UTHealth expert takes part in groundbreaking project to empower adolescents in the

first_imgMay 9 2018A child obesity expert from the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin was called upon to help lead a groundbreaking project to involve and empower adolescents in the fight against obesity in Europe.The project, titled CO-CREATE, will use a societal systems approach to understand how factors associated with being overweight or obese interact at various levels. CO-CREATE aims to work with adolescents and youth organizations to foster a participatory process of identifying and formulating relevant policies; to assess the options with other private and public groups; promote relevant policy actions and to develop tools and strategies for implementation.Deanna Hoelscher, Ph.D., R.D., John P. McGovern Professor of Health Promotion at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin, is the U.S. investigator on this project. The European commission asked Hoelscher to participate because of her expertise in adolescent health. She will share data and provide insights from the Texas-based School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) study, conducted through the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living. The SPAN study monitors the prevalence of overweight/obesity in school-aged children in Texas.”We know that people’s environments affect their eating and exercise behaviors. Adolescent advocacy has been a tool for changing other behaviors, such as recycling, but has not been widely used for obesity prevention strategies,” Hoelscher said. “This new grant will provide international-level data on what policies are most effective and sustainable, and then use these data to work with youth to help them engage in the change process. Our involvement in the consortium provides a U.S. and state perspective on engaging adolescents for this advocacy work, and builds on our current portfolio in child and adolescent health.”Related StoriesMaternal obesity may negatively affect children’s lung developmentMetabolic enzyme tied to obesity and fatty liver diseaseNew anti-obesity drug trial set to launch at Alberta Diabetes InstituteHoelscher will serve as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee and will work on various aspects of the project, including policy analysis tools and development of the evaluation framework. Another aspect of the grant includes conducting a dialogue forum for youth in Austin, Texas, to increase the input from the other consortium sites.CO-CREATE partner organizations include university research departments, national public health institutions and civil society organizations concerned with health policies and youth well-being. The project will build on existing initiatives and platforms, and construct new opportunities for engagement and participation in democratic moves for advocacy and policy change.A consortium of 14 research and advocacy organizations met in Oslo, Norway last week to launch the project. The budget of over €9.5 million (equal to about $11.3 million) will provide a program of activities for a five-year period ending in 2023. The CO-CREATE Project has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research budget, shared between 14 research groups in six European countries, with participation from Australia, South Africa and the U.S. The project will be completed in 2023.Source: https://sph.uth.edu/campuses/last_img read more

Nuffield Council on Bioethics outlines ethical issues arising from use of AI

first_imgMay 15 2018AI in healthcare is developing rapidly, with many applications currently in use or in development in the UK and worldwide. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines the current and potential applications of AI in healthcare, and the ethical issues arising from its use, in a new briefing note, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research, published today.There is much hope and excitement surrounding the use of AI in healthcare. It has the potential to make healthcare more efficient and patient-friendly; speed up and reduce errors in diagnosis; help patients manage symptoms or cope with chronic illness; and help avoid human bias and error. But there are some important questions to consider: who is responsible for the decisions made by AI systems? Will increasing use of AI lead to a loss of human contact in care? What happens if AI systems are hacked?Related StoriesEndocrine Society opposes HHS rule that would jeopardize transgender individuals’ access to healthcareFDA’s added sugar label could have substantial health and cost-saving benefitsCould formal health technology assessment be a solution to high healthcare costs in the US?The briefing note outlines the ethical issues raised by the use of AI in healthcare, such as: Source:http://nuffieldbioethics.org/news/2018/big-ethical-questions-artificial-intelligence-ai-healthcare Hugh Whittall, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, says:”The potential applications of AI in healthcare are being explored through a number of promising initiatives across different sectors – by industry, health sector organizations and through government investment. While their aims and interests may vary, there are some common ethical issues that arise from their work.Our briefing note outlines some of the key ethical issues that need to be considered if the benefits of AI technology are to be realized, and public trust maintained. These are live questions that set out an agenda for newly-established bodies like the UK Government Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The challenge will be to ensure that innovation in AI is developed and used in a ways that are transparent, that address societal needs, and that are consistent with public values.”center_img the potential for AI to make erroneous decisions; who is responsible when AI is used to support decision-making; difficulties in validating the outputs of AI systems; the risk of inherent bias in the data used to train AI systems; ensuring the security and privacy of potentially sensitive data; securing public trust in the development and use of AI technology; effects on people’s sense of dignity and social isolation in care situations; effects on the roles and skill-requirements of healthcare professionals; and the potential for AI to be used for malicious purposes.last_img read more

Antifreeze molecules may hold key to better treatments for brain injuries

first_imgJun 22 2018The key to better treatments for brain injuries and disease may lie in the molecules charged with preventing the clumping of specific proteins associated with cognitive decline and other neurological problems, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report in a new study published in Neurobiology of Disease.Concentrations of these brain molecules – called N-acetylaspartate (NAA) – are known to decrease when people suffer from brain injuries and diseases. While NAA has historically been used as a marker of disease, its primary role in the brain has remained a mystery. Now, Penn neuroscience researchers have shown how NAA wedges in between the folds of amyloid-beta fibrils to inhibit them from locking, folding, and clumping together to create harmful amyloid plaques.”For decades, NAA has been viewed as simply a marker of injury when in fact it could be a part of the rescue process,” said senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and professor of Neurosurgery in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. “We found that it’s a type of brain ‘antifreeze’ that works to pause and even reverse the aggregation or misfolding of amyloid-beta proteins, which occurs after a brain injury. In this way, it may protect the brain.”NAA is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain, and has the highest concentration in neurons. After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), scans from proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy consistently show an approximately 20 percent reduction in NAA in patients’ white matter, the authors note. This is followed by the rapid clumping of amyloid-beta proteins to form amyloid plaques, which are found in a large number of TBI patients who die shortly after injury-;similar to the hallmark pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.A number of strategies to reduce amyloid-beta aggregation, such as immunotherapy and beta secretase inhibitors, have been attempted over the years, but none of them have proved to be clinically successful. This new study suggests that restoring NAA to normal levels after head trauma or in neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s, could block the progression of amyloid pathologies.Related StoriesResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaUsing human amyloid-beta samples in the lab, the team demonstrated that concentrations of NAA substantially impaired amyloid-beta clumping. Its possible NAA is creating “peptide backbones,” the authors said-;the NAA inserts itself between layers of amyloid-beta clumps and protofibrils, preventing the formation of mature amyloid fibrils. The researchers used several different techniques to determine NAA’s role, including Thioflavin T dye fluorescence, which is used regularly to quantify the formation and inhibition of amyloids.Electron microscopy also confirmed the absence of mature fibrils following the NAA treatment. The NAA may be stabilizing the smaller fibrils and preventing further organization into elongated, more mature ones, the authors speculated.The researchers also showed that the addition of NAA can even reverse the clumping. After 25 minutes, NAA added to the amyloid-beta aggregation started to break down the pre-formed amyloid fibrils. This work may have important implications for the treatment of TBI and neurodegenerative disorders.”We show a new and potentially significant biological function of NAA in the brain, as a surprisingly effective agent for inhibiting and even reversing aggregation of amyloid-beta,” said lead author Jean-Pierre Dollé, PhD, of the Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair. “This tells us a lot about brain injury and neurodegeneration, and points us to possible therapies to stop it. These findings support the start of a new line of research to reveal potential mechanisms of NAA interactions with amyloid-beta in patients.”Source: https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2018/june/antifreeze-molecules-may-stop-and-reverse-damage-from-brain-injurieslast_img read more

