Researchers at Queen Mary University of London found that vitamin D supplementation keep respiratory diseases such as cough and colds at bay. Data show that vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 12% reduction in the proportion of patients suffering at least one acute respiratory tract infection. Researchers also noted that vitamin D supplementation helped keep respiratory infections in check, especially among vitamin deficient individuals. To asses this the scientists examined more than 11,000 patients who participated in 25 clinical trials across 14 countries, including the U.K., India, Afghanistan, and Japan as well Belgium, Italy, Australia, Canada and the U.S.

“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely spaced doses. Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound vitamin D deficiency in several countries. By demonstrating this new benefit of vitamin D, our study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common,” said lead researcher Professor Adrian Martineau.

Vitamin D shows efficacy against flu

Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduces the risk of flu among children, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers at the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan examined up to 354 children who were given either vitamin D supplements or a placebo. Children in the treatment arm were given up to 1,200 international units of vitamin D over a period of three months.

Study data showed that children taking the vitamin supplements fell ill just as often as those who took a placebo during the first month of treatment. However, children in the supplement group showed a significant improvement in their overall health during the second month when their vitamin D levels had increased.

Researchers examined the vitamin’s efficacy in flu protection against two anti-viral drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir. Study data showed that vitamin D supplementation helped reduce the risk of flu infection in children by up to 50 percent, compared with a measly eight percent reduction in children taking zanamivir and oseltamivir.

The scientists concluded that while generally effective, antiviral treatments will fail consistently when assessed against vitamin D. The findings explain why flu seasons peak during winter between December and March, when people have significantly low levels of the sunshine vitamin, researchers noted.

Quick facts on acute respiratory infection

According to the World Lung Foundation, acute respiratory infections are associated with 4.25 million deaths around the world each year. Acute respiratory infections are also the third most common cause of death globally, and the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries. ARIs are also tied to at least six percent of the world’s disability and death rates.

Data show that three to five million people around the world contract severe flu infections every year. As many as 500,000 people die of severe flu infections annually, researchers say. Acute respiratory infections are also more prevalent among highly susceptible populations such as patients with HIV.

Acute respiratory infections are the leading cause of disease and death in children around the world. According to the World Lung Foundation, 20 to 40 percent of all juvenile hospitalizations can be associated with acute respiratory infections.


Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London are one step closer to understanding the ageing process, after finding a protein to have a previously unknown role.
The organs and tissues in our bodies are formed by a vast number of cells, which together co-ordinate their actions for our body to function properly. 
However, the team at Queen Mary turned their attention to a number of 'abnormal' cells found in older patients and those in the initial stages of cancer.  
These particular cells suffer a growth arrest termed ‘senescence’, which is thought to affect how the tissue functions. Senescent cells fail to reproduce, but they do communicate with their neighboring cells through the release of proteins. 
It was this communication that Dr Ana O'Loghlen and her team looked at.
Dr O'Loghlen, Epigenetics & Cellular Senescence Group Lecturer said:
"So, it is known that if this has an accumulating in healthy ageing, if you take away this cell then the tissue and the organism become a bit younger and this has been found by other groups so we hope that learning how this protein work and these normal cells could lead to therapeutic targets for cancer and ageing. So, what we would like to do is we would like to investigate if this protein how this protein and regulates the release of other proteins from these abnormal cells and we would like to use animal models to study this whether has an influence in early stages of cancer and ageing.
This experiment is the first time that the protein 'integrin beta 3' has been identified in the context of senescence and ageing...discovery could potentially unlock new ways of treating cancer or arresting the ageing process." 
The results are published in the latest Cell Reports

A new tool developed by researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) could save mothers’ and babies’ lives by predicting whether women with early onset pre-eclampsia are safe to prolong their pregnancy.

The study provides the most robust evidence yet to help clinicians decide on the management of mothers-to-be with early onset pre-eclampsia – a condition which affects one per cent of pregnant women and can lead to fatal complications including seizures, liver and kidney failure, bleeding disorders and heart and lung problems. An estimated 1,000 babies a year die from complications caused by pre-eclampsia.

The PREP study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and published in BMC Medicine, found two successful methods to predict the risk of complications which were accurate in up to 84 per cent of mothers.

Project lead Professor Shakila Thangaratinam from QMUL’s Blizard Institute said: “Often babies are delivered prematurely to ensure the mother is safe from complications. But this decision depends on the individual clinician, with no robust test to guide whether early birth is needed or not.

“Given the scarcity of neonatal intensive care beds and high-dependency hospital wards for mothers and the high costs of these facilities, an accurate estimation of the health risks at various time points after diagnosis of early onset pre-eclampsia is needed to prioritise and plan care.”

The researchers studied 946 women with early onset pre-eclampsia recruited from 53 NHS Trusts. By using routinely gathered data including mother’s age, gestation at which pre-eclampsia was diagnosed, blood pressure, urine protein level, liver and kidney function and oxygen levels in blood, the team developed mathematical models that were able to predict the risk of complications in the pregnant mothers.

Professor Thangaratinam added: “The PREP models could play a role in helping clinicians decide whether mothers need to be transferred to hospital for intensive maternal and neonatal care. Women categorised to be low risk could be followed-up in an outpatient setting, with high- and very high-risk women monitored as inpatients with regular intensive monitoring.

“The next stage is to evaluate the impact of using PREP models in clinical practice for doctors to use – this requires well-planned, robust clinical trials.”

Professor Hywel Williams, director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, said: “The NIHR is proud to have supported this independent research which should make a difference to the health of mothers and babies in the NHS.”

More information

  • Find out more about our Health Systems and Global Policy MSc and International Primary Health Care MSc.
  • Research paper: ‘Prediction of complications in early-onset pre-eclampsia (PREP): development and external multinational validation of prognostic models’. Shakila Thangaratinam, John Allotey, Nadine Marlin, Julie Dodds, Fiona Cheong-See, Peter von Dadelszen, Wessel Ganzevoort, Joost Akkermans, Sally Kerry, Ben W. Mol, Karl G. M. Moons, Richard D. Riley, Khalid S. Khan and for the PREP Collaborative Network. BMC Medicine 2017 15:68. DOI: 10.1186/s12916-017-0827-3.