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first_img Top stories: Yellowstone’s supervolcano, new CRISPR tools, and the odd growth strategy of ancient trees Novel CRISPR-derived ‘base editors’ surgically alter DNA or RNA, offering new ways to fix mutationsSince the start of the CRISPR craze 5 years ago, scientists have raced to invent ever-more-versatile or efficient variations of this powerful tool, which vastly simplifies the editing of DNA. Two studies published this week broaden CRISPR’s reach further still, honing a subtler approach to modifying genetic material called base editing. One study extends a strategy for editing DNA, whereas the other breaks new ground by base editing its molecular cousin, RNA.Swiss university dissolves astronomy institute after misconduct allegations By Giorgia GuglielmiOct. 27, 2017 , 3:15 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 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 (*) Email (Left to right): Robert Nicholls; iStock.com/kwiktor; ETH-Bibliothek/Wikimedia Commons In August, ETH Zurich in Switzerland quietly dissolved its institute for astronomy. This week it launched an official investigation into allegations that led to its closure: that a leading professor there mistreated graduate students for more than a decade, while the administration ignored complaints against her. The professor’s spouse had been head of the institute. Both are now on sabbatical and have said they can’t comment on the situation, but several colleagues and former students have come to their defense.The world’s first trees grew by splitting their gutsScientists have discovered some of the best-preserved specimens of the world’s first trees in a remote region of China. At up to 12 meters tall, these spindly species were topped by a clump of erect branches vaguely resembling modern palm trees and lived a whopping 393 million to 372 million years ago. But the biggest surprise is how they got so big in the first place. By analyzing the fossilized trees, the researchers found that they were made of an interconnected web of woody strands that split itself apart as the trunk grew taller.Fresh human brains yield delicious dataOne man’s neuron is another man’s knowledge. That’s the stance of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which this week released the first open-access database of live human brain cells. It contains data on the electrical properties of about 300 cortical neurons taken from 36 patients and 3D reconstructions of 100 of those cells, plus gene expression data from 16,000 neurons from three other patients. The new data should help researchers pin down what makes human brains unique from other species—and what makes for a healthy versus diseased brain.This dinosaur’s striking markings reveals where it livedThree well-preserved specimens of Sinosauropteryx—a turkey-sized, meat-eating dino that lived in China about 130 million years ago—suggest the animal had a dark stripe around its eyes, like modern-day racoons, researchers report this week. By taking a closer look at the feathers’ color patterns, scientists have deduced more details not only about the dinosaur’s bandit mask, but also its dark back and sides and white belly. Such patterns are classic examples of counter-shading camouflage, which counteracts shadows, and suggest that Sinosauropteryx probably lived in open areas—not in forests. New test of electron’s roundness could help explain universe’s matter/antimatter imbalanceWhen it comes to measuring how round the electron is, physicists hate uncertainty. Much depends on the most precise measurement possible, including a potential answer to a major scientific puzzle: why the universe contains any matter at all. In a series of ever-more-sensitive experiments over the past 30 years, researchers have established that if the shape of the electron has any distortion at all, the bulge must be smaller than 1 thousand trillion trillionths of a millimeter (10-27 mm). Now, researchers have shown what they describe as a “radically different” approach that probes electrons inside larger charged particles.Yellowstone’s massive volcano could erupt more frequently than scientists thoughtSome 630,000 years ago, the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming recorded its last catastrophic eruption, forming a caldera that nearly spans the park’s width and belching a thick layer of ash across North America. But rather than a single event, Yellowstone may have erupted twice in a span of 270 years, suggests new evidence from mud cores discovered off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.*Correction, 8 November, 10:37 a.m.: The Sinosauropteryx item has been revised to provide the main evidence that the dinosaur lived in open areas.last_img read more

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first_imgRepresentative Tim Ryan (D–OH) leads a spending panel that wants to revive the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. 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 Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives want to bring back Congress’s long-dead science advice office. A draft funding bill released today calls for providing $6 million to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which Republican lawmakers killed in 1995.Congress established OTA in 1972 to advise federal lawmakers on a wide range of science-related issues. During its existence, it churned out some 750 reports and white papers assessing the potential promise, peril, and policy challenges associated with emerging technologies such as genetic engineering and space-based weaponry. Fans of the office lauded its reports, but some Republican lawmakers came to view it as duplicative, wasteful, and biased against their party. During the 1994 elections, then-Representative Newt Gingrich (R–GA) vowed to kill the office if his party took control of Congress, which it did. At the time of OTA’s dismantling in 1995, it had about 140 staffers and a budget of roughly $21 million.Since then, numerous advocacy organizations and politicians, including AAAS in Washington, D.C., (publisher of ScienceInsider) and 2016 presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, have called for restoring OTA. And when Democrats took control of the House after last year’s elections, they promised to consider ways to make that happen. By David MalakoffApr. 30, 2019 , 3:55 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img House Democrats move to resurrect Congress’s science advisory office Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Today, Representative Tim Ryan (D–OH), the chair of the House appropriations panel that oversees the legislative branch’s spending, followed through on that pledge by including money for OTA in a $3.9 billion spending bill for the 2020 fiscal year that begins 1 October. Restoring OTA, Ryan said in a statement, “will help Congress understand technology developments and pave the way for better technology and science policy.” The agency would “provide unbiased expert assistance to help Congress understand the potential and the risks of technological developments and the policy options for addressing issues those developments raise,” states a fact sheet accompanying the bill.Ryan’s subcommittee is expected to approve the OTA funding Wednesday, and it is also likely to get a friendly reception in the full House, which is controlled by Democrats. But it’s not clear whether the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, will include funding for OTA in its version of the legislative branch funding bill, which has yet to appear.Today’s move “is an important step and long overdue,” says AAAS CEO Rush Holt. “It represents a foot in the door that could allow OTA to turn the lights on and get the office going so that it can grow to a functional size.”last_img read more

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first_imgA farmer in France sprays glyphosate to ready a field for planting. The European Union has approved glyphosate use until 2022, but bad publicity is tainting its allure. Email “Total fear and shock.” That’s how Andrew Kniss, a weed scientist at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, describes the reaction of farmers to recent courtroom defeats suffered by a leading manufacturer of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide. Agricultural researchers are also worried, he says. They fear the loss of a compound that is crucial for controlling weeds and conserving soil. The scientists and farmers “are really nervous that these verdicts and public perception could cause them to lose this tool.”Last week, a California jury awarded $2 billion to two property owners who claimed their non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer, was caused by years of using Roundup, a common glyphosate-based herbicide. It was the third legal loss since August 2018 for Bayer AG in Leverkusen, Germany, which has seen its market value plummet to $52 billion, cut nearly in half since it acquired Monsanto a year ago. No national health agency has identified any cancer risk from glyphosate. But some scientists say that between public distrust and the rise of weeds resistant to Roundup and other herbicides, the moment is ripe to push for new and diverse forms of weed control. “We need to move to cropping systems that are less reliant on herbicides,” says Paul Neve, a weed scientist at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K.It will be tough to compete with glyphosate, which accounts for about 25% of all herbicides sold worldwide. By targeting a universal plant enzyme crucial to making amino acids, it can kill a wide array of weeds. With transgenic crops engineered to resist glyphosate, such as Bayer’s Roundup Ready seeds, farmers can spray glyphosate while their crops are growing and control weeds without plowing them up, which saves fuel and conserves the soil. