BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7055.502 (Published 24 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:502

A multicentre trial in which 22 children aged under 16 years with sickle cell disease were treated by bone marrow transplantation found that 16 were cured (New England Journal of Medicine 1996;335:369-76). Two patients died. An accompanying editorial sets out the dilemma: the disease is so variable in its severity that patients need careful selection for a treatment that may itself threaten life.

Mice in which the fosB gene has been inactivated lack interest in bringing up their babies, says a report in “Science” (1996;273:577-8). Most of them die within a few days, though their mothers have no problem with milk production and their hormonal state seems normal. The gene (which is also found in humans) does seem to affect behaviour, though the researchers admit that their evidence is not yet conclusive.

More than 100 000 cases of diphtheria have now been reported in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. A few returning travellers have developed signs of the disease, but no cases of secondary infection have been reported (Eurosurveillance 1996;1:14-6). Nevertheless, clinicians should remain alert to the possibility and investigate the cause of sore throats, especially those with a membranous appearance.

Traumatic experiences …

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