What are the challenges facing the development of effective vaccines against pathogens with hyper variable genome sequences?

“What is the point in constantly making new vaccines against the same infectious diseases?”

To answer this question, one must ask: ‘what makes for an effective vaccine?’

To explain this, it is important to recognise that a vaccine is simply an inactive form of a pathogen – the bacterium or virus which causes the disease – and the introduction of this vaccine containing the pathogen stimulates an immune response; which helps fight against the disease. At first glance, it seems an atrocious plan to purposefully sicken us, but the vaccination unsurprisingly, in actual fact, can introduce antibodies, as in passive immunity. Alternatively, they can stimulate the production of them from the individuals own immune system, in ‘active immunity’. One can easily recognise the importance of the antibodies in helping us from becoming bed-ridden or more seriously, they can save us from potentially, the verge of the ominous hazard that is, death.

Although, these antibodies work such that they each have unique binding sites, receptor-like, and the pathogen has ‘antigens’, which almost stick-out and form an identity for the pathogen. For an antibody to be work, its binding site must be of a complementary shape to the antigen, and thus they form an antibody-antigen complex. After forming this ‘complex’ by attaching to antigens, they destroy them, though the means by which they carry out this termination does vary.

However, this doesn’t address the question concerning why we need to make new vaccines for the same diseases. Thus, we need to consider antigenic variability, which is where pathogens essentially change their identity deeming them unrecognisable. This change was the change of antigens on the surface of the pathogen. The antigen no longer corresponded to the aforementioned antibodies, and the ‘complex’ could no longer be formed; thus an immune response would never arise. So, it can be established that a troublesome problem is the changing nature to some pathogens and their antigens, such as the influenza virus. Even more worrying would be the finding of a hyper variable sequence, found in the genome, which run in the nucleotides. Nucleotides are chemicals consisting of an organic base, sugar and a phosphate, and are the basic units of which the nucleic acids DNA and RNA are made. The hyper variable sequence would particularly raise concerns because they have a high rate of variation, though the rate of variation differs from one type to the next. Nonetheless, this stipulates that to form an effective measure against these sequences would also require a vaccine which is as ever varying as the pathogens in question.

Unfortunately, such a vaccine is not yet possible, at least now, within the current progress of research. There are many scientific challenges such as the variation which results in the ill-fated truth that an effective vaccine needs to be able to launch an all-encompassing response to all of the diverse strains of a pathogen with a hyper variable genome sequence. An insufficient knowledge about required immunity means that researchers face uncertainty about the parameters for ample immunity against both infection and disease, and so under current scientific knowledge, are simply unable to find a solution.

This lack of scientific knowledge isn’t helped by the social challenges which arrive in the form of ethical concerns surrounding the nature of human subject trials. It is important to acknowledge that though primate studies and computer models can be useful, they by no means provide as detailed a picture as human subject trials can. Nonetheless, in spite of the advantages, the complications appear, and one reason for the difficulties in carrying out human trials could be the volunteers being entitled to a host of treatments, not the vaccinations alone. They are to be made clear of possible adverse effects which the testing vaccination may have, and they are also to be told of the perils of seropositivity from immunisation. I am surprised to inform you that I had paid enough attention to tell you that seropositivity is merely a rather fancy word for one showing a high level of antibody. Such formalities hinder the progress of trials and consequently, the development of vaccines.

Vaccines have changed countless lives and inevitably will continue to do so in a world of advancing science. New opportunities will surface and many hurdles will be overcome; as has happened before in the past. Nonetheless, in the future, the current scientific challenges need to be overwhelmed and the development of vaccinations needs to include the production of vaccines which solve the impediments raised by the hyper variable genome sequence.

Smoking shisha; is the WHO right?

I have decided to write an article because I had once been asked to smoke shisha, being insisted that there were no health implications involved and shisha was essentially the perks of smoking without the drawbacks, such as the continuity of use being able to possibly cause lung cancer! My decision to write this article was also perhaps encouraged by the growing market of shisha, which to has seen roughly a 210% rise in the number of cafes offering in since the smoking ban was implemented in 1 July 2007, as reported by the Independent. Moreover, there were 179 shisha bars in 2007 but there were 556 in 2012. So I now will begin writing a little bit of what I know to do with this subject.