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Erik StokstadMay. 22, 2019 , 1:20 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_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 JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES The environmentally beneficial practice of using cover crops—planted when a field would otherwise be bare—also depends on glyphosate, says Helen Hicks of Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom. Planting rye, for example, prevents weeds from growing while also boosting soil carbon and retaining moisture. Farmers then spray glyphosate to kill the cover crop, and because the chemical quickly becomes inactive in the soil, they can immediately plant the field with any crop.The recent controversy erupted after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, part of the World Health Organization, in 2015 listed glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen”—a label it has applied to dozens of chemicals, but also to red meat and very hot beverages. IARC decides only whether there is convincing evidence of a hazard; it does not evaluate the likelihood of getting sick at varying levels of exposure. That’s the role of national health agencies, which take into account not only some peer-reviewed studies, but also confidential industry data before deciding what exposures might be acceptable. European, U.S., and other agencies have concluded glyphosate is safe when used properly.Nevertheless, the IARC decision unleashed a flood of lawsuits and increased the pressure from environmental groups to ban glyphosate. The groups point to hints of health risks from animal studies, which may not be large enough to pass muster with the health agencies. Campaigns against glyphosate are strongest in the European Union, where member nations in 2017 only narrowly reapproved a 5-year authorization of the compound.If glyphosate is ever pulled from the market, farmers could turn to other herbicides, but all have drawbacks. U.S. corn growers would likely spray more atrazine, for example, but it is prone to contaminating groundwater and has been banned by the European Union. Certain crops have been engineered to withstand glufosinate, an herbicide that costs more and doesn’t work as well as glyphosate, especially in arid regions. Tolerance to dicamba has been added to crops as well, but this herbicide can drift in the wind and damage other crops.Companies are engineering crops to tolerate multiple herbicides because more than 40 weed species worldwide have evolved resistance to glyphosate, spurred by its heavy use. Crop scientists hope it will be more difficult for weeds to simultaneously evolve resistance to a cocktail of herbicides. But it’s not impossible, and eventually new chemistries will likely be needed.Ironically, glyphosate itself has suppressed the development of new herbicides. No compound with a new way of attacking weeds, or mode of action, has been commercialized for more than 30 years, because it was so hard for companies to compete with cheap glyphosate, says Franck Dayan, a weed scientist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. But many companies are ramping up their R&D efforts. “I expect within the next decade we’ll see several new modes of action on the market,” says Stephen Duke, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Oxford, Mississippi.Some new candidates were described this week at a meeting of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in Ghent, Belgium, including a biopesticide Duke is studying called MBI-014. Under development by Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis, California, MBI-014 is made by bacteria and includes several compounds that attack plants in new ways, such as by interfering with RNA production, which disrupts protein synthesis.Horst Steinmann, a weed scientist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, says the public debate over glyphosate could raise the profile of nonchemical alternatives. “Perhaps there is a turning point now,” he says. In Australia, after a long and intense battle with herbicide-resistant weeds, farmers have resorted to a laborious but effective way to keep weeds from proliferating: During harvest, the chaff is pulverized to crush any weed seeds, or burned in the field.Mechanical weeders, pulled by tractors, have long been used as an alternative to herbicides, although they are impractical in vineyards on steep hillsides or in orchards with drip-irrigation tubing. Recently, engineers have added video cameras to the machines to help farmers target weeds more precisely.For high-value crops, autonomous robots are becoming viable. Some spray tiny doses of herbicide directly onto weeds, whereas others use blades, lasers, or electricity to kill weeds. “There are potentially amazing technological advances occurring,” says Karla Gage, a weed ecologist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. But she advocates for cover cropping and other approaches that offer ecological side benefits.In the evolutionary arms race between weeds and farmers, the need to refine all the tools, robotic or otherwise, will never end, Dayan says. “Plants will evolve resistance to anything,” he says. “Whatever we do, we’ll have to face the way nature works.””It will always win.” Costly cancer lawsuits may spur search to replace world’s most common weed killerlast_img read more

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first_img Related News Post Comment(s) Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive. A year on, it’s still complicated One killed, several wounded in Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia airport By Reuters |Riyadh | Published: June 23, 2019 4:27:14 pm Saudi Arabia’s new US ambassador is a princess with an impossible job Saudi Arabia, green card systems, Riyals, renewable residency, residency scheme, foreign expats, foreign expat movement, visas, Riyasdh residency, re-entry visa, indian express news The residencies would allow foreign expats free movement, ability to own properties and to do business in the kingdom. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)Saudi Arabia launched on Sunday their new special residency scheme similar to green card systems applicable in other countries, aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats. The residency scheme offers two types of residencies, a permanent one for 800,000 Saudi riyals ($213,321.96) and a one year but renewable residency for 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,665.24).The scheme was approved by the Saudi cabinet last month, but on Sunday the online portal to apply was opened to the public.The residencies would allow foreign expats free movement, ability to own properties and to do business in the kingdom.Currently over 10 million expats work and live in Saudi Arabia under a system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit and re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country. Advertisinglast_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 7 2018At the time when autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be first reliably diagnosed, toddlers affected by ASD are already displaying emotional vulnerabilities potentially foreshadowing the emergence of co-morbid affective and behavioral conditions highly prevalent in older children, reports a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).The authors found that toddlers with ASD display enhanced anger and frustration and decreased fear in response to naturalistic situations. They also found that the capacity to experience joy appears intact in the early stages of the disorder.”ASD onsets in most cases within the first two years of life and affects approximately 1 in 59 children,” said lead authors Suzanne Macari and Katarzyna Chawarska, PhD, at the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. “This study documents, for the first time, that at the earliest age when the disorder can be reliably diagnosed, toddlers with ASD already display emotional vulnerabilities signaling risk for co-morbid affective and behavioral problems.”The findings are based on a study of emotional development in toddlers referred for a differential diagnosis of ASD in the Northeastern United States and includes 43 toddlers with ASD and 56 non-ASD controls.Toddlers aged 21 months were recruited between December 2013 and March 2017. Using a multi-modal approach, the researchers examined intensity of emotional responses across vocal and facial channels to naturalistic situations aimed to elicit anger, fear, and joy.”The vulnerabilities are unrelated to autism symptoms and thus, contribute independently to the development of complex and highly heterogenous autism phenotypes,” added Drs. Macari and Chawarska. “In addition to targeting social and communication concerns, clinicians should also focus on assessing and treating affective symptoms in young children with ASD with the hope of ameliorating the severity of comorbid disorders so common in ASD.”Related StoriesTransgender and non-binary individuals more likely to display autistic traits, study findsNew network for children and youth with special health care needs seeks to improve systems of careEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsThe researchers found that when a desired object is put out of reach of the toddler, toddlers with ASD displayed elevated levels of intensity of anger and frustration. However, when faced with novel and potentially threatening objects, their fear intensity is lower than in the comparison groups. While an elevated anger response may challenge the developing emotion regulation system, the attenuated fear response suggests atypical appraisal of threat and risk for safety concerns.Although there is a prevailing notion that children with ASD do not experience joy as much as other children, the study found that levels of joy in response to playful situations was comparable in toddlers with ASD and the control groups. This suggests that in the early stages of the disorder, the capacity to experience joy may be intact. Harnessing this intact emotional competence for therapeutic purposes is essential as activation of positive emotions promotes learning and exploration and counters stress. Together, the study reveals a surprising and complex emotional landscape of toddlers with ASD and provides strong motivation for investigation of early emotional development in ASD and its role in emergence of autism. Source:https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/emotional-vulnerabilities-shape-complex-behavioral-arrangement-of-toddlers-with-autism-spectrum-disorderlast_img read more

