By Duncan Leatherdale
By Duncan Leatherdale
BBC Look North
North East and Cumbria
A new rapid turnaround Covid-19 test being piloted by Durham University, may be the way to get students home for Christmas.
Hundreds of students at the university have been trained to take the new Lateral Flow Covid test themselves.
It can produce the result in just half an hour.
It's hoped the self-testing will help identify those most at risk of spreading Covid-19 - especially in those who are infectious, but not showing symptoms.
If all goes well the gentler and faster swab test could mean much more testing in care homes.
A demonstration of Covid-19 detecting dogs has left the Duchess of Cornwall and Health Secretary Matt Hancock "impressed".
The Department of Health helped to fund the clinical trials, which are being run as a collaboration between the charity and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University
The Medical Detection Labradors, which are trained to sniff out the virus, were put through their paces in Paddington Station.
Six times during the demonstration, Labradors Bob and Basil picked out the person wearing an item of clothing impregnated with the scent of Covid-19 from five volunteers.
It is hoped in the coming months the animals could be deployed at airports, train stations and sporting venues to assist with rapid screening .
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News family and education correspondent
The 15 Durham undergraduates had known each other for just two weeks when they went into isolation after two of them contracted coronavirus.
The remaining 13 decided to run along the 15-metre corridor in Trevelyan College more than 2,800 times to total 26.2 miles (42.1km).
They have so far raised £1,000 for Help Musicians UK.
Durham University is using a hotel in the city as additional study space.
The council room in Hotel Indigo will have 18 study spaces on a temporary basis, which can be used by students.
The room is open from 08:00 to 22:00 seven days a week, on a drop-in basis with no time restriction.
The hotel was previously used by Durham University as offices, having originally been built as the headquarters of Durham County Council from 1898 to 1963.
E-cigarettes might not be a safer alternative to smoking during pregnancy, researchers at Durham University have found.
The study - believed to be the first of its kind - found that babies of mothers who smoked e-cigarettes during pregnancy displayed similar abnormal reflexes to infants whose mothers smoked traditional cigarettes.
Abnormal reflexes can include a baby not grasping a finger with their hand or not being startled if the hand supporting their head is suddenly removed.
Researchers said the findings had important implications for policy guidelines, and further investigation was needed.
The study looked at the outcomes of 83 one-month-old babies including 44 born to mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy, 29 who smoked cigarettes and ten who smoked e-cigarettes.
Lead author Suzanne Froggatt, a PhD researcher at the university, said: “Nicotine can cause widespread negative effects on the central nervous system, subsequently affecting brain development, with animal studies indicating the devastating effects within the brain.
“Although e-cigarettes might expose the mother to fewer toxins than cigarettes, given the uncontrolled amount of nicotine in e-cigarette consumption and the effects on the fetus which can be seen post-natally, more investigation is needed.”
More than 1,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 at Durham University in the past week, it has been announced.
Latest figures showed that in the past seven days 958 students and six members of staff had tested positive.
The week before the figures were three staff and 219 students.
The university said it was managing cases on campus in conjunction with Durham County Council public health colleagues.
All affected staff and students are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance and receiving full support, the university said..
A team of Covid patrol officers has been drafted in to stop Durham University students having parties.
The university has spent £30,000 on the community response team (CRT) to help support Durham Police.
The team will be patrolling the campus explaining local and national Covid-19 restrictions.
Two members of the team will also be available from 20:30 to 04:30, seven nights a week to help students and the police to deal with large gatherings and to stop house parties.
They are also encouraging students to report any worries via the police's website live chat function or by calling the 101 non-emergency number.
Jeremy Cook, pro-vice-chancellor at Durham University, said: “The vast majority of our students have responded to the local and national Covid-19 restrictions as responsible citizens and we are proud of them for doing so.
"However, when a student’s behaviour falls below the standards we would expect, we will take swift and decisive action to protect our students, staff and local community.”
Serena Senoo is at Durham University and is worried after 219 fellow students tested positive.
A further 1,800 students in the North East have tested positive for Covid-19.
Newcastle University said 1,003 students and 12 members of staff were confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus in the past week, compared with 94 last Friday.
There were also 619 new cases at Northumbria University, which last week said 770 people had contracted the virus since mid-September.
Durham University confirmed 219 cases in students in the past week.
Newcastle and Northumbria universities have moved the majority of teaching online.
Newcastle University said the "overwhelming majority" of cases had arisen from social and residential settings and it was "confident" appropriate measures were in place to protect everyone on campus.
A Durham University-led study into how to futureproof crops against climate change has been given a £4.5m boost by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
As an immobile organism, plant survival relies on its ability to adapt to the environment. Plant adaptation to factors such as heat, high salinity and lack of water is partly dependent on a quick and reversible process that modifies proteins, called SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier).
A Durham spokesman said researchers and their partners have shown that manipulating SUMO modification of certain proteins can help the plant to survive and flourish in harsh environments.
Project leader Professor Ari Sadanandom said: “We want to understand how SUMO converts environmental signals into a physiological response in plants.
“By understanding the ‘SUMO code’, we hope to help researchers and breeders to edit and rewrite the code to develop crops that are futureproofed against changes in climate to protect crop productivity.”
Thousands of new university students have moved into halls of residence across the region despite calls to teach from home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The government has defended students' arrivals, but Labour says it should consider pausing their return as many parts of the country are seeing a sharp rise in infection rates.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said the start of term should be delayed while an "effective, efficient testing system" is put in place.
The Department for Education said it was working closely with universities.
Earlier this month, public health chiefs in Newcastle said the arrival of 50,000 students in the city would be a serious problem. Universities in the North East said they have measures in place to limit the spread of the virus.
The vice-chancellor of Durham University has paid tribute to former student and crusading editor Sir Harold Evans, who's died at the age of 92.
A Durham University graduate, he made his name at the Northern Echo in the 1960s by launching campaigns which resulted in a national screening programme for cervical cancer and a posthumous pardon for Timothy Evans, wrongly hanged for murder in 1950.
While editor for The Sunday Times his campaigns against injustice and for the highest journalistic standards forged his reputation.
Durham University vice-chancellor Prof Stuart Corbridge, said: “Our community is devastated to learn of the loss of alumnus Sir Harold Evans - a journalistic pioneer whose exceptional career spanned decades and whose legacy will influence generations to come.
Quote Message: Sir Harry is a deep loss to us all and will be remembered fondly here by so many of our staff, students, and alumni alike. Our thoughts and best wishes are with his family.” from Professor Stuart Corbridge
Sir Harold was a former student of University College, Durham, where he read Politics and Economics, graduating with honours in 1952.
He was later editor of Palatinate, the university’s student newspaper.
Sir Harold Evans, the former Sunday Times editor who's died at the age of 92, will be fondly remembered in the North East.
A Durham University graduate, he made his name at the Northern Echo in the 1960s by launching campaigns that resulted in a national screening programme for cervical cancer and a posthumous pardon for Timothy Evans, wrongly hanged for murder in 1950.
While at The Sunday Times he led an investigation into the drug Thalidomide.
His 70-year career also saw him work as a magazine founder, book publisher, author and - at the time of his death - Reuters' editor-at-large.
Sir Harold died of heart failure in New York.