May 17, 2020

Cocaine use increasing and drug is on 11% of banknotes

2 min
11 percent of UK banknotes have traces of cocaine
Police and health experts are warning that cocaine use in Britain is increasing after tests revealed that the drug is present on 11 percent of banknote...

Police and health experts are warning that cocaine use in Britain is increasing after tests revealed that the drug is present on 11 percent of banknotes that are in circulation in the UK.

This his number has almost trebled since 2005, rising seven percent from just four percent.

It is thought this increase in cocaine abuse is the result of changes to alcohol licensing laws which have allowed pubs, bars and clubs to stay open for longer.

There are also suggestions that the growing popularity of the substance could also be responsible for increasing levels of violence in Britain.

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Fifteen police forces across the UK carried out the tests, which were part of an official enquiry conducted by the Home Office’s advisory council for the misuse of drugs (ACMD).

Commenting on the findings of the report, police drug expert PC Adrian Parsons said: “Gone are the days of the 1980s when it was just champagne Charlies in the City. That's out of the window now.

“It is my personal view that the change in licensing laws led to a rise in the use of cocaine.

“We have got extended licensing hours, we have got people who are not ramming as much down their necks as before 11 and who are going all night,” he added.  

“Cocaine is everywhere; it’s a drug that we see all over the place.”

Britain has been dubbed the ‘cocaine capital’ of Europe for the rates of usage there are of the Class-A drug and these finding support that theory. 

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Jun 15, 2021

 NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance 

2 min
Queen Alexandra Hospital is trialling a new sepsis test by Presymptom Health that uses machine learning to detect the onset of the disease

A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England. 

Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year. 

The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time. 

From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.

Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction. 

Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.

The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years. 

If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.

Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”

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