Social context has a lot to do with spread of disease

first_imgMay 7 2018″Patient zero” isn’t entirely to blame when an infection takes root in a population. According to Rice University scientists, social context in the community has a lot to do with how a disease spreads.Rice researchers who study fruit flies found that the ratio of females to males as well as the mating dynamics of the community were strong indicators of how a disease outbreak would progress. While no one genotype was at greater risk than any other, they found males in a community faced a greater risk of infection when they were moderately outnumbered by females.The study led by Rice Academy postdoctoral fellow Nick Keiser, Rice evolutionary biologist Julia Saltz and Rice community ecologist Volker Rudolf is the first to look at how the behavior of an infectious host and the social factors within a population combine to influence the spread of disease. Their results appear in the journal Behavioral Ecology.Fruit flies are a focus of study in the Saltz lab because of their rapid reproduction and ease of manipulation. A fungus, Metarhizium robertsii, that is fatal to flies and many other insects can be transmitted through close physical contact, including during mating, and in the environment. In this study, the Rice team investigated how this fungus can spread from a single infected individual to its group-mates. “There have been studies on human disease transmission networks that look at group-level and individual-level factors, but not in a way like this where we can actually manipulate those things,” Keiser said.The researchers configured 66 social groups of fruit flies from three genotypes with known behavioral characteristics, including mating frequency, aggregation and aggression, and in five sex ratios ranging from zero to 100 percent female.”We measured their behaviors as a social group and then we added to each a single infected individual, a male or female patient zero, and allowed them to interact for two hours,” Keiser said. Patient zero is the index case or initial patient in the population of the epidemiological investigation.”Because they all had paint dots on their backs, we could watch their social behaviors, their aggregation with one another and their mating dynamics,” Keiser said. “When we separated them to see who became infected and if there were any patterns, we found no genotypic differences in infection risk. We were surprised. We thought there would be a clear link.”Related StoriesSocial media use and television viewing linked to rise in adolescent depressive symptoms’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesGroup of genes linked to longer lifespan in fruit flies discoveredInstead, Keiser said, the social context of each group had the most influence on infection rates. “So it’s not just your traits, but the traits of the social group that you find yourself in, or maybe that you choose, that influences your infection risk,” he said. Another surprise was that males in a female-dominated group were at greater risk. “That is one of the takeaways, and I think it’s driven by the males’ behaviors,” Keiser said. “In a female-biased social group, there’s more opportunities for mating. Males increase their courtship behavior and their aggressive behavior with other males, and we think they’re more likely to gain this infection just from courtship or from aggressive interactions.”They change their behavior based on the social environment and inadvertently influence their own infection risk,” he said.Yet another surprise was that when patient zero was female, the risk of disease to males in the community, regardless of their mating history, was four times greater than for females. When patient zero was male, the risk of infection depended more heavily on mating frequency but was identical for both sexes.”That suggests the identity of that patient zero, the primary case, may even change which mode of transmission is important, which is not something that has been shown before,” Keiser said.Flies that did not appear to mate seemed safest, but were still affected, he said. Only 10 percent of virgin flies became infected, likely from encountering fungal spores on the food patch or from contact with others.Keiser said previous studies sought to link differences in infection risk solely to the traits of the initial carrier, but that is insufficient. “You’re in a social context and your infection risk can be influenced by your social group as well,” he said. “We wanted to manipulate those two factors simultaneously.”The link between host traits and disease risk is interesting, but no individual is an island.” Source:http://news.rice.edu/2018/05/07/social-context-matters-in-spread-of-disease-2/last_img read more

Care coordination has huge impact on better health of older adults with

first_img Source:http://www.cmaj.ca/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 27 2018For older adults with multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes, depression, heart disease and others, care coordination appears to have the biggest impact on better health, according to a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)By 2050, there will be 2 billion people worldwide older than 60 years. Seniors are the fastest-growing demographic in Canada, and almost half have multiple chronic conditions and consume a substantial portion of health care spending. There will be a greater number of people with chronic diseases, yet there is a lack of understanding about the impact of effective approaches to managing multiple chronic diseases in patients.To fill this gap, researchers conducted a systematic review of all studies on the topic published in any language between 1990 and 2017. In the final analysis, they included 25 studies, many of which were randomized controlled trials, with 12 579 older adults (average age 67 years). The authors found that care coordination strategies (i.e., organizing different providers and services to ensure timely and efficient health care delivery) have the greatest potential of improving health in seniors with multiple chronic diseases. For example, care coordination involving case management, patient self-management and education of patients and providers significantly reduced symptoms of depression in adults with combined depression and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or in those with combined diabetes and heart disease.”Our study highlights the lack of interventions specifically focused on managing co-existing chronic illnesses in older adults, especially those that appear in clusters, such as diabetes, depression, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Depression is common in patients with diabetes and, because each can be a risk factor for the other, self-care and taking medications correctly can be challenging for improved health,” says lead author Dr. Monika Kastner, North York General Hospital and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.Related StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaPerinatal depression screenings may overlook women having suicidal ideationHeart disease is still the number 1 killer in Australia, according to latest figuresThe authors point out that clinical guidelines usually focus on a single disease, so management of multimorbidity can be overwhelming for patients and difficult for health care providers because of the complexity of overlapping or conflicting treatments with potential adverse interactions. They suggest that interventions to manage multiple chronic diseases should not only focus on clinical aspects of care, but also consider patients’ health priorities and goals and their social and emotional well-being.In a related editorial, Dr. Ken Flegel, deputy editor, CMAJ, writes “when we are thinking about diagnosis, we usually consider one disease possibility at a time. When we are planning management — investigation or intervention — we do the same. This is essential for clarity of thought, but it does not account for the fact that one disease may influence the course of another co-existing one.””Effectiveness of interventions for managing multiple high-burden chronic diseases in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis” is published August 27, 2018.last_img read more

