Tesla tweaks referral program replacing 100 credit with six months free supercharging

Source: Charge Forward Buyers can now receive 6 months of free supercharging with any new Tesla vehicle order as an incentive when using a current owner’s referral code to purchase a new Model S, X or Model 3.This incentive replaces the previous $100 supercharging credit and is retroactive – all owners who used a referral code on a purchase since September 19th will receive 6 free months of supercharging in addition to the $100 credit they already received (which does not have an expiration date). more…The post Tesla tweaks referral program, replacing $100 credit with six months free supercharging appeared first on Electrek. read more

VE Advises in Plains All Americans Big Dollar Purchase

first_img Username Remember me The all-stock transaction will make PAA Natural Gas Storage, LP a wholly-owned subsidiary of Plains. Newsflash: this isn’t V&E’s first encounter with this Houston-based company . . .You must be a subscriber to The Texas Lawbook to access this content. Passwordcenter_img Lost your password? Not a subscriber? Sign up for The Texas Lawbook.last_img

Shattered chromosome cures woman of immune disease

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Call it a scientific oddity—or a medical miracle. A girl who grew up with a serious genetic immune disease was apparently cured in her 30s by one of her chromosomes shattering into pieces and reassembling. Scientists traced the woman’s improvement to the removal of a harmful gene through this scrambling of DNA in one of her blood stem cells—a recently identified phenomenon that until now had only been linked to cancer.The woman, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, suffered from recurring bacterial infections as a child. Back then, doctors found that she had abnormally low levels of certain white blood cells needed to fight invading microbes. The 9-year-old’s illness, described in two reports in 1964 in The New England Journal of Medicine, was the first known case of what is now called WHIM (warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis) syndrome. In this extremely rare disease—only about 60 cases are known worldwide—patients live into adulthood, but they can develop lung scarring, hearing loss, and other health problems from the frequent infections. Those with WHIM are also highly susceptible to the human papillomavirus, which causes warts on their skin and genital areas that sometimes turn cancerous.In 2003, researchers linked WHIM to a gene called CXCR4, which codes for a cell surface protein that immune cells use to recognize chemical messengers called chemokines. In WHIM, patients have one normal copy of CXCR4 and a defective copy that causes the receptor to be overactive—it doesn’t shut off when it’s supposed to. This somehow causes white blood cells to “get stuck” in the bone marrow instead of entering the bloodstream, says Philip Murphy, an immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland.center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Murphy and colleagues have studied WHIM patients at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) Clinical Center to better understand the disease and develop a possible treatment with a drug that inhibits CXCR4. Two years ago, they heard from a woman who said she wanted to bring in her two daughters for evaluation because they had inherited the disease.The woman was that first WHIM patient, now 59 years old. Her two daughters in their early 20s did indeed have classic symptoms of WHIM, such as warts on their hands, and their blood cells carried the mutation in CXCR4 that usually causes it. But as for their mother, “When we asked a very simple question—‘How was she doing?’—she said she was fine,” Murphy recalls. She had not had warts or serious infections since her late 30s. “At this point we got very, very interested,” he says.The NIH team began sleuthing. To its surprise, the woman’s white blood cells no longer had the faulty CXCR4 mutation, although other cell types still carried it. Examining the chromosomes in her apparently normal white blood cells, they found an anomaly: One copy of chromosome 2 was about 15% shorter than the other copy. Whole-genome sequencing revealed that it had become scrambled and lost a chunk that included the defective CXCR4 and 163 other normal genes.The explanation seems to be chromothripsis, a phenomenon discovered only 4 years ago in a leukemia patient and occasionally seen in other cancers. A chromosome somehow shatters during cell replication, then reassembles with the pieces in a different order. Presumably, the cells typically die as a result of this damage, Murphy says. If the cell survives, the scrambled genes may contribute to cancer.In this case, however, the chromosome shattering seems to have occurred in a blood stem cell, which then replicated to give her a supply of normal white blood cells. The missing copy of CXCR4 also appears to explain why the cells now constitute all of her white blood cells, the NIH researchers say. They showed that transplants of stem cells lacking one copy of CXCR4 engraft better in mice than stem cells with two normal copies or a normal copy and the WHIM version, they report online today in Cell.Murphy says the woman’s case shows that chromothripsis can be curative, and it’s worth checking for it in patients with other rare diseases who spontaneously get better. It also suggests that disabling one copy of CXCR4 could improve efforts to treat diseases such as sickle cell anemia by editing a genetic defect in blood stem cells and returning the cells to the patient. Deleting one copy of CXCR4 while repairing the broken gene could make the transplant engraft more readily, Murphy says.“Very interesting,” says clinical geneticist George Diaz of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, who identified CXCR4 mutations as the cause of WHIM. He says the woman’s recovery reminds him of the story of the Berlin patient, an HIV-positive man who developed leukemia, then became virus-free after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a donor lacking a chemokine receptor that HIV needs to enter cells. The improved engraftment in mice lacking one copy of CXCR4, Diaz adds, “could definitely have clinical applications downstream.”last_img read more

