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Schizophrenia genetics 'hope', brighter news for HIV treatment and junior doctors urged to opt out of 48-hour week

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Tuesday 22 July

The Independent leads this morning on ‘DNA hope on schizophrenia’, with news that researchers have identified more than 100 genes that predispose people to the developing the disorder.

According to the researchers from Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, their discovery could help better understand the disease and lead to new treatments.

Professor Michael O’Donovan, professor of psychiatric genetics at the Medical Research Council’s neurogenetics centre at Cardiff University, told the paper the latest study proves ‘beyond doubt’ that there is a genetic basis for schizophrenia.

‘It is absolutely crystal clear now that genetics is involved in schizophrenia and although the biological implications of the genetics are not yet clear, we’re beginning to see patterns emerging from the data,’ he said. ‘The big picture is that large collaborations like this into schizophrenia has the capacity to crack the illness open in the same way that similar studies have done to other diseases with a genetic basis.’

After disappointing HIV reports in yesterday’s health news, more positive news today as the BBC reports findings that a drug can ‘flush out’ the virus.

The treatment is aimed at getting to the virus that lies dormant in cell ‘reservoirs’ in patients who have undetectable levels in their blood stream during treatment. Researchers found patients with HIV treated with romidepsin - a chemotherapy drug - had significant jumps in their blood levels of the virus.

Dr Ole Sogaard, co-author of the study, from Aarhus University, said: ‘We’ve shown it is possible to kick the virus out of the cells, the next step is to actually kill the cells.’

Lastly, junior doctors are being advised to opt out of the European Working Time Directive, the Telegraph reports.

Apparently, the Department of Health has accepted a series of recommendations from the Royal College of Surgeons, whose review concluded that junior doctors should be encouraged to opt out of the 48-hour week to allow them to gain enough experience through training projects outside normal hours.

Former head of the College Professor Norman Williams led the review. He told the paper: ‘As a task force we were clear that the one size fits all approach of the Working Time Directive in medicine is detrimental for training and patient care in some specialties.’

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