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Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent

Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

This is my take on the medical and health issues of the day, especially those involving research and ethics

How often is prostate cancer misdiagnosed?

The headline is worrying: "half of prostate cancer misdiagnosed".

It came from a Cambridge University study which followed hundreds of men who were given a prostate cancer diagnosis.

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Spinal shocks revive paralysed legs

This experimental technique does not involve repair of the spinal cord, but nonetheless it may eventually have a role to play in helping other paralysed patients regain movement.

The technique does have limitations. The four patients had to change the setting for each leg movement. None of them is able to walk unaided.

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‘Scandal’ of liver disease inaction

The lack of action to tackle liver disease in the UK is "scandalous" according to a group of MPs.

In a report, the all-party Parliamentary Hepatology Group says deaths from liver disease in England have risen 40% between 2001-2012.

Should I avoid saturated fat?

I had to do a bit of a double-take when I read some research about fat consumption and heart disease.

It said that - contrary to decades of public health advice - switching from saturated fats found in foods like butter, cheese and fatty meats, to polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils and fish - did not seem to have any benefit for the heart.

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'Early access' drugs scheme launched

Severely ill patients and those with rare debilitating conditions could be given new medicines years before they are licensed, under new regulations.

The Early Access to Medicines scheme would enable a small number of promising medicines to be fast-tracked.

Why did widow win frozen sperm fight?

Beth Warren and family

Looking purely at the letter of the law, Beth Warren did not seem to have a strong case.

She had gone to the High Court to try prevent her dead husband's sperm from being destroyed next year.

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Widow wins frozen sperm legal fight

Looking purely at the letter of the law, Beth Warren did not seem to have a strong case.

But in her ruling Mrs Justice Hogg decided to overrule the regulations and look at what had been the intentions of the couple.

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Ruling due in legal fight over sperm

The High Court will rule later on a widow's attempt to prevent her dead husband's sperm from being destroyed.

Beth Warren's husband died from a brain tumour two years ago and she has been told that his sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

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Artificial heart patient dies

The first patient to be fitted with a pioneering artificial heart in France has died.

The 76-year-old man, who has not been named, died 75 days after the operation in Paris.

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Major heart healing trial starts

The biggest ever stem cell trial involving heart attack patients has got under way in London. The study, which will involve 3,000 patients in 11 European countries, should show whether the treatment can cut death rates and repair damaged tissue after a heart attack.

All the patients will have standard treatment to widen their narrowed arteries, which involves inserting a small tube called a stent. In addition, half the patients will have stem cells taken from their bone marrow and injected into their heart.

A nation of pill poppers?


A sensible step that will cut deaths and disability or a mistake that will medicalise millions?

There are starkly opposing views of proposals from the health watchdog the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to dramatically increase the numbers offered statins.

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Bionic hand allows patient to 'feel'

Scientists have created a bionic hand which allows the amputee to feel lifelike sensations from their fingers.

A Danish man received the hand, which was connected to nerves in his upper arm, following surgery in Italy.

Meeting Oxford's research monkeys

The macaque in front of me has a choice. Two differently coloured images have been slid in front of her cage.

She taps the purple picture and gets a treat. The next time she taps the black image. On this occasion not only does she get a reward, but a second monkey facing her does too.

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Buttock cupping and other health 'cures'

If you have ever hankered after living in a bygone age, then the prospect of getting ill prior to the advent of modern medicine should be enough to bring you to your senses.

The Wellcome Library - one of the world's leading collections of medical history - is making freely available more than 100,000 images, from ancient medical manuscripts to works by artists like Goya and Van Gogh.

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'Golden age' of antibiotics 'set to end'

We cannot say we weren't warned. The growing threat of antibiotic resistant organisms is once again in the spotlight.

Prof Jeremy Farrar, the new head of Britain's biggest medical research charity the Wellcome Trust said it was a "truly global issue".

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Brain cancer vaccine trial begins

A trial has begun of a vaccine to treat an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The first patient in Europe has received the treatment at King's College Hospital in London. Robert Demeger, 62, was diagnosed with the condition earlier this year.

Could diabetes drug slow Alzheimer's?

A trial has begun to see whether a drug used to treat diabetes can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The study will involve 200 patients with memory problems due to early Alzheimer's. Laboratory research suggests that the drug, liraglutide, reduces brain inflammation, improving the growth of brain cells and the connections between them.

'Let me keep my dead husband's sperm'

A woman has begun a legal bid to prevent her dead husband's frozen sperm from being destroyed.

Beth Warren, 28, has been told by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

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The girl whose skin never heals

Sohana Collins has never known a day without pain. The 11-year-old has a rare genetic disorder that means her skin blisters and tears at the slightest friction.

It also affects her internal skin, which means her mouth and oesophagus blister. This makes swallowing difficult and eating painful - her food has to be liquidised. The condition is caused by the lack of a protein that holds the skin together.

Why I take the stairs at the BBC

When we moved offices from Television Centre to New Broadcasting House a year ago, I made a resolution: I would not use the lift. In more than a year I have pretty much stuck to it.

It's not a big deal - I don't work in the Shard. There are just 56 steps down from my floor to the newsroom, via a spiral staircase. But it adds up over time, especially if you include trips to other parts of the building like Panorama (4th floor, 48 steps), or the World TV studios and make-up on Basement level 3 (114 steps).

About Fergus

Fergus began working for the BBC in 1984 and has reported on health, science and medicine for nearly 20 years. Follow Fergus on Twitter.

He has reported for the BBC from around the world on topics such as stem cells, obesity, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, polio and swine flu.

Fergus has had his genes sequenced, his heart, brain and other body parts scanned, as well as being vaccinated against bird flu for his reports.

He appeared in a BBC TV drama with Julie Walters. He didn't win any awards for his acting, but has won several for his journalism.

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