MIT engineers develop simple passive prosthetic foot that mimics natural walking

first_imgJun 28 2018Prosthetic limb technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, giving amputees a range of bionic options, including artificial knees controlled by microchips, sensor-laden feet driven by artificial intelligence, and robotic hands that a user can manipulate with her mind. But such high-tech designs can cost tens of thousands of dollars, making them unattainable for many amputees, particularly in developing countries.Now MIT engineers have developed a simple, low-cost, passive prosthetic foot that they can tailor to an individual. Given a user’s body weight and size, the researchers can tune the shape and stiffness of the prosthetic foot, such that the user’s walk is similar to an able-bodied gait. They estimate that the foot, if manufactured on a wide scale, could cost an order of magnitude less than existing products.The custom-designed prostheses are based on a design framework developed by the researchers, which provides a quantitative way to predict a user’s biomechanical performance, or walking behavior, based on the mechanical design of the prosthetic foot.”[Walking] is something so core to us as humans, and for this segment of the population who have a lower-limb amputation, there’s just no theory for us to say, ‘here’s exactly how we should design the stiffness and geometry of a foot for you, in order for you to walk as you desire,'” says Amos Winter, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “Now we can do that. And that’s super powerful.”Winter and former graduate student Kathryn Olesnavage report details of this framework in IEEE’s Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation. They have published their results on their new prosthetic foot in the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, with graduate student Victor Prost and research engineer William Brett Johnson.Following the gait In 2012, soon after Winter joined the MIT faculty, he was approached by Jaipur Foot, a manufacturer of artificial limbs based in Jaipur, India. The organization manufactures a passive prosthetic foot, geared toward amputees in developing countries, and donates more than 28,000 models each year to users in India and elsewhere.”They’ve been making this foot for over 40 years, and it’s rugged, so farmers can use it barefoot outdoors, and it’s relatively life-like, so if people go in a mosque and want to pray barefoot, they’re likely to not be stigmatized,” Winter says. “But it’s quite heavy, and the internal structure is made all by hand, which creates a big variation in product quality.”The organization asked Winter whether he could design a better, lighter foot that could be mass-produced at low cost.”At that point, we started asking ourselves, ‘how should we design this foot as engineers? How should we predict the performance, given the foot’s stiffness and mechanical design and geometry? How should we tune all that to get a person to walk the way we want them to walk?'” Winter recalls.The team, led by Olesnavage, first looked for a way to quantitatively relate a prosthesis’ mechanical characteristics to a user’s walking performance — a fundamental relationship that had never before been fully codified.While many developers of prosthetic feet have focused on replicating the movements of able-bodied feet and ankles, Winter’s team took a different approach, based on their realization that amputees who have lost a limb below the knee can’t feel what a prosthetic foot does.”One of the critical insights we had was that, to a user, the foot is just kind of like a black box — it’s not connected to their nervous system, and they’re not interacting with the foot intimately,” Winter says.Instead of designing a prosthetic foot to replicate the motions of an able-bodied foot, he and Olesnavage looked to design a prosthetic foot that would produce lower-leg motions similar to those of an able-bodied person’s lower leg as they walk.”This really opened up the design space for us,” Winter says. “We can potentially drastically change the foot, so long as we make the the lower leg do what we want it to do, in terms of kinematics and loading, because that’s what a user perceives.”With the lower leg in mind, the team looked for ways to relate how the mechanics of the foot relate to how the lower leg moves while the foot is in contact with the ground. To do this, the researchers consulted an existing dataset comprising measurements of steps taken by an able-bodied walker with a given body size and weight. With each step, previous researchers had recorded the ground reaction forces and the changing center of pressure experienced by a walker’s foot as it rocked from heel to toe, along with the position and trajectory of the lower leg.Related StoriesRhythmic movement can be coordinated without neuronal interactions between body partsStudy reveals how protein mutation is involved in Christianson syndromeTop four things seniors need to know to have a safe and healthy summerWinter and his colleagues developed a mathematical model of a simple, passive prosthetic foot, which describes the stiffness, possible motion, and shape of the foot. They plugged into the model the ground reaction forces from the dataset, which they could sum up to predict how a user’s lower leg would translate through a single step.With their model, they then tuned the stiffness and geometry of the simulated prosthetic foot to produce a lower-leg trajectory that was close to the able-bodied swing — a measure they consider to be a minimal “lower leg trajectory error.””Ideally, we would tune the stiffness and geometry of the foot perfectly so we exactly replicate the motion of the lower leg,” Winter says. “Overall, we saw that we can get pretty darn close to able-bodied motion and loading, with a passive structure.”Evolving on a curveThe team then sought to identify an ideal shape for a single-part prosthetic foot that would be simple and affordable to manufacture, while still producing a leg trajectory very similar to that of able-bodied walkers.To pinpoint an ideal foot shape, the group ran a “genetic algorithm” — a common technique used to weed out unfavorable options, in search of the most optimal designs.”Just like a population of animals, we made a population of feet, all with different variables to make different curve shapes,” Winter says. “We loaded them into simulation and calculated their lower leg trajectory error. The ones that had a high error, we killed off.”Those that had a lower error, the researchers further mixed and matched with other shapes, to evolve the population toward an ideal shape, with the lowest possible lower leg trajectory error. The team used a wide Bezier curve to describe the shape of the foot using only a few select variables, which were easy to vary in the genetic algorithm. The resulting foot shape looked similar to the side-view of a toboggan.Olesnavage and Winter figured that, by tuning the stiffness and shape of this Bezier curve to a person’s body weight and size, the team should be able to produce a prosthetic foot that generates leg motions similar to able-bodied walking. To test this idea, the researchers produced several feet for volunteers in India. The prostheses were made from machined nylon, a material chosen for its energy-storage capability.”What’s cool is, this behaves nothing like an able-bodied foot — there’s no ankle or metatarsal joint — it’s just one big structure, and all we care about is how the lower leg is moving through space,” Winter says. “Most of the testing was done indoors, but one guy ran outside, he liked it so much. It puts a spring in your step.”Going forward, the team has partnered with Vibram, an Italian company that manufactures rubber outsoles — flexible hiking boots and running shoes that look like feet. The company is designing a life-like covering for the team’s prosthesis, that will also give the foot some traction over muddy or slippery surfaces. The researchers plan to test the prosthetics and coverings on volunteers in India this spring.Winter says the simple prosthetic foot design can also be a much more affordable and durable option for populations such as soldiers who want to return to active duty or veterans who want to live an active lifestyle.”A common passive foot in the U.S. market will cost $1,000 to $10,000, made out of carbon fiber. Imagine you go to your prosthetist, they take a few measurements, they send them back to us, and we send back to you a custom-designed nylon foot for a few hundred bucks. This model is potentially game-changing for the industry, because we can fully quantify the foot and tune it for individuals, and use cheaper materials.”​Source: http://news.mit.edu/2018/low-cost-prosthetic-foot-mimics-natural-walking-0627last_img read more

