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News

There's always something new to read about the Faculty, whether it's a new discovery by one of our academics, an award won by one of our students, or an upcoming event.

Most press releases will specify media contacts, but if in doubt, please get in touch with our Media Relations Officer, Michael Addelman, at michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk or on +44 (0)161 275 2111.

Latest news

Trial of comms scheme for carers of people with dementia launches
(18 May 2022)

A unique psychological and social intervention which trains family and informal carers to communicate more effectively with the person they support is being trialed in Manchester.

Pandemic has made young people more depressed, research finds
(18 May 2022)

A new study measuring the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and mental health of adolescents has found that the pandemic has made them more depressed and less satisfied with their lives.

Treatment for commonest form of blindness moves a step closer
(17 May 2022)

Scientists at The University of Manchester have taken an important step towards finding a treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of adult blindness in the developed world.

University retains ‘Leader in Openness’ award on Animal Research
(12 May 2022)

The University of Manchester has retained its status as one of the top Universities in the country for openness in animal research.

First UK-wide evaluation since 2014 confirms University of Manchester is a research powerhouse
(12 May 2022)

The University of Manchester has retained 5th place for research power - the quality and scale of research and impact - in the UK government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, the major national exercise to evaluate research activity, which was last held in 2014.

Indoor tanning ban would reduce melanoma deaths, show researchers
(10 May 2022)

A ban of commercially available indoor tanning would substantially reduce deaths from melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, a study led  by University of Manchester researchers has concluded.

New GP blood test could help diagnose ovarian cancer faster and more accurately, according to research funded by Wellbeing of Women
(5 May 2022)

A simple blood test that can be given by GPs could help diagnose ovarian cancer faster and more accurately, particularly for women under the age of 50, according to research funded by leading women’s health charity, Wellbeing of Women.

Poorer health in disabled linked to lack of home adaptations
(5 May 2022)

Older people with mobility problems living without home adaptations have poorer health and higher levels of pain, according to researchers at The Universities of Manchester and Hong Kong.

Scientists prove diseased blood vessels communicate with the brain
(27 April 2022)

An international team which includes University of Manchester scientists has for the first time demonstrated that nerve signals are exchanged between clogged up arteries and the brain.

A third of GPs plan to quit within five years, finds survey
(13 April 2022)

Around 33%  of GPs are likely to quit direct patient care within five years, according to the elevenths GP Workllife survey by University of Manchester researchers.

Trial reveals benefits of text message support on children’s bedtime routines
(11 April 2022)

A proof-of-concept study of an intervention which sends support and information to parents at bedtime by text message has been shown to improve the quality of their children’s sleep.

Common supplement could be too toxic, scientists warn
(11 April 2022)

A dietary  supplement sold over the counter could be toxic and should not be used until it is shown to be safe, biologists from the Universities of Manchester and Kyoto have discovered.

NHS Develops World-First Bedside Genetic Test To Prevent Babies Going Deaf
(2 April 2022)

A world-first genetic test, partly developed by University of Manchester scientists  that could save the hearing of hundreds of babies each year, has been developed and successfully piloted in the NHS.

Scientist show how plastic exposure in pregnancy could explain low weight in newborn boys
(31 March 2022)

A team led by scientists at The University of Manchester has discovered how exposure in pregnant mothers to a chemical found in many plastics alters the expression of a protein linked to fetal growth restriction (FGR) in boys.

Breakthrough means treatment for chronic wounds now possible
(31 March 2022)

Untreatable wounds are likely to get better when the levels of a biochemical catalyst found in the skin increases, find scientists at The University of Manchester.

COVID-19 hospital admission rare for children with arthritis
(30 March 2022)

Children and young people with underlying rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are uncommonly hospitalised with COVID-19, a study of over 600 under-nineteens has found.

New study reveals positive impacts of Flash blood glucose monitoring on blood sugar and quality of life
(30 March 2022)

New research presented today at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2022 has revealed the life-changing benefits of Flash blood glucose (sugar) monitoring for people with type 1 diabetes.

Premature death to COVID-19 in our oldest citizens among world’s highest
(29 March 2022)

A comparative study of premature deaths to COVID-19 has shown that of 20 countries, the oldest citizens in England and Wales had the highest rate.