Video A fish makes a tongue out of water

first_imgOn a pane of clear glass, a mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) carefully eyes a piece of shrimp. The predator definitely wants its prey, but actually eating it presents a challenge: Outside of the water, the fish can’t generate enough suction to swallow. However, new research published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that the mudskipper has solved the problem by bringing the water onto land, and that its clever solution may have led to the evolution of true tongues in other land animals. Using a group of high-speed cameras and x-ray videos, the scientists observed the mudskippers feeding in the laboratory. Their analysis showed that the fish were carrying mouthfuls of water up onto the land and then expelling the water at the moment they lunge at their prey. The water allows the fish to form an airtight seal and generate enough suction to move the water and their meal back toward the esophagus. Furthermore, the motion of a bone in the fishes’ throat, known as the hyoid, closely resembles that of other terrestrial animals, especially newts, which use true tongues to eat. The authors suggest that the mudskipper’s “hydrostatic” tongue may serve as the evolutionary bridge that allowed our aquatic ancestors to begin feeding on land.last_img read more

Japan loses contact with its new xray space observatory

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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email For the time being, says Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy at the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge, chairperson of Hitomi’s science working group, reports that the satellite is permanently lost are “groundless speculation.”X-ray astronomers were eagerly awaiting observations from Hitomi, because it is the first major x-ray observatory launched since 1999. An earlier attempt by Japan to launch such a spacecraft failed in 2000 and a 2005 follow-up lost a key instrument after a few weeks because of technical failure. Hitomi also carries a soft x-ray spectrometer that has 30 times the resolution of previous instruments and is expected to revolutionize the field. X-ray astronomer Ken Pounds of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom says “if lost it would be a tragedy for our Japanese colleagues and a significant disappointment for U.S. collaborators working on the microcalorimeter.”center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Japan’s space agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is desperately trying to re-establish communications with its recently launched Hitomi x-ray observatory (formerly known as ASTRO-H) following a loss of contact on 26 March. Hitomi is a groundbreaking telescope that will be able to image emissions from black holes, the swirl of hot gas in galaxy clusters, and supernova remnants through high-energy photons—including x-rays and gamma rays—with unprecedented accuracy. It was launched 17 February and was still being commissioned, but at the start of operations on Saturday it failed to respond as normal.   The U.S.-based Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), which tracks orbiting objects with radar, reported on 27 March seeing five separate objects at Hitomi’s location. But JAXA spokesperson Azusa Yabe says that the agency had received short signals from Hitomi after JSpOC reported its possible breakup.Ground-based amateur satellite watchers also reported seeing Hitomi in a slow spin. Chisato Ikuta, deputy director of Institute of Space and Astronautical Science/JAXA’s press office in Kanagawa, says “these may help us to understand the status of Hitomi. However, we still do not know the present status of Hitomi, because we have not communicated with the satellite yet.” Yabe adds that as long as the spacecraft’s solar array is getting enough power, Hitomi should be able to communicate with Earth even if spinning. “We are still trying to recover communication with ‘Hitomi,’ and trying to find out the status and causes of this communication failure,” Yabe says.last_img read more

Top stories What a Trump presidency means for science rats giggle when

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The voters have chosen Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. So now it’s time for scientists to share their thoughts with the business tycoon who triumphed over both Democrat Hillary Clinton and much of the Republican Party he represented in the election. There has been almost no interaction between the science community and the campaign over the past 18 months. Most academics didn’t support Trump and never expected him to beat Clinton. Trump operatives didn’t do any outreach to the scientific establishment, and its agenda wasn’t addressed during the campaign. The election results confirmed the community’s status as outsiders.Watch these ticklish rats laugh and jump for joyFor the ticklish among us, just the approach of wiggling fingers is enough to elicit squeals, if not screams. And it turns out we’re not the only ones. Now, a study in rats pinpoints the “tickle center” of the mammalian brain, showing for the first time that stimulating neurons in that region can elicit a paroxysm of ultrasonic squeaks, the rat version of human laughter. They also jump for joy. Ticklishness does, however, depend on their mood. But, of course, who wants to be tickled when they’re stressed out anyway?Why did Greenland’s Vikings disappear?In 1721, missionary Hans Egede sailed a ship called The Hope from Norway to Greenland, seeking Norse farmers whom Europeans hadn’t heard from in 200 years in order to convert them to Protestantism. He explored iceberg-dotted fjords that gave way to gentle valleys, and silver lakes that shimmered below the massive ice cap. But when he asked the Inuit hunters he met about the Norse, they showed him crumbling stone church walls: the only remnants of 500 years of occupation. Archaeologists still wonder today. No chapter of Arctic history is more mysterious than the disappearance of these Norse settlements sometime in the 15th century. Over the last decade, however, new excavations across the North Atlantic have forced archaeologists to revise some of these long-held views. 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 What Trump can—and can’t—do all by himself on climateDespite the vulnerability of many of his own properties to sea level rise, on the campaign trail President-elect Donald Trump stuck with Republican orthodoxy in questioning human-driven climate change, and criticizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to combat it. Trump claimed he would “cancel” the Paris agreement, a global deal to curb global warming, in his first 100 days in office. He put a climate change skeptic at the head of his transition team. His term will likely mimic Reagan’s, which was riddled with info leaks, resignations, and lawsuits in environmental agencies. States and cities can still promote their own policy in protest, however. Most importantly: Scientists will need to find ways to make their concerns crystal clear to the president-elect.Here’s some advice for you, President Trump, from scientistscenter_img Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more