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By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDDec 16 2018According to a new report published this week, excess body weight is one of the major reasons behind cancers worldwide. The report written by scientists at the American Cancer Society (ACS) and published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians shows that 3.9 percent of the cases of cancers were linked to excess body weight and this amounted to 544,300 cases in 2012. Source:https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21499 Image Credit: Kurhan / Shutterstock The report speak about the association between obesity and cancers of 13 regions that include liver cancer, post menopausal breast cancers, colon or rectal cancers, uterine cancers, esophageal cancer, gall bladder cancers, kidney cancers, ovarian, meningiomas, multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and stomach cancer. It has also shown a probable association with prostate cancers, cancers of mouth, pharynx and larynx. Hyuna Sung, one of the researchers from the American Cancer Society, in a statement said, “Despite numerous studies on the health effects of overweight/obesity (excess body weight), the message has not been well disseminated. In particular, not many people are aware of the link of overweight/obesity to cancer risk.”According to the American Cancer Society new cancer cases are slated to rise to 21.7 million by 2030 and cause 13 million deaths globally. The society says, “The future burden will probably be even larger because of the adoption of western lifestyles, such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and fewer childbirths, in economically developing countries.”This latest report from the Harvard University and Imperial College collaboration adds that there is a steady rise in levels of obesity and this is having adverse effects on health. Sung explained that the team looked at cancer and obesity association trends from 1975 to 2016. They found that percentage of people living with excess body weight has risen from 21 percent in men and 24 percent in women to around 40 percent in both sexes. People living in the western world are more affected by the obesity epidemic, they noted with rates rising from 9 to 30 percent. Another major rise in rates of obesity were seen among women living in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa with rates rising from 12 to 35 percent in the last four decades, the authors write. Sung explained, “The simultaneous rise in excess body weight in almost all countries is thought to be driven largely by changes in the global food system, which promotes energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, alongside reduced opportunities for physical activity.”Countries that showed maximum association of cancers with excess body weight were in Egypt, Mongolia and Puerto Rico, with 8.2 percent, 8 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. The association was least marked (less than 1 percent) in India, Uganda and Malawi. Further women’s association of excess body weight and cancers was almost double than of men. Among women obesity was linked to post menopausal breast cancer while among men it was linked to liver cancer. One third of all endometrial or uterine cancers and esophageal cancers among women was associated with obesity. Among men around 29 percent of the esophageal cancers were associated with excess body weight.Related StoriesResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifidaHarnessing target of the brain chemical serotonin to combat obesityLSU Health researchers to investigate link between breast cancer and obesity in real timeThe World Health Organization has set its goals of 2025 to stop the rise in obesity globally. This report says that the current trends and pace “of increasing and existing challenges, achieving this goal appears unlikely.” Sung said, “Obesity epidemic should be addressed at a societal level and will not be resolved without policy-based environmental changes under the government leadership.”The authors of the report write, “The rapid increase in both the prevalence of excess body weight and the associated cancer burden highlights the need for a rejuvenated focus on identifying, implementing, and evaluating interventions to prevent and control excess body weight. There is emerging consensus on opportunities for obesity control through the multisectoral coordinated implementation of core policy actions to promote an environment conducive to a healthy diet and active living.” read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 24 2018The neurological disorder Huntington’s disease causes behavioral and motor changes, which among other things are a result of dysfunctional maturation or formation of glial cells, the brain’s support cells, researchers from the University of Copenhagen demonstrate in a new study based on mice trials. The researchers’ long-term goal is to be able to use the research results to develop a treatment for Huntington’s disease using glial cells.The brain’s support cells, the so-called glial cells, play a main role in the development of the genetic brain disorder Huntington’s disease, for which there is currently no treatment. In a new study, an international group of researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, among others, has now mapped important, hitherto unknown mechanisms in glial cells in a brain suffering from Huntington’s disease. The new research results have been published in the prestigious journal Cell Stem Cell.’In the study we show that glial cell maturation is severely impaired in patients with Huntington’s disease, and this is a major contributor to the abnormalities we see in the brain. This leads to behavioral changes as well as to changes in motor function. The failure of glial maturation causes many of these symptoms, because diseased glial cells cannot support normal neuronal and synaptic function; this means that the communication between neurons is impaired, says the last author of the study, Professor Steve Goldman from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen and the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at University of Rochester.Huntington’s disease is the result of a mutation in a gene – the Huntingtin gene – which codes for a protein that when mutated causes the disease. Among other things, Huntington’s disease leads to personality changes and a loss in motor coordination. There is currently no treatment that can cure or even slow the disease; at best, physicians can only offer medicines that can alleviate some of its symptoms. The overall goal of Steve Goldman and his research group is to find a meaningful, disease-modifying treatment for the disease.They have been researching glial cells and degenerative diseases in the brain, including Huntington’s disease, for a number of years, and in this study they set out to determine what happens to glial cells at the molecular level in the Huntington’s disease brain. To do so the researchers studied mice into which they had transplanted human glial progenitor cells containing the Huntington gene. These glial progenitor cells are precursors to mature glial cells, and were derived from pluripotent stem cells, using methods that the researchers developed for producing glial cells from stem cells.Related StoriesAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementiaWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskPosterior parietal cortex plays crucial role in making decisions, research showsCommon Feature: Dysfunctional Glial Cells These mice with human glia enabled the researchers to study the development of Huntington disease-derived glial cells. The researchers learned that the maturation of the glia was delayed and imperfect. Among other things, this led to dysfunctional astrocytes, the most common type of glia in the brain, which among other things regulate the communication between neurons. This poor glial maturation also led to a lack of myelin, the insulating fat that surround the nerve pathways in the brain, and which normally allows and speeds neural communication. The result was a failure of the brain’s white matter in these humanized mouse models of Huntington disease, with its consequent effects on behavior and motor skills. Goldman argues that glial cells are not only important in connection with Huntington’s disease, but also appear to play a main role in several other neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia.’This failure of glial cell maturation appears to be a common element of diseases that involve behavioral