BMC Series Highlights Blog – December 2021

Can we eliminate dye pollution from water with a new catalyst? • Has the loss of genes in water bears helped them to become almost immortal? • Is COVID-19 testing in homeless shelters feasible? • Does having a supportive family help LGB individuals sleep better? • Is a one-stop gynecology cancer clinic effective for ovarian cancer screening?

BMC ChemistrySolvothermal synthesis of pure and Sn-doped Bi2S3 and the evaluation of their photocatalytic activity on the degradation of methylene blue

A new catalyst has been found to be a valuable and cost-effective method for eliminating the dye, methylene blue, from water. Dyes are harmful pollutants released by the textile, food, and leather industries. When released into water, such as rivers, they can reduce sunlight transmission for photosynthesis, harm aquatic ecosystems, and impact public health. Methylene blue is a dye typically used for dyeing wool and silk. Several techniques have previously been developed for environmental dye pollution treatment, however, these methods are not suitable for industries operating on a small scale, due to high costs. Researchers in South Africa have developed a nanomaterial to enhance the degradation of methylene blue dye under light. The nanomaterials were found to effectively degrade methylene blue dye within 150 minutes, making them possible candidates for effective environmental pollution treatment. 


BMC Ecology and EvolutionExtensive loss of Wnt genes in Tardigrada

Research has revealed that Tardigrada, or water bears, appear to have lost several signaling pathway genes from their genomes. These near-microscopic water-based animals are one of the world’s most resilient animals and are able to survive extreme conditions that would otherwise be lethal to many animals. Researchers at the University of North Florida investigated the evolution of tardigrades and found that loss of ‘Wnt’ genes may be related to their simplified development, anatomy, and miniaturization. Wnt genes code for molecules called ligands that activate signaling pathways for the animal’s development. The researchers suggest that the loss of several Wnt genes could be related to a reduced number of cells and simplified development that has helped these creatures to become almost immortal. 


BMC Infectious DiseasesMonitoring for COVID-19 by universal testing in a homeless shelter in Germany: a prospective feasibility cohort study

Regular, voluntary, shelter-wide testing for COVID-19 was found to be feasible in a homeless shelter in Germany. Living conditions in homeless shelters can facilitate the transmission of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Social factors and pre-existing health conditions also put homeless people more at risk of experiencing severe disease. COVID-19 outbreaks in homeless shelters have resulted in high infection levels amongst residents and staff. Researchers at the Charité Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health carried out a study to evaluate universal testing for COVID-19 at a homeless shelter in Berlin. Shelter staff supported with PCR testing weekly testing of residents and the testing process was evaluated through group discussions and questionnaires. Shelter staff perceived the testing to be valuable and a good experience, but work-intensive. The researchers recommended a flexible approach to implementing shelter-wide testing, accounting for community levels of transmission, available resources, and local recommendations.


BMC Public HealthSleep problems among sexual minorities: a longitudinal study on the influence of the family of origin and chosen family

Higher levels of family support were associated with reductions in the risk of sleep dysfunction, short sleep duration, and poor sleep quality, in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults. Evidence suggests that LGB adults experience more sleep problems than the general population. Family support can play an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and lack of family support has been associated with poorer sleep quality. LGB individuals are particularly at risk of experiencing lower family support. Researchers at the University of Toronto statistically analyzed UK longitudinal data that included 1703 LGB individuals. The researchers also found that support from a friend as a proxy for family did not diminish the effects of low family support on sleep problems. Future programmes to support LGB individuals with sleep problems could include examination of family support to inform the best route of care. 


BMC Women’s HealthOne-stop clinic for patients with suspected ovarian cancer: results from a retrospective outcome study of the referral pathway

A ‘one-stop’ gynecological cancer ultrasound clinic was found to be highly effective in the management of patients referred for ovarian cancer screening. Approximately, 7000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK. Women in England with abdominal pain and bloating frequently have certain protein levels checked to screen for ovarian cancer. This has led to a significant rise in referrals to ovarian cancer services. To help manage demand, ‘one-stop’ clinics have been designed to manage referral demand, and facilitate quicker diagnosis and patient-centered care. In these clinics, patients will often be offered a consultation with a gynecology specialist and some also offer an ultrasound examination. Researchers carried out a retrospective review of a service in Northampton, UK, to examine the efficiency of one of these services. The service effectively provided a same-day full assessment, definitive diagnosis, and management plan to referred patients. Almost two-thirds of patients could be discharged back to primary care for repeat follow-up tests on the same day of their initial appointment. To further support the effectiveness of these services, the researchers suggest that ultrasound scan facilities should be rolled out to all one-stop gynecological cancer clinics. 

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