Saudi gene hunters comb countrys DNA to prevent rare diseases

first_img Samel Al Samel and some of his children, three of whom have developmental problems. His eldest son, Mohammad (not pictured), is healthy, but after having a DNA test, learned that he is a carrier of the mutation that afflicted his siblings. A star medical student from a small town in Saudi Arabia’s north, Alkuraya says he realized that the nation’s inherited diseases were a “major problem”—and an unparalleled research opportunity. After training in the United States in pediatrics and medical genetics, he completed a postdoc in developmental genetics at the Harvard University-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and became first author on a 2006 paper in Science on a gene that controls palate formation.Alkuraya could have found a U.S. faculty position and traveled to Saudi Arabia to collect disease cases, but he worried that “I would have felt like an opportunist.” In 2007, he returned to launch his own research group at KFSHRC and nearby Alfaisal University. He’s acutely aware of what he’s missing compared with Boston: In Riyadh, he has no world-class experts from other disciplines down the hall with which to exchange ideas and faces long delays in getting reagents such as antibodies. To stay productive—he’s published more than 270 papers since he got back—he juggles multiple projects. “You really need to anticipate everything ahead of time,” he says.In his gene hunt, Alkuraya takes advantage of a shortcut known as exome sequencing, which analyzes just the 1% of DNA in a genome that codes for proteins. Instead of scanning entire genomes for mutated genes, a disease hunter can just compare the exome of a sick child with one or two exomes of normal, healthy people, such as the child’s parents—a process that takes weeks rather than years. In 2011, Alkuraya’s team used that exome strategy for the first time to find a new disease gene: DOCK6, which causes limb malformations when mutated.The team picked up its pace 3 years ago when Saudi Arabia announced plans for a 100,000-person genome project modeled after efforts in countries such as the United Kingdom and Iceland. Saudi leaders decided to focus a $40 million pilot project on diagnosing patients with single-gene diseases who are recruited by physicians at Saudi research institutions. That proved to be a “wise decision,” says Sultan Al-Sedairy, the project’s principal investigator and executive director of KFSHRC.The Saudi genome team uses two shortcuts to find the culprit mutations. In one, instead of sequencing a patient’s full exome, the genome project analyzes only the genes most likely to be involved in the condition—genes already tied to facial malformations for those with facial abnormalities, for example. The project assembled a team of some 90 geneticists, clinicians, and others, who developed 13 panels of known disease genes for conditions such as deafness, vision loss, heart disease, and metabolic disorders.This “Mendeliome” approach, the SHGP reported in Genome Biology last year, diagnosed 43% of 2357 cases for about $75 to $150 a person within days. That success rate, from a cut-rate approach, impresses observers. (The team solved another 11% using costlier exome sequencing.) Although clinical geneticists in other countries have begun using gene panels before turning to exome sequencing, “people haven’t systematically done it the way they have in Riyadh,” says geneticist James Lupski of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. “I think we can learn things from them.” We can’t change the culture, but just by screening and prevention we can help people. Saudi gene hunters comb country’s DNA to prevent rare diseases (Graphic) J. You/Science; (Data) Alan Bittles and Michael Black If the Mendeliome strategy doesn’t pinpoint the responsible mutation, the team can also try to take advantage of the second shortcut. When the child of a consanguineous union develops a recessive disease, the responsible mutation usually lies within a larger identical block of DNA inherited from both parents. Researchers can therefore ignore most of the child’s exome and look for the mutation at fault by only probing these shared parental regions, which they find by scanning the DNA for known markers. “That gives us x-ray vision,” Alkuraya says. “You know just where to look.”Getting the genes outBeyond the practical payoff of diagnosing genetic diseases, the Saudi team is excited by the science it’s generating. Among the more than 200 genes newly linked to human illness by Alkuraya’s team is one called DNASE1L3 that causes an inherited form of lupus and is being pursued as a drug target for the immune disorder. The group has found dozens of additional genes that cause intellectual disability. Other genes are among the first known to be fatal in early embryonic development. Identifying mutations behind such failed pregnancies is difficult because it requires DNA from the lost embryo, but Alkuraya has enrolled pregnant mothers with a history of miscarriage and collects a fetal tissue sample when they show signs of miscarrying again.He acknowledges that some of his published connections between genes and a disease are preliminary—often a mutation has only been found in one family so far—and that he doesn’t do much of the functional work needed to pin down what these genes do. “My philosophy is always to get the genes out” so that other geneticists can build on them, Alkuraya says. The SHGP group soon plans to publish the full database of its genome data on more than 10,000 individuals.Some of these data may also challenge previously reported gene-disease links. In a paper last month in Genome Biology, Alkuraya reports that hundreds of gene variants labeled as pathogenic in other databases are commonly found in Saudis without the relevant disease.In the next phase of the SHGP, researchers want to study common disorders such as heart disease and diabetes—a rare inherited form of diabetes afflicts some Saudis—and personalize cancer therapies based on a person’s DNA. Alkuraya also aims to recruit up to 10,000 people who receive health care at KFSHRC in hopes of finding healthy knockouts, a potential boon to drug developers. A Texas woman lacking the gene PCSK9, for example, led to a new class of drugs that drastically reduces cholesterol by mimicking the effect of the gene knockout. The hunt should be easier in Saudi Arabia’s consanguineous population. “I’m really optimistic that we’re going to find something like” PCSK9, Alkuraya says.All of this will depend on funding, however. The Saudi government has approved $200 million in the budget of the country’s main science agency, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) here, to fund the next 5 years of the SHGP, including the purchase of the latest DNA sequencers, which Alkuraya hopes to use. But the money hasn’t yet been released, and existing funds dwindled this year. Alkuraya’s own grants have been cut by 50% and his lab has been unable to replace equipment for the past 2 years.But Alkuraya says that for the moment, he’s not too worried about his science. “I’m sitting on so much data. If I were to shut my lab down now, I could continue to write papers for the next 3 years.”A national screening effortWhile the genomics research slows, what has been learned so far is starting to pay off for Saudi families. There is often little to be done for children who inherit a recessive disease, but genetic knowledge can save future children from a similar outcome. In addition to selecting IVF embryos without disease mutations, potential Saudi parents can turn to prenatal diagnosis if the wife is already pregnant. (Islamic law allows abortion to save the mother’s life, and clerics in Saudi Arabia have ruled that this also applies before 120 days of gestation if she is likely to have a severely malformed fetus.)Five years ago, about 80 families a year came to KFSHRC’s prenatal diagnostics lab for genetic testing. Now, about 500 families annually seek testing, and as a result as many as 125 pregnancies have been terminated because the babies would have had severe or fatal diseases. “That’s a huge economic burden on the country that we have eliminated,” says geneticist Faiqa Imtiaz, who heads the hospital’s prenatal testing lab. They are harnessing cheap, next-generation DNA sequencing to pin down mutations underlying unexplained diseases, cranking through more than 10,000 cases in the past 5 years. Although most of the solved cases involve known mutations, some have yielded novel disease genes— more than 200 from Alkuraya’s group alone, including ADAT3. The output of the relatively small team rivals that of larger groups of disease gene hunters in the United States and Europe, colleagues say. “I am very impressed with what [Alkuraya] has achieved in Saudi Arabia,” says Joris Veltman, a human geneticist at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.Alkuraya and his colleagues hope the growing catalog of disease mutations they have found will not only help individual families with inherited diseases have healthy babies, but lead to premarriage DNA tests for young people that could bring down the high rate of those diseases here. The broader sequencing effort could also have payoffs beyond the Middle East. The country’s closely related population should make it easier to identify “healthy knockouts”—people who lack both copies of a specific gene yet remain healthy and even gain protection against disease, providing clues to new drugs. “If there’s any place they should be discovered, it’s here,” Alkuraya says.But first, Saudi geneticists will have to get past the worsening budget crisis here triggered by the global drop in oil prices. Funding is on hold for the next phase of the overall genome project, and even ongoing research grants, including Alkuraya’s, have been slashed