Method could reduce risk of brain damage, disability and death following brain haemorrhage
(28 March 2022)

Scientists are developing a novel method for treating brain haemorrhages which it is hoped could reduce the risk of brain damage and disability and increase patients’ chances of survival.

NHS Prevention Programme Cuts Chances Of Type 2 Diabetes For Thousands
(28 March 2022)

Thousands of people have been spared Type 2 diabetes thanks to the world leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), new research shows today.

Best statins for reducing cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes found
(24 March 2022)

Three commonly prescribed statins are best placed to lower all the ‘bad’ types of cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes, according to a statistical combination of the results of 42 clinical trials.

Scientists make rheumatic heart disease breakthrough
(23 March 2022)

Scientists have identified six proteins implicated in rheumatic heart disease (RHD) which could revolutionise the way in which the condition is treated and diagnosed in the developing world.

Trial of new treatment to prevent student suicide launches
(23 March 2022)

A clinical trial has been launched to study a new kind of talking therapy for students who struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Psychologists use Syrian experience to help Ukrainian families
(17 March 2022)

A two-page leaflet developed from the experience of displaced Syrian parents in the country’s civil war has been translated into Ukrainian in the hope it will make a difference to struggling families.

Manchester scientist lands prestigious British Council UK Alumni award
(17 March 2022)

Dr. Na Yu (Cherry) Chia launched her medtech start up ErleaDx, after her studies at The University of Manchester.

Blueprint for radical redesign of care for autistic children published
(16 March 2022)

Some of the world’s leading experts on autism have published a redesigned care pathway for autistic children and their families based on early detection and family involvement.

New era for Kenyan healthcare begins
(14 March 2022)

Groundbreaking initiatives promoting excellence in Healthcare Education and Training as well as developing a Comprehensive Cancer Care Services network are to be launched by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta this week (14 March).

‘We suppressed our scientific imagination’: four experts examine the big successes and failures of the COVID response so far
(11 March 2022)

‘We suppressed our scientific imagination’: four experts examine the big successes and failures of the COVID response so far

The World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic on March 11 2020. In the two years since, countries have diverged on their containment strategies, introducing many different ways of mitigating the virus, to varying effect. Here, four health experts look at what has worked well, what mistakes scientists and policymakers made, and what needs to be done to protect human health from here on.

Andrew Lee, Professor of Public Health, University of Sheffield

Most governments didn’t get their pandemic responses right. The initial response needed to be decisive, rapid, transparently communicated and delivered at scale. Often it wasn’t.

Before the arrival of effective treatments or vaccines, blunt measures such as lockdowns were necessary to minimise loss of life. Indeed, in places like New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea, where the spread of infection was initially low, lockdowns were effective and elimination of the virus possible. Countries that successfully pursued elimination strategies experienced lower case numbers and deaths, buying time until vaccine protection arrived.

However, we’re now in a different phase of the pandemic. Vaccines have changed the risk considerably. Eliminating the virus also seems unachievable currently, with widespread transmission in virtually every country. The value of lockdowns and travel restrictions is now greatly diminished and their wider societal harms need factoring in.

To live safely with the virus, we must heed lessons from the last two years. These include moving away from presenteeism, which drives people to go to work or school when ill, as well as appreciating the importance of ventilation and face masks in reducing the spread of airborne diseases. The threat of new variants hasn’t gone away, so genomic surveillance of the virus will still be needed globally.

We need to learn from our mistakes too. Narrow, hospital-centric perspectives meant we didn’t protect vulnerable and disadvantaged people enough, such as care-home residents, people with learning disabilities, ethnic minorities and the poor. We also didn’t appreciate soon enough that the pandemic was a “syndemic” – interacting with and amplifying many other diseases, such as mental ill health, smoking and alcohol-related illnesses.

Sheena Cruickshank, Professor in Biomedical Sciences, University of Manchester

Immunological discoveries have been critical in the fight against COVID. By and large they wouldn’t have happened without the cooperation of scientists across disciplines and nations – nor without help from the public worldwide. Scientific collaboration has been one of the major successes of the pandemic.