Humans have more primitive hands than chimpanzees

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The human hand is a marvel of dexterity. It can thread a needle, coax intricate melodies from the keys of a piano, and create lasting works of art with a pen or a paintbrush. Many scientists have assumed that our hands evolved their distinctive proportions over millions of years of recent evolution. But a new study suggests a radically different conclusion: Some aspects of the human hand are actually anatomically primitive—more so even than that of many other apes, including our evolutionary cousin the chimpanzee. The findings have important implications for the origins of human toolmaking, as well as for what the ancestor of both humans and chimps might have looked like.Humans and chimps diverged from a common ancestor perhaps about 7 million years ago, and their hands now look very different. We have a relatively long thumb and shorter fingers, which allows us to touch our thumbs to any point along our fingers and thus easily grasp objects. Chimps, on the other hand, have much longer fingers and shorter thumbs, perfect for swinging in trees but much less handy for precision grasping. For decades the dominant view among researchers was that the common ancestor of chimps and humans had chimplike hands, and that the human hand changed in response to the pressures of natural selection to make us better toolmakers.But recently some researchers have begun to challenge the idea that the human hand fundamentally changed its proportions after the evolutionary split with chimps. The earliest humanmade stone tools are thought to date back 3.3 million years, but new evidence has emerged that some of the earliest members of the human line—such as the 4.4-million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus (“Ardi”)—had hands that resembled those of modern humans rather than chimps, even though it did not make tools. And back in 2010, a team led by paleoanthropologist Sergio Almécija, now at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., began arguing that even earlier human relatives, dating to 6 million years ago—very soon after the human-chimp evolutionary split—already had humanlike hands as well. This even included the ability to press the thumb against the fingers with considerable force, a key aspect of precision gripping. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Email To get a grasp on what early hands really looked like, Almécija and his colleagues analyzed the thumb and finger proportions of a large number of living apes and monkeys, including modern humans. They then compared these to the hands of several extinct species of apes and early humans, including Ardi, the Neandertals, and the 2-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba from South Africa, which its discoverers controversially think might be a direct ancestor of humans. The sample also included the 25-million-year-old fossil ape known as Proconsul.The team crunched the measurements from all these samples using sophisticated statistical methods designed to determine the course of hand evolution over time. The researchers found that the hand of the common ancestor of chimps and humans, and perhaps also earlier ape ancestors, had a relatively long thumb and shorter fingers, similar to that of humans today. (Gorillas, which spend most of their time on the ground and not in trees, have similarly shaped hands.) Thus, the human hand retains these more “primitive” proportions, whereas the elongated fingers and shorter thumbs of chimps, as well as orangutans, represent a more specialized and “derived” form ideal for life in the trees, the team reports today in Nature Communications.Almécija says that a hand capable of precision grasping was “one of the earliest adaptations” among members of the human line, possibly because it made our ancestors better at gathering a wider variety of foods, and not originally because it made them better toolmakers. And if human hands largely retained the “primitive” state, he adds, the most important changes that led to toolmaking would have been “neurological” — that is, the result of the enlargement and evolution of the human brain and its ability to plan ahead and better coordinate hand movements.“Their results fit very nicely with the view … that the human hand is best described as primitive,” says Tracy Kivell, an anthropologist at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom who specializes in the study of the primate hand and wrist. “It’s good to see that some of the implications of Ardi”—that the common ancestor of chimps and humans was not chimplike—“are being noticed,” adds Owen Lovejoy, an anatomist at Kent State University in Ohio and member of the team that studied this early member of the human line. Rather than being a good model for this common ancestor, Lovejoy says, today’s chimps are “highly specialized” for a fruit-eating life high up in the trees.But the study is not likely to receive a warm welcome from researchers who think the common ancestor of chimps and humans was indeed more chimplike. The team “build[s] an evolutionary scenario based on one data point, bony proportions of hands, with the underlying assumption that they tell a story,” says Adrienne Zihlman, a primatologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Zihlman argues that the hands alone provide researchers with only a very limited view of what the common ancestor was like. “This paper serves as a poster child for what is wrong with a lot of work in paleoanthropology.”last_img read more

Bed bugs love your stinky laundry Heres how to keep them away

first_imgBed bugs are drawn to the smell of your stinky clothes. On the surface, bed bugs seem ill-equipped for world domination: They can’t fly, jump, or swim; they can survive only on blood; and the world’s foremost apex predators—humans—want them all dead. Yet the parasitic arthropods have recently undergone what scientists are calling a “rapid global expansion,” taking over new territories and growing in number and range. And according to a new study, their globetrotting is made possible in part by an unusual form of transportation: our stinky laundry.“It’s a good study,” says Richard Cooper, an entomologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who was not involved with the work. He says it makes sense that the bugs are attracted to human odors, even on clothing.Though they aren’t known to transmit disease, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) can leave behind itchy bites and cause allergic reactions. In the middle of the 20th century, the pests had been largely eradicated from large parts of the developed world, but bans on effective pesticides in the 1990s, along with cheap air travel, have allowed the bugs to come creeping back. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By David ShultzSep. 28, 2017 , 9:00 AM Bed bugs love your stinky laundry. Here’s how to keep them away Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Email Unlike ticks or lice, the apple seed–sized bed bugs aren’t travelers: They don’t stay on their hosts for long, and they rarely leave the beds and couches where they feast. So how were they getting onto planes?“To me, hitchhiking seemed like the best explanation,” says William Hentley, an entomologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. “That then led me to this question of whether they’re attracted to our clothes and the smell of humans.”To figure out whether the bugs were indeed stowing away in our laundry and luggage, Hentley and his colleagues tested whether the insects were attracted to soiled clothing. They set a cage full of bed bugs in the middle of a room and placed two cotton bags at equal distances—one filled with clean clothes and the other filled with dirty socks and T-shirts collected from volunteers. The researchers released the bed bugs from the cage and let them wander freely for 96 hours.At the end of the experiment, about twice as many bugs were attracted to the dirty clothes as to clean ones, the team reports today in Scientific Reports. That jives with prior experiments that have shown that bed bugs can smell more than 100 compounds produced by human skin—many of which could easily linger on clothes for multiple days, the researchers say.They also tested whether increases in carbon dioxide—long thought to signal a nearby meal—made the bugs more or less likely to go for the smelly clothes. When added to room, the gas seemed to trigger foraging behavior, but the bugs weren’t any more likely to go for the dirty clothes than they were initially. That suggests that carbon dioxide prompts the bugs to forage, but it doesn’t help them home in on the smelly laundry, the team concludes.So what can you do to keep the six-legged parasites out of your suitcase when you travel? Hentley is careful to point out that he hasn’t studied these techniques scientifically, but he recommends simply putting your bags up on the metal luggage racks in a hotel room, because the bugs can’t climb up smooth surfaces. If no such rack is to be found, keeping your soiled garments in an airtight bag should help mask the smell. But bear in mind that if you’ve previously put dirty clothes in your luggage, you might need to wrap up your whole suitcase, he says.Cooper agrees that plastic bags might work, but he doesn’t use them himself. “The biggest thing is not keeping your luggage on the bed,” he says. Another option: putting your bags into a portable heating chamber whenever you get home and washing and drying your clothes on high heat. “Heat is the Achilles heel of the bed bug,” Cooper says. AMIXSTUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more