High bittertaste sensitivity linked to increased risk of cancer

first_img Source:https://news.psu.edu/story/528597/2018/07/18/research/link-found-between-bitter-taste-sensitivity-and-cancer-risk Jul 18 2018High bitter-taste sensitivity is associated with a significantly increased risk of cancer in older British women, according to researchers who conducted a unique study of 5,500 women whose diet, lifestyle and health has been tracked for about 20 years.The research examined the relationship between the ability to taste the bitter-tasting chemical phenylthiocarbamide, known as PTC, or the presence of specific genetic differences in the bitter taste receptor, TAS2R38, which binds to PTC, and risk of cancer in a subset of the UK Women’s Cohort Study.The UK Women’s Cohort Study was established in 1995 by nutritional epidemiologists at Leeds University to explore links between diet and chronic disease, cancer in particular. The study had an initial middle-aged female population of 35,000. The researchers obtained cancer incidence data from Great Britain’s National Health Service Central Register.Researchers analyzed the food intake of women in the study, using a 217-item food-frequency questionnaire administered when the women joined the cohort in the late 1990s. Researchers hypothesized that women with higher bitter-taste sensitivity would consume fewer vegetables and have higher incidence of cancer.Although there was no correlation between bitter-taste sensitivity and vegetable intake, researchers did find that, among older women, bitter-taste sensitivity was associated with greater cancer risk, according to lead researcher Joshua Lambert, associate professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State.Lambert, who collaborated with scientists in Leeds University’s nutritional epidemiology group while he was on sabbatical in England conducting the research, noted that depending on the level of sensitivity to bitter tastes, study participants were classified as super-tasters, tasters and non-tasters. The findings were published online this month in the European Journal of Nutrition.”The difference in cancer incidence between the women with the highest bitter-taste sensitivity and those with the lowest was striking,” he said. “Super-tasters had about a 58 percent higher risk of cancer incidence, and the tasters had about a 40 percent higher risk of developing cancer, compared to women who were classified as non-tasters.”However, in this analysis, high bitter-taste sensitivity didn’t yield the expected link to dietary choices that could explain the higher cancer incidence, Lambert pointed out.”Our hypothesis was that women who had higher bitter-taste sensitivity — either they were PTC tasters or super-tasters, or they had the TAS2R38 diplotype to suggest that they were tasters or super-tasters — would be at higher risk of developing cancer than women who were non-tasters. We thought that would happen because over their lifetime they would have consumed fewer bitter-tasting vegetables, which have been reported to have cancer preventive activities,” he said.Related StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessary”When we looked at the data, we saw that for women over 60, our hypothesis was partially correct. Cancer risk was higher among women classified as tasters or super-tasters, but we didn’t see any differences in bitter-tasting vegetable consumption.”Super-tasters and tasters didn’t eat fewer vegetables than the non-tasters, Lambert noted. They reported consuming as many Brussels sprouts and as much broccoli, for instance, as the non-tasters.So where does that leave researchers? Anxious to do more studies to unravel the factors that drive the relationship between bitter-taste sensitivity and cancer, Lambert said. He and colleagues in Penn State’s Department of Food Science and Department of Public Health Sciences submitted a grant application in May to the American Institute for Cancer Research to fund a study on the relationship between bitter-taste sensitivity and colon cancer risk in American men and women.But it also has them thinking that the relationship between bitter-taste sensitivity and cancer likely relates more to overall diet quality than just vegetable consumption, according to Lambert. He said that more and more, cancer experts suspect that dietary connections to the disease will only be revealed if researchers study the bigger picture.”Our hypothesis that women with greater bitter-taste sensitivity would eat fewer vegetables, putting them at heightened risk for cancer, was perhaps too narrow a concept,” he said. “If you have an aversion to bitter taste, you are also less likely to drink alcohol, and alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. So, do the risks of eating too few vegetables outweigh the benefits of not drinking alcohol in terms of your overall cancer risk, or vice versa? We just don’t know, yet.”Although researchers didn’t see the relationship between bitter-taste sensitivity and vegetable consumption that they expected, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the wider context of the total diet, Lambert suggested.”Maybe, if we pull back and look at the whole-diet level, we will see that women who are super-tasters have a poorer quality overall diet compared to women who are non-tasters,” he said.last_img read more

New case study looks at what prevent health care staffs from raising

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 21 2018In a case study published online last week in Academic Medicine, an international team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge and Johns Hopkins Medicine looked at what prevented employees from raising concerns. The study identifies measures to help health care organizations encourage their employees to speak up and recommends a systematic approach to promoting employee voice that appears to have already made a positive impact at Johns Hopkins.”It’s not enough just to say you’re committed to employee voice. Health care staff must genuinely feel comfortable speaking up if organizations are going to provide safe, high-quality care,” says Mary Dixon-Woods, D.Phil., M.Sc., a professor at the University of Cambridge, director of THIS Institute (The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute) and the study’s lead author. “Even when reporting mechanisms are in place, employees may not report disruptive behaviors if they don’t feel safe in doing so and don’t think their concerns will be addressed.”Health care workers often are reluctant to raise concerns about co-workers and unsafe behaviors, so leadership at Johns Hopkins Medicine sought to encourage employee voice in the organization by first identifying barriers. The research team interviewed 67 administrators and front-line staff members about raising patient safety issues at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The researchers found that some staff members said they didn’t know how to report their concerns, and others said that reporting processes were difficult to navigate. More generally, employees reported a culture of fear–they worried about hostile or angry responses, retaliation, or being labeled a bad team player. Even when employees did speak up, they reported, nothing seemed to happen in response. A particular concern for many employees was a small number of senior staff members who engaged in poor conduct with apparent impunity. Quietly referred to by many as the “untouchables,” their behavior was regarded as unacceptable, but they were so powerful that many felt that raising concerns would go nowhere.Related Stories’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesChildren’s Colorado granted IAC’s Cardiovascular Catheterization accreditationHome-based support network helps stroke patients adjust after hospital dischargeTo address the issues raised in these interviews, Johns Hopkins leaders developed, implemented, and in some cases expanded a series of interventions from fall 2014 through summer 2016. These interventions included clear definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, well-coordinated reporting mechanisms, leadership training on having difficult conversations, and consistent consequences for disruptive behaviors. Safe at Hopkins, a program dedicated to addressing and investigating concerns, was designed, researchers say, to make everyone feel comfortable and safe. It means that instead of relying on individual accounts that could be disputed, Johns Hopkins Medicine leadership now investigates an entire clinical unit. During the period studied, 382 individual reports of disruptive behavior were made that led to 55 investigations in which a whole clinical unit was interviewed.”Once Safe at Hopkins came into units where there was disruptive behavior, people started to speak up and make reports,” says Janice Clements, Ph.D., professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology, the vice dean of faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author of the study. “Although there is a lot more work to be done to formally evaluate and refine this program and all the other interventions we have put into place, I think it’s safe to say that giving people a ‘safe’ way to speak up can be done.”With further testing in different contexts, Dixon-Woods says the interventions used at Johns Hopkins could be applicable to other health care organizations looking to promote employee voice and improve how they respond to transgressive behavior. “Though the importance of giving voice to employees–and the difficulties in doing so–are widely known, the two-stage approach of diagnosis and intervention that we undertook for this study demonstrated some intriguing promise in remaking norms in health care organizations.” Source:https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/study-at-johns-hopkins-hospital-leads-to-changes-in-reporting-patient-safety-concernslast_img read more