“An oriental tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl” describes ‘hubble-bubble’, ‘hookah’, ‘waterpipe smoking’ and any other alias the infamous shisha tends to spread under. First discovered by Abul-Fath Gilani according to popular belief, the upcoming craze originated from the humble, and likewise, booming country that used to be Persia; India – though this is said to be a disputed merit.

Shisha, often written under as a safer alternative to cigarettes, is a ‘glass-bottomed waterpipe’ which emits radiant fruity smells of your desires. But, surprisingly, for such a simple task of smoking, shisha requires a rather sophisticated device, inclusive of many components from grommets to diffusers. Thus, there is already a physical distinction from its cigarette counterpart. However, it is from the water jar where, unsurprisingly, most of the common misconceptions about shisha arise.

So the misconceptions, which are often seen as a major contributor to why shisha has become increasingly popular since the noughties, become intriguing as a blur between fact and fiction becomes visible. The first main myth to this tobacco craze would be the bubbling water creates the illusion of the smoke being cleansed and purified thus apparently being made healthy. Although, in reality the water, bubbling it may be, does not filter out all the toxins and the fruity smell is only the guise for the smoke which contains the otherwise cancer causing chemicals. Dr Sellehudin Abu Bakr even goes as far as to call the water ‘filter’ a ‘gimmick’. Additionally, passive smoking can be dangerous as it can be the smoke and its composition which causes harm. In the smokes composition exist an addictive substance: nicotine, which can cause a dependence upon this social commodity which increasingly seems harmful. Unfortunately, this is not where the problems end, as sharing a mouthpiece increases the risk of infection with TB or hepatitis, both of which come with disastrous implications.

As a result of public unawareness, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had, from their research published as ‘Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking’ in 2005, which found that, contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke of shisha contained many toxicants which can cause lung cancer, heart disease and can have other detrimental effects to your body. The WHO also came to the conclusion that 1 hour of smoking shisha is equivalent to up to 200 cigarettes worth of smoke, and this isn’t particularly ‘good’ smoke as the heat sources for shisha are often cinders or charcoals. These are dangerous as they release carbon monoxide.

Additonally, shisha delivers nicotine which as many of you may know, is an addictive substance. Despite the water absorbing some of it, it still enters your body in substantial amounts, so much so, that it can cause addiction, like other tobacco products. The study also highlighted the dangers of second-hand shisha smoking. So by even entering a shisha bar where others are smoking, even by not smoking yourself, you can still be endangered. Also, another important note to focus on is that in this research, they had showed shisha, like cigarettes to contain the capacity to have an adverse effect on the unborn baby during pregnancy. So by smoking shisha, one can potentially harm their baby.

Therefore, one must ask the question on whether smoking shisha is really as harmless as others advocate. In light of the WHO research, it becomes increasingly clear that there are dangerous aspects to this craze, but the research isn’t conclusive enough, many seem to argue. Thus, in order to really clear the misconceptions surrounding shisha, more research needs to be carried out.

A short introduction

Hello readers,

I am a new Valuemed blogger hoping to contribute to this site as ‘mLukon’.

An aspiring doctor wanting to read medicine at university, I am going to apply for medical school this October. I am currently undertaking my A-Levels at Sixth Form, all of which are thoroughly engaging.

I became interested in writing medical-related posts for ‘Valuemed’ after an intriguing summer neurosurgery placement sparked an interest in the brain and degenerative neurological disorders. Through the placement, I became familiar with research papers and so, I would now like to take to ‘Valuemed’ to write a few of my own articles which concern areas of medicine and healthcare that I am fascinated by.

I hope to write interesting and thought-provoking articles soon and would appreciate any feedback and discussion on my blogs.

The good and the bad of the NHS reforms

The changes which took place on the 1st April 2013 have been dubbed the ‘most radical’ changes to the NHS so far, as the Government creates a massive 200 new organisations.

