Weekly News Round Up

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Making news this week: The government axes climate change department, Queensland researchers find protein believe to switch off HIV cells, a vaccine to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia could be just years away, and a WA study finds that Aboriginal mothers are 17 times more likely to die from homicide.

Dementia vaccine may be just years away, Flinders University researcher believes

A vaccine to prevent and even reverse the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia could be tested on humans within the next two to three years after being “bankrolled” by the US Government.

Researchers from South Australia’s Flinders University have been working with US counterparts at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and University of California to develop the vaccine, which targets proteins in the brain that block neurons.

According to Alzheimer’s Australia there are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia and without a medical breakthrough that number is expected to rise to almost 900,000 by 2050.

Aboriginal mothers 17 times more likely to die from homicide, WA study finds

Aboriginal mothers are 17.5 times more likely to die from homicide than non-Aboriginal mothers, according to new research.

The Telethon Kids Institute analysed West Australian data about deaths from external causes from 1983 to 2010 and found about a quarter of Aboriginal mothers who died in that time were homicide victims.

“I think it pinpoints… domestic violence issues that Aboriginal women are sometimes faced with,” report author Carrington Shepherd said.

Overall, Aboriginal mothers were 6.5 times more likely to die from preventable causes than non-Aboriginal mothers.

Protein which switches off HIV in cells found by Queensland researchers

A protein has been developed in Brisbane which switches off HIV infection in cells, potentially paving the way for a cure for the deadly virus.

Associate Professor David Harrich made the antiviral protein, known as the “Nullbasic”, by mutating an existing HIV protein.

Once HIV-infected cells were treated with the protein, they stopped making virus particles.

Associate Professor Harrich, head of the HIV molecular virology laboratory at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, said the results exceeded his expectations.

Government axes climate department

The government has axed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in a major departmental shake-up.

The brief will be folded into an expanded Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Greg Clark.

Ed Miliband, the former energy and climate secretary under Labour, called the move “plain stupid”.

It comes at a time when campaigners are urging the government to ratify the Paris climate change deal.

In his statement, Mr Clark appeared keen to calm concerns about the priority given to tackling global warming.

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