Past measurements may have missed massive ocean warming

first_imgEarth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the warming caused by greenhouse gases, researchers estimate, with the stored heat showing up as warmer seawater. But a new analysis suggests scientists may have underestimated the size of the heat sink in the upper ocean—which could have implications for researchers trying to understand the pace and scale of past warming.Seas pose a formidable challenge to climate scientists. On one hand, they are as big a player in the global climate system as the atmosphere. As a result, “global warming is ocean warming,” oceanographer Gregory Johnson writes in a commentary on the new study, appearing today in Nature Climate Change. But vast swaths of the ocean are poorly measured, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.To fill that gap, the authors of the new study focused south of the equator in developing a new estimate of how much heat the ocean stores. In particular, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA looked at satellite measurements of sea-level height, which they can use as a proxy for heating. That’s because as oceans warm, water expands, causing sea levels to rise. The researchers found that climate models have generally simulated recent sea-level rise accurately, when considering hemispheric-scale changes. Then, using model simulations, they looked into the past, calculating how ocean heat content has changed since 1970. In particular, they tested whether observed changes in heat content were consistent with the change simulated by the models. The figures generally matched over more recent decades, but they uncovered a large discrepancy prior to 2004, when more comprehensive data began to pour in from instrumented Argo floats.  The results suggest that previous estimates of the heat stored in the upper 700 meters of the ocean since 1970 have been too low. In the Southern Ocean in particular, they estimate past heat tallies were 48% to 152% too low. Globally, past estimates could be as much as 25% off.   “The thing that was surprising to me was the magnitude of this underestimation,” says lead author Paul Durack, an oceanographer with DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The findings suggest that previous observed estimates may be underestimating the planet’s sensitivity to the buildup of carbon dioxide, he adds. (Climate sensitivity is a key issue in climate science.) The paper is valuable in its use of real-world data and simulations to “cross-check” one another, says oceanographer Gregory Johnson of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.Meanwhile, a second paper published today in the same journal tries to shed light on warming in another poorly sampled part of the ocean: the deep. The vast majority of existing ocean temperature records are collected by buoys and cover the sea’s top 2000 meters. The average depth of the ocean, however, is 4300 meters, with some basins extending down to 6000 meters. Using sea-level and buoy data, a team led by William Llovel, an oceanographer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, attempted to estimate warming below 2000 meters. Their results suggest that the deep ocean has barely warmed since 2005—but includes big error bars that leave plenty of uncertainty.That uncertainty illustrates why better measurements of the ocean are required, Johnson says. And help may be coming: This year, researchers began testing new drifting research buoys, dubbed Deep Argo, that are capable of descending to 6000 meters to take temperatures and other measurements.*Correction, 5 October, 7:30 p.m.: The headline and text have been corrected to make it clear that past observations, not models, may have underestimated ocean warming. The description of the first study’s results has been altered in the interest of clarity. Click to view the privacy policy. 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Feature How tiny satellites spawned in Silicon Valley will monitor a changing

first_imgFor decades, engineers have been building satellites like bespoke Swiss watches, sparing no expense and spending years to perfect them. Enter the CubeSat, a cheap and small satellite form factor that is gaining momentum and finally starting to perform real science: In 2014, a record 132 were launched. Planet Labs, based in San Francisco, California, is the poster child for the movement, and a prime example of Silicon Valley ideals and technology being applied to aerospace. For less than $1 million, the company can build and launch a CubeSat telescope that it calls a Dove. With 5-meter resolution or better, each Dove can make out trees and buildings. If it can get between 150 and 200 Doves in orbit, the company will fulfill its overriding mission to assemble a daily snapshot of the entire Earth. This time-lapse flipbook will reveal flooding on rivers, logging in forests, and road building in cities, as they happen. Commercial companies—and earth scientists—are eager to get their hands on the data.To read the full story, see the 10 April issue of Science.Related content:Feature: CubeSats are swarming—and transforming space sciencelast_img read more

Spain joins bandwagon for openness about animal research

first_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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) One of the strengths of the document is that it does not make the assumption that opposition to animal research is “only a result of ignorance or misunderstanding” and “rather aims to promote transparency so that the public can make up their own minds,” says Nuno Franco, a researcher on laboratory animal welfare and ethics at the University of Porto in Portugal. The approach is “proactive and sincere,” Franco adds. But honoring its commitments will require considerable time and resources, he cautions, as well as a “significant cultural shift” for many institutions. “The risk here is of failing to achieve these goals.”The 15-page “transparency agreement” was put together in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association. Spain follows in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, which put in place a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in 2014; Belgium, where 24 research organizations issued a pledge for transparency last April; and Germany, where scientific organizations created a website to educate the public about animal studies earlier this month. Among other things, the Spanish organizations pledge to publicly recognize the fact that they’re doing animal research, talk clearly about when, how, and why they use animals, allow visitors into their facilities, highlight the contribution of animal research during the dissemination of results, and publicize efforts to replace, reduce, and refine animal research. BARCELONA, SPAIN—In a bid to win the public’s hearts and minds, the Spanish scientific community has pledged to become more transparent about animal research. Ninety research centers, universities, scientific societies, and companies around Spain have adopted a set of standards, launched yesterday by the Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE), on how research organizations should open up communication channels about their use of laboratory animals. They are joining a growing movement for transparency in Europe.Although animal research is generally accepted in Spain as beneficial, “part of the society is opposed to this type of research or isn’t sure about supporting it,” Juan Lerma, a professor at the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante, Spain, who coordinated a COSCE commission on the use of animal research, wrote in the document. The signatories want to help the public better understand the benefits, costs, and limitations of animal research through a “realistic” description of the expected results, the impact on animals’ welfare, and ethical considerations. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Emaillast_img read more

In 1996 scientists found a fuelproducing bacterium at the bottom of a

first_img Yiming Chen/Getty Images 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! Country By Robert F. ServiceMar. 21, 2018 , 10:30 AM Email A few years ago, Harry Beller, an environmental microbiologist at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville, California, decided to reopen the case. His team first tried recreating the 1996 experiment, in which researchers got T. auensis to make toluene. But after multiple attempts, Beller’s team struck out. So, he called Friedrich Jüttner, the group leader from the original Nature paper, to ask for advice. Jüttner, Beller says, told him not to worry about T. auensis and suggested that he could probably find a similar organism doing the same thing in anoxic sediments from any nearby lake.So Beller and his colleagues drove 13 kilometers from JBEI to Tilden Park in nearby Berkeley, where they took samples from a small reservoir called Jewel Lake. Back at the lab, they found that Jüttner’s words were prescient: After culturing the microbial communities, the lake sample registered traces of toluene. They found similar traces in samples from a nearby sewage treatment plant.To sort out what the bugs were doing, Beller and his colleagues first turned to the sewage sample. They harvested and broke apart the bacteria, collecting all the proteins. They then divided these proteins into successive fractions, winnowing out those that showed no signs of producing the hydrocarbon. They ran the “keepers” through genomic scans, creating a library of more than 600 candidate genes from the two samples. Previous analyses by Beller and colleagues had suggested that the genes responsible for making toluene were likely glycyl radical enzymes (GREs), a small family of proteins that carry out other challenging chemical reactions. They always come paired with an activating enzyme. So Beller’s team looked for just such a cluster of genes among the candidate genes in the toluenemaking sewage sample, and they found the GRE phenylacetate decarboxylase (PhdB) and its activator, PhdA. “We looked for it in the lake culture and found it there, too,” Beller says.To confirm that these were the toluene-producing proteins, Beller’s team transplanted the genes into easily cultured Escherichia coli bacteria, which expressed the proteins. The researchers purified the proteins and added them to a vial containing phenylacetic acid, the normal starting material for PhdB enzyme. But in this case, the phenylacetic acid was made using carbon-13, a rare isotope of carbon that enabled Beller’s team to trace the fate of the compound as it reacted. The researchers found that the enzymes produced C-13–labeled toluene, they report this week in Nature Chemical Biology. The result confirms the enzymes are the ones at work in the muck.So why do microbes produce toluene? They might use the toxic compound to ward off competing bacteria, Beller says. A more likely explanation, he suggests, is that the production of toluene provides a strategy for the bacterium to regulate its internal pH in a somewhat acidic environment. The toluene-producing reaction consumes protons in the cytoplasm—the gooey fluid in the cell—and thereby can lead to an increase in the pH of the cytoplasm. This can protect against the more acidic conditions that likely exist in the cell’s environment, such as anoxic lake sediments or sewage sludge.Whatever the explanation, Beller says he and his colleagues are now working to engineer other easily cultured organisms to make toluene. Eventually, that could lead to industrial microbes that synthesize one key component of gasoline. But because toluene derived from oil is cheap, even perfectly functioning bugs may not find much of a market. Solving a mystery may be their work’s biggest payoff.*Correction, 27 March, 10:15 a.m.: An earlier version of this story contained several factual errors. The explanation for why bacteria may produce toluene, a component of gasoline, has been revised to reflect the fact that it may help particular anoxic bacteria regulate their pH.center_img Microbes from a lake in Berkeley, California’s Tilden Park cracked the mystery of how microbes produce a key component of gasoline. In 1996, scientists found a fuel-producing bacterium at the bottom of a Swiss lake. Now, they know how it works Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Twenty-two years ago, microbiologists in Switzerland stumbled on a mystery deep in the muck of Lake Au, an offshoot of Lake Zurich: a bacterium that naturally produced a component of gasoline called toluene. Now, researchers have discovered how some bacteria manage to make the toxic hydrocarbon. Why they do so remains a puzzle, however.“This is a really nice piece of science,” says Alfred Spormann, a chemical engineer at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who was not involved in the work. “I think it’s a terrific example of using metagenomics and biochemistry to learn about organisms that are difficult to study.”The Lake Zurich discovery fingered a bacterium, Tolumonas auensis, as the toluenemaker, and raised the prospect of culturing it to produce the hydrocarbon as a fuel. T. auensis isn’t the only bacterium that makes hydrocarbons, but its byproduct is odd: Toluene is packed with energy, meaning an organism must expend a lot of energy to produce it. It’s also toxic. But T. auensis is particularly hard to culture in Petri dishes and study with the normal tools of molecular biology. The trail ran cold.last_img read more