Fighting Ebola is hard In Congo fake news makes it harder

first_img © UNICEF/UN0228985/Naftalin A member of UNICEF’s Ebola outreach team addresses the public in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fighting Ebola is hard. In Congo, fake news makes it harder The CUBE, a transparent biosecure tent, allows health workers to treat Ebola patients without wearing protective gear. ALIMA/Anne-Gaelle Borg Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Laura SpinneyJan. 14, 2019 , 3:35 PM With 600 confirmed cases and 343 deaths recorded since August 2018, the outbreak is the second largest ever after the massive epidemic that struck West Africa 5 years ago and killed more than 11,000. Conflict has smoldered for years in North Kivu, an antigovernment stronghold, and some at-risk areas are inaccessible because they are controlled by armed rebels or can’t be reached by road or rail. The outbreak has already reached several urban centers, including Butembo, a city of almost 700,000. An experimental vaccine developed by Merck and given to nearly 60,000 people so far, has likely slowed the virus’s spread but hasn’t stopped it.In West Africa, fear kept people away from clinics, meaning Ebola cases, as well as diseases such as measles and malaria, went untreated. Mistrust of governments and aid workers ran high and rumors were rife. That’s even more true in the DRC now. In September 2018, an opposition politician, Crispin Mbindule Mitono, claimed on local radio that a government lab had manufactured the Ebola virus “to exterminate the population of Beni,” a city that was one of the earliest foci of the outbreak. Another rumor has it that the Merck vaccine renders its recipients sterile. On 26 December 2018, the national electoral commission decided to exclude Beni and Butembo from the polls because of the epidemic; the following day, an Ebola evaluation center was attacked during protests. The Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is providing a natural experiment in fighting fake news. Occurring in a conflict zone, amid a controversial presidential election, the epidemic has proved to be fertile ground for conspiracy theories and political manipulation, which can hamper efforts to treat patients and fight the virus’s spread. Public health workers have mounted an unprecedented effort to counter misinformation, saying the success or failure of the Ebola response may pivot on who controls the narrative.Tensions are expected to rise again in the wake of the 10 January declaration by the DRC’s election commission that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won the election, held on 30 December 2018. Foreign observers and the Roman Catholic Church’s monitors say Martin Fayulu, another opposition figure, garnered more votes, and his supporters are alleging fraud. Health workers know rumors thrive amid uncertainty.“I usually tell my teams that we fight two outbreaks, Ebola and fear,” says Carlos Navarro Colorado of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in New York City. “It is all about information.” For the first time in an Ebola outbreak, UNICEF and other agencies have joined forces as a single response team, which answers to the DRC’s Ministry of Health and includes dozens of social scientists, who use the airwaves, social media, and meetings with community and religious leaders to fight misinformation. Responders also foster trust by making their work more transparent—in some cases literally. A new biosecure tent, called the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit for Outbreaks (CUBE), allows relatives to visit and see Ebola patients during treatment. Although opposition organizations condemned the commission’s decision, they called for the Ebola response to be protected—which health workers saw as a small but significant victory. “We’ve managed to get communities to separate in their minds Ebola control from the broader political agenda,” says Michael Ryan, who directs the World Health Organization’s role in the campaign in Geneva, Switzerland. “That’s been really helpful.” Ryan hands much of the credit to social scientists working for the various agencies involved in the response. Along with community engagement workers, they make up one-third of the workforce.Part of their role is to chart the social networks through which the virus spreads, but they also gather information about communities’ perceptions, which is entered within days into an online “dashboard” created by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva. The government has also recruited young people to report misinformation circulating on WhatsApp, a major information channel in the DRC, says Jessica Ilunga, a spokesperson for the DRC’s Ministry of Health in Kinshasa.As rumors surface, communications experts rebut them with accurate information via WhatsApp or local radio. They take care not to repeat the misinformation; research has shown this is the best way to help the public “forget” false news and reinforce the truth. The vocal support of Ebola survivors has helped as well. Grateful for their care, some have become volunteers at Ebola treatment centers (ETCs).So far, the responders believe they are winning the information war. People who think they might be ill are now far more willing to accept a referral to an ETC than they might have been early on, says IFRC’s Ombretta Baggio. The CUBE, used for the first time in this outbreak, is also a big help, says Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s deputy representative in the DRC. In the past, visitors were kept at a safe distance from patients within an ETC or not permitted at all. Designed by a Senegal-based organization called ALIMA, the CUBE, with its transparent walls and external arm entries—like those in a laboratory glove box—allows patients and their relatives to see and speak to each other up close. The €15,000, reusable units also improve care, because health workers don’t need to wear cumbersome protective gear that limits their movements and can only be worn for a short time.Organized tours of the ETCs for members of the local community have helped, too, as have creches for the children of sick mothers, located close to the centers. Ambulances in North Kivu no longer use sirens when transporting suspected Ebola patients, as the sound was judged stigmatizing in West Africa.Burial practices keep evolving as well. In early Ebola epidemics, victims were often buried unceremoniously, sealed in opaque body bags, without allowing relatives and friends to say farewell. That bred resentment and stoked rumors about corpses being stolen to sell their organs. In what are called “safe and dignified” burials, introduced in the West Africa epidemic, families are given more opportunities to see and spend time with the body. For the current epidemic, responders procured transparent body bags, allowing families to see their loved one until the coffin is closed.“One of the starkest lessons we learned in West Africa is that we don’t need to change everything about a traditional burial,” says anthropologist Juliet Bedford, director of a U.K.-based consultancy called Anthrologica in Oxford. “We just need to make sure it is medically safe.” Even touching the body is sometimes allowed, provided relatives wear protective clothing.Contingency plans are in place in case of further unrest, and the partner agencies have bolstered preparedness in neighboring areas not yet touched by the epidemic. Ryan says the political problems may have an upside: “Communities that resist are energetic,” he says. “If you can turn that negative energy into positive energy, then it becomes a force for good. You just have to know how to pick that lock.”last_img read more

Podcast treating the microbiome and a gene that induces sleep

first_imgOrla Smith, editor of Science Translational Medicine joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about what has changed in the past 10 years of microbiome research, what’s getting close to being useful in treatment, and how strong, exactly, the research is behind those probiotic yogurts.When you’re sick, sleeping is restorative—it helps your body recover from nasty infections. Meagan Cantwell speaks with Amita Sehgal, professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania and an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, about the process of discovering a gene in fruit flies that links sleep and immune function.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Download the transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcast[Music: Jeffrey Cook]last_img read more

