Key summaries

"Key summaries" is a series of easy to understand articles aimed at non-experts. The articles summarise papers published in 4open and highlight and present key ideas and findings in a clear and concise way. Readers can then access the full text of the original paper at the end of each "Key summaries" article. "Key Summaries" articles are brought to you in collaboration with SciencePOD.

Surgical guidance in the time of COVID-19

An Interview with Björn Brücher, the surgeon who together with colleagues created clear guidance for surgeons around the world

Professor Björn Brücher is a cancer surgeon/scientist and the Editor in Chief of the EDP Sciences journal 4open. With 34 colleagues from around the world, he has created a clear guidance document for surgeons and clinicians working in the time of COVID-19, whether they are in a large first-world hospital or a small clinic in a developing country. The guidance was produced by collaborators who have come together in a totally unique and rapid fashion to ensure clear guidance is available for those working in these unprecedented conditions. The group shared a common vision, that the guidance be truly open access and available to all. Here Professor Brücher explains how and why the guidance was created, and what the next steps will be.


Sun-drying system could boost nutritional and medical value of a popular Mexican food

4open study reveals how sunshine and technology could promote wider use of prickly pear cactus

Capturing the sun’s energy to dry prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) opens up a cheaper and more effective route to producing Opuntia powder with greatly improved nutritional value, new research published in the open access journal 4open shows.

“We are making a bioproduct of superior quality at much lower cost than traditional combustion-based technology,” says Mario Pagliaro of Italy’s Research Council. Pagliaro is a co-author of the paper which describes an innovative system for processing the leaves of the Opuntia cactus.


Using artificial intelligence to predict the success of laser eye surgery

Algorithms modelled on biological neural networks can predict whether patients will need further corrective treatment, study shows

What if you knew that a medical procedure you intended to have was likely to be unsuccessful? What if your doctor could change things before the procedure to maximize the chance of success, specifically for you?

Now, researchers have developed an algorithm that can predict whether one of the most common surgical procedures – laser eye surgery – will be successful in a given patient. The technique, described in the study “Using Neural Networks to Predict the Outcome of Refractive Surgery for Myopia” in open-access journal 4Open, could allow surgeons to tailor the procedure for each patient to maximize the chances of success.


Putting exams to the test: Do entrance exams predict academic achievement?

4open study suggests entrance exam scores may not predict future success at university

Soon, students around the world will begin poring over textbooks for their university entrance exams. Many hope to reach that slim, tail end of the results curve that shows the very best performers. Others may worry about ending up at the other end.


New research challenges current thinking on cancer

4open special issue presents a new paradigm for cancer

Imagine if we could understand and treat the root causes of cancer, rather than struggling to remove it or mainly treating its symptoms once it has already taken hold. The authors of a new peer-reviewed Special Issue of the open access journal 4open have paved the way for this vision by challenging our understanding of how cancer begins, develops, and spreads.


Pursuit of profit underlies German nursing shortage

A new study in open-access journal 4open concludes that profit motives and excessive bureaucracy contribute to Germany's nursing crisis

What is the primary role of healthcare – to make profits or care for patients? This question lies at the heart of a new study, “German nursing shortage in hospitals - Homemade by Profititis?” in the open-access journal 4open, which examines the causes and consequences of a nurse shortage in German hospitals. The authors argue that business culture in healthcare has resulted in untenable staff cuts in the name of savings, and a heavy and largely unnecessary paperwork burden for staff.


Researchers use open-access genetic data to reveal a unique picture of ageing

Using publicly available datasets, researchers have found that genes involved in infections and inflammatory responses are highly expressed with age, suggesting links between infection/inflammation and the ageing process.

What happens to our bodies as we age, and why?

On the face of it, the answers may seem obvious, but the biological mechanisms involved in ageing are not yet completely understood. These questions are more pertinent than ever, as improvements in healthcare mean that the human population is ageing rapidly, but frailty and chronic illness still frequently accompany old age. Uncovering the mysteries of ageing will help researchers to understand the relationship between ageing and disease, paving the way for people to be healthier during their final years.