abnormalities and psychotic thinking. The unsuccessful glial cell maturation we saw in Huntington’s disease is very similar to what we saw in one of our previous studies, where we studied the role of glial cells in schizophrenia. At the same time, our study stresses the potential of glial cell therapy as a possible treatment for Huntington’s disease and other similar neurodegenerative diseases’, Goldman explains.Goldman and his colleagues have previously worked with glial cell transplantation, as described in a study from 2016. Here the researchers had transplanted healthy glial cells to mice suffering from Huntington’s disease. This prolonged the life expectancy of the mice and alleviated the symptoms of the disease. And one of the next steps for Goldman and his research group is to conduct clinical trials involving transplantation of healthy glial cells to patients with Huntington’s disease. They hope to be able to launch these trials within the next couple of years. Source:https://healthsciences.ku.dk/newsfaculty-news/2018/12/study-the-brains-support-cells-show-defective-development-in-huntingtons-disease/last_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 10 2019Spondyloarthritis is one of the most common types of chronic joint inflammation affecting nearly 1-2% of the Western population. Cytokine blockade of Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and more recently Interleukin-17 (IL-17) has revolutionized the perspectives of patients suffering from this disease by achieving high levels of therapeutic efficacy. The disease differs substantially from rheumatoid arthritis, another form of chronic arthritis, not only in the clinical presentation but also in the response to therapy: unlike the benefits of IL-17 inhibition in spondyloarthritis, this therapy failed in rheumatoid arthritis. The reason for this remained elusive. Koen Venken and Dirk Elewaut from the VIB-UGent Inflammation Research Center now report in Nature Communications that rare populations of unconventional T cells may account for this intriguing clinical observation.Spondyloarthritides (SpA) refers to a cluster of inflammatory rheumatic diseases with a significant social-economic burden, affecting nearly 1-2% of the Western population. It is a complex disease with a diverse range of disease manifestations including spinal and peripheral joint inflammation. Also tissues outside the musculoskeletal system may be affected including the skin, eye and gut. The development of the disease is mediated by dysregulated production of a number of proinflammatory mediators such as TNF and IL-17. Several cells within the immune system can produce IL-17, the best described ones are T cells expressing the transcription factor RORγt (so called Th17 cells). Recently it has become clear that other distinct cell types, called unconventional T cells, can also express RORγt and have the capacity to make IL-17.Koen Venken (VIB-UGent): “When we started this project, most data on IL-17 production by unconventional T cells was derived from mouse models, and only limited information was available from humans. We could delineate rare subsets of RORγt+ unconventional T cells in the blood of healthy individuals showing a specific phenotype, enabling them to rapidly induce Th17-like immune responses. Interestingly, we observed a skewing towards RORγt+ cell subsets in blood samples taken from SpA patients, and remarkably this trend was even more pronounced within inflamed joints from these patients.” When the researchers depleted these unconventional T cells from SpA joint samples, there was a drastic reduction in IL17 production, which indicates that they act as principal sources of pro-inflammatory cytokines in this disease.Related StoriesAbcam Acquire Off-The-Shelf Diploid Library of Over 2,800 Knockout Cell LinesComprehensive cell atlas of the human liverDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustDirk Elewaut (VIB-UGent): “This is a fascinating result as it indicates that rare cell types can play significant roles in inflammatory diseases; something which is often overlooked at in the research community.”The new observations of unconventional T cells in SpA appear to be a discriminative feature compared to other common forms of chronic arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Dirk Elewaut: “RA is a chronic autoimmune joint disease which has also been linked to IL-17 mediated pathology. Unexpectedly, treatment of these patients with anti-IL-17 failed to demonstrate major clinical benefits. By comparing gene expression profiles in unconventional T cells from SpA and RA patients – we discovered clear differences , showing an enrichment of IL-17 related genes in SpA as compared to RA derived cells.”This skewed cytokine production could be reversed by pharmacologic modulation using an inhibitor of the transcription factor RORγt. Koen Venken: “When we tested the RORγt inhibitor, we observed a striking difference between Th17 and unconventional T cells. While in Th17 cells both IL-17 and IL-22 were inhibited, only IL-17 was inhibited in unconventional T cells. This may have therapeutic implications since IL-22 plays a protective role at gut barrier surfaces.”Overall, these new findings highlight a unique diversity of human RORγt+ T cells and underscore the potential of RORγt antagonism in the treatment of IL-17 driven diseases. Source:http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Unconventional-immune-cells-trigger-disturbed-cytokine-production-in-human-spondyloarthritis.aspxlast_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 31 2019One in 59 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a wide array of conditions affecting a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral development. With prevalence growing at an unprecedented rate – it has nearly tripled in the last 15 years – scientists race to understand ASD. While genetic and environmental influences have been implicated as potential causes of ASD, little is known about its neurobiology.Now, researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles have brought us one step closer.In a study published January 30th in the journal Biological Psychiatry, CHLA’s Bradley Peterson, MD, uncovers a direct link between altered brain activity and social deficits in ASD. Peterson’s group studied 44 individuals with ASD and compared them with 66 typically-developing participants. Groups were matched for age, sex, and IQ.Peterson’s team used advanced imaging techniques to acquire two types of information. First, the group used a method called arterial spin labeling, which measures blood flow through the vessels of the brain. Because active parts of the brain need the most oxygen and nutrients, more blood flow to an area signals increased brain activity. Second, the team measured levels of NAA, an amino acid byproduct commonly used as a marker of healthy neurons.”This is a multimodal imaging data set,” explains Peterson, Director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at CHLA and Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Each modality gives us a different window into the brain. We are able to look through both windows at once to tell us much more about what’s going on in the brains of these individuals.”Scans revealed a striking pattern in the part of the brain called the white matter.Our brains have about 100 billion cells, which communicate with each other through long, wire-like branches called axons. These axons are coated with myelin, a specialized wrapping – like wire insulation – that helps the messages flow faster from one cell to another. Because myelin appears white, communication pathways between cells are collectively called white matter. Cell bodies, or gray matter, are not coated as extensively in myelin and therefore do not appear white.Studies show that communication between distant brain cells is disrupted in ASD due to fewer long-range connections between cells and thinner myelin. Given these differences in white matter, decreased blood flow and activity in this region would make sense.Related StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpYet, Peterson and his team found exactly the opposite.In the study, the researchers found what is called hyperperfusion – increased blood flow, indicating more brain activity – throughout large portions of white matter in participants with ASD. Perhaps even more striking, these activity rates were correlated with ADOS scores; ADOS is a tool used by doctors to help diagnose ASD.If white matter is compromised in ASD, one might expect decreased activity in this region, not increased. Peterson explains that this finding likely reveals an attempt to compensate for underlying white matter problems. “If the drive train in your car is compromised, you have to hit the gas harder to achieve the same speed,” he explains. Similarly, supporting cells in the brain that create and maintain the myelin wrapping seem to be working overtime to counteract deficits in the underlying axon. This compensatory mechanism may partially explain why many individuals with ASD are high functioning. “This correlation of perfusion and ADOS is absolutely key,” emphasizes Peterson, “because it shows that the higher the blood flow, the more ASD symptoms the participants have. This very solidly supports the idea of compensation.”Looking in the second window – measuring NAA concentrations as a marker for healthy neurons – revealed support for this idea of compensation. “We found that in participants with autism, the lower the NAA concentrations were, the higher their perfusion was at those points in the brain,” Peterson says. In other words, areas with the lowest levels of healthy neurons were also the ones with the highest activity and