Australian govt warns released student not to return to North Korea

first_imgBy Reuters |Sydney | Published: July 5, 2019 7:46:55 am Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Post Comment(s) Top News Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Alek Sigley, Alek Sigley detained in north korea, who is Alek Sigley, north korea, australia, north korea australia relations, japan Australian student Alek Sigley, 29, who was detained in North Korea, arrives at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo on Thursday. (Reuters)Australia’s government warned a student not to return to North Korea on Friday, a day after he was released from detention by Pyongyang under mysterious circumstances. Sweden increased its engagement with North Korea in 2017 at the height of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.Donald Trump became the first incumbent U.S. president to set foot in North Korea when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the region’s demilitarised zone on Sunday in an attempt to resume stalled nuclear talks Alek Sigley, who flew to Tokyo on Thursday to join his Japanese wife, had been studying in the North Korean capital and had been missing since June 25.“My advice would be pretty clear, I would stay in Japan. I would go back to South Korea … I would come back to Australia,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told the Nine network.“All of those would have to be better options before he returns to North Korea,” Dutton said. “I don’t think he will put himself back in that situation … it could have ended up very differently.” Advertisingcenter_img After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Sigley left North Korea on Thursday and flew to Beijing, where he was met by Australian officials for the flight to Tokyo. He declined to comment to a throng of reporters at Haneda Airport, only making a peace sign before being taken away.It is still not clear why he was detained by the secretive North. The details of his release were also not known.Swedish authorities helped secure Sigley’s release because Australia has no diplomatic presence in North Korea and relies on other countries to act on its behalf.The Swedish diplomat who helped secure Sigley’s release, Kent Harstedt, told Reuters by phone he could not divulge details of the detention.“The only thing I can say is that we welcome that North Korea was prepared to listen to our arguments and that this could be resolved so quickly – I think this is good for all parties concerned,” said Harstedt, who was pictured with Sigley at Beijing airport on Thursday. Best Of Express Advertisinglast_img read more

Cosmic conundrum The disks of gas and dust that supposedly form planets

first_imgArtist’s illustration of the protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star JPL-Caltech/NASA Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Cosmic conundrum: The disks of gas and dust that supposedly form planets don’t seem to have the goods Astronomers have a problem on their hands: How can you make planets if you don’t have enough of the building blocks? A new study finds that protoplanetary disks—the envelopes of dust and gas around young stars that give rise to planets—seem to contain orders of magnitude too little material to produce the planets.“This work is telling us that we really have to rethink our planetary formation theories,” says astronomer Gijs Mulders of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who was not involved in the research.Stars are born from colossal clouds of gas and dust and, in their earliest stages, are surrounded by a thin disk of material. Dust grains within this halo collide, sometimes sticking together. The clumps build up into planetary cores, which are big enough to gravitationally attract additional dust and gas, eventually forming planets.center_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Adam MannSep. 28, 2018 , 8:00 AM But many details about this process remain unknown, such as just how quickly planets arise from the disk, and how efficient they are in capturing material. The disks, surrounded by an obscuring haze of gas and dust, are difficult to observe. But radio telescopes can penetrate the haze and investigate young stars. The brightness of radio waves emitted by dust in the disk can be used to give a reasonable estimate of its overall mass.The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), a radio observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, has made it far easier to study protoplanetary disks. In the new study, astronomers led by Carlo Manara of the European Southern Observatory in Munich, Germany, used ALMA to compare the masses of protoplanetary disks around young stars between 1 million and 3 million years old to the masses of confirmed exoplanets and exoplanetary systems around older stars of equivalent size. The disk masses were often much less than the total exoplanet mass—sometimes 10 or 100 times lower, the team will report in an upcoming paper in Astronomy & Astrophysics.Although such findings have been reported before for a few star systems, the study is the first to point out the mismatch over several hundred different systems. “I think what this work does is really set this as a fact,” Manara says.It is possible that astronomers are simply looking at the disks too late. Perhaps some planets form in the first million years, sucking up much of the gas and dust, Manara says. ALMA has found that some extremely young stars, such as the approximately 100,000-year-old HL Tauri, already have ringlike gaps in their disks, potentially indicating that protoplanets are sweeping up material inside of them.“But if you solve one problem, you end up with another,” says astronomer Jonathan Williams of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, who was also not involved in the work. If planetary cores form early, when so much material remains in the disk, nothing would stop them from ballooning into Jupiter-size behemoths. Yet the emerging census of exoplanets shows that most are Earth- or Neptune-size worlds.Williams favors the idea that current telescopes are simply missing some of the material. ALMA’s wavelengths are tuned to best see the smallest bits of dust. But a great deal of mass, perhaps as much as 10 times what’s been observed, could be hidden in the form of pebbles, which are slightly too big to show up in such investigations. A proposed upgrade to the Very Large Array, a radio telescope in New Mexico, should be able to spot such hidden debris, perhaps accounting for some of the missing material.One final possibility is that protoplanetary disks are somehow sucking in additional material from the surrounding interstellar medium. Manara says some recent simulations show young stars drawing in fresh material for much longer periods of time than previously believed. He hopes that observations of the earliest stages of star formation from the upcoming Square Kilometer Array or James Webb Space Telescope will help researchers decide between these different hypotheses.last_img read more

A rediscovered drug against sleeping sickness gets the green light

first_img A powerful new treatment for human African trypanosomiasis, better known as sleeping sickness, received a stamp of approval today from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London, clearing the way for countries affected by the disease to approve its use. That could soon improve the lives of thousands of patients in West and Central Africa where sleeping sickness, caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the tsetse fly, not only causes severe disruption in sleep patterns but also aggression, psychosis, and, ultimately, death.“It’s a great victory for people in Africa with sleeping sickness, but it is also a victory for” the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), the nonprofit organization that rediscovered the drug and is shepherding it to approval, says Peter Hotez, a tropical disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. “It’s a great validation of DNDi’s approach.”Health officials reported 1447 cases of human African trypanosomiasis to the World Health Organization (WHO) last year, but the true number of cases is widely believed to be much higher. As recently as 10 years ago, the main treatment for human African trypanosomiasis was the arsenic-based drug melarsoprol, which killed 5% of those treated with it. Current treatments with drugs named eflornithine and nifurtimox aren’t deadly, but they involve a complicated series of infusions and pills that have to be administered in a hospital; they also require patients to undergo painful lumbar punctures in order to check whether the parasite is present in the spinal fluid. All of that puts the treatments out of reach for many patients in the countries where most of the cases occur: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Guinea, and Chad. A ‘rediscovered’ drug against sleeping sickness gets the green light By Gretchen VogelNov. 16, 2018 , 7:15 AM Health workers screen for human African trypanosomiasis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.center_img Neil Brandvold/DNDi The new drug, fexinidazole, can be taken as a once-a-day pill for 10 days. Originally developed in the 1980s, fexinidazole had been abandoned by Hoechst, the German company that owned it; it was rediscovered in 2005 by DNDi researchers looking for possible antiparasitic compounds. DNDi cooperated with drugmaker Sanofi to test the drug in patients and apply for an EMA recommendation under a special set of rules designed to help get new drugs on the market in low- and middle-income countries outside of the European Union. The so-called Article 58 procedure involves experts from EMA, WHO, and affected countries.Today, an EMA scientific committee announced its “positive opinion” for fexinidazole, opening the way for individual countries to approve its use, which should happen within 90 days. DNDi says the first patients should be able to receive the drug by mid-2019.That’s great news on several levels, says Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, director of neglected tropical diseases at DNDi, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Because patients don’t have to travel for treatment, they can be cured earlier, which not only benefits them, but also helps slow the spread of the disease. The drug is effective for both mild and severe forms of sleeping sickness, so health workers no longer have to test patients’ spinal fluid. And the fact that patients don’t need to be hospitalized will reduce pressure on scarce hospital beds and staff in poor countries.The treatment also renews hopes that the disease could be eliminated completely, Hotez says, but it will require a concerted effort. “We’ve been here before,” he says. In the 1960s, “sleeping sickness was at its nadir,” but wars in affected areas undid much of the progress. The world should not miss this new opportunity to finally conquer the disease, he says. “There will be future conflicts in Africa.”last_img read more