With Democrats in control of US House science panel gets fresh start

first_img The results of last week’s divisive midterm elections, with Democrats reclaiming control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans likely strengthening their hold on the Senate, have allowed both parties to claim victory. U.S. scientists are also experiencing mixed emotions.Many are pleased with what they expect to be a more data-driven approach to science policy under the new Democratic chair of the House science committee. But they also face the sobering reality that, by Science’s count, only seven of the 49 House candidates with technical backgrounds were victorious. And environmental activists are chagrined by the defeat of a proposed tax on carbon emissions in Washington and an Arizona initiative to increase that state’s reliance on renewable energy, although Nevada voters took a first step toward adopting a similar policy.In the House, Democrats picked up nearly 40 seats. That outcome gives them control of the 435-seat body for the first time since 2010, meaning they will appoint committee chairs and decide which bills get a vote. Science restored: Eddie Bernice Johnson prepares to chair key panel in U.S. House of Representatives By Jeffrey MervisNov. 13, 2018 , 4:10 PM Related 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 TrainingNameState TrainingBiochemical engineerNameSean CastenStateIllinois TrainingOcean engineer NameJoe CunninghamStateSouth Carolina TrainingIndustrial engineer NameChrissy HoulahanStatePennsylvania TrainingNuclear engineer NameElaine LuriaStateVirginia TrainingPediatricianNameKim SchrierStateWashington TrainingNurseNameLauren UnderwoodStateIllinois TrainingDentistNameJeff Van DrewStateNew Jersey Email That move and other changes in tone could help repair a breach between the panel and the scientific community. “Stakeholders have told me they stopped asking for meetings [with the Republican majority] because they didn’t see the point,” says one Democratic staffer. “That’s going to change, because we will be listening.”All seven winners with technical backgrounds are Democrats, and six were first-time candidates. Two toppled Republican incumbents; the rest won open seats. Four are women—a pediatrician, a nurse, an industrial engineer, and a retired U.S. Navy commander—helping boost overall female representation in the House to nearly 25%.Newly elected lawmakers rarely get appointed to the appropriations committee and other panels with influence over key sectors of the economy, such as tax and fiscal policy. Accordingly, they are often overrepresented on the science committee. But none of the soon-to-be House members with technical backgrounds is lobbying for a spot on the science panel.center_img “I don’t know enough at this point about what the science committee does to have an opinion,” says Representative-elect Sean Casten (D–IL), a biochemical engineer who founded a company that helps firms become more energy efficient and who defeated Representative Peter Roskam (R) in a suburban Chicago district. “While I worked in basic science for half a dozen years in my youth, I feel more confident in my ability to deploy and apply basic science than to create it. So committees that deal with infrastructure and financial services, energy, and environmental policy are closer to areas where I can apply my skills.”Representative-elect Lauren Underwood (D), who ousted Representative Randy Hultgren (R) in a north-central Illinois district, hopes to apply her background as a nurse and health care analyst to win a seat on one of two panels that oversee federal health care policy. That’s also true for Representative-elect Kim Schrier (D–WA), a pediatrician who won an open seat outside of Seattle.“Health care is where people are really hurting now,” Schrier says. “I felt I could really lend my expertise to finding better ways of providing it that bring costs down and improve outcomes. … I’m also really excited to be the only woman doctor in Congress at a time when women’s reproductive rights are being attacked.”Representative-elect Chrissy Houlahan (D–PA), who won an open seat in the Philadelphia suburbs, says her training as an industrial engineer is just one of many facets of her identity. “I’m a veteran, an entrepreneur, a mom, and an educator as well,” says Houlahan, who helped her husband grow a sports apparel company and briefly taught high school chemistry before leading a foundation that promotes early literacy. “I feel that I am part of a wave of people elected who provide diversity on a lot of levels.”Climate change is an existential issue for two new members representing coastal districts. In South Carolina, Representative-elect Joe Cunningham (D), an ocean engineer turned environmental lawyer, hammered his opponent for voicing support of President Donald Trump’s plan to lift a ban on offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast, a pivotal issue for his constituents.Representative-elect Elaine Luria (D–VA) says her 20-year career in the Navy helps her understand both the civilian and military components of sea-level rise. And she thinks the public is already on board. “People see our roads flooding and the sea level rising,” she says about her southeastern Virginia district. “I have yet to talk to anyone who doesn’t think climate change is real.”Before these new members can take their seats in January 2019, the current class of legislators must finish work on a spending bill for the 2019 fiscal year that began on 1 October. An earlier agreement to increase overall spending in 2018 and 2019 allowed Congress to pass budgets for about two-thirds of the government, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy. But budgets for the remaining agencies, including NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and several science agencies within the Department of Commerce, have been frozen under a continuing resolution that expires on 7 December. Disagreement over Trump’s request to build a wall between the United States and Mexico stands in the way of a final deal by the lame-duck Congress.The annual battle over spending could intensify next year. The divided Congress will have to deal with a 2011 law aimed at reducing the federal deficit over a decade. That law imposes spending caps, and could force lawmakers to cut a combined $126 billion from civilian and military budgets unless the Democratic House and Republican-controlled Senate can broker a deal to raise the caps.Some legislators long associated with science issues won’t be around for those debates. Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), a NASA enthusiast who once flew aboard the space shuttle, appears to have lost his bid for reelection. In the House, the losers included Representative John Culberson (R–TX), who chairs a House appropriations subcommittee that sets spending levels for several science agencies, including NASA and NSF, and has pushed for NASA to develop a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. The science committee will lose Hultgren, a cheerleader for basic energy research, as well as Representative Barbara Comstock (R–VA), who chairs the research subcommittee, and Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA), a persistent doubter of climate science.The frontrunner to take Culberson’s spending gavel is Representative José Serrano (D–NY), an advocate for science with a special interest in the Census Bureau. Representative Nita Lowey (D–NY) is poised to lead the full appropriations committee, and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) is the favorite to lead the subcommittee that oversees NIH. Both have been supportive of federal investments in research.Meanwhile, some science candidates who didn’t win last week see a silver lining. Randy Wadkins, a professor of biochemistry at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, was the only academic scientist to make it onto the general election ballot. And although he lost by a two-to-one margin to an incumbent Republican, he says his campaign “might have been the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, science-wise.”Seeking a House seat gave him a platform to connect with people “who were interested in science and wanted to do something,” he says. “A lot of us lost. But some of us won. And that’s my take-home message: This isn’t the end of scientists running for Congress; it’s just the beginning.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) With Democrats in control of U.S. House, science panel gets fresh start AP PHOTO/Elaine Thompson The new STEM Democrats Seven candidates with science backgrounds won seats last week in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX) is in line to replace the retiring Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX) as chair of the science committee. The two Texans represent a stark contrast. Trained as a psychiatric nurse, Johnson has promised to “restore the credibility” of a committee that for 6 years has challenged the findings of climate scientists and questioned the need for many environmental regulations.“We were not really following our charter [under Smith],” says Johnson, who joined the panel as a new legislator in 1993 and for the past 8 years has been its top Democrat. Instead, she says, “We were trying to uncover any information that would undercut scientific findings and avoid facing what the scientific data were showing us.”Smith, a lawyer who came to Congress in 1989, regularly convened hearings designed to highlight the views of those opposed to federal action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He also used his unilateral power to issue investigative subpoenas—an authority traditionally given to just a few committee heads—to attack climate science he found suspect. Johnson hopes to shift the debate from “ignoring what’s happening” to discussing “what we should be doing to save our planet and the lives and money it takes to clean up after weather-related disasters.” Kim Schrier, a pediatrician, played up her technical training in a winning congressional campaign.last_img read more

