Scientists begin to unravel rowers’ secret of pulling together successfully

Researchers have recently gained funding for the UK’s first rowing research programme, which aims to reveal the secrets of the best and safest rowing technique. Thanks to funding from the Henley Stewards Charitable Trust and assistance from the British International Rowing Office (through UK Sport) they are contributing to improving top rowers’ performance with the development of a biofeedback system that gives instant visual feedback on their rowing technique. This helps to harmonise their movements with fellow rowers, while at the same time avoiding the causes of lower back pain.

Study shows how key hormone hitches a lift round body

Structural analysis has revealed for the first time how a key messenger in the body’s chemical communication system hooks up with one of the proteins that delivers it to sites of action in the body. Using X-ray crystallography, scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Hawaii have identified the location of four binding sites on human serum albumin (HSA), the principal protein in blood plasma, to which the chemical messenger thyroxine attaches.

Estimated fatality rate for Hong Kong SARS higher than previously thought

An international team of researchers has estimated that the fatality rate for SARS is considerably higher than some early estimates. According to a paper published online today in The Lancet, which examines data from the first nine weeks of Hong Kong’s epidemic, the case fatality rate, among those admitted to hospital, in patients 60 years of age and older is estimated to be far higher (43.3%, 95% confidence interval 35.2 to 52.4%) than those below 60 (13.2%, 95% confidence interval 9.8 to 16.8%).

Study: Prion diseases might be prevented

UK scientists have made a major scientific advance by establishing proof of principle that the development of prion disease can be prevented in mice using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The work lays the foundation for further research to explore the potential of mAbs to treat specific prion diseases such as CJD and vCJD. The work is published today (6 March 2003) in Nature.

Researchers find link between improved memory and the use of neurofeedback

The results announced in the International Journal of Psychophysiology this month show a link between neurofeedback training and improved memory in a 40 person trial. Dr David Vernon, from Imperial College London at the Charing Cross hospital says: “Previous research has indicated that neurofeedback can be used to help treat a number of conditions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, epilepsy and alcoholism by training particular aspects of brain activity, but this is the first time we have shown a link between the use of neurofeedback, and improvements in memory.” Neurofeedback is a learning procedure that has been involved in treatments enabling participants to normalize behaviour, stabilize mood and improve their cognitive performance. It works by allowing people to watch their brain activity, and through this, find a way to correct or improve it.