Harnessing Earthobservation data for practical healthcare applications

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 7 2018The EU-funded AURORA project will develop technologies to turn data from the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions – due to be launched as part of the European Space Agency’s Copernicus program – into practical, actionable information that will help protect the health of European citizens.The Sentinel missions will deploy cutting-edge instruments in space capable of monitoring ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy. Ozone is a powerful oxidant that constitutes a respiratory hazard for humans at ground level, but in the upper atmosphere it plays an important role in preventing harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface.Related StoriesISPOR examines how real-world evidence can be improved with patient-provided informationApplication of machine learning methods to healthcare outcomes researchFSMB releases new report surveying digital credentials in healthcareBy combining geostationary and low Earth orbit high-resolution sensor data in different frequency ranges, the AURORA team will develop tools able to generate near real-time short-term models of air pollution in urban areas as well as estimates of ultraviolet radiation exposure. The tools should help cities to combat air pollution, help people with respiratory problems avoid areas with poor air quality and provide accurate warnings of levels of ultraviolet radiation – a skin cancer risk factor.Initially working with simulated data to test advanced data-fusion algorithms, the project team plan to subsequently deploy the full capabilities of the technology after the launch of the Sentinel missions.The ultraviolet monitoring system will be implemented in an app including personalized data on the photo-protection properties of a user’s skin and near real-time monitoring of ultraviolet radiation absorption. The air pollution monitoring system will be deployed to provide awareness of actual air quality in cities in near-real time at high spatial resolution, down to neighbourhood or street level, and transform this information into practical recommendations for citizens and city officials. Source:http://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/article_en.cfm?id=/research/headlines/news/article_18_11_06_en.html?infocentre&item=Infocentre&artid=49756last_img read more

New method helps study connection between metabolism in gut bacteria and development

first_img Source:https://www.oru.se/english/news/orebro-researchers-studied-connection-between-intestinal-bacteria-and-development-of-diabetes–method-now-published/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 7 2018Researchers at örebro University have, together with a well-known research team in Denmark, developed a method for studying how metabolism in gut bacteria influences our health. Their method will now be published in its entirety in the scientific journal Nature Protocols.The method, which researchers Tuulia Hyötyläinen and Matej Orešič have worked on and developed for more than ten years, is used for metabolomics studies – where information about thousands of molecules involved in the cells’ metabolism is retrieved by means of chemical analysis. Using this method, researchers have been able to, among other things, study the connection between metabolism in gut bacteria and the development of diabetes, a study which was published in Nature 2016.”But the method may be used by all researchers wanting to apply metabolomics in their studies,” says Matej Orešič, researcher in medicine at örebro University.Scientific methods as important as resultsBy applying this method used by the örebro researchers, it is possible to analyse some 2,000 metabolites from one blood sample. Metabolites are microscopic molecules, for example amino acids, lipids and sugar molecules, formed as a result of metabolism.”Collecting data is an important part of the analysis but doesn’t always require as much time as the actual data analysis. That’s when this large amount of collected data will need to be linked to with biological and medical questions,” says Tuulia Hyötyläinen, Professor of Chemistry at örebro University.Related StoriesDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesObese patients with Type 1 diabetes could safely receive robotic pancreas transplantGrowth problems in preterm infants associated with altered gut bacteriaIn the published article, the working method protocol is described in detail. As is often the case, the method section of a scientific article is difficult for other researchers to reproduce, especially in complex studies with extensive data quantities.”Scientific methods are as important as research results. It is important to use reliable methods to produce data of high quality,” explains Matej Orešič.Preventing gluten intoleranceThe research duo is now working on identifying how metabolism in young children can affect the development of gluten intolerance later in life.”We have seen changes in the metabolism of lipids in babies before they have been exposed to gluten via their diet. This discovery can perhaps lead to a better understanding of the development of gluten intolerance and perhaps help us to prevent the disease,” adds Matej Orešič.They are also investigating the relationship between exposure to various environmental pollutants in early life and the development of type 1 diabetes.”We are trying to find biomarkers which may be used in the diagnosis of various diseases and at an earlier stage than is currently possible. It is also interesting to study which metabolites that are produced by gut bacteria and how these then influence our metabolism,” says Tuulia Hyötyläinen.”We are working continuously on improving the entire analysis chain, from taking specimens to data analysis. And now other researchers may also use our method,” adds Matej Orešič. last_img read more