Early access to the coronavirus’s genetic code, coupled with our knowledge of other members of the virus’s family (such as Mers and Sars), enabled work on vaccines to start quickly. Knowledge that the virus used its spike protein to enter our cells then gave us an initial target for vaccines.

Decades of experience in vaccine development, together with investment from governments and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the participation of hundreds of thousands of volunteers in clinical trials, then enabled vaccine development to be fast-tracked to an astonishing degree. On vaccine development, the world got it right.

Understanding the immune response to COVID has helped us work out why some groups (such as the elderly) are much more vulnerable to severe infection. National studies have used their size and breadth to identify biomarkers that correlate with protection or severe disease in COVID, which can improve patient outcomes and inform new treatments.

However, lives continue to be lost because of poor vaccine equity, with many countries still deprived of vaccines and drugs that could help them. Lives have also been lost due to disinformation – fuelling mistrust, vaccine hesitancy and advocacy of dangerous or inappropriate “treatments” for COVID. There’s still so much to be done to ensure good access to and uptake of vaccines worldwide.

KK Cheng, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Birmingham

Very few countries with strong public health traditions have avoided catastrophes in the pandemic. Why?

One explanation is that most developed countries were completely untouched by the 2003 Sars outbreak and were only affected mildly by the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Complacency crept in, and there was also general lack of experience in dealing with a pandemic.

Also, in early 2020, there were two widely held beliefs: first that the coronavirus, like the influenza virus, simply couldn’t be contained, even for a few months; and second that extreme restrictive measures, which we now call “lockdown”, would be unfeasible in liberal democracies. Both turned out to be untrue.

In the UK, the failure to appreciate the importance of early action, as if one was dealing with wildfires, also resulted in delays in introducing or tightening control measures for fear of adverse economic impacts. These high-level problems culminated in downstream disasters including inadequate testing capacity, lack of PPE in health and care settings, inappropriate infection control in care homes, dysfunctional test-and-trace systems and failure of home isolation of cases.

The potential benefits of island states were also in many cases squandered by loose border controls. Australia and New Zealand showed countries like the UK what was theoretically possible in containing the virus – at least in the pandemic’s earlier stages.

One ongoing global failure is the inequitable distribution of vaccines. Still only 13.7% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford

We initially assumed the pandemic would be solved by evidence-based medicine – a school of research dominated by the search for generalisable truths (“what is the effect size of intervention X on outcome Y in disease Z?”). While this approach helped find effective treatments for COVID, it threw us way off the scent for evaluating non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masks.

While obsessing over the need for controlled experiments (“masks on” versus “masks off”), we suppressed our scientific imagination. We failed to wonder sufficiently at the novelty of COVID and the significance of its unique patterns of spread, such as super-spreading events, asymptomatic transmission and the vastly higher chance of catching COVID indoors versus outdoors. All these things should have raised hypotheses early on about a predominantly airborne mechanism of transmission and the potential value of masks.

We also viewed masks too simplistically, failing to understand them as a complex intervention in a complex system. Masks vary in quality and efficacy and can be fitted well or badly. They protect other people as well as the wearer – hence, their effects at population level need to be modelled mathematically rather than just tested in one-off experiments. Plus, masking (or refusing to mask) is a social practice, tied to identity and values; many people refused to mask, and confrontations became, sadly, part of masking.

Two years ago, I was writing my first academic paper about COVID, arguing for using the precautionary principle and introducing public masking “just in case”. It was another four months – and 40,000 deaths – before the UK did.The Conversation

Andrew Lee, Professor of Public Health, University of Sheffield; KK Cheng, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care and Director of the Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham; Sheena Cruickshank, Professor in Biomedical Sciences, University of Manchester, and Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Scientists launch study of how ageing is influenced by skin bacteria.
(10 March 2022)

A new network of scientists from across the UK, including The University of Manchester, has been launched to study how ageing is influenced by skin bacteria.

Covid-19 vaccine rollout worsened existing health inequalities, find researchers
(7 March 2022)

The wide inequalities in Covid-19 vaccine uptake between people from ethnic minority groups and White British people are far greater than for the pre-pandemic flu jab, a study by University of Manchester health researchers has found.