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Vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea are common chemotherapy side effects that can be so severe that patients may refuse further treatment. Emergency Brake/Flickr

Why placebos for chemotherapy side effects are hard to swallow

It’s unthinkable to give a placebo to someone to treat their cancer, but could we use one to treat chemotherapy’s well-known side effects? Unfortunately, we may never be able to answer this question because…
Pills ok during pregnancy? We can’t know if we don’t study them. Medications image via www.shutterstock.com

Pregnant women must be studied too

Imagine being pregnant while having a chronic health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, depression or asthma, or being diagnosed with an illness while pregnant. Amazingly, your doctor may not know…
What if an experimental treatment seems to hold a terminal patient’s only hope? Pill bottle image via www.shutterstock.com

‘Right to try’ laws are compassionate, but misguided

On November 4, the state of Arizona will decide whether to join Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana and Michigan in passing so-called right to try laws. If passed, the “Arizona Terminal Patients’ Right To Try…
Bottled and ready to go. NIAID/SGK Handout

Why we need volunteers for the first human Ebola trials

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has emerged rapidly and evolved with alarming ease. An unprecedented number of lives have been lost and WHO predictions are that the virus will infect in excess…
The idea of research reducing health-care costs may seem counter intuitive because it often leads to the development of expensive drugs, technologies, and treatments. EPA/ANGELIKA WARMUTH

With the right kind of research, we can reduce health-care costs

Quality health care can be expensive and medical research has traditionally been thought to play a role in making it so. But research can also help cut the cost of medical care. The notion of research…
Herbal mixtures are comprised of many potentially active chemical compounds at relatively low concentrations. storyvillegirl/Flickr

Quality research of herbal medicines is possible

TESTING ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES - La Trobe University’s decision to accept funding from Swisse for a new centre to research alternative medicines has sparked controversy. This series looks at how the evidence…
Big pharma: a world of many faces. Greg Peverill-Conti

Glaxo: the new modern face of big pharma?

With billions to be made on the back of ill health and notable scandals and cover-ups in its history, it’s fair to say that many see the public face of the pharmaceutical industry as a mask for darker…
Before a new drug can be tested in humans it must undergo comprehensive preclinical screening and testing. Flickr / SandiaLabs

Where’s my cure for cancer?

It seems that every week a major breakthrough in the understanding of cancer is announced in the media. So where are all the drugs that should flow from these discoveries? Unfortunately, the road from…
Placebos have played an important part in medicine for two centuries. jared/ flickr

To understand placebo, first take it out of medicine’s black box

Placebos have a longer history than medicine as we know it, and have a huge effect on all kinds of diseases and health conditions. But it may now be time to rethink their role. The placebo made its debut…

Blood pressure reduced by radio waves

The application of radio currents can help reduce the level of blood pressure in patients with severe hypertension, according…
Learning on the job could make a real difference to healthcare. Tricia Wang

Developing countries and the MOOC learning revolution

Universities are being shaken up by a new mode of learning. The world’s elite institutions are opening up courses so thousands of people can learn for free via their laptops, mobiles or tablets. And these…

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