blood flow.The majority of autism research has focused on other parts of neurons, as opposed to axons. Peterson’s study marks the first to correlate widespread white matter hyperperfusion, healthy neuron biomarkers, and symptom scores. The study paves the way for understanding more about how the brain may compensate for compromised white matter signaling. “Axons and their supporting cells have not been a major focus in autism research,” Peterson says. “My hope is that this study will help to refocus attention on the cell types and brain areas that are critical in understanding the neurological basis for ASD.” Source:https://www.chla.org/last_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 6 2019Using a leading-edge technique, researchers define the cell types in both newborn and adult human testes, opening a path for new strategies to treat male infertility with stem cellsThe production of sperm — otherwise known as spermatogenesis — generates more than 1,000 sperm per second in normal males. This productivity comes, in part, from a special cell type called the spermatogonial stem cell. The staying power of this stem cell has allowed many celebrities, including Robert DeNiro and Pablo Picasso, to father children after the age of 65.Yet spermatogonial stem cells have not been well studied in humans, and attempts to grow them in the lab for clinical purposes have had limited success. In a study published February 5, 2019 in Cell Reports, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine used a technique called single-cell RNA sequencing to develop a clearer picture of human spermatogonial stem cells and how sperm are formed. They also developed tools to better isolate these stem cells.Related StoriesResearchers track effects of epigenetic marks carried by sperm chromosomesSperm quality not affected by one course of postoperative treatment for early testicular cancerSperm quality among Swiss men in ‘critical state’, say expertsThis advance, the researchers write, opens the possibility that spermatogonial stem cell transplants could be developed to treat male infertility, an issue that affects more than 100 million men worldwide.”Single-cell RNA sequencing determines the activity of hundreds of genes in the genomes of single cells,” said senior author Miles Wilkinson, PhD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Because each cell type has a different combination of active genes, this technique allows new cell types to be identified. Applying this approach to the testis, we uncovered many different stages of sperm precursor cells in human testes.”In adult human testes, the researchers identified several cell subtypes that likely include spermatogonial stem cells. They also found cells with the characteristics of spermatogonial stem cells in human newborns.”Given that spermatogonial stem cells are not necessary for generating sperm until puberty, this finding in newborns raises the possibility that these cells perform as-of-yet unknown functions in infants and young children,” Wilkinson said.Their study also identified many unique molecules — biomarkers — that define spermatogonial stem cells. These biomarkers, which they detected with specific antibodies, allowed the researchers to efficiently capture human spermatogonial stem cells.Wilkinson’s team also identified the genes active in other cells that support spermatogonial stem cells. The finding may help researchers develop protein cocktails that drive spermatogonial stem cell proliferation in the laboratory, and allow them to scale up enough of the cells for clinical applications.”This was a proof-of-principal for future clinical studies to use spermatogonial stem cell therapy as a means to treat men suffering from infertility, including cancer patients rendered infertile by chemotherapy,” said Wilkinson. Source:https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/how_men_continually_produce_sperm_and_how_that_discovery_could_help_treat_infertilitylast_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 13 2019Protein pathways that are closely linked to changes in both triglyceride and hemoglobin A1c levels in diabetic patients have been identified in new research by the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.The findings of two related studies bring new interest in additional research that will help healthcare providers understand the links and identify ways to intervene earlier and prevent the onset of heart disease or diabetic complications.”Understanding the biology of how proteins interact with other cells in the body can improve patient care and help physicians prevent catastrophic events like heart attack, stroke, or death,” said Stacey Knight, PhD, a researcher with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and lead author of the study. “The findings of these studies may help explain the often-increased triglyceride levels that lead to cardiovascular events for diabetic patients.”Results of the two studies on protein pathways will be presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Orlando on March 11, at 9:45 a.m., ET.Related StoriesStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsHeart disease is still the number 1 killer in Australia, according to latest figuresResearch opens possibility of developing single-dose gene therapy for inherited arrhythmiasIn diabetic patients, high triglyceride levels are associated with heart disease and stroke. High levels of hemoglobin A1C are also associated with increased complications like diabetic retinopathy.For one of the studies, researchers looked at 264 patients who were enrolled in the FACTOR-64 study, which was a clinical trial designed to reduce the risks of diabetic patients for cardiovascular disease. A SOMAscan assay was used to determine the plasma levels for more than 4,000 proteins.Researchers found a significant association between the pathways of semaphorin and plexin, both of which have been found to the linked with diabetic retinopathy -; a diabetic complication in which high blood glucose levels damage the blood vessels of the retina.”We found that an increase of the proteins in this pathway may result in increased hemoglobin A1C -; or an increased A1C increase proteins in the pathway,” said Dr. Knight. “We’ll need to further explore this association to identify how those two elements influence each other.”The second study looked at the same population of patients from the FACTOR-64 study and identified three protein pathways that were significantly associated with triglyceride levels: Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein Immunoglobulin Fibronectin Additional research is needed to help clinicians better understand the relationships between triglyceride levels and these three protein pathways.”These initial findings made us pause for a moment and start asking additional questions about these relationships,” said Dr. Knight. “We hope to further explore these pathways to better identify where interventions may occur to help reduce risk for cardiovascular events in diabetic patients.”Source: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news/2018/03/researchers-identify-proteins-associated-with-diabetic-complications-and-increased-heart-disease-in-diabetic-patients/last_img read more

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first_imgThese findings contribute to our understanding of the pathobiology of brain-targeted EAE and document the detrimental role of neutrophils in autoimmune neuroinflammation.”Etty “Tika” Benveniste, Ph.D., and Hongwei Qin, Ph.D., senior authors of the study Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 26 2019Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that damages the insulating sheaths of nerve cells of the central nervous system. People with the disease can lose vision, suffer weak limbs, show degenerative symptoms and exhibit impaired cognition.While multiple sclerosis has 17 approved therapies to modify the disease, none is able to halt disease progression. Thus, researchers use a mouse model called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE, to discover disease mechanisms that may translate into treatments for patients with multiple sclerosis. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham now report in the journal JCI Insight how dysregulated neutrophils cause damage in a severe, mouse model form of EAE called atypical EAE, which attacks cerebellum brain tissue. Benveniste and Qin are professor and associate professor in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology.Much evidence from neutrophils points to their detrimental impact in multiple sclerosis. Neutrophils are the most common white blood cells in the body, but their exact function in multiple sclerosis is unclear. Their normal, healthy function is to protect humans, as neutrophils speed to sites of infection or inflammation, aided by their ability to crawl out of the bloodstream and into affected tissues. In everyday life, people encounter them as the most prevalent cells found in pus, as an infection clears.Several strands of evidence from previous studies at UAB and elsewhere formed the groundwork for this current study. These include 1) UAB researchers and others have shown that brain-targeted, atypical EAE is predominantly a neutrophil-driven disease; 2) dysregulation of a cell-signaling pathway called JAK/STAT is associated with multiple sclerosis and EAE; and 3) a cytokine called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor is known to have a detrimental role in multiple sclerosis, as it correlates with neurological disability and lesion burden in patients.Related StoriesNovel imaging molecule reveals brain changes linked to progressive MSStudy of MS patients shows 18% were