In order for primary care to be effective, both the doctor and patient must trust each other. Many would go as far to say that there is a ‘special bond’ between the doctor and patient, and doctors have frequently placed amongst the ‘most trusted professionals’ in recent polls. However, what will happen to this ‘special relationship’ when GPs have control of the budget? On one hand, it could be argued that they will have the best idea about how to spend the budget as they are the ones closest to those who need it. However, some argue that this will damage the ‘special relationship’ between the GP and the patient, and a recent poll held by the British Medical Association showed that over 75% of GPs feared the reform, as there is a possibility that patients could become suspicious if they do not get the prescription they would prefer, in order to save money.

Another of the reforms is to improve the care received by those with chronic conditions. Too often, the care required by these individuals is not available, and patients end up in hospital when they suffer from emergencies. In fact, there are over 15 million people with long-term illnesses in the UK, but caring for them accounts for 70% of the budget spent by health care sectors – a massive chunk! However, over 30% of these hospital admissions are avoidable, and the new reforms are pushing for a network of much more integrated community clinics to help those who need it.

Responsibility for public health will now be passed to the Government, who will now be responsible for promoting stopping smoking, better diets and more physical activities. Public health directors who have previously been working for primary care trusts are now being transferred to local authorities, and whilst the rest of the local government is facing huge cuts, public health directors will be issued a budget of just under 3 billion pounds a year.

One of the most controversial reforms that has possibly caused the most worry to the public is undoubtedly the rise of the private sector. Whilst many have been quick to assume that the private sector will simply pick the most profitable services for themselves, it is believed that these firms will be able to provide better, more efficient services which will drastically drive up standards across the entire sector. What many do not realise, however, is that the private sector is already partially involved in providing NHS care.

However, despite the massive amounts of attention these reforms have attracted, possibly the biggest and most shocking thing is that in the short term particularly, there will be little visible change.

How Medical Technologies are Revolutionising Everyday Treatments

Medical professionals worldwide look to technology to drive through improvements in treatment, research and patient care.

From the invention of the ultrasound scan in the 1950’s to the world’s first computerised bionic leg in 2012, technology allows us to see the human body in new ways and to diagnose and map treatment and recovery with increasing efficiency. Sometimes real breakthroughs have sprung from collaborations with other fast-developing industries such as engineering or computer software development.

Here is an overview of some widespread and groundbreaking technological developments in recent years:

Filmless Radiology
Hospitals all over the globe are making a commitment towards achieving filmless radiology, which means that when a patient has an x-ray or scan, the image is transferred directly to a computer screen. The benefits of filmless radiology include being able to distribute images quickly and use computer programmes to map out pre-operative plans including programmes for fracture management, which can apply electronic templates to x-ray scans to work out the right course of treatment for mending breaks without wasting resources. Advances in radiology also allow us to see further into the body without resorting to surgery. Organs, such as the heart, which were once considered inaccessible by traditional one-dimensional x-rays, are now more easily examined.

Nanopore Sequencing
Nanopore sequencing works by passing a single strand of DNA through a protein pore formed in a membrane (imagine threading a piece of hair through a thin piece of fabric). Next an electric current is streamed through the pore. ‘DNA bases’ are the building blocks of the double helix DNA structure and they disrupt the electrical current in different ways, which allows the sequencing machine to electronically read out the sequence and interpret DNA bases directly. The technology could make genome sequencing faster, cheaper, and even handy enough to allow doctors to order sequencing as they would a routine blood test, making the technology accessible to more and more patients. DNA sequencing can help to identify mutations in cancerous tumors and personalize a patient’s treatment.

Heart Pumps
A shining example of collaboration between industries can be seen in the development of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) in the 1990’s.  NASA engineers in Houston worked with Doctors to develop an artificial heart pump, which was based on the space shuttle’s own fuel pumps. The pump helps to keep people healthy as they await heart transplants — and can, on occasion, remove the need for a transplant. In the UK in 2009, surgeons removed a donor heart from a toddler after her own VAD assisted heart had recovered.