Tamir Rices Mom Celebrates Her Sons Birthday

first_img Thanks for signing up! Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox. Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox. Nearly five years have gone by since 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland. But his mother was celebrating his life on Tuesday, which would have been his 17th birthday, by continuing her fight against Timothy Loehmann, the cop who killed her son.“Listen to your mama talking, baby,” Samaria wrote in a letter to her son that was published in ESSENCE on Tuesday. “My own consciousness has grown since you were stolen so brutally from me. No mother, no father, no sister or brother should ever go through what we went through—and are still going through.” Jamaican Republican Who Is Running Against AOC Supported Her A Year Ago Morehouse Students Take To Social Media And Claim Sexual Harassment Complaints Were Ignored Also On News One: SUBSCRIBE Entertainment, News and Lifestyle for Black America. News told by us for us. Black America’s #1 News Source: Our News. Our Voice. Samaria Rice , Tamir Rice , Timothy Loehmann center_img More By Megan Sims “Happy Birthday, Tamir. I look forward to remembering and honoring and cherishing this day for years to come.”SEE ALSO:New White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham Once Wanted To Boycott T.I.Body Found In New York River Confirmed To Be Popular YouTuber Etika On November 22, 2014 Rice was killed while playing in a park with an Airsoft pellet gun. A resident called 9-1-1 believing the gun may have been real. Loehmann and his partner Officer Frank Garmback responded to the call. Video of the incident caused widespread outrage not just because of Rice’s age, but also because he was shot within seconds of police arriving on the scene. The police cruiser was still moving when Loehmann shot Rice on the spot.Following the shooting, Loehmann escaped criminal charges and returned to work until he was fired in 2017 when it came to light that he had resigned from a previous department after six months when several supervisors determined he was unfit to be a police officer. Loehmann was even rehired at another Ohio department, who then rescinded the offer after facing massive backlash.“This is what I’ve learned since you’ve been physically gone: We all have to keep fighting against injustice. More Black people need to become involved in local politics and gain a deeper understanding of how city governments work,” Samaria wrote to Rice.Since her son’s death and Loehmann subsequently getting off scott free, Samaria has been working hard to keep Rice’s killer off the streets. When he was rehired by the Bellaire, Ohio Police Department, Samaria launched a letter writing campaign, which may have contributed in part to him being terminated.In March, Loehmann, with the endorsement of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA), filed an appeal against the city of Cleveland to overturn his termination. On June 3, Samaria delivered 170,000 petitions to the CPPA against Loehmann’s potential rehiring. White Tears! Former Meteorologist Files Lawsuit Claiming He Was Fired Because Of Diversity In addition to working to make sure Loehman never wears a badge again, Samaria has been keeping the memory of her son alive. In May 2018, she announced she and the Tamir Rice Foundation would be renovating a two-story building to create a youth center where kids can have access to mentors and learn how to engage in political systems. And more painfully, she wanted to destroy the gazebo where Rice took his last breaths but decided against it. It was dismantled in 2016 and on Saturday, the gazebo was moved to Chicago as a temporary memorial for Rice. Samaria attended the dedication on Sunday, which was held by the nonprofit Rebuild Foundation, and thanked organizers and guests on social media.Though Rice will go down as a solemn memory and tragedy in the eyes of many, he was first and foremost a son, a grandson and a brother. Despite how busy Samaria has been since his death, she said she has never forgotten the Tamir many of us didn’t get a chance to know.“Your brother, sisters, and I will forever love and miss you, but we will never stop honoring your life and building your legacy,” she wrote. “And I know you’ll be looking down on us, baby. I know you will. Ask me how I know? I feel you when I breathe.” 20 Tweets Dragging Roseanne Barr To A White Privilege Helllast_img read more

The planets premier health agency has announced drastic reforms Critics say they

first_img By Kai KupferschmidtMar. 12, 2019 , 3:25 PM L. Mackenzie/World Health Organization 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 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited an Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 9 March.center_img The structure of WHO’s head office will change with the creation of key new positions. Indian pediatrician Soumya Swaminathan has been named to the new post of chief scientist, tasked with making sure “WHO anticipates and stays on top of the latest scientific developments,” said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of WHO’s Africa office in Brazzaville. (She mentioned a recently established panel on gene editing as one example.) A new division headed by Swaminathan will house a Department of Digital Health to work on guidelines for issues such as patient confidentiality and big data. A new assistant director-general will oversee the fight against antimicrobial resistances.Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward, who headed a “transformation team” that prepared the reform, says many changes are meant “to encourage the best and the brightest to think about WHO as a place where you spend your career.” Right now, he explains, “Most people who come into WHO spend a couple of years here, or they stay 4 years but without a properly structured career progression.” Staff will be evaluated every 2 months instead of twice a year, and a new career path will be opened for scientists who want to stay in technical areas instead of becoming managers. A new WHO Academy in Lyon, France, will train health professionals.Staff at headquarters will also have to rotate to regional or country offices in the future, which Gostin says should make the organization more diverse and more flexible. “WHO staff have been too white, too old, and too comfortable living in Geneva,” he says. Jeremy Youde, a global health expert at Australian National University in Canberra, agrees that greater staff mobility is key because it “can help build greater competency and understanding of local conditions.”Youde is cautiously optimistic about the changes. “Tedros came into the position at a time when WHO needed to rediscover its mission and reassert its value within the global community. These reform efforts are a tantalizing possibility for WHO to do that,” he wrote in an email. But Gostin says the changes amount to “a lot of bureaucratic restacking the deck.” WHO’s annual budget is smaller than that of many U.S. hospitals, he says, and donors tie the agency’s hands: “I don’t think any organization could thrive under those circumstances.” Then there is the independence of the regional offices, which dates back to WHO’s founding and is often described as its “birth defect.” “It’s hard to see whether WHO can be more efficient or work more harmoniously without addressing it,” Youde wrote.But Aylward says the reform begins to change the dynamic by clearly dividing up competencies. In the past, an issue like food safety might be the responsibility of one division in Geneva and another in a regional office, or might not be addressed at all, he says. “So when you have a foodborne outbreak or problem it is not clear: Who is the lead? How do you coordinate across the levels?” Now, headquarters will focus on things like the research agenda and global partnerships while leaving day-to-day technical work to the regional offices.There is a lot at stake both for the agency and for Tedros, who has a 5-year mandate. “I’m really curious to see whether these reforms can be his signature accomplishment (or failure, if they don’t work),” Youde wrote. “They could make or break Tedros’s tenure.” The planet’s premier health agency has announced drastic reforms. Critics say they aren’t drastic enough 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 In a speech last week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recalled the posters about smallpox that he saw as a child in his hometown Asmara, in what is now Eritrea. “I remember hearing about an organization called the World Health Organization [WHO] that was ridding the world of this terrifying disease, one vaccination at a time,” he said. Much has changed since then. Smallpox was vanquished; Tedros, who’s Ethiopian, is the first African head of WHO; and in a series of reforms laid out in the same speech, he is trying to restore the storied organization to health.The changes aim to bring more talent to WHO and improve coordination between its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and six regional offices. But some observers say Tedros’s agenda doesn’t address long-standing problems, including a chronic shortage of money, little power over how to spend it, and the regional offices’ prickly independence. “The main problems of WHO are unsolved by this reform,” says Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.Founded in 1948 as a United Nations agency to promote public health, WHO is partly financed by 194 member states, but most of its $4 billion annual budget comes from donors, many of whom earmark their contributions for specific projects. Tedros became director-general in 2017, succeeding Margaret Chan, who was heavily criticized for her handling of the West African Ebola epidemic. In last week’s speech, Tedros recalled the lofty new goals WHO set last year: ensuring that by 2023 1 billion more people benefit from universal health coverage, 1 billion people are better protected from health emergencies, and 1 billion people enjoy better health. To achieve them, Tedros said, will require “changing the DNA of the organization.”last_img read more