Multiple sclerosis could benefit from stem cell therapy

first_imgStem cells illustration. Image Credit: Giovanni Cancemi / Shutterstock Lead author of the study Dr. Richard Burt, chief of Immunotherapy and Autoimmune Diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said that he would not call it a “cure” for MS. He said that the patients who underwent the trial did well. Only a small number of the study participants reached the five year mark without relapsing he said. With traditional treatment, a majority of the patients do not reach this five year mark.The HSCT according to the research works by rebooting the immune system. Burt said, “Out with the old, in with the new”, calling this a “one time treatment”. Once this treatment is complete, drugs are not needed, he explained. He said that for this treatment the patient’s blood stem cells are collected and then the patient’s immune system is supressed using chemotherapy drugs. Once the immune system is suppressed, the stem cells are re-injected into the patient to restart the immune system.At present the treatment for MS involves use of disease modifying therapy where several drugs are used. These modify the immune system. In this new study 110 patients from different medical centres in the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and Brazil were recruited. These patients had relapsing-remitting MS and were part of the randomized clinical trial. One half of them were given HSCT protocol treatment while the other received disease modifying therapy which is different from the drugs they had used before.Related StoriesSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthNew study reveals ‘clutch’ proteins responsible for putting T cell activation ‘into gear’Comprehensive cell atlas of the human liverResults showed that those receiving HSCT benefited more than those who did not. Of the 55 patients receiving HSCT, only 3 showed progression of the disease within a year of treatment. Disease progression within one year was seen in 34 of the 55 patients who had received just the disease modifying drugs. This progression of the disease was measured by the researchers using the Expanded Disability Status Scale.It was seen that among those who received HSCT, disease progression at two years was around 2 percent. At three years the progression was 5 percent and at four and five years it was 10 percent. No progression of the disease was seen among these HSCT patients in proportions of 98 percent in one year, 90 percent in three years and 78 percent in four and five years respectively. On the other hand those who were on the disease modifying drugs had a greater percentage of disease progression at the end of one year (over a quarter), at two years (over half of the patients) and at five years (around three quarters). No evidence of disease was seen among 40 percent at six months, 21 percent at one year and 3 percent at four and five years among those taking the drugs.Side effects were seen among patients of both groups. Those with HSCT developed infertility and autoimmune thyroid disease said Burt.Experts have said that larger studies are needed to prove that the findings hold true for all patients. They have pointed out that earlier studies have shown that stem cell therapy has not worked in patients of progressive MS. Burt said, “This should be done in a major university medical center.” Burt added that the HSCT needs to be further modified and tuned to be made safer.  “The hope is to change the natural history of this disease,” said Burt. “This data suggests we’re doing it,” he concluded.Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2720728 By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJan 16 2019Patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) have benefited from an experimental stem cell therapy. MS is an autoimmune disease where the central nervous system is affected. It is severely debilitating and means a slow and progressive death for the patients.A new study titled, ‘Effect of Nonmyeloablative Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation vs Continued Disease-Modifying Therapy on Disease Progression in Patients With Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis’, and published this week in the latest issue of the journal JAMA has shown that stem cell transplant in these patients using a low dose chemotherapy along with immune suppressors could help prevent the progress of this disease – Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT).last_img read more

New research finds alterations in brain connectivity in OCD patients

first_img Source:http://www.idibell.cat/en/whats-on/noticies/scientists-identify-alterations-neuronal-connectivity-distributed-throughout Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 28 2019Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by alterations in brain connectivity, i.e., patients present a dysfunction related to the synchronization of activity between different groups of neurons, as evidenced by recent research. In this line, in a study published this month in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researchers belonging to three CIBER groups of Mental Health (CIBERSAM) led by Jesús Pujol (Consorci Mar Parc Salut de Barcelona-Hospital del Mar), Narcís Cardoner (Corporación Sanitaria Parc Taulí) and Josep Manuel Menchón and Carles Soriano-Mas (Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) – Bellvitge University Hospital), have applied a new assessment method for resting brain connectivity to show how these alterations appear in fact in any region of the cerebral cortex.Related StoriesAge-related risk of Alzheimer’s explained at the molecular levelNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryResearchers report how a popular antidepressant drug could rewire the brainThe newest finding, according to study coordinator Carles Soriano-Mas, “was to observe that connectivity dysfunction between each cortical region manifests preferentially related to neuron clusters located at variable distances”. Thus, for example, patients with OCD showed a decrease in connectivity between the most anterior part of the orbitofrontal cortex and regions of their immediate surroundings, while the posterior part of the same cortex showed decreased connectivity with more distant cortices.Likewise, it was possible to verify how all the primary sensory cortices (somatosensory, visual, auditory, gustatory and olfactory) showed a decrease in connectivity with both near and far neuronal groups. “This fact could explain the presence of intrusive – unwanted – thoughts in this patient population as a result of inefficient sensory filtering, which would not rule out irrelevant stimuli”, says CIBERSAM researcher Carles Soriano-Mas.The results of this study suggest that OCD is characterized by a deficient inhibitory interneuron system, which can lead to mismatches in the synchronization of neuronal activity at different distance scales.New therapeutic possibilitiesThe work, according to the CIBERSAM researchers, paves the way to new therapeutic possibilities for OCD based on the inhibitory neuromodulation of those cortical regions with a greater number of connections. To do so, 160 adult patients with OCD from the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Unit of Bellvitge University Hospital (Barcelona) were recruited after having been diagnosed at least one year before the study and according to this disorder criteria in the absence of other important psychiatric disorders.The researchers mapped the alterations of the functional structure of the cerebral cortex, adding a new approach to brain image analysis, and generated maps of functional connectivity of the entire brain using connectivity measures at different distance degrees of neuronal activity.last_img read more

Researchers examine process of gutbased cells involved in longterm immunity

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 5 2019Only a few vaccines – for example, against polio and rotavirus – can be given orally. Most must be delivered by injection. Weizmann Institute of Science researchers suggest this may be, in part, because the training program of the immune cells in the gut takes place under harsh conditions. Dr. Ziv Shulman and research student Adi Biram investigated this process for the gut-based cells involved in long-term immunity using a novel imaging method that captures all of the immune cells’ niches within a single organ. Their findings provide new insights that may, in the future, lead to the design of more effective oral vaccines.The effective, long-lasting protection we expect from a vaccine originates in a response that is undertaken by immune cells called B cells. Each of these immune cells secretes one antibody -molecules that bind a specific target. Following exposure to a vaccine or invading pathogen, a preparation program selects the B cells with the antibodies most fit to attack the particular threat, admitting them to special training niches within the lymph nodes. There, these cells undergo rounds of division and mutational changes until a pool of finely-honed, “high-affinity” antibody-producing cells is created; these cells persist in the body, providing immunity even to future challenges from this specific threat.Shulman, who is in the Institute’s Immunology Department, has investigated this process in the lymph nodes that are found in nearly all the body’s peripheral tissues. But the lymphoid organs in the intestines, in addition to hosting B-cell training against pathogenic diseases, also keep the gut bacteria in check, making it difficult to discern each function separately. And the specialized immune niches within the organs are so small and well hidden, it is hard to study them with the standard methods. He and Biram developed a way to remove and image the gut lymph organs, borrowing the “clear brain” method from neurobiology in which tissue is made transparent and the organ then viewed with standard light sheet fluorescence microscopy. This method, says Biram, enabled them to capture all of the immune niches in an entire organ and to study how these compartments contribute to the emerging immune response.The researchers then analyzed the gut lymphoid organs from mice that had been immunized orally.”We found that the lymph organs in the gut operate by a different set of rules than those in the peripheral lymph system,” says Shulman. In fact, the gut lymph system does not collect antigens through tissue drainage, as happens in the peripheral lymph nodes, but rather by active uptake of vaccine or pathogen particles from inside the gut. And if the peripheral system is a “capitalist” one that aims to select and produce the most effective antibodies quickly, the gut system works on a more socialistic principle, at least in the beginning. That is, cell producing antibodies with any level of affinity, at all, are allowed to divide and secrete antibodies in response to the threat during the early response. Only later do some with higher affinity gain admittance to the training grounds for further improvement.Related StoriesNanotechnology-based compound used to deliver hepatitis B vaccineNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellScripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approachNext, the group used their method to observe the gut lymph-based B cells together with “trainer” cells that select the high-affinity variants. They found that these cells physically interact with the B cells within small niches just as they do in the peripheral lymph nodes. In other words, the “training manual” was there and opened to the right page. Unlike in the peripheral lymph nodes, however, the trainers in the gut seemed to lack a crucial piece of information: They were unable to distinguish between high- and low-affinity antibodies.This limitation, the researchers thought, might lie in the complex environment in which the lymph organs operate: They are exposed to immense amounts of antigens from the ever-present gut bacteria. Within this setting, the antigens delivered in a vaccine would be lost in the crowd, diluted to the point it would be impossible to select B cells based on antibody affinity. When the researchers artificially increased the antigen in the mouse gut, they were able to reactivate the trainer-cell program for selecting the fittest B cells.”The antibody response in the gut takes place in two stages. The first is an all-out ‘do the best we can with what we have’ reaction. At this stage, affinity-based selection is delayed, and both low- and high-affinity antibodies are produced. For the second phase, the immune cells must make it into niches in which the proper antigens have accumulated over time, so that affinity training can take place. As opposed to the peripheral lymph system, the antigen levels within the gut’s immune cell niches are mostly too low to stimulate efficient antibody generation,” says Shulman.Shulman and Biram say that further research into the rules controlling the gut lymphoid organs could lead to new ways of targeting antigens and recruiting B cells into the affinity training programs, thus enabling the development of new or improved oral vaccines. Source:https://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/life-sciences/revealing-gut%E2%80%99s-b-cell-training-program-may-point-new-means-developing-oral-vaccineslast_img read more