Bendable Microchips
In 2012 a Belgian company introduced the bendable microchip, which measures just 30 micrometers in length (that’s 3 hundredths of a millimeter) and can be inserted directly into the human body, where it can internally process and relay important information about changes in a patient’s physiological condition.  These innovative microchips are made from ‘off the shelf’ computer microchips, which are ground down to create their tiny flexible counterparts. This technology is still in prototype stage but could signal a major shift in patient monitoring and speed of diagnosis.

Charlotte is a freelance science and technology writer.

Hi everyone !

As a prospective medical student looking at 2014 entry, I recently decided to write for the Valuemed blog to widen my medical knowledge (to help me earn a place at medical school) and this will be my first ever post!

I’m currently studying for my AS levels (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths and Geography) at sixth form and have wanted to study medicine for as long as I can remember – I’m often asked why I want to, and the truth is that there is no easy answer… Of course, the structure of the medical course includes a lot of science (which I enjoy) and you will probably spend the rest of your working life learning about new treatments and technologies – I love the idea of having so much variety in a job! It’s a challenging career and I have never been one to turn away from a difficult or stressful situation. I like meeting new people and last but not least, being able to make an active difference in someone’s life appeals to me. Chances are that I won’t discover a new miracle drug or create a life saving vaccination for HIV, but being able to make a positive difference in someone’s life on a daily basis is really what draws me to the career. People often ask me if I want to go into medicine for the money, and honestly, no – I don’t. Without a doubt, it’s a difficult career option – it’s a competitve degree to get into, I’ll be in full-time education for at least 5 years after school – not to mention having debt up to my eyeballs!, the stress, the emotional strain and the frustration when you are unable to help someone… And so, to cut a long story short, if I were in it for the money, I would find something else. But for me, the pros of studying medicine cannot be compared to anything else!

I’ve been involved with St John Ambulance for over 5 years now, and am currently a volunteer at a hospital. Following some work experience, I’ve become quite interested in radiology and ophthalmology as well as surgery (although I have no experience of this yet…). Over the next two years (which will probably fly by!), I hope to expand my knowledge as well as hopefully blog about what I do know.

Goodbye for now,

doc2014

Ultrasound Scan Objective

I would like to start by saying that I am sorry for having disappeared for the past couple of months due to exams and UCAS, but hopefully I can write more often now .

On my recent work experience at BRI I was fortunate to be able to shadow a sonographer and so thought I’d share my experience.

Ultrasound is a form of energy using high frequency soundwaves to produce an image. During my time in ultrasound many abdominal cases and a madible case was seen. These involved gall stones, mass, focal lesions and lymph node in the mandible.

A gel medium was required in order to improve transmission of soundwaves. The speed of this sound varies depending on the medium density and compressibilty. Without the gel the soundwaves would have to travel through different densities; through air and then through soft tissue.

Even though ultrasound does not give off radiation, it still may not be as safe. The bioeffects of ultrasound are heating and cavitation. The beam is attenuated as it passes through tissue therefore energy is lost. This energy is absorbed and converted into heat. This can cause over heating of any microbubbles which may be present within organs. Changes in pressure of the beam may cause the microbubbles to oscillate in size and cause tissue damage. However, ultrasound has not yet been proven to be unsafe.

Ultrasound soundwaves cannot pass through bone so only the outer surfaces of bones will be shown, and what is within the bony structures will not be shown. Another limitation is large body habitus and if there is more gas than bone present. Because of these limitations other modalities such as CT, general X-RAY and MRI have to be used.

idoctor says hello!

Well where do I begin…. this is my first post on the blog so I just want to say a little hello an introduce myself to those who read this blog and other writers. A lot like many of you I am an aspiring medic. I applied last year with one interview which was unsuccessful so without a doubt will be trying again for 2013. Received my a level grades 2 weeks ago, big smilees 🙂 🙂 🙂 which also showed me how much I want to study medicine. Being quite an academic person I have always been told that I can do whatever i want and that ‘the world is my oyster’. easier said than done 😉 well ill keep it short and simple… hoping to try new things during my gap year, and blogging being one of them, i thought this would be a great way to write about things that interest me whilst trying something new. I’ll try to post every week and talk about different topics in the medicine world that I find most interesting and most important and i’ll also keep you upto date on my application to medicine ..take two 😉