County employee charged with theft

first_imgApril 17, 2018 A Navajo County employee has been arrested for allegedly using a company credit card to make personal purchases. Leann Baker, 54, of Holbrook worked in the Buildings and Grounds Department when, during a routine reviewSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad County employee charged with theftlast_img

ProHindu outfit takes on Centre for going slow on Article 370 repeal

first_imgWritten by Arun Sharma | Jammu | Published: July 14, 2019 2:45:25 am At a day-long conclave here, the speakers from the outfit pointed out that this is despite the fact that the BJP has increased its Lok Sabha tally in this year’s elections further.“One needs just a simple majority to abrogate Article 370,’’ said Prof Hari Om, patron of IkkJutt Jammu.Without taking any name, Javed Iqbal Shah, a Kashmiri columnist and political analyst, indicated that the former chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti is an “opportunist’’ and her predecessor, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, is a “Sheikh Chilli’’ for his demand to restore the pre-1953 position for J&K, when the state enjoyed more political freedom.Calling both Muftis and the Abdullahs as “sure recipe for disaster’’, Shah said Kashmiris would not have picked up the gun but for these two families. Advertising J&K: Article 370 has to go lock stock and barrel, says Ram Madhav Related News Article 370 temporary provision in Constitution, Govt tells Rajya Sabha Article 370 temporary provision, separatists in Valley scared: Amit Shah article 370, article 370 abolition, article 370 hearing, article 370 hearing supreme court, IkkJutt Jammu, jammu and kashmir The pro-Hindu outfit criticised the government for its lackadaisical approach in abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution for the state of J&K. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)IkkJutt Jammu, an organisation for extreme nationalism which sees settlement of Gujjars and Bakarwals in Jammu region as a demographic invasion of areas predominantly inhabited by Hindus, on Saturday took on the BJP-led Central government for what it called a lackadaisical approach in abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution for the state of J&K. 3 Comment(s)last_img read more

UConn chemists develop new antibiotic that can find and kill tuberculosis bacteria

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 4 2018Tuberculosis is a sneaky disease. The bacteria hide from antibiotics inside the very immune cells that are supposed to kill them, making treatment long and difficult. But in the November issue of ACS Infectious Diseases, UConn chemists report a new antibiotic that can find and kill tuberculosis bacteria where they hide.Tuberculosis is the number one cause of death from infectious disease worldwide. About 25 percent of people on the planet are currently infected. Most of those infections will stay dormant, but one in 10 will become active, infectious, and often fatal if untreated.Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Because of Mycobacterium’s unique lifestyle, in which they allow themselves to be eaten by macrophage immune cells and then grow inside of them, they are very hard to treat. People infected with tuberculosis must typically take a cocktail of antibiotics diligently over many months, because the bacteria are only susceptible to the drugs when they break out of the macrophage in which they were born and search out a new one to invade.UConn chemist Alfredo Angeles-Boza and his then-graduate student, Daben Libardo, and colleagues from the Indian Institute of Science, the Max Planck Institute, and MIT, decided to make an antibiotic that could make its way into the macrophages and hit the Mycobacteria where they hide. Angeles-Boza and Libardo had previously worked with antibiotics produced by fish, sea squirts, and other sea creatures. Many of these sea creatures make antibiotic peptides – small pieces of protein-like material – with a special chemical talent: when they bind to copper atoms, they enable the copper to shift its electrical charge from +2 to +3 and back. Copper with this ability becomes aggressive, ripping electrons away from some molecules and adding them to others, particularly oxygen-containing molecules. The oxygen-containing molecules become free radicals, dangerous chemicals that attack anything they encounter, including Mycobacteria.Related StoriesECDC-WHO report: TB remains a major public health challenge in the European regionAssessing antimicrobial properties of silver and copper nanoparticlesPET/CT can aid in earlier diagnosis and treatment assessment of tuberculosisHuman macrophages infected with Mycobacteria also use copper to attack the bacteria, but they do so in a less sophisticated way. They trap the bacteria in a bubble and then inject copper +1 ions – that is, plain copper atoms with a plus one charge (Cu+) – into the bubble. But the Mycobacteria can handle that. To them, the bubble is a safe haven, and the Cu+ ions are mere annoyances. The bacteria can steal an extra electron from the Cu+ to make it Cu2+. The copper becomes unreactive and safe that way. And when enough Cu2+ surrounds the Mycobacteria, other, more dangerous kinds of copper can’t get close.Surrounded by defanged copper, “the bacteria can grow in peace. It’s elegant!” says Angeles-Boza. But if Angeles-Boza and Libardo have their way, the copper camouflage will become Mycobacteria’s downfall. If the antibiotic peptides can get close to the bacteria, they can grab onto one of the copper ions and weaponize it. The trick is getting the peptide close to the bacteria.To do that, the chemists put the peptides into little bubbles similar to the kind cells use to move around packets of protein ingredients and other tasty stuff. When the bacteria snags one for a snack, the peptide works its chemistry and kills it.The antibiotic peptide developed by Libardo and Angeles Boza effectively kills Mycobacteria living in macrophages in the lab, but they haven’t been able to cure tuberculosis in mice yet – peptide drugs have various problems that make them tricky to use in mammals. The next step in the research is to use the same chemistry in smaller molecules that can be taken as pills like more typical antibiotics. Source:https://uconn.edu/last_img read more

Mast cells associated with allergies also play key role in survival study

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 12 2018In a University of California, Irvine-led study, researchers found evidence that mast cells, an important group of immune cells typically associated with allergies, actually enable the body to survive fasting or intense exercise. The study was published today in Cell Metabolism.Typically found in the lungs and nose, mast cells are best known for their role in the body’s allergic response. During an allergy attack, mast cells release a chemical called histamine into the bloodstream, which causes sneezing, runny nose, and other symptoms related to allergies. Drugs used to treat allergies block the annoying consequences of mast cell activity.In this new study, led by Daniele Piomelli, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at UCI School of Medicine, and director of the UCI Center for the Study of Cannabis, researchers found that fasting causes the release of histamine from a select group of mast cells present in the gut, not those in the lungs or the nose. The histamine released from the gut travels to the liver where it triggers the formation of a fat-derived molecule called oleoylethanolamide (OEA).Related StoriesDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthLiving-donor liver transplant offers advantages over deceased-donor, research findsUntil now, researchers thought that OEA’s main role was to block hunger. This new study indicates that histamine-triggered OEA formation in the liver stimulates ketogenesis, the conversion of fatty acids released from fat stores into chemicals called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are vital to survival, because they keep the brain and muscles active during a prolonged fast or intense physical exercise.”Without mast cells, histamine or OEA, we could not survive a marathon or a day-long hike without snacks, or any long period of time without food,” said Piomelli. “What’s fascinating to me is that a cell that was supposed to be the ‘bad guy’ in allergies, is the same one that allows us to survive prolonged lack of food or major physical effort.”Further research will be needed to determine if diseases that affect the ability of mast cells to release histamine and trigger OEA production could lead to disorders like liver steatosis, a precursor for liver fibrosis and cancer.Source: https://uci.edu/last_img read more

