HC Deb 06 December 1989 vol 163 cc226-7W
Mr. Brandon-Bravo

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received the annual report of the Medical Research Council for 1988–89; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

The annual report of the Medical Research Council for 1988–89 has been submitted to me under the requirements of the Science and Technology Act 1965. A copy has been laid before the House, and the report is being published today. I was most interested to study the report and, in an eventful year for the Council, I was particularly encouraged to note:

  1. (i) Exciting fundamental research in such fields as neurobiology and molecular, cell and developmental biology offering the prospect of practical advances in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques and of commercially important developments. Examples include the work on protein function and design, on antibody engineering, on pre-implantation diagnosis of genetic disease, and on the role of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  2. (ii) The establishment of the Council's human genome mapping project.
  3. (iii) Promising research on the factors that influence susceptibility to coronary heart disease, and the trial of anti-coagulants in reducing the risk of thrombosis following myocardial infarction.
  4. (iv) The continued build-up of the Council's broad programme of research on AIDS which includes work on vaccines and drugs, epidemiological studies, and a new joint Anglo-French clinical trail of zidovudine for patients who are infected with HIV but have not yet become ill.
  5. (v) A major programme of breast cancer screening trials to determine: the optimum frequency of screening; the proportion of deaths which could be prevented by mammographic screening of women under 50; and the best way of detecting cancers by mammography. This is being funded jointly by the Medical Research Council, the Department of Health and the Cancer Research Campaign.
  6. (vi) A wide range of work of direct relevance to the health services, particularly studies: of vision screening in infancy; of the care of asthma patients; of determinants of re-attendance at accident and emergency departments; of procedures for identifying elderly people at risk of hip fracture; of cervical screening procedures; and of the care of terminally ill cancer patients.