given wrong diagnosesMice study suggests potential treatment approach for MS in humansIn their experiments, the UAB researchers artificially dysregulated the JAK/STAT signaling system by using mice with a deleted Socs3 gene. Socs3 is a negative regulator of the JAK/STAT pathway; in the absence of Socs3, the JAK/STAT pathway is overly active and promotes inflammation. As a result, mice with Socs3 deletion in their myeloid cells have a severe, brain-targeted, atypical form of EAE that is associated with cerebellar neutrophil infiltration and over-activation of STAT3, one of the seven STAT proteins that function in the JAK/STAT cell signaling pathway.Using this model, the researchers found that neutrophils from the cerebellum of mice lacking Socs3 showed a hyper-activated phenotype and produced excessive amounts of reactive oxygen species, chemically active compounds that can damage cell structures. However, if mice were given treatments to neutralize the reactive oxygen species, the onset of atypical EAE was delayed and disease severity was reduced.The mechanisms causing these changes were an enhanced STAT3 activation in Socs3-deficient neutrophils, a hyper-activated phenotype in response to granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and an increased production of reactive oxygen species after neutrophil priming by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. Furthermore, when compounds were given to mice to neutralize granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, the incidence and severity of atypical EAE was significantly reduced.The researchers also sequenced messenger RNA in the Socs3-deficient neutrophils after stimulation by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor to identify the cell-signaling pathways and proteins that were most differentially affected.”Overall, our work elucidates that hypersensitivity of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor/STAT3 signaling in Socs3-deficient mice leads to atypical EAE by enhanced neutrophil activation and increased oxidative stress, which may explain the detrimental role of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor in multiple sclerosis patients. Furthermore, the work suggests that both granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and neutrophils may be therapeutic targets in MS,” Qin and Benveniste said.center_img Source:University of Alabama at Birminghamlast_img read more

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first_imgThis work is early, but our hope is that the insights gleaned from these posts could be used to better inform patients and providers about their health. As social media posts are often about someone’s lifestyle choices and experiences or how they’re feeling, this information could provide additional information about disease management and exacerbation.”Lead author Raina Merchant, MD, MS, the director of Penn Medicine’s Center for Digital Health and an associate professor of Emergency Medicine Related StoriesObese patients with Type 1 diabetes could safely receive robotic pancreas transplantAADE’s comprehensive guidance on care of children, young adults with diabetes releasedIntermittent fasting may protect against type 2 diabetesLast year, many members of this research team were able to show that analysis of Facebook posts could predict a diagnosis of depression as much as three months earlier than a diagnosis in the clinic. This work builds on that study and shows that there may be potential for developing an opt-in system for patients that could analyze their social media posts and provide extra information for clinicians to refine care delivery. Merchant said that it’s tough to predict how widespread such a system would be, but it “could be valuable” for patients who use social media frequently.”For instance, if someone is trying to lose weight and needs help understanding their food choices and exercise regimens, having a healthcare provider review their social media record might give them more insight into their usual patterns in order to help improve them,” Merchant said.Later this year, Merchant will conduct a large trial in which patients will be asked to directly share social media content with their health care provider. This will provide a look into whether managing this data and applying it is feasible, as well as how many patients would actually agree to their accounts being used to supplement active care.”One challenge with this is that there is so much data and we, as providers, aren’t trained to interpret it ourselves -; or make clinical decisions based on it,” Merchant explained. “To address this, we will explore how to condense and summarize social media data.” Source:Penn Medicine Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 18 2019Language in Facebook posts may help identify conditions such as diabetes, anxiety, depression and psychosis in patients, according to a study from Penn Medicine and Stony Brook University researchers. It’s believed that language in posts could be indicators of disease and, with patient consent, could be monitored just like physical symptoms. This study was published in PLOS ONE. Our digital language captures powerful aspects of our lives that are likely quite different from what is captured through traditional medical data. Many studies have now shown a link between language patterns and specific disease, such as language predictive of depression or language that gives insights into whether someone is living with cancer. However, by looking across many medical conditions, we get a view of how conditions relate to each other, which can enable new applications of AI for medicine.”Study’s senior author Andrew Schwartz, PhD, a visiting assistant professor at Penn in Computer and Information Science, and an assistant professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University Using an automated data collection technique, the researchers analyzed the entire Facebook post history of nearly 1,000 patients who agreed to have their electronic medical record data linked to their profiles. The researchers then built three models to analyze their predictive power for the patients: one model only analyzing the Facebook post language, another that used demographics such as age and sex, and the last that combined the two datasets.Looking into 21 different conditions, researchers found that all 21were predictable from Facebook alone. In fact, 10 of the conditions were better predicted through the use Facebook data instead of demographic information.Some of the Facebook data that was found to be more predictive than demographic data seemed intuitive. For example, “drink” and “bottle” were shown to be more predictive of alcohol abuse. However, others weren’t as easy. For example, the people that most often mentioned religious language like “God” or “pray” in their posts were 15 times more likely to have diabetes than those who used these terms the least. Additionally, words expressing hostility -; like “dumb” and some expletives-; served as indicators of drug abuse and psychoses.last_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 2 2019Faced with a preteen boy in pain and struggling to breathe from a severe, deteriorating rare condition, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia identified the responsible gene mutation and harnessed that knowledge to develop a novel treatment that dramatically improved the problem. The patient had been born with a complex defect that disrupted the circulation of lymphatic fluid throughout his body.A leading geneticist and a pediatric cardiologist with expertise in lymphatic disorders co-led a team effort to translate knowledge of the affected biological pathway into an innovative treatment, repurposing an existing drug that caused the abnormal lymphatic system to remodel itself. This unexpected result may form the basis of a new therapy for this type of defective lymphatic circulation. This case is a dramatic example of implementing a precision medicine treatment for a life-threatening rare disease. We discovered a causative gene mutation in two patients, identified an existing drug that acts on that gene’s pathway, showed that the drug relieves the condition in lab animals, and then successfully treated the original patient.”Study leader Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Hakonarson collaborated with pediatric cardiologist Yoav Dori, MD, PhD, from the innovative Center for Lymphatic Imaging and Interventions, based at CHOP. “Our patient suffered from a lymphatic conduction disorder known as a central conducting lymphatic anomaly,” said Dori. “The gene mutation drove uncontrolled proliferation of abnormal lymphatic vessels, leading to leak of lymphatic fluid, edema and respiratory difficulties. Because we were able to repurpose an existing drug to block the signals causing the dysregulated growth, we caused our patient’s lymphatic channels to reshape themselves into a more normal anatomy and function, and dramatically improved his condition.”The study team published their findings online today in Nature Medicine.”The lymphatic system is sometimes called ‘the forgotten circulation,'” said Dori, who added that the lymphatic system interacts with the cardiovascular system, absorbing and returning fluid from tissues back to the venous circulation. As lymphatic fluid circulates through the body, it has a crucial role in immune function as well as fat and protein transport. Abnormal lymphatic flow, which often goes undiagnosed, may cause fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen or other tissues, leading to respiratory distress, abdominal swelling, and severe swelling of the limbs or tissues.Daniel was 10 years old when he first came to his local