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Lack of support for ME sufferers makes life even harder

Video. One third of those affected by the condition ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, have no access to specialist care. This worrying statistic has come to light through a new study by the University of Southampton.

Experts say the illness still isn't being taken seriously. One sufferer says the lack of support makes living with ME even harder for him.

Sally Simmonds spoke to Tim Reynolds, who has ME, Clare McDermott, Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and Mary-Jane Willows from the Association of Young People with ME.

For further help, support and information on ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, click below to visit the websites:

The Association of Young People with ME

ME Association

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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ME sufferers aren't getting local specialist services

One in three adults with severe M.E. has no access to local specialist services according to researchers at the University of Southampton.

They say a third of the units dedicated to patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome nationwide, aren't providing the care that's recommended for housebound patients, primarily due to a lack of funding.

It's estimated around 250,000 people in the UK have the condition.

Clare McDermott who led the study said:

People with ME should be able to seek the advice of a specialist service close to their homes. We were surprised by the lack of services and access to services that our survey revealed. Even if the local Trust provides a service, some housebound patients will never get to use it. Many, very ill patients are going without."

– Clare McDermott, NIHR School for Primary Care Research funded Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Southampton,

Free online course learning about what's in our oceans

The University of Southampton has launched a free online course for people to learn, explore and investigate what is in our oceans.

The course is free and anyone in the world can access it to study.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is being lead by ocean explorers from the Ocean and Earth Science department from the university.

Two to three hours of studying a week will be needed to look at creatures that live on the seabed and the underwater environment they live in.

A series of recorded lectures, planned learning activities and multiple-choice tests will make up the course.

Dr Jon Copley, Senior Lecturer in Marine Ecology said, "Ocean science is as big as the oceans themselves. In this course, you will investigate an underwater realm that has been unknown for most of human history.

"By taking what you've learned and discussed it with other people who may be taking the course or your friends and family, you can join in a global debate about the future of our planet."

If you would like to register for the 'Exploring our Oceans" course, click here.

Learning about creatures that lurk in the oceans is part of the free online course offered by the University of Southampton Credit: University of Southampton

Feeling the sun on your skin can reduce blood pressure

Sitting out in the sunlight and exposing your skin to it could help reduce your blood pressure, which in turn could help cut the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Research carried out by the University of Southampton showed sunlight altered levels of the small molecule nitric oxide in the skin and blood which reduced blood pressure.

The study consisted of 24 healthy people exposing their skin to UVA and UV rays from tanning lamps.

The results showed that UVA exposure dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and alters nitric oxide in the circulation without changing vitamin D levels.

Cardiovascular disease, which is associated with high blood pressure, takes 30% of deaths globally each year.

Nursing staff levels review led by Southampton Uni

Nursing academics from the University of Southampton have been asked to conduct a government-backed review of nurse staffing levels.

A previous study by the team found that hospitals with better staffing had measurably fewer patients deaths.

The review will be given to the Staffing Levels Advisory Committee that will make final recommendations on staffing levels in hospitals across the UK.

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Southampton Uni discovers way to prevent child allergy

Southampton university research has found that introducing solid food to babies whilst breastfeed could reduce food allergies.

The research suggested that giving babies solid food beside breast feeding helps it develop a better, stronger immune system to fight food allergies.

Babies are largely intolerant of solid food before four to six months of age. This is because their gut is relatively immature.

The study included 1140 babies from Hampshire. 41 of these children went onto to develop a food allergy by the time they were two years of age. The diet of these infants was compared with the diet of 82 infants who did not develop food allergy by the time they were two.

It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic mechanisms against the solids.

Additionally, our findings suggest 17 weeks is a crucial time point, with solid food introduction before this time appearing to promote allergic disease whereas solid food introduction after that time point seems to promote tolerance.

– Dr Kate Grimshaw, dietitian and senior research fellow at University of Southampton

Supercomputer makes a trillion calculations per second

The University of Southampton has turned on the most powerful university-based supercomputer in England, named Iridis4.

It will be used for research by University staff and students in engineering, archaeology, medicine and computer science.

Dr Oz Parchment, Director of Research Computing at the University said, "Southampton is a leader in High Performance Computing (HPC) and Iridis4 allows us to take another leap forward to keep pace with the needs of our world-class researchers."

In a deal worth £3.2 million, Southampton's new supercomputer is four times more powerful than its predecessor and has the skills to take control of some of the most demanding mathematical calculation, making one trillion calculation per second.

Early humans were able to hunt and kill prehistoric elephants

An archaeologist from the University of Southampton, who discovered remains of a prehistoric elephant in Kent, has discovered that early humans hunted and slaughtered the creatures.

Dr Francis Wenban-Smith, along with Oxford Archaeology, excavated the site where the remains were found.

As well as the remains, flint tools were also found.

Dr Weban-Smith said, "Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably for at least four individuals."

The pre-historic elephant was twice the size of today's African variety and up to four times the weight of a family car.

Francis continued, "Although it seemed incredible that they would have killed such an animal, it must have been possible with wooden spears."

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