Broker websites expand health plan shopping options while glossing over details

first_img This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. The commercial websites are “under-policed,” said report author Tara Straw, a senior policy analyst at the center.Related StoriesNew solution makes fall recovery safer and easierCould formal health technology assessment be a solution to high healthcare costs in the US?New federal health insurance rule could help millions of Americans save money on drugs and careThe administration, she said, should more closely monitor website design and how well the sites inform consumers of their potential eligibility for government assistance in purchasing coverage.Because of the drawbacks, consumers who use some of these websites are at a disadvantage, lacking the ability to adequately comparison shop, the report warned.As a result, some may choose non-ACA plans, such as short-term insurance, which may not be their best option. Others may be discouraged from applying for coverage at all if the websites inaccurately indicate they might not qualify for a subsidy or Medicaid.”That’s the problem,” said Straw. “The websites can say, ‘We’re telling people to complete the application [to assess subsidy eligibility],’ but who is going to do that when they’re showing all the plans at the unsubsidized price?”Comparison shopping on some of the websites is limited.An example outlined in the report focuses on Duval County, Fla., where the eHealth website shows a list of ACA policies described as “17 of 17 plans” available. Each of those 17 shows the costs of premiums, deductible amounts and other details. At the bottom of the screen, however, eHealth lists the names of 32 additional plans available from Florida Blue, the state’s largest insurer, without any specifics on cost and coverage.If consumers stopped there, they would not know that on Florida Blue’s website they could find 15 plans that are less expensive than the lowest-cost plan listed on eHealth, according to the report.”Without visiting multiple websites, consumers would have difficulty finding and comparing their plan options,” the report said. “This is the type of fractured shopping experience the marketplace is designed to remedy.” It noted, however, that one web broker, HealthSherpa, did list all 49 plans available in Duval County.An eHealth spokeswoman countered that the website makes it easy for consumers to get additional information on available plans it may not sell directly.”When they get to the bottom of the page, they see 32 additional plans available through the federal marketplace, with a hyperlink directly to that marketplace,” said eHealth’s Lisa Zamosky.To avoid having to visit multiple sites, Straw offered consumers simple advice: “Go to healthcare.gov.” Use default settings, chat boxes and other design methods to highlight alternatives that earn the web brokers higher commissions, such as low-cost, short-term insurance plans, which cover less and can reject people with preexisting conditions. Either fail to inform or provide inaccurate assessments of whether applicants or their family members might qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies to help them get coverage. Fall short of providing full information on premium costs and deductibles for all the plans available in a region.center_img Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 15 2019Some websites consumers use to buy their own health insurance don’t provide full information on plan choices or Medicaid eligibility, and appear to encourage selection of less comprehensive coverage that provides higher commissions to brokers, according to a report released Friday by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.These direct-enrollment broker websites — including eHealth, ValuePenguin, GetInsured.com and some named after the insurance carriers they represent — are not the state-based marketplaces or the federal exchange, known as healthcare.gov.The commercial sites promise more options to consumers shopping for health insurance. They can offer Obamacare plans, for instance, as well as lower-cost but less comprehensive plans, such as short-term policies and other types of coverage that don’t meet the federal Affordable Care Act’s requirements.About 42 percent of enrollments for 2018 ACA plans were arranged through sales agents or brokers, with many of them relying on such alternative websites to enroll their clients, noted the report.But consumers who use alternative portals, the report warned, don’t have the same shopping experience as applicants accessing state or federal marketplaces. That’s because government sites must provide full information on all available ACA choices and cannot steer consumers to non-ACA plans. The government marketplace also is responsible for accurately processing applicants’ eligibility for Medicaid or premium subsidies. The commercial sites generally don’t have those responsibilities.Two years after sharp financial cuts by the Trump administration for enrollment outreach and funding for navigators and other assistants helping people sign up for ACA plans, the administration encouraged consumers to seek out brokers for help.For next year’s enrollment period, it is considering changing the rules to allow federally funded navigators to also use the alternative websites to enroll consumers.There are differences among the alternative websites. “Not all entities have these problems,” the report concludes. “But the program lacks safeguards to protect consumers from harm.”It found that some direct enrollment websites:last_img read more

