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Civil servants take the biscuit, ‘powerful new tool’ to study diseases, and could bacteria cause OCD symptoms in children?

The Independent kicks off today’s news round up with the intriguing headline: ‘Another day, another political food fight – and this one really takes the biscuit’.  It seems that an ‘urgent review’ is underway at the Department of Health after it was revealed that since January it has spent £100,000 on tea and biscuits. Not sure where that fits in to the DH’s public health drive, probably for research purposes no doubt. 

Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, accuses the Government of reckless spending, and said the figures illustrated that Andrew Lansley, the under-pressure Health Secretary, was ‘losing control.’

‘This money would have been far better spent supporting NHS workers on the front line,’ he said.

Elsewhere, the Guardian reports on an online database compiling information from 1 milliion middle aged Britons, that can be used to study diseases.

Due to be published next week, the paper describes it as a ‘powerful new tool to study diseases such as cancer, dementia and heart disorders.’ The plan is for health researchers anywhere in the world to access anonymous records via the UK Biobank.  The paper reports that being able to look back through there cords of people diagnosed with specific diseases may help to identify contributing factors .

The records on the database are supplied by volunteers and are constantly updated so researchers can be aware of any developments or changes. The Guardian says scientists who use the system ‘must publish their findings and add their results to the database so other public health experts can use them’.

‘David Beckham and Paul Gascoigne are just two of the 1.2 million British people who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ says the Daily Mail’s story this morning, which reports that a mental health organisation is conducting research into whether a particular strain of bacteria can cause OCD to develop in children.

The Maryland-based National institute of Mental Health ‘will see if there is a link between Streptococcus bacteria and a condition called Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS)’. This causes children to suddenly develop abnormal eating habits and compulsive thoughts and actions.