this year. It’s vital that his gene sleuthing and other genomics efforts in the country don’t stall out, observers say. As human geneticist Daniel MacArthur of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, notes, “There’s no question the opportunities there are massive.”When DNA and culture clashOutside the research wing of KFSHRC on the traffic-clogged streets here, women cannot mingle with unrelated men and must wear a loose black robe called an abaya. But in this surprisingly cosmopolitan space, women swap their abayas for lab coats and work side by side with male staff. Some take off their head scarves, but others retain their black face veils, known as niqabs, even in the lab.Such adherence to tradition helps explain why about 40% or more of native Saudis—two-thirds of the country’s 30 million people—still marry first cousins or other close relatives. The practice, once common in Europe, lives on in much of the Middle East today, helping preserve wealth and tribal ties. But the downside of consanguineous marriage is a relatively high risk for recessive genetic diseases, which develop when both the maternal and paternal copy of a gene are faulty. If both parents carry the same recessive disease mutation, their children have a 25% chance of inheriting two copies and developing the disease; and in the large families still common in Saudi Arabia, the genetic dice are rolled repeatedly. By one estimate, 8% of babies in Saudi Arabia are born with a genetic or partly genetic disease, compared with 5% in most high-income countries.Often the diseases have never been seen before. For decades, Middle Eastern clinicians puzzled by these cases have called in European or U.S. scientists, who collected DNA samples from the afflicted families and claimed lead authorship on papers describing new disease genes. After the draft human genome was unveiled in 2001, the country’s homogeneous population—made up of about two dozen major tribes descended from a small number of founders— also attracted broader genetics efforts. Brian Meyer, an Australian expat scientist who has long worked in Saudi Arabia and now chairs the KFSHRC genetics department, recalls a proposal from genome sequencing pioneer Craig Venter to launch a company modeled after Iceland’s deCODE, which would have mined the DNA of Saudis for drug targets. The plan fizzled out because of local concerns about privacy and exporting genetic data for commercial purposes, however.”The population wasn’t ready,” Meyer says. Saudi Arabia also declined to contribute DNA samples to HapMap, an international effort to map human genetic diversity that began in 2002. Middle Easterners are still virtually missing from human genome reference databases, a problem some Arab scientists are now trying to remedy.In the late 1990s, however, the seeds of a Saudi genome effort began to take root. After finding that the mutations causing cystic fibrosis in Saudis were different from those in Europeans, KFSHRC geneticists began to do their own disease gene hunting. Alkuraya soon joined the chase. Samel Al Samel and his wife, who have three severely disabled children, Ali (23), Manwa (16) and Muteb (6), talk to geneticist Fowzan Alkuraya. Hala, 10, also pictured, does not have her siblings’ genetic disease. Marital problems Thanks to a culture that encourages marriages between first cousins, Saudi Arabia has one of the higher rates of consanguinity in the world, which has elevated its incidence of many inherited genetic diseases. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Jocelyn KaiserDec. 8, 2016 , 3:00 AMcenter_img Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Thamer Al-Hassan Alkuraya’s news brought the families some measure of comfort, and hope. “It was a big relief for my wife, for me, for my sister, for everyone” to know what had gone wrong, the officer says. Hoping to break their bad genetic luck, he and his wife decided they would turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and use preimplantation genetic diagnosis to select embryos that inherited no ADAT3 mutation. They now have 2-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. “And they are perfectly healthy,” the father says.The officer’s family is one of hundreds that have come to Alkuraya, 39, who may be the country’s leading genetics sleuth. His work is part of a boom in human genetics research in Saudi Arabia over the past decade, which has culminated in a Saudi version of a human genome project, called the Saudi Human Genome Program (SHGP). Largely because many Arabs marry cousins or other close relatives, the country, like others in the Middle East, has an increased rate of inherited genetic diseases—nearly double the rate in Europe and the United States and 10 times higher for certain disorders, according to some estimates. As a result, the country has long drawn Western scientists eager to bag disease genes new to science. But Alkuraya and other geneticists here at KFSHRC are bringing such research home. Dorota Monies, Polish expat researcher, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSHRC) Thamer Al-Hassan Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country In a hospital conference room here in Saudi Arabia’s capital, a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi army, dressed in fatigues and a black beret, stoically tells a story of genetic casualties. His and his wife’s first child, born in 2004, seemed healthy at first, but at 6 months old the baby girl could not yet sit up and barely cried. Doctors in France, where the family was living at the time, found no explanation. “We were sure that lack of oxygen” during delivery had caused brain damage, the father says.Although their next baby, a boy, was healthy, a second girl born 5 years later had similar developmental delays. Meanwhile, the officer’s sister had given birth to six children, two healthy but four with similar medical problems: Each had crossed eyes and an IQ below 70, didn’t talk, and didn’t walk until about age 5.Both the lieutenant colonel, who asked not to be identified, and his sister had married first cousins, who were also related. Suspicions that this close kinship played some role in their kids’ problems led the two families to this clinic at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSHRC) and into the care of Fowzan Alkuraya, a young Saudi geneticist who had recently returned from the United States. Some months after the families gave him DNA samples, Alkuraya delivered the results: All four parents carried one copy of the exact same disease mutation, a change of a single DNA base in a gene called ADAT3. Although the mutation was harmless to the parents because each retained a working copy of the gene, their severely disabled children had inherited two faulty copies. As a result, their cells couldn’t make an enzyme that helps translate DNA into proteins. Ultimately, the Saudi genome team would like to screen all 150,000 Saudi couples who plan to marry each year for disease genes. Each couple is now required by the Ministry of Health to have their blood biochemically analyzed for signs they are carriers of sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, two genetic diseases that are common here. If DNA testing were done instead, “the same sample could be used for thousands of diseases,” Meyer says. He says that the SHGP’s next phase includes a plan to begin using a custom, chiplike device, known as a genotyping array, to screen couples’ DNA samples for the 2300 most common disease mutations in the Saudi population.Earlier screening, perhaps in high school before a marriage is arranged or a couple falls in love, might be even more effective, Alkuraya says. “We can’t change the culture, but just by screening and prevention we can help people,” adds his colleague Dorota Monies, a Polish expat researcher who has lived in Riyadh for more than a decade and who runs the DNA sequencers for the genome project.Such a compulsory national test for that many genetic diseases would be “unparalleled in scale,” says Stephen Kingsmore, a geneticist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. The country would also have to greatly expand its cadre of genetic counselors—it now has just nine. “If you have proper counseling in the clinic, then they understand and stop the marriage,” says Ayman Alsulaiman, a genetic counselor at KFSHRC who consults for the Ministry of Health’s current premarital screening program. “With no proper counseling, they don’t listen.”In the meantime, the Saudi team encourages parents who have a child with a genetic disorder to have their immediate and extended family tested, to reduce the risk in future births. This can be a sensitive matter, says Shatha Al Rasheed, a research genetic counselor with KACST. A mother may worry that her husband will take a second wife if he learns they both carry a disease gene. Or families may fear that their sons and daughters will never get married. But most families end up sharing the information: “I feel success stories are much more common than negative ones,” Al Rasheed says.Mohammad Al Samel, a 27-year-old medical student in his residency in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, grew up with three siblings severely disabled by a mutation identified by Alkuraya’s lab. After their diagnosis, Al Samel agreed to have his DNA tested and learned that he is a carrier of the same genetic flaw. His fiancée is also being tested, even though the two aren’t related and she’s unlikely to have the mutation. If she does, Al Samel says, they will still marry but consider “other solutions” such as IVF to avoid having a sick child.”I didn’t have brothers or sisters who were healthy enough to play with me, and we had to stay in the hospital for long times,” he says. “I don’t want my kids to have the same memories. You cannot imagine.”last_img read more

