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Doctors make breakthrough in brain injuries study

Doctors in Southampton have developed a brain pressure test that can detect life-threatening head injuries and infections - without the need for surgery or spinal procedures.

The method involves patients wearing headphones with an ear plug linked to a computer, which enables doctors to measure fluid pressure in the skull.

The device known as the cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure (CCFP) analyser is being used to study healthy volunteers at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire.

"We know that high pressure inside the skull resulting from injuries and infections can be fatal, so it is essential it is detected as early as possible to avoid exacerbating symptoms and ensure treatment can begin promptly.

"Current methods for testing ICP (intracranial pressure) require procedures to be carried out under sedation or anaesthetic, which means they are limited to the most severe cases and those with less obvious initial symptoms often go undetected until their symptoms have worsened.

"However, as our CCFP (cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure) device does not require a patient to do anything other than wear a set of headphones with an ear plug, it has the potential to provide rapid, accurate and safe assessments to patients in much larger numbers than is currently possible."

– Dr Robert Marchbanks, consultant clinical scientist

Power cables to be buried in area of natural beauty

The energy giant UK Power Networks has decided to bury its power cables in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in east Kent.

The cables are essential for electricity supply, but putting them underground is extremely expensive. The decision has given fresh hope to campaigners trying to prevent a corridor of massive pylons being erected in the Valley of the Great Stour near Canterbury. John Ryall reports.


Malaria vaccine breakthrough could save thousands

Scientists in Oxford have made a breakthrough in developing a new vaccine that could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Malaria is one of the world's biggest killers - causing the deaths of around 650,000 people every year, most of them children under the age of five.

At Oxford University they have been working to prevent the disease for seven years. But now first clinical trials of a new vaccine show it is nearly seventy percent effective. Juliette Fletcher has been to the Jenner Institute to find out more.

The interviewees from the Malaria vaccine trials at the Jenner Institute are: Katie Ewer, Senior Immunologist; and Carly Bliss, Research Assistant.

Exploding satellite debris could cause crash in space

The fragments could pose a major risk to other spacecraft, like in the film Gravity Credit: PA

Scientists from the University of Southampton have warned that a recent satellite explosion in space could pose a major risk to other spacecraft.

50,000 small pieces of debris are now travelling around earth at enormous speeds, according to new research. Scientists fear the fragments could cause extensive damage, just like the plot of Hollywood blockbuster film Gravity.

Even though many of these objects will be no bigger than the ball in a ballpoint pen, they can disable a spacecraft in a collision because of their enormous speed

– Dr Hugh Lewis, UK Space Agency

The US DMSP-F13 satellite exploded in February. The Southampton team have developed a new technique called CiELO (debris Cloud Evolution in Low Orbits) to assess the collision risk to space missions from small-sized debris. They produced a collision probability map showing a peak in the risk at altitudes just below the location of the DMSP-F13 explosion.

The eclipse chasers...preparing for tomorrow's event

Tomorrow morning the skies over the south will darken as the moon covers the sun during the Solar Eclipse. Yes safely of course, people wearing special glasses or using pin cameras stop what they are doing to see the event - the first for 16 years.

We must stress you must not look at the Sun with the naked eye - and even sun glasses are not enough to protect you. In our part of the world we can expect around 85% of the sun to be obscured - weather permitting - but for some people that's not enough.

So called Eclipse Chasers - many from our region are heading to the Faroe Islands - so they can see a Total eclipse. Our reporter Mike Pearse, is with them and sends this report.

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