Medicad’s first post

Hi everyone,

This is my first post as a contributor to the Valuemed blog. I am a mature student about to embark on a pre-medical course, hoping for entry to medical school in 2013. I have always been in awe of the ability doctors have to diagnose and treat patients. Being brought up in a family with a history of depression and autistic spectrum disorders was challenging, but it made me appreciate how illnesses can affect patients in different ways. I’ve always made it my aim to try and change the lives of people suffering, because I can understand how difficult it is for themselves and their loved ones.

I have experience of working with a wide range of people in different settings – I am a keen volunteer. I’ve previously been a trustee for a youth organisation, and I’ve more recently become involved with St John Ambulance and King’s College Hospital. In addition, I have undertaken clinical placements at the National Society for Epilepsy and at the Ophthalmology department of Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The branches of medicine that interest me and will feature in my future posts, alongside current medical news and my experiences as an applicant, include neurology, psychiatry, infectious diseases, preventative medicine and medical genetics. I am hoping that my posts will inform, engage and perhaps inspire, as I set out to expand my knowledge of such a dynamic field.

Until next time,

Medicad

Hello Everyone

My name is Rabia and this is my first post. I hope to build a relationship with all of you so here’s some information about me. I am 18 years old and have just left school after completing my A-Levels and attaining A*A*A (Biology, Chemistry and Geography.) Like many others on here, I too am a prospective Medical student. After failing to gain a place in the 2012 cycle I am about to embark on a gap year and then re-apply. Why do I want to study Medicine? Is the trickiest question for me. It’s something I can’t put into words. Maybe its the rush and excitement I’ll get every single working day. Or maybe the fact that I am genuinely helping and saving people. Or maybe its the fact that I’ll be applying my favourite subject, Biology, every day.

Joining this blog is my way not only to share what I feel but to indulge in research, in the latest medical topics or areas of interest to me to hopefully put across my excitement and enthusiasm to the readers. What better way to learn than to teach others?

I have followed Doctors in a Hospital where I observed the workings of a ward round, basic examinations conducted and of course key skills and qualities such as teamwork with other doctors and nurses, politeness towards patients and the ability to always have a smile on your face. I was lucky enough to be involved in a private consultation informing a family member of a patients severely deteriorating health and almost confirmed death, which I will always remember. Similarly I have had experience in clinics, pharmacies and a dental practice. (The dental placement however, I can say was my least favourite…)

So what about my gap year? I’m going to continue with my voluntary work which I’ve been doing for 2 years now at a local Hospital which goes to patients in wards to sell newspapers and items. I’m also beginning another volunteering opportunity with disabled people. More work experience is to come but first and foremost I need to re-take the dreaded UKCAT and find a job!

– Rabia

Introduction from a guest blogger applying for medical school

 Hi everyone its hanifz here,

I am a new guest blogger on this site and thought I’d introduce myself. I am currently studying a Biomedical Science Degree at university and am planning to apply for medicine this year. I hope to study medicine as I have always been fascinated by the human body and how intricate a system it is. I have chosen to write for this blog so that I can talk about the medical world and all that intrigues me about it. As well as allowing me to gain a greater insight into it.

In medicine the area of most interest to me is oncology, in particular working in paediatrics. The idea of helping people with one of the most life threatening diseases is a huge draw for me. In addition, the fact that there are so any variations of cancer means it is an area that will continuously test me. In preparation I have undertaken work experience in a local hospital and nursing home to gain an understanding of how medicine works in reality.

I hope to write many more posts in the future. Thanks

A new guest blogger saying hello

Hey there! 🙂

I am a 17 year-old A-Level student, currently studying biology, chemistry, mathematics and religious studies. My A-Level choices strongly reflect my desire to study medicine at university, as I have always had a curiosity about what makes the human body work in the way which it does.

I have opted to write for this blog so that I am able to talk about such things which attract and excite me in the medical world and to also use as an aid for me to further understand what I learn within my A-Level studies.

