The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

EXPERT REACTION: Federal Court of Australia rules breast cancer genes can be patented

Fri5Sep
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The full bench of the Federal Court of Australia has this morning ruled that private companies do have the right to control human genes. The court upheld a decision from February last year that ruled patents on breast cancer genes were valid because the method of isolating the gene created something new and could therefore be patented.  read more

EXPERT REACTION: Experimental drug for Ebola (Nature*)

Fri29Aug
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EMBARGO LIFTED at 03.00 AEST Saturday 30 August, 2014

International scientists have successfully treated the Ebola virus in monkeys. Administration of a drug called ZMapp resulted in recovery in 100 per cent of the 18 rhesus macaques treated, even when initiated up to five days after infection.  read more

EXPERT REACTION: WHO report criticises e-cigarettes

Wed27Aug
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on e-cigarettes yesterday evening, which recommended restrictions should be placed on the marketing of the devices, their sale to minors and indoor use. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Antidepressants during pregnancy may be linked to ADHD in kids (Molecular Psychiatry*)

Tue26Aug
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EMBARGO LIFTED at 18:00 AEST Tuesday 26 August, 2014

The study finds that exposure to antidepressants in the womb may be linked to an increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the researchers caution that the risks of depressed mothers-to-be stopping their medication may be greater for the unborn child than the increased risk of developing ADHD associated with continuing medication. The same study suggests antidepressant exposure in the womb does not increase the risk of developing autism.

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EXPERT REACTION: Earthquake in California

Mon25Aug
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A magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck the region of Napa north of San Francisco last night (08:20 pm AEST Australian Eastern Standard time) caused 100+ injuries. Australian experts respond below.

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BACKGROUNG BRIEFING: Stem cells: the potential, the reality and the scams

Fri22Aug
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BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Monday Aug 25 at 11:00 am AEST; Online or in person at the Melbourne Convention Centre

It seems that every week a new stem cell discovery is hailed, creating a sense of excitement about the possibilities of stem cell treatments for everything from cancer and blindness to cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. Even athletes are spruiking treatments for injury and arthritis and some Australians are following the stem cell tourism trail, spending tens-of-thousands of dollars on scientifically-dubious treatments. What’s the truth? What are the dangers? Our international panel will discuss the potential, the reality and the scams of stem cells.

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EXPERT REACTION: Ineffective superbug control in hospitals (The Lancet*)

Fri22Aug
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EMBARGOED LIFTED 09:01 AEST Thursday 21 Aug, 2014

The methods used by hospitals to control superbugs, particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals, may not be as effective as previously thought, say international scientists who have analysed the spread of superbugs by bringing together research from various countries. The authors argue that although various guidelines for control currently exist, most of the research has only looked at bundles of control measures, and does not cover which individual components work best, or whether some of them could be omitted without increasing transmission.

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EXPERT REACTION (UK SMC): Antibiotic and risk of cardiac death (The BMJ*)

Wed20Aug
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EMBARGO LIFTED 08:30 AEST Wednesday 20 August, 2014

The antibiotic clarithromycin – widely used for treating common bacterial infections – is associated with an increased risk of heart deaths, say Danish scientists. Comparing patients taking three different antibiotics, they found the risk of death was twice as high among those taking clarithromycin, although the risk of death is still very small, they say.

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NEWS BRIEFING – Rewriting ancient history: the origins of Egyptian mummies (PLOS ONE)

Tue12Aug
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EMBARGO LIFTED 04.00 AEST Thursday 14 August 2014

NEWS BRIEFING – Wednesday 13 August 2014 at 10:30 AEST Online

The origins of mummification may have started in ancient Egypt 1,500 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new Australian-led study to be published on Thursday*. Earlier research suggested mummification began around 2200 BC with the previous method being to leave bodies to dry out in the hot Egyptian sun. Now researchers, studying bodies in tombs from between 4500 BC and 3350 BC, have found evidence of the use of complex embalming agents in linen wrappings. Join us for this online media briefing where experts including the lead author will take us through the potentially history defining discovery. read more