IgG antibodies play unexpected role in atherosclerosis

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 21 2019Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have found that type IgG antibodies play an unexpected role in atherosclerosis. A study on mice shows that the antibodies stabilize the plaque that accumulates on the artery walls, which reduces the risk of it rupturing and causing a blood clot. It is hoped that the results, which are published in the journal Circulation, will eventually lead to improved therapies.Atherosclerosis is the main underlying cause of heart attack and stroke, and is expected to be the leading cause of death in the world from a long time to come. Approximately a third of patients do not respond to statin treatment.The disease is characterized by the narrowing of the arterial walls resulting from the accumulation of lipids and cells – the so-called atherosclerotic plaque. When the plaque ruptures, blood clots can form that restrict the blood flow to vital organs, such as the heart and brain. To reduce the number of deaths from atherosclerosis, researchers are therefore trying to find ways to prevent this from happening.Related StoriesScientists discover rare autoimmune disease triggered by testicular cancerRole of immunological imprinting in elicitation of new antibodiesPremature babies also have protective anti-viral antibodiesImmune system B lymphocytes produce antibodies that are involved in fighting infection. But the antibodies can also help to clean up damaged tissue, for instance in the form of atherosclerotic plaques. Scientists also know that the immune system has a bearing on the development of plaque, but exactly how this happens remains largely unresearched. The team behind the present study has studied how atherosclerotic plaque develops in mice that lack antibodies.”We found that plaque formed in an antibody-free environment was unusually small,” says study leader Stephen Malin, senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Solna. “But on closer inspection, we discovered that the plaque looked different and contained more lipid and fewer muscle cells than normal. This suggested that the plaque is unstable and more prone to rupturing, which also turned out to be the case.”The researchers found that the necessary ingredient for plaque stability was so-called IgG antibodies, the most common class of antibody in the blood. Further analyses showed that the smooth muscle cells of the aorta need these antibodies to divide correctly; when the cells cannot divide correctly, the plaque seems to become smaller and more unstable.”It came as a huge surprise to us that antibodies can play such an important role in the formation of arterial plaque,” says Dr Malin. “We now want to find out if it is some special type of IgG antibody that recognizes plaque components. If so, this could be a new way of mitigating atherosclerosis and hopefully reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease.” Source:https://ki.se/en/news/antibodies-stabilise-plaque-in-arterieslast_img read more

Researchers examine coatings of drugcoated balloon catheters at microscopic levels

first_img Source:http://www.bmc.org/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 2 2019Drug-coated balloon catheters to open narrowed blood vessels and to deliver drugs to the impacted sites are used frequently for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease. Scientists believe improvement of the coatings could lead to better designs and improved outcomes. Now for the first time, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have examined these coatings at microscopic levels in hopes of producing more efficient alternatives for treating arterial disease.Obstructive arterial disease is a clinical challenge affecting millions of people in the world. Devices such as stents and balloon catheters are the primary choice for treating these narrowed vessels. While the use of stents is beneficial in many cases, once implanted, they remain in the body permanently. Presence of such foreign bodies inside an artery can lead to unexpected complications in some patients. Therefore, using a drug-coated balloon to open the narrowed vessel and immediately deliver medications to the site is an attractive strategy because there is no device left within the vessel after the procedure.Related StoriesBlood stem cell breakthrough could spare some patients from side effects of cancer treatmentsArtificial DNA can help release active ingredients from drugs in sequenceHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive decline”Unfortunately, the delivery of drugs within a short period of time is extremely inefficient (less than 10 percent). It is important to understand how to improve delivery efficiency and also understand the mechanisms driving acute drug transfer and coating adhesion to the artery,” explained corresponding author Vijaya B. Kolachalama, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.The researchers performed a series of experiments including compression testing to measure the mechanics, scanning electron microscopy to examine the intrinsic coating structure and cell cultures to quantify drug toxicity. They also developed a biophysical model to illustrate the interactions between the balloon coating and the artery during balloon angioplasty.They found that microscopic particles of some coatings have needle-like shapes and some have spherical shapes and that these shapes determine the mechanics of contact between coating and the artery, which in turn influences the amount of drug transfer to artery. “Ultimately, this affects the device performance and the outcomes.”The researchers believe improving the understanding of these coatings can lead to better design of drug-coated balloon catheters, which can impact millions of people suffering with arterial disease.last_img read more

People with bipolar disorder more likely to later develop Parkinsons disease

first_imgFor the study, researchers examined a national Taiwanese health database for people were diagnosed with bipolar disorder between 2001 and 2009 and who had no history of Parkinson’s disease, for a total of 56,340 people. They were matched with 225,360 people of the same age, sex and other factors who had never been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or Parkinson’s disease as a control group. Then the two groups were followed until the end of 2011.During the study, 372 of the people with bipolar disorder developed Parkinson’s disease, or 0.7 percent, compared to 222 of those who did not have bipolar disorder, or 0.1 percent.After adjusting for other factors that could affect the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, such as age, sex, use of antipsychotic medications, and medical issues such as traumatic brain injury and cerebrovascular diseases, people with bipolar disorder were nearly seven times as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as people who did not have bipolar disorder.The people with bipolar disorder who developed Parkinson’s disease did so at a younger age than the control group members who developed the disease-;64 years old at diagnosis compared to 73 years old.People who were hospitalized more often for bipolar disorder were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who were hospitalized less than once per year. A total of 94 percent of those with bipolar disorder were hospitalized less than once per year; 3 percent were hospitalized one to two times per year; and 3 percent were hospitalized more than two times per year. Those who were hospitalized more than two times per year were six times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who were hospitalized less than once per year. People who were hospitalized one to two times per year were four times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who were hospitalized less than once per year.Related StoriesActive sexual life linked with better quality of life in men with early Parkinson’s diseaseMice study finds additional evidence that Parkinson’s disease originates in the gutParkinson’s disease: Servier and Oncodesign announce research and drug development partnership”Further studies are needed to investigate whether these diseases share underlying processes or changes in the brain,” Chen said. “These could include genetic alterations, inflammatory processes or problems with the transmission of messages between brain cells. If we could identify the underlying cause of this relationship, that could potentially help us develop treatments that could benefit both conditions.”A limitation of the study is it included only people who sought medical help for their bipolar disorder. Also, the database did not include information on family history of Parkinson’s disease or environmental factors that could increase people’s risk of developing the disease.Source:American Academy of NeurologyJournal reference:Chen, M. et al. (2019) Bipolar disorder and risk of Parkinson disease: A nationwide longitudinal study. Neurology. doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000007649. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 23 2019People who have bipolar disorder may be more likely to later develop Parkinson’s disease than people who do not have bipolar disorder, according at a study published in the May 22, 2019, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Previous studies have shown a relationship between depression and Parkinson’s disease, but few studies have looked at whether there is a relationship between bipolar disorder and Parkinson’s.”Mu-Hong Chen, MD, PhD, of Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, study authorlast_img read more