardiovascular disease-related deaths, and a 20% decrease in the number of total deaths (deaths due to all causes).

These are the findings of the first meta-analysis (which compiles the results of many studies and then uses statistics to calculate an ‘average’ of those results) review of studies associating whole grain consumption with life span and susceptibility to disease.

This may not come as a surprise, as whole grains such as whole wheat, oats and brown rice are generally accepted as being better for your health than the processed versions. Processing generally involves milling the grain, removing the outer husk which also contains health promoting components such as dietary fibre, B vitamins, and minerals.

This meta-analysis confirms the already large body of evidence supporting the health benefits of whole grains and other processed food. But will this change the way we eat?

The findings support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US government, which recommend at least three servings daily of whole grains. They also match the current UK Eatwell guide. Both guidelines offer limited advice which suggests cutting out processed foods.

Senior author of the study, Assistant Professor Qi Sun from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained the strengths of this study:

Previous studies have suggested an association with consumption of whole grains and reduced risk of developing a multitude of chronic diseases that are among the top causes of deaths, although data linking whole grain intake and mortality were less consistent

The study found that for every serving of whole grains (16 grams) consumed per day, there was a……

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Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

“Putting lipstick on a pig” thats the end result of billions spent by government on IT projects

A scathing report on government digital policy says it has failed in its objective of “transforming government”. The numerous iterations of applying technology to government has amounted to no more than expensive window dressing or, as colourfully described in the paper, “putting lipstick on pigs”.

The term e-government is used as a catchall term for words commonly used in associating information technology and government, including: electronic, digital and online.

One of the major reasons for this failure, according to the report, is the assumption that government is a service industry. This leads to the adoption of a private sector model for plans to use technology to enhance government activity. The report states, in no uncertain terms:

Governments do policy, not services…Citizens are not customers

Because of this service industry mindset, the authors argue, work done on researching and implementing e-government tends to be done by people with technology and management backgrounds. The people who should be leading this work are those with a public administration or political science background, who best understand the role of government and how it can be improved. These improvements can then be adopted digitally.

The paper argues that cosmetic changes have been made to the front-end websites, whereas little significant change has happened at the back-end. One of the authors of the report, Paul Waller of Brunel University, says…….

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Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

EU backs Open Science policy, while UK considers censoring scientists

The EU has agreed all publicly funded science within the EU should be available free of charge. This momentous decision supports the Open Science concept, which promises to increase access to research data and enhance its use.

This enlightened leap by the EU is in stark contrast to the UK government’s recent moves that, with an astonishingly cynical backdrop,  could prevent publicly funded academics from ensuring their work benefits the public via evidence based policies.

The EU Competitiveness Council announced after its meeting in Brussels that all scientific papers funded fully or partly by public money will be made free to access by 2020. This occurs under the Netherlands presidency of the EU, who have been strong proponents of Open Science. Chair of the council Sander Dekker, who is also a cabinet minister in the Netherlands, said …….

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A robot just performed major surgery all on its own. And nailed it!

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

The robot surgeon depicted in Ridley Scott’s science fiction film Prometheus is one step closer to reality. A team from the USA has developed an autonomous robot surgeon that can perform intestinal surgery without guidance from a human doctor.

Robot assisted surgery (RAS) has become increasingly common during operations in recent years. RAS requires a human surgeon to control the robots activity. The new cutting edge robot designated ‘Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot’ (STAR) needs no human input during its surgical work, thanks to powerful intelligent algorithms, 3D cameras and a near infrared fluorescent imaging system…    Read more at The Canary