hospital in Virginia with swelling in his lower body, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid around his heart. “This came on suddenly for Daniel,” said his mother, who added that he had been a competitive soccer player and had run a 5K course in 25 minutes without any training. Doctors drained the fluid, but it continued to accumulate, and he was transferred to CHOP for further evaluation by the lymphatics team.At CHOP, the lymphatics team blocked the abnormal flow and used minimally invasive methods to initially stabilize the problem, but the fluid buildup reoccurred and worsened over the next two years. Daniel’s respiratory problems and swelling worsened, despite a variety of minimally invasive and surgical interventions. Sirolimus, a drug commonly used in lymphatic conditions, did not work. The care team was running out of options and Daniel’s condition continued to deteriorate.Hakonarson, a pediatric pulmonologist in addition to his genetics and genomics expertise, consulted with the lymphatics clinical team on Daniel’s case. “All lymphatics patients are now also seen by our genomics team,” said Hakonarson, who added that based on this work, CHOP is now expanding an existing program in complex vascular anomalies that investigates the underlying genetic mutations that impair normal development of blood or lymphatic vessels.Related StoriesNew gene-editing protocol allows perfect mutation-effect matchingGenomics study reveals five genes linked to treatment resistance in prostate cancerYeast species thrives, despite losing DNA repair genes years agoHakonarson’s team performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) on Daniel’s DNA with the aim of identifying a specific genetic cause for his condition. The team also did WES on DNA from an unrelated young adult patient, from another center, with a severe lymphatic condition. That DNA was stored in a patient registry. In both cases, the sequencing identified a previously undiscovered gain-of-function mutation in the ARAF gene. Unfortunately, the adult patient died from this life-threatening disease before the subsequent experimental treatment became available.The researchers explored the function of the ARAF mutation by inserting it into the embryos of zebrafish, an animal frequently used to model genetic diseases. The zebrafish then developed similar abnormal lymphatic channels. The next step was to use a drug called an MEK inhibitor known to act on biological pathways affected by ARAF. The drug “rescued” the structural defect in the zebrafish, causing them to develop normal lymphatic vessels.MEK inhibitors are typically approved for use in patients with the skin cancer, melanoma. Based on their zebrafish results, Hakonarson and Dori consulted with Dr. Jean Belasco from the CHOP Oncology team, who is a leading clinician in vascular anomalies, and a study co-author. Dr. Belasco obtained compassionate permission from the FDA to use an MEK inhibitor called trametinib in Daniel.Within two months after starting the experimental treatment, Daniel’s breathing improved. Three months after starting the treatment, he had reduced fluid retention and was able to cut back on supplemental oxygen, start breathing room air, and begin more physical activity. An MRI showed that his lymphatic vessels were remodeling themselves. He was able to stop using supplemental oxygen and transition to breathing room air. The heavy swelling in Daniel’s legs gradually disappeared.Now 14 years old, Daniel has been able to resume many normal activities, such as riding his bicycle, playing basketball, and taking up others, such as weight training and helping to coach soccer camps. His mother said, “Just over two years ago, Daniel was getting measured for a wheelchair and had to be tutored at home. Now he’s back at school full-time and is able to be active with his friends.”Dori and Hakonarson said that this research is the first real evidence for complete remodeling of an entire organ system by a drug, and offers hope for many patients with similar lymphatic flow disorders. “Our work exemplifies how genetic discoveries can impact disease classification and uncover novel biological and life-saving treatments,” they concluded in the paper.His mother added, “As difficult as this process of discovery, experimentation and treatment has been, we are so grateful for the perseverance and skill of his medical team, in addition to Daniel’s resilience and optimism. The fact that Daniel’s case has the potential to help countless other patients is a silver lining for sure.”External funding for this study came from donations from the Adele and Daniel Kubert family and from Aevi Genomic Medicine, Inc. (“Aevi”). Hakonarson is a scientific advisor to Aevi and owns shares in the company. CHOP as an institution has invested in Aevi, holds equity in the company and has a seat on its Board of Directors. Hakonarson’s and CHOP’s participation in research related to Aevi is reviewed and approved by CHOP’s Conflict of Interest Committee, which includes an independent member external to CHOP.Hakonarson is a leader of CHOP’s Complex Vascular Anomalies Frontier Program (CVAFP), launched this year to build on both the hospital’s Vascular Anomalies Program and its Lymphatic Imaging and Interventions Frontier Program. The CVAFP is designed to enhance clinical care, and tap into the extensive clinical and genomic research infrastructure existing within the Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Genomics. CHOP’s Frontier Programs exemplify its commitment to combining the most advanced treatment options with breakthrough discoveries. Source:Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaJournal reference:Hakonarson, H et al. (2019) ARAF recurrent mutation causes central conducting lymphatic anomaly treatable with a MEK inhibitor. Nature Medicine. doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0479-2.last_img read more

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first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 17 2019Below is a summary of a study published online today in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. This article will be freely available for a limited time. SHEA members have full access to all ICHE articles through the online portal.Title: “Current infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship program practices: A survey of the SHEA Research Network.”Summary: This study was conducted within the SHEA Research Network, a large consortium of healthcare facilities dedicated to conducting high-quality studies related to infection prevention and control and antibiotic stewardship. The survey demonstrates that surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be a core focus for healthcare facilities. As compared to a similar 2013 survey, active surveillance for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has declined, while active surveillance for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is now performed in half of centers.Related StoriesCurved shape of bacteria can make it easier to find foodBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerAntibiotic combination effective against drug-resistant PseudomonasThis work further highlights the growth in financially supported antibiotic stewardship programs over the past 5 years, as well as frequent use of rapid molecular diagnostic tests to expedite appropriate antibiotic therapy for patients with bloodstream infections. Finally, while half of facilities anticipated increased responsibilities for infection control and antibiotic stewardship staff, the minority anticipated increases in funding for this important work.Highlights: – Antimicrobial stewardship programs were present in 95 facilities in 2018, an increase from 85 percent in 2013.- There’s been a shift in focus toward active surveillance for MDR-GN organisms, with fewer facilities reporting active MRSA surveillance, which may reflect 2015 CDC recommendations- Financial support for physician stewardship medical directors increased to 78 percent in 2018 from 52 percent in 2013.- Monitoring of environmental cleaning effectiveness was more frequent in 2018, when it was performed in 98% of facilities compared to 80 % in 2013.- Ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide mist were used for environmental cleaning in 37 and 16 percent of facilities, respectively, in 2018 and 2013. Source:Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of AmericaJournal reference:Chiotos, K. et al. (2019) Current infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship program practices: A survey of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Research Network (SRN). Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. doi.org/10.1017/ice.2019.172.last_img read more