Study shows how gut bacteria affect the treatment of Parkinsons disease

first_img Source:https://www.rug.nl/sciencelinx/nieuws/2019/01/20190118_elaidy Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 18 2019Patients with Parkinson’s disease are treated with levodopa, which is converted into dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. In a study published on 18 January in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from the University of Groningen show that gut bacteria can metabolize levodopa into dopamine. As dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, this makes the medication less effective – even in the presence of inhibitors that should prevent the conversion of levodopa.’It is well established that gut bacteria can affect the brain’, explains Assistant Professor in Microbiology Sahar El Aidy, lead investigator of the study. ‘There is a continuous chemical dialogue between gut bacteria and the brain, the so-called gut-brain axis.’ El Aidy and her team investigated the ability of gut microbiota to influence the bioavailability of levodopa, a drug used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.Blood-brain barrierThe drug is usually taken orally, and the levodopa is absorbed in the small intestine and then transported through the bloodstream to the brain. However, decarboxylase enzymes can convert levodopa into dopamine. In contrast to levodopa, dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, so patients are also given a decarboxylase inhibitor. ‘But the levels of levodopa that will reach the brain vary strongly among Parkinson’s disease patients, and we questioned whether gut microbiota were playing a role in this difference’, says El Aidy.In bacterial samples from the small intestines of rats, Aidy’s Ph.D. student Sebastiaan van Kessel found activity of the bacterial tyrosine decarboxylase enzyme, which normally converts tyrosine into tyramine, but was found to also convert levodopa into dopamine. ‘We then determined that the source of this decarboxylase was Enterococcus bacteria.’ The researchers also showed that the conversion of levodopa was not inhibited by a high concentration of the amino acid tyrosine, the main substrate of the bacterial tyrosine decarboxylase enzyme.BioavailabilityRelated StoriesActive sexual life linked with better quality of life in men with early Parkinson’s diseaseNew research could help design algae that produces fuels and cleanup chemicalsStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesAs Parkinson’s patients are given a decarboxylase inhibitor, the next step was to test the effect of several human decarboxylase inhibitors on the bacterial enzyme. ‘It turned out that, for example, the inhibitor Carbidopa is over 10,000 times more potent in inhibiting the human decarboxylase’, says El Aidy.These findings led the team to the hypothesis that the presence of bacterial tyrosine decarboxylase would reduce the bioavailability of levodopa in Parkinson’s patients. To confirm this, they tested stool samples from patients who were on a normal or high dose of levodopa. The relative abundance of the bacterial gene encoding for tyrosine decarboxylase correlated with the need for a higher dose of the drug. ‘As these were stool samples, and the levodopa is absorbed in the small intestine, this was not yet solid proof. However, we confirmed our observation by showing that the higher abundance of bacterial enzyme in the small intestines of rats reduced levels of levodopa in the bloodstream’, explains El Aidy.Vicious circleAnother important finding in the study is the positive correlation between disease duration and levels of bacterial tyrosine decarboxylase. Some Parkinson’s disease patients develop an overgrowth of small intestinal bacteria including Enterococci due to frequent uptake of proton pump inhibitors, which they use to treat gastrointestinal symptoms associated with the disease. Altogether, these factors result in a vicious circle leading to an increased levodopa/decarboxylase inhibitor dosage requirement in a subset of patients.El Aidy concludes that the presence of the bacterial tyrosine decarboxylase enzyme can explain why some patients need more frequent dosages of levodopa to treat their motor fluctuations. ‘This is considered to be a problem for Parkinson’s disease patients, because a higher dose will result in dyskinesia, one of the major side effects of levodopa treatment.’last_img read more

Italy bans unvaccinated children from school amid measles outbreak

first_img Source:Italy bans unvaccinated children from school. BBC News. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 13 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Fear and conspiracy theories about vaccinating children have reached a peak worldwide. This has resulted in a number of global outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in first world countries. The situation has worsened to the extent that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared anti-vaccination stances as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019.Italian health officials have taken a step towards stopping the wave of anti-vaccination campaigns. Parents who have not had their children vaccinated against measles and other diseases could soon either have to pay hefty fines or see their children banned from school.wavebreakmedia | ShutterstockThe new “Lorenzin law” is aimed at reducing measles outbreaks caused the inadequate vaccination of children. The law came into force yesterday (12th of March 2019) across the nation.Under this law, all children below the age of 6 years could be turned away from the pre-schools if they have not been adequately vaccinated against common infections such as measles, chicken pox, mumps, polio and rubella or German measles.Children aged between 6 and 16 years cannot be banned from school but their parents may have to pay fines up to €500 (£425) if their children are not vaccinated. Health Minister Giulia Grillo in a stamen said, “Everyone has had time to catch up.”After the notorious study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that linked measles vaccine to autism, there has been rise in anti-vaccination sentiments among parents. The study has long since been discredited but the confidence on vaccines has been damaged to a great extent.Italy has a target of 95 percent vaccine coverage, as recommended by the WHO. At present, this target is not being achieved (it is currently around 80 percent), said health officials. There have been 165 measles cases this January in the EU and last year there were 78 cases of vaccine-preventable infections, say reports.The mandatory vaccination law was being opposed by the Five Star that formed Italy’s first coalition with the League but was ultimately upheld. Since yesterday, it has come into being. It is named after the former health minister Beatrice Lorenzin who had first introduced it. Ms Grillo said the rules were now simple, “No vaccine, no school.”last_img read more

Study shows link between animals diet during sexual development and breeding habits

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 16 2019An animal’s choice of mate can be influenced by its diet as it reaches sexual maturity, research has shown.The study in beetles is the first to link an animal’s nutritional intake during sexual development with its adult breeding habits.It could aid understanding of the likely impact on animals’ behavior as food availability varies with changing climates in the future.Researchers from the University of Edinburgh carried out tests using burying beetles, which become sexually mature a few days after reaching adulthood.Related StoriesWhat happens when you eliminate sugar and adopt the keto diet?Study reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskHigh salt intake inhibits tumor growth in mice, shows studyScientists raised groups of males and female beetles from birth before placing them with potential mating partners. Some of the beetles were given less food than others, either at the time of their sexual development, or when placed alongside the opposite sex.Females that had been underfed at any point in their lives preferred to mate with well-fed males, the study showed. This may be because they seek to optimize the health of their offspring by choosing a partner in relatively good condition.Males that had been denied food during sexual development also behaved differently from those who had not. Underfed males spent more time making courtship signals, possibly to avoid physically competing with other males for mates, researchers suggest.Scientists say their findings – that diet during development influences sexual behavior – may be common in other species. Future studies could examine this, and what impact this may have on the offspring of affected animals.The research, published in Animal Behaviour, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.Jon Richardson, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “Poor nutrition during sexual development may cause damage that can’t be undone in terms of an individual’s lifelong health and wellbeing.” Source:https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2019/diet-in-development-affects-insect-mating-habitslast_img read more

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