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£1 million boost for Swansea University MS research.

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THE UK Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Register, based at Swansea University, has been awarded just over £1m investment from UK charity, the MS Society.

The Register is a ground-breaking medical research study that seeks to collect information from people with the disease about what it’s like to live day-to-day with Multiple Sclerosis. Established in 2011, it was the first UK-wide register of its kind for MS. It’s estimated that over 100,000 people live with the disease in the UK.

MS is one of the most common non-traumatic causes of disability in young adults worldwide. MS is a disease of the central nervous system that has a huge impact on the life of people affected by the disease. People with MS may suffer from physical disabilities, visual disturbances, fatigue, depression or cognitive dysfunction. All of which can influence activities of daily living, work ability, social participation and overall quality of life.

Through gathering large amounts of information from people with MS the Register is able to provide extremely rich, anonymised data for the purposes of medical research, which, it is hoped, can unlock some of the mysteries behind the disease. The Register collects data from three different sources;

1. Self-reported outcomes from people with MS via website surveys.

2. Clinical records from 47 NHS partner sites.

3. Other routinely collected data from health and wellbeing services (e.g. General Practice).

The MS Society has remained the principal funder since its inception in 2011. Recognising the contribution of the Register to MS Research, Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society said: “We continue to be incredibly excited about the potential the Register holds in transforming our understanding of MS. Data science is an area that we as a country need to build capacity in. Big data will revolutionise our understanding and treatment of diseases.”

The MS Register is part of the wider Population Data Science theme at Swansea University’s School of Medicine. It is a multidisciplinary theme of international standing, conducting Population Health Studies including clinical trials. The Register benefits greatly from this location owing to the world class expertise and collaborative research culture. This has evolved from pioneering work at Swansea in the 1990’s on linking health data sets and defining rigorous standards for medical records.

With this investment from the MS Society the Register hopes to further develop its platform, enhancing its usability and increasing the amount and type of data it collects. The Register continues to build on last year’s website re-launch, to improve its online interface with users and provide feedback to participants.

The Register is now looking to develop a similar interface for clinicians at its 47 partner NHS site locations. This will allow specialists in MS to see how the condition is affecting the day-to-day lives of patients away from the clinic, becoming an important tool for discussion around treatment options and lifestyle.

Other technical advancements are also in the pipeline in terms of the Register’s ability to capture more complex data types like MRI scan data. A ‘Machine Learning’ tool is also planned to extract and organise information directly from clinician’s letters to ease any administration burden for NHS staff. People with multiple sclerosis (or people acting on behalf of a person with MS) can sign up to the UK MS Register by visiting www.ukmsregister.org

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Student halls in Swansea not ready for start of term

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A £22m FLAGSHIP student development will not be open in time for the start of the academic year as planned.

Contractors have been working on the Coppergate scheme on the corner of The Kingsway and Christina Street in Swansea for several months.

Developer Crosslane Student Developments said the 310-bed scheme has experienced unforeseen delays.

Swansea University has encouraged students needing accommodation to check its website.

Not all of the rooms have been booked, but students who have paid rent and a deposit – or applied for a room – have been contacted.

Many of them will move to the Oldway Centre, another purpose-built development on High Street, which is opening on 13 September, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Crosslane Student Developments has apologised for the delay and said help would be given to students to move into alternative accommodation and again when they are able to move into Coppergate.

The company could not say when the development, including a 14-storey tower and two six-storey wings, would be ready.

Once complete it will be taken over by an operator called Prime Student Living.

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, which has a campus in Swansea, has also been notified of the situation.

A Crosslane Student Developments spokesman said: “Prime Student Living has communicated with students to inform them of the situation, what is happening, the actions being taken, what it means to them and of course to unreservedly apologise for what is very disappointing and concerning news.”

A team of advisers is in place to deal with queries from the students, many of whom are from overseas, the company said.

“We will be offering help and advice to all the students affected by this issue and supporting them to find alternative accommodation,” a university spokesman said.

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All flights from Swansea Airport grounded following safety audit

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FLIGHTS from Swansea Airport have been grounded after its operating licence was suspended due to a “series of safety concerns.”

Training flights had been using the facility as no commercial aircraft had taken off from the facility on the Gower Peninsula since October 2004.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has closed all licensed flights following a “recent unannounced safety audit”.

The airport was originally opened as an airbase in 1941 during World War Two.

The airport has been shut for licensed flights after the CAA “discovered a series of safety concerns…following a recent unannounced safety audit at Swansea Aerodrome”.

CAA director Richard Stephenson said: “The suspensions will remain in place until our safety concerns are addressed.”

The flying schools and skydiving centre that operate from Swansea Airport are not affected as the ban is on flights that require a “licensed aerodrome”.

Swansea Airport has has not yet responded to a request for comment from the BBC.

The first commercial flights from Swansea Airport on Fairwood Common were in 1949 after the RAF decommissioned the base, six miles (10km) west of the city centre.

Numerous short-haul commercial operators had run flights since Cambrian Airways’ inaugural flight from Jersey in June 1957.

But Air Wales, who flew to and from Dublin, Cork, Amsterdam, Jersey and London, stopped passenger flights from Swansea in 2004.

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Four fire engines used to battle Palace Theatre fire

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South Wales Fire and Rescue had a call at 6.58pm on Sunday, September 8, to the Palace Theatre, which is on High Street in Swansea.

They sent three fire engines, one water bowser and an aerial appliance to the scene.

It is thought that four small fires in the building were started deliberately.

The investigation is ongoing.

The building, constructed in 1888, was the subject of an emergency summit last year as the council wrestled with what to do with the former theatre.

The building was most recently used as a night club and closed in the early 2000’s.

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