In medicine, the field which interests me the most is cardiology; the study of the disorders and abnormalities of the heart, as well as cardiac surgery. The overall physiology of the heart is very interesting and I crave to learn much more about it! The heart is essentially what keeps the human body alive, beating at approximately 100, 000 times in a day. Despite the strenuous effort it is put under, this impeccable organ being approximately the size of a human fist, it does not tire and continues to pump hundreds of gallons of blood throughout the body per day.

Rather than adult cardiology, I am more appealed by paediatric cardiology. Most children who suffer from cardiac problems, are usually treated incredibly well by paediatricians and nurses and go onto lead perfectly normal lives. However, those who are too ill and too weak to battle on their own, it is their bravery and courage that I admire. When I did my work experience placement at the local hospital in the paediatrics department, there were a handful of patients suffering from both minor and major cardiac problems. Despite the challenges faced by both the staff and the patients, neither of them gave up. I witnessed the physical and psychological stresses faced by the doctors and children on a daily basis, and also the reward and satisfaction felt by both parties when the result was a success. During my time at the hospital, I learned the importance of a caring bedside manner, the ability to console the weak with kindness whilst remaining professional at all times, as well as the crucial role of empathy.

I have also done some other work experience in various care settings and hope to embark upon many more!

Medical Interests

Hi guys, Akshay here. I have not posted in a while as I was caught up with my university admissions paperwork but am more free nowadays and hope to actively contribute to this blog. Personally, I have developed a keen interest in Cancer and endocrinology and my posts would predominantly be focused on the issues surrounding these branches of medicine. My interest stems from my A-level Biology days when I found the topics of cancer and specifically the pancreas particularly interesting. I expanded on my interest by reading books such as ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ which I found to be intellectually stimulating. I would be posting articles on the scientific basis of cancer and endocrinology as I really like the pathology and biochemistry behind these. However, I do acknowledge that I may not be aware of all the scientific minutiae involved and your comments will be greatly appreciated in refining my knowledge.

Introduction

Hi guys, my name is Akshay, I’m from Singapore and I’m a new guest blogger. I have completed my A levels and am planning to apply to UK for medicine during my gap year. I first came to know about this provision of writing for Valuemed from a medical student who previously wrote for Valuemed. I was immediately keen on writing as a guest blogger not only for the purpose of gaining a deeper insight into medicine but also to keep up to date with the latest news in the medical world. I would like to thank Kate for giving me this opportunity and will write more on medical news in the near future. Cheers

The Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the most common diseases to affect the heart. It is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which is a build up of fatty materials within the walls of the arteries.

There are many known risks of coronary heart disease. Although some of these factors are out of your control (age, gender and family history of CHD), there are some that you CAN control. These include:

• High blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (triglyceride is a type of fat found in the blood).
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Being overweight or obese
• Smoking
• Lack of physical exercise
• Unhealthy diet
• Stress

Many people have at least one CHD risk factor. Your risk of CHD and heart attack increases with the number of risk factors you have and their severity. Additionally, some risk factors will put you at greater risk of CHD and heart attack than others. Smoking and diabetes are prime examples of such factors.

Many CHD risk factors start during childhood. This is becoming more and more common nowadays because many children are overweight due to an unbalanced diet and lack of exercise.

Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK, causing approximately 94,000 deaths every year. On average, people at low risk of CHD live nearly ten years longer than people at high risk of CHD.
However, there are ways that you can reduce the risk of developing CHD. These approaches include:

1. Not smoking
2. Maintaining a healthy weight
3. Lowering/controlling your cholesterol
4. Exercising regularly,
5. Eating less saturated fat, more fibre and avoiding trans fats
6. Managing stress effectively

If you already have CHD, adopting some of these approaches might well reduce the severity of your symptoms.

Benign and Malignant Tumors-what is the difference ?

As part of my preperation for applying to medical school this coming year, I have been researching the differences between benign and malignant tumours, and this is what I have found.