Prosthetic hands feel more real thanks to some good vibrations

first_img When you go to catch a Frisbee, you don’t need to stare at your hand until it makes contact. You have an intuitive sense of where your arm is—and where it’s going—based on how your muscles and joints feel. This sense of body position, known as kinesthesia, has proved tricky to build into prosthetic arms. Now, researchers have recreated the feeling of kinesthesia in six arm amputees by sending finely tuned vibrations into the skin of their upper arms and shoulders. The approach improved their ability to feel and control their prosthetic arms when performing actions such as gripping and pinching, the team reports today in Science Translational Medicine.The amputees in the study had previously undergone surgery to rewire the nerves in their upper bodies to act as messengers for the specific electric signals associated with arm and hand movement. Three also completed tests where they were asked to close their hand as if gripping a cylinder, while not being able to see their prosthetic arm. When the subjects performed the task again while receiving kinesthesia vibrations simulating the feeling of the motion, they more instinctively moved their prosthetics into the grip and were faster in correcting their mistakes, such as when some of their fingers had not closed into the grip. The subjects also indicated in surveys that they felt greater control over their prosthetic arms when receiving the kinesthesia vibrations. Prosthetic hands feel more real, thanks to some good vibrations National Geographic Creative/Alamy Stock Photo The authors of the study say that more experiments need to be run in order to determine the effectiveness of the vibrations in helping with everyday activities such as picking up objects, and on a test group larger than six people. By Frankie SchembriMar. 14, 2018 , 2:00 PMlast_img read more

Podcast possible source of morning sickness and linking maternal care to genomic

first_img Researchers are converging on which genes are linked to morning sickness—the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy—and the more severe form: hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). And once we know what those genes are—can we help pregnant women feel better? News intern Roni Dengler joins Sarah Crespi to talk about a new study that suggests a protein already flagged for its role in cancer-related nausea may also be behind HG.In a second segment, Tracy Bedrosian of the Neurotechnology Innovations Translator talks about how the amount of time spent being licked by mom might be linked to changes in the genetic code of hippocampal neurons in mice pups. Could these types of genomic changes be a new type of plasticity in the brain?This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Listen to previous podcasts.[Image: Jacob Bøtter/Flickr; Music: Jeffrey Cook] Jacob Bøtter/Flickr last_img read more

Climate change poses major threat to United States new government report concludes

first_img By David MalakoffNov. 23, 2018 , 2:00 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Climate change poses major threat to United States, new government report concludes Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Climate change is already being felt in communities across the United States, and will cause growing harm to the economy, infrastructure, and human and ecological health—unless the United States and other nations take concerted action to reduce emissions of warming gases and adapt to a warmer world. 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 NASA The report also comes just weeks before Democrats are poised to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Incoming House leaders have promised to make climate change a priority, and have already announced a series of hearings early next year on the topic.center_img Email That is the sobering message sent by a major federal report released today that examines climate change impacts on different U.S. regions, economic sectors, and ecosystems.“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” the report concludes. “The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.” Efforts to address climate change “have expanded in the last five years, but not at the scale needed to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades,” it states. And without “substantial and sustained global efforts,” climate change will “cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.” U.S. gross domestic product could be reduced by 10% or more under some scenarios, with annual losses in some economic sectors reaching “hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.” The new report is designed to be “policy relevant,” but does not make specific policy recommendations, federal officials associated with the U.S. Global Change Research Program in Washington, D.C., noted in a teleconference today. Still, its findings offer a stark contrast to positions taken by President Donald Trump and many of his top officials. They have repeatedly downplayed or rejected warnings from experts that climate change poses a serious threat to national security. And the administration plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, an international effort to cut emissions of warming gases, and has moved to roll back a wide array of domestic climate regulations. Earth’s atmosphere from the International Space Station Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), who is expected become the chair of the House science committee in January 2019, said in a statement that the report’s conclusions, “as we’ve sadly grown accustomed to, are quite terrifying—increased wildfires, more damaging storms, dramatic sea level rise, more harmful algal blooms, disease spread, dire economic impacts, the list goes on and on. That being said, all hope is not lost, but we must act now. We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work on adaptation and mitigation, and explore technology solutions such as geoengineering and carbon capture and sequestration.”The 29-chapter report, formally known as Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, is a follow-up to the assessment’s first volume, released a year ago, which summarized the state of climate science. The reports are required by a 1990 law that orders federal agencies to report at least every 4 years on the status and potential impacts of climate change. They were assembled by some 300 experts, about half of whom work outside the federal government. The process of preparing the report, which was led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, involved collecting public comment at events in more than 40 cities.Over the past year, some climate advocates had expressed concern that the Trump administration would attempt to alter or censor the report. But federal scientists emphasized that there was no outside interference. “The report has not been altered in any way to reflect political considerations,” said Virginia Burkett, a climate scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey who worked on the effort. Many climate advocates have noted, however, that the administration chose to release the report late on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when the attention of the public and the press may be elsewhere.“How many wake-up calls do we need?” Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a policy nonprofit in Washington, D.C., asked in a statement. “Every new National Climate Assessment has built on the previous one, confirming that climate change is already happening and that we need to act. Time is running out. … Sadly, the fact that the administration released this important report on the Friday after Thanksgiving clearly shows its desire to squelch its impact.”last_img read more