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Love online shopping? Don’t have a bank account? This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Amazon’s got you covered.The e-tailer is in talks with banks to create something like a checking account for its customers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Doing so would give data-hungry Amazon access to new information about people’s shopping habits and enable the company to cut fees it currently pays to banks and payments processors that handle credit and debit cards transactions.Among the financial institutions vying for the partnership are JPMorgan Chase and Capital One Financial, the Journal reported.”The idea is to allow people with low credit to use debit cards, and they need a bank account to do so,” said Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities.”Obviously, people without credit are a huge target for Amazon—I think it’s around one-third of the population in the U.S. and much bigger internationally—so if Amazon wants to access these customers, it’s smart to facilitate payment,” he said.Amazon and Capital One could not be reached immediately for comment.Chase spokeswoman Trish Wexler declined to comment.Both the Amazon Visa credit card and the Amazon Prime Visa card are through Chase.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, along with Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett, recently joined forces to work on a way to improve healthcare coverage in the U.S.But he “remains baffled” that Amazon doesn’t accept PayPal.That Amazon is looking beyond the traditional scope of its business is no surprise. The Seattle-based retail giant has ventured into prescription medications, organic food, package delivery, brick-and-mortar stores, online video streaming and tablets.Walmart tried to venture into banking in 2005 by applying for a banking license, but nixed those plans two years later.Amazon stock was $1,493.23, down $7.02 or 0.47%, in early-morning trading on Monday. Amazon to debut cashier-less store in downtown Seattle ©2018 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Citation: Report: Amazon checking accounts? Something similar could be coming soon (2018, March 5) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-amazon-accounts-similar.html read more

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Explore further In this Nov. 3, 2017, file photo, the Apple iPhone X sits on display at the new Apple Michigan Avenue store along the Chicago River in Chicago. Warren Buffett’s company bought 75 million more Apple shares in the first quarter, giving it more than 240 million shares of the iPhone maker. Buffett told CNBC about the latest Apple stock purchases Friday, May 4, 2018 as tens of thousands of shareholders begin to arrive at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting this weekend. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File) © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Citation: Buffett’s firm buys 75 million more Apple shares in 1Q (2018, May 4) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-buffett-firm-million-apple-1q.html Buffett told CNBC about the latest Apple stock purchases Friday as tens of thousands of shareholders begin to arrive at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting this weekend.Berkshire has continued buying Apple shares even with the price rising 25 percent over the past 12 months. At the end of 2017, Buffett’s company held 165.3 million Apple shares.Buffett has said he looks at Apple like a consumer products company with a strong competitive position, rather than as a tech company. That helped him become comfortable with it.Besides investments, Berkshire owns more than 90 subsidiaries in a variety of industries, including insurance, utilities, railroads, and manufacturing. Buffett’s company adds to stakes in Apple and Phillips 66 (Update) Warren Buffett’s company bought 75 million more Apple shares in the first quarter, giving it more than 240 million shares of the iPhone maker. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

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first_imgToday my IBM team and my colleagues at the UCSF Gartner lab reported in Nature Methods an innovative approach to generating datasets from non-experts and using them for training in machine learning. Our approach is designed to enable AI systems to learn just as well from non-experts as they do from expert-generated training data. We developed a platform, called Quanti.us, that allows non-experts to analyze images (a common task in biomedical research) and create an annotated dataset. The platform is complemented by a set of algorithms specifically designed to interpret this kind of “noisy” and incomplete data correctly. Used together, these technologies can expand applications of machine learning in biomedical research. Non-expert image annotations are noisy. Ten non-experts outlined the dark black circles in the image, which are cell nuclei. Their results (shown in orange) do not match up exactly. Our algorithms are able to infer a consensus outline (shown in purple) from the noisy data. Compare this consensus with expert annotation of the same image (shown in green). Credit: IBM This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Provided by IBM This story is republished courtesy of IBM Research. Read the original story here. Journal information: Nature Methods Citation: Teaching AI to learn from non-experts (2018, August 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-ai-non-experts.html More information: Alex J. Hughes et al. Quanti.us: a tool for rapid, flexible, crowd-based annotation of images, Nature Methods (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41592-018-0069-0 Non-experts and noisy dataThe limited availability of high-quality annotated datasets is a bottleneck in advancing machine learning. By creating algorithms that can deliver accurate results from lower-quality annotations—and a system for rapidly collecting such data—we can help alleviate the bottleneck. Analyzing images for features of interest is a great example. Expert image annotation is accurate but time-consuming, and automated analysis techniques such as contrast-based segmentation and edge detection perform well under defined conditions but are sensitive to changes in experimental setup and can produce unreliable results.Enter crowd-sourcing. Using Quanti.us, we obtained crowd-sourced image annotations 10–50 times faster than it would have taken a single expert to analyze the same images. But, as one might expect, annotations from non-experts were noisy: some correctly identified a feature and others were off-target. We developed algorithms to process the noisy data, inferring the correct location of a feature from the aggregation of both on- and off-target hits. When we trained a deep convolutional regression network using the crowd-sourced dataset, it performed nearly as well as a network trained on expert annotations, with respect to precision and recall. Along with the paper describing our approach and strategy, we released the source code for our algorithm.Applications in cellular engineeringImage analysis is central to many fields of quantitative biology and medicine. A few years ago we and our collaborators announced the NSF-funded Center for Cellular Construction (CCC), a science and technology center that is pioneering the new scientific discipline of cellular engineering. CCC facilitates close collaboration between experts of different disciplines, like machine learning, physics, computer science, cell and molecular biology, and genomics, to drive progress in cellular engineering. We aim to study and create cells that can be used as automated machines, or ad hoc sensors, to learn new and vital information about a variety of biological entities and their relationship with the environment they live in. We use image analysis to pinpoint the position and size of internal cell components. But even with advanced imaging techniques, exact inference of cellular substructures may be incredibly noisy, making it difficult to operate on the cell’s components. Our technique can use this noisy data to correctly predict where the relevant cellular structures may be, allowing better identification of organelles involved in production of important chemicals or potential drug targets in a disease.We believe our algorithms are an important first step toward more complex AI platforms. Such systems may use additional “human in the loop” paradigms, by involving a biologist to correct mistakes during the training phase, for example, to further improve performance. We also see an opportunity to apply our method beyond biology to other fields where high-quality annotated datasets may be scarce. A new machine learning strategy that could enhance computer visionlast_img read more

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first_imgIndia on Tuesday called on WhatsApp to clamp down on fake news spread on the messaging app that has been blamed for lynchings across the vast South Asian country. Mobs have killed more than 20 people in two months following unfounded allegations spread on the Facebook-owned platform, which has 200 million users in India.Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met WhatsApp chief executive Chris Daniels to discuss the messages spreading violence.Prasad said on Twitter that he had asked the firm “to work closely with law enforcement agencies of India and create public awareness campaign to prevent misuse of WhatsApp”.The minister said he was assured by Daniels that WhatsApp “will soon take steps” to comply with New Delhi’s demands, which include opening a corporate office and the appointment of a grievance officer in India to act on complaints.The Indian government has stepped up pressure on WhatsApp as the number of killings has grown.The firm rolled out new safeguards in July—including limiting the number of users a message can be forwarded to—and ran newspaper adverts to raise awareness about fake news.”While WhatsApp has contributed significantly to India’s digital story, it needs to find solutions to sinister developments such as mob lynching and revenge porn,” Prasad was quoted as saying after the meeting by Press Trust of India news agency. © 2018 AFP WhatsApp offers tips to spot fake news after India murders India has stepped up pressure on WhatsApp to check the spread of fake news, blamed for lynchings across the countrycenter_img Citation: India calls for WhatApp reforms after lynchings (2018, August 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-india-whatapp-reforms-lynchings.html Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more