Malignant tumors are invasive. They tend to invade and start growing in surrounding tissues . They can be very fast growing and can kill. They may also spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) through the blood stream & the lymphatic system. A common example of  a malignant or cancerous tumour is breast cancer. If a malignant tumor has spread and cannot be completely removed by surgery, then chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of both is often required. Chemotherapy & radiotherapy may also be used where the malignant tumour appears to have been removed completely to prevent recurrence at the same site or spread to other parts of the body.

Radiation therapy can last from 3-6 weeks and is used to kill the cancer cells and so reduces the size of the tumor. The genetic material of the cell is destroyed making it impossible for that cell to divide. However, this can cause short or long term effects. Skin soreness, nausea and tiredness may be caused, and long term effects may be shrinking of breasts and tiny broken blood vessels may leave marks on the skin.

Chemotherapy is used to damage the DNA of the cell and affects therefore the growth and the proliferation of the cell. Chemotherapy slows down the growth of any tumour cells. Chemotherapy drugs attack rapidly growing cells, however this might not just be cancer, the drugs can interfere with normal dividing cells too, such as cells in the blood, nails, hair and nose. The normal cells can repair themselves after treatment.

Benign tumors are not invasive. They have well defined boundaries and therefore do not invade surrounding tissues. They are slow growing and will not usually kill. Benign tumors can often be left where they are as long as they are in a safe place and are not affecting the function of surrounding organs, however otherwise they can be removed surgically and the patient should then recover.

An introduction

Hi I am a new blogger to this site and will be known as medschool2013.

 I am currently studying for my A-Levels and a prospective medical student applying in October 2012. I have a huge passion for medicine with particular interests currently being in the branch of cardiology. This interest was ignited during my work experience placement shadowing doctors in a cardiology department. Since then i have pursued my interest by undertaking an Open University module ‘Understanding Cardiovascular Diseases’. As well as this I try to play an active role in my local hospital as I am a member of the NHS youth council.

I hope my blogs will be interesting, engaging and intriguing to everyone and I will appreciate any feedback/suggestions.

An Introduction

Hi everyone it’s Futuremedic1 here!

I am a new guest blogger on this site and I thought I’d tell you all a little about myself. I’m a prospective medical student who is hoping to go to medical school next year (2013). My current interests in medicine lie in the fields of oncology and cardiology, although of course that is liable to change as I explore other branches of medicine. As for work experience, I have undertaken a couple of weeks in my local hospital and have also spent time at a scientific research lab. I hope that you will read and enjoy my posts, and please feel free to ask me any questions.

Guestblogging on medical blog

We are currently looking for guest bloggers on our medical blog.

Are you a doctor, medical student, prospective medical student, nurse, healthcare worker or an expert in a particular medical or health field or do you have personal experience of a medical condition. Are you applying for university in 2013 to study medicine or a medical related subject ?

If so please do get in touch-we would love to hear from you. You can write about anything health & medicine related that you think our readers may be interested in & post links to other relevant medical or health websites if you wish. You can even write about the ups and downs of applying for medicine & share your experiences. You can do this anonymously if you prefer.

If you would like to be a guest medical blogger please do get in touch by e-mail to kate@valuemed.co.uk or by posting in comments and we will contact you. Any e-mail address that you post in comments is kept private and will not appear on the blog.

Guest bloggers

We have a guest blogger coming online to blog about Acne from his personal perspective

If you would like to join our team of contributors please do get in touch. You can blog about anything health or medicine related.

If you would like to be a guest blogger or contributor please e-mail us or post in comments and we will e-mail you.

Any e-mail address or personal info you leave in comments is kept private

We also have a fertility blog and a drugs and alcohol blog

Guest Blog Spot

Would you like to blog as a guest on our medical blog ?

Are you working in a field of medicine or in complementary medicine, and would like to share your knowledge and wisdom with our readers ? Would you like to blog as a guest on our medical blog ?

Are you a medical student or junior doctor who would like to blog about their training /medical life or just about life in general ?

Are you a patient going through investigations &/ or treatment and would like to blog about your experiences with the medical profession

If the answer is yes please e-mail us or post in comments and we will e-mail you.

Any e-mail address or personal info you leave in comments is kept private