Scientists track Floridas vanishing barrier reef

first_imgDiving to ailing coral, researchers test a tool for measuring how fast the reef is eroding. DOMINIQUE GALLERY/USGS Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email THE FLORIDA KEYS REEF TRACT—Earlier this month, outfitted in scuba gear and bobbing above lumpy brown coral 6 kilometers off Key Largo, Lauren Toth, a coral geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in St. Petersburg, Florida, set out to learn just how much time Florida’s coral reef has left.Around the world, warming oceans are killing coral. In Florida, Toth and others have found, heat-induced bleaching is just the latest in a millennialong series of insults, which have brought the reef ‘s growth to a standstill and left it vulnerable to erosion and rising seas. As a result, the barrier reef—the third longest in the world—is not simply dying. It appears to be vanishing.At stake is a 320-kilometer-long bulwark that protects the Keys from waves while providing habitat for fish and a lure for tourists. Recent measurements by Toth and her colleagues have confirmed that the coral is eroding, in some places by several millimeters per year. Now, she and others are surveying the entire reef to learn how fast, and where, it is being lost. 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 Zimbabwecenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Paul VoosenApr. 24, 2019 , 1:20 PM Scientists track Florida’s vanishing barrier reef The recent toll of warming, disease, and pollution on Florida’s reef has been even heavier than on some other iconic reefs, such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. “We’ve lost 90% of our coral cover in recent decades,” says Erinn Muller, a coral biologist at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Some species, such as the fast-growing elkhorn coral with its distinctive wide branches, have nearly vanished. A host of others have died as a disease called stony coral tissue loss has marched down the Keys. “The last corals alive are getting hammered,” says Derek Manzello, an oceanographer at a Miami, Florida, lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Yet Toth and her peers have shown that Florida’s corals haven’t been healthy for millennia. Core samples from the reef record that it stopped growing 3000 years ago. Florida’s reef lies near the northern temperature limit for corals, and Toth and her colleagues reported in a study last year that a cooling trend around that time likely made the waters more prone to cold snaps that would periodically kill off corals, leaving the reefs at a delicate tipping point.Now, although cold snaps still occur, global warming is bringing hotter summers, causing bleaching and mass die-offs. It is also raising sea level. Healthy corals readily cope with sea level rise, growing with the rising ocean. But Florida’s ailing reefs probably can’t keep pace. Anecdotes abound of patches of reef eroded flat to sand.Data, however, are rare, with one exception: In 1998, USGS scientists drilled rods into 12 dead coral colonies at one site here, hoping to gauge erosion. Recently, a USGS team led by Ilsa Kuffner and Toth revisited the rods and used the cement that holds the rods in place as a reference point. In work close to publication, they found that the dead corals are eroding by 5.5 millimeters a year—almost double the rate of global sea level rise—as they are chewed apart by parrotfish and other species.Toth is now trying to get a broader view by taking advantage of rods that Florida state scientists embedded at 46 sites up and down the Keys as reference points for an annual photographic survey. At many of these sites, the epoxy that cements each rod in place, once flush with the coral, is now sticking out because of erosion. To get more precise measurements, Toth and her co-workers developed a portable tool that can sit on top of the stakes.On this April morning, she and a colleague were testing the device, floating above boulder and mountainous star coral and massive starlet coral, with a fleeting sighting of one staghorn. Silvery chubs, red grouper, and snappers seemed to watch the scientists work. Each rod presented its own challenge. Some were covered with small fire corals, which the divers dislodged with taps of a hammer. Others had been coopted by sponges, or in one case had fused with the spine of a fanlike soft coral. When a coral might be damaged or a sponge squished, the scientists skipped measuring it.”The prototype works,” Toth said as she climbed back into the boat. In this case, the rods recorded little erosion—perhaps because the reef was already squat. “Once it’s flat, it probably doesn’t get targeted [by fish] anymore,” she said. This summer, the divers who conduct Florida’s photographic survey will use the USGS tool to measure about half the rods at each site, giving a more complete picture of the reef’s decline.For coral biologist Alina Szmant at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, Toth’s work confirms the reef is doomed, as the assaults overwhelm a fragile ecosystem. “I don’t want to give up, but you have to be honest with yourself,” she says.A patchwork of restoration efforts, largely from nonprofit groups, continues on the reef, often aiming to replace dead coral with heat-resistant transplants. Backers should temper their expectations, Toth says: “If these reefs haven’t been growing for 3000 years, it’s going to be really tough to get reefs like exist elsewhere in the Caribbean.”Toth still hopes some living coral can be saved. But she says biologists need to introduce not just corals that can resist heat or disease, but also species that can build structure, like staghorn or elkhorn. It’s also time, she adds, to think about saving the reef structure and the services it provides, even if its coral dies. “How do we keep from losing what was built over the last 8000 years?” she says. “Because we don’t have another 8000 years to rebuild it.”last_img read more

Construction to begin on Route 66 Plaza stage

first_imgConstruction to begin on Route 66 Plaza stage By L. Parsons The Winslow City Council authorized the expenditure of $51,863 from the city capital projects fund to begin renovation of the Route 66 Plaza, located west of Kinsley Avenue on Second Street. CommunitySubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad November 24, 2017last_img

Every number in Budget is authentic… no cuts in public spend Sitharaman

first_img Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Best Of Express By Express News Service |New Delhi | Updated: July 11, 2019 7:42:51 am Advertising The great dollar gamble Advertising Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield “The nominal GDP figures published in the Budget, the Economic Survey, and the Interim Budget in February are all authentic data. I will assure the House there is no need for any speculation on figures given in Budget and every number is authentic,” she said.Sitharaman said the fiscal deficit in the regular Budget for 2019-20 has been pegged at 3.3 per cent of the GDP as against 3.4 per cent proposed in the Interim Budget in February. She said if any member of the House still had questions about the data, she would be willing to explain personally outside Lok Sabha as well.She said the Budget was focused on the path of fiscal consolidation without compromising on public expenditure. “Economic growth and national security would be the focus of the government,” she said. After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan center_img Public and private “The Opposition parties were rejected by the people in the election because in 2014-15, when we came to power, inflation was 5.9 per cent, whereas now it is 3 per cent. Food inflation was 6.4 per cent then while now it was 0.3 per cent in March,” she said.During her reply, the Opposition protested when, explaining the logic behind different GDP numbers in the Budget, the Interim Budget and the Economic Survey, Sitharaman said that she had tried to explain it like a “teacher”.“Even if I am mocked at, sometimes I spoke like a teacher to a class of students… And even if that is not sufficient, I am quite happy to receive Members at Room Number 36 with due respect,” she said.Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was heard saying “We are not students. We are elected members of this House,” Speaker Om Birla intervened and assured the Opposition that he would look into the speech and decide if any remark needs to be expunged. Banks’ bad loans down at 9.34 lakh crore at FY19-end Related News Opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, NCP, SP, National Conference and DMK staged a walkout, demanding a rollback of the hike in petrol and diesel prices effected by the Budget. Sitharaman did not mention the subject in her reply.Following the decision, petrol prices went up by a minimum of Rs 2.40 per litre and diesel by a minimum of Rs 2.36 per litre. The Budget had proposed to raise excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre each to raise Rs 24,000-28,000 crore on an annual basis.Sitharaman said several steps including enhancing investments in infrastructure, liberalisation in the foreign direct investment policy and lowering of corporate tax are being taken to make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25 as stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The Budget lays a roadmap to spend Rs 100 lakh crore on infrastructure in the next five years,” she said.She said that with increased outlays for schemes like NREGA, PM Awas Yojana, PM Gram Sadak Yojana and the Jalshakti programme of “har ghar jal”, the government has focused on rural India and farmers while chalking out a plan for economic development. nirmala sitharaman, nirmala sitharaman budget, union budget 2019, union budget sitharaman, gdp figure budget, opposition on union budget Sitharaman in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. LSTV/PTISeeking to dispel the Opposition charge that the GDP figures published by the government are not consistent everywhere, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Lok Sabha Wednesday that every “number is authentic”. 3 Comment(s)last_img read more

Highlights of ICJ verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case Key points

first_img International Court of Justice to deliver verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case on July 17 Related News Best Of Express Two years and two months since India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, the court on Wednesday, in a 15:1 verdict, granted New Delhi consular access to the former Naval officer and asked Pakistan to review and reconsider the death sentence awarded to him.Jadhav, 49, was arrested allegedly on March 3, 2016. He was sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. The Indian side, however, maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he had no links with the government.Highlights of the ICJ verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case:* Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence” of Kulbhushan Jadhav Jharkhand court drops ‘donate Quran’ condition for bail to Ranchi woman over offensive post * Pakistan is under an obligation to inform Jadhav of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him in accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations* Pakistan ‘deprived India of the right to communicate with and have access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”.* ICJ rejects annulment of military court decision convicting Kulbhushan Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India* It was “undisputed” fact that Pakistan did not accede to India’s appeals, says ICJ Advertising By Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2019 9:22:38 pm Advertisingcenter_img * On Pakistan’s argument that India has failed to prove Jadhav’s nationality, ICJ said it was satisfied that the evidence before it leaves no room for doubt that Jadhav is of Indian nationality.* There was a three-week delay in informing India about Jadhav’s arrest on March 3, 2016, leading to a “breach” of Pakistan’s obligations under the convention, the court said.* No basis to conclude that India abused its procedural rights when it requested an indication of provisional measures in this case, ICJ said. Salve hails verdict, says ICJ protected Jadhav from being executed Harish Salve hails verdict, says ICJ protected Jadhav from being executed Kulbhushan Jadhav ICJ Verdict: ‘Truth, justice prevails,’ PM Modi welcomes judgment ‘Truth, justice have prevailed’: PM Modi on Kulbhushan Jadhav verdict 1 Comment(s)last_img read more

Google Assistant Gets More Features Greater Reach

first_imgGoogle this week debuted a slew of new capabilities for its artificial intelligence software, Google Assistant, at CES in Las Vegas.One of the headliners was a preview of Google Assistant Connect. The new platform lets device manufacturers incorporate Google Assistant into their products easily and cost-effectively.Connect uses Google’s existing smart home platform to expand to new device types, while making device setup and discovery easy for consumers. A manufacturer could create a continuous e-ink display projecting weather or calendar information, for example, while using Connect to drive content from a linked smart speaker.”The key here is making device setup and discovery easy for consumers,” observed Jack Narcotta, senior industry analyst for smart home strategies at Strategy Analytics.”Addressing the frustration that still often accompanies smart home device setup and use — especially during that all-important initial setup — is a big step for any company seeking to expand its footprint into the smart home,” he told TechNewsWorld.Google also announced new plans for Assistant:Building Google Assistant into the Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers so users can control their sound entertainment from anywhere in the home without needing their smartphone. Earlier models of Sonos speakers will be updated to work with Google Assistant;Expanding Assistant later this year to work with other popular media and entertainment devices, including Samsung TVs. This will let users use voice commands to turn the TV on, change volume and channels, and switch within inputs;Having Google Assistant built into Dish’s Hopper family of receivers. This will let consumers use their Dish Voice Remote to search for content, check the weather, or control other connected devices in the home;Including Google Assistant in Android TV. Sony, Hisense, Philips, Xiaomi, Haier and JVC are among the Google partners that have launched and showcased such Android TV devices. Several will have far field microphones that will let them pick up the user’s voice even with noise in the room or on the TV; andExpanding Google Assistant’s ability to respond to users even when their Android phones are locked if they opt in to this feature. They also will be able to set up and dismiss alarms, schedule reminders and timers, and view answers to personal queries such as traffic and calendar updates. This feature is currently available on Pixels and will be rolled out to all Android devices in the next few weeks. Google Translator Initiating Interpreter Mode is as simple as saying “Hey Google, be my French interpreter,” for example. The Assistant will provide real-time spoken translations, and written ones as well on smart displays.Google announced a pilot of Interpreter Mode this week at CES at the concierge desk in Caesars Palace, as well as at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, and Dream Downtown in New York City. The Assistant will notify users proactively when it’s time to check in. If they plan to stay at a particular hotel or motel, they can book a room using Google Assistant. Further, support is on the way for Google Keep, Any.do, Bring! And Todoist, for help keeping track of itineraries with notes and lists in the Google Assistant. Tackling Amazon Head-On “By expanding the functionality and programmability of Assistant, Google is helping empower their business partner ecosystem to build a huge variety of services for people to interact with throughout the day,” noted Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research.”From the time they wake up to getting their news, daily agenda meetings and tasks, to entertainment for the evening and setting alarms, Google is effectively inserting themselves into every aspect of people’s lives at home, work and in transit,” he told TechNewsWorld.That said, companies making smart home devices “need to understand that technology burnout is real,” Strategy Analytics’ Narcotta said. “Every person has a different limit for how connected they want to be.”At the very least, the multiplicity of smart home device controllers that will emerge will create chaos.”I have a lot of these [controllers] in my house, and, at times they go a bit insane,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.”It’s clear the designs didn’t anticipate multiple devices very well,” he told TechNewsWorld. More than 74 million Americans will use a smart speaker this year, up 15 percent over 2018. By year end, nearly 27 percent of American adults will use one at least once a month, according to eMarketer.Google’s push “is mostly a fight between Google and Amazon” for this huge market, Enderle told TechNewsWorld. Microsoft and Apple “just aren’t playing to the level that Amazon and Google are right now.”Amazon’s Alexa will continue to dominate the market, Enderle predicted. Most products incorporating voice control “also run Alexa, and, given Alexa’s penetration, it will be the dominant assistant on them for the foreseeable future.”This year, Amazon Echo’s market share will drop to 63.3 percent while Google Home will take 31 percent, eMarketer predicted. Amazon’s share will continue to shrink through 2020.Google’s efforts also may be hampered by its business model, Enderle suggested. “Having all these speakers connected to a company that sells your information doesn’t sound particularly wise at all.” It is a 10-inch tablet that will let users do the following:Manage everyday tasks such as creating shopping lists, making purchases with Google Express, setting timers and reminders, and browsing recipes on the Web hands-free;Listen to music, podcasts and radio, or catch up on the latest shows and videos from popular services; andHave full control over their smart kitchen appliances and entire smart home ecosystem. KitchenAid Smart Display will be compatible with smart home devices that work with the Google Assistant.The Assistant works with more than 1,600 home automation brands and more than 10,000 devices.Google is working with more brands to launch smart home devices this year. These include select Whirlpool connected appliances, GE’s smart microwave, and security products from August.Several new devices in new categories now work with Google Assistant:Pressure cookers; Refrigerator and wine storage racks;Ovens;Dishwashers;McAfee’s Secure Home Platform;Water leak sensors; andElectric vehicle chargers. For those traveling outside of their language comfort zones, Google Assistant can help remove barriers to communication. Interpreter Mode — which will roll out over the next few weeks on Google Home devices and Smart Displays — users can ask the Assistant for help conversing in dozens of languages. Google has been working with Anker and JBL to build the Assistant into car accessories so that users can connect smartphones to their car stereos through Bluetooth or AUX.Meanwhile, Verizon previewed the HumX at CES — a car accessory with built-in Google Assistant that lets users pull car diagnostics with voice commands.Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) have been pushing into the automotive market, according to IHS Markit.Google Assistant soon will offer more robust air travel support. Users will be able to check in for their flights, and save and retrieve boarding passes using Google Assistant on Android or iOS.They’ll be able to do so simply by saying, “Hey Google, check in to my flight” — no need to remember confirmation numbers. Getting Around Lenovo will unveil a Smart Clock this spring, priced at US$79, that incorporates Google Assistant and will let users control their smart home devices.Whirlpool previewed its new KitchenAid Smart Display with the Google Assistant at CES. All Google, All the Time Assistance for Everyday Living Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.last_img read more

Discovery of gene mutation could offer benefit for people suffering from diabetes

first_img Source:https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/gene-mutation-points-new-way-fight-diabetes-obesity-heart-disease Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 10 2018Researchers say they have discovered a gene mutation that slows the metabolism of sugar in the gut, giving people who have the mutation a distinct advantage over those who do not. Those with the mutation have a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, heart failure, and even death. The researchers say their finding could provide the basis for drug therapies that could mimic the workings of this gene mutation, offering a potential benefit for the millions of people who suffer with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.The study, which is largely supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.Related StoriesMothers with gestational diabetes transferring harmful ‘forever chemicals’ to their fetusDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymoma”We’re excited about this study because it helps clarify the link between what we eat, what we absorb, and our risk for disease. Knowing this opens the door to improved therapies for cardiometabolic disease,” said Scott D. Solomon, M.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the research. He explained that the study is the first to fully evaluate the link between mutations in the gene mainly responsible for absorbing glucose in the gut–SGLT-1, or sodium glucose co-transporter-1–and cardiometabolic disease.People who have the natural gene mutation appear to have an advantage when it comes to diet, Solomon noted. Those who eat a high-carbohydrate diet and have this mutation will absorb less glucose than those without the mutation. A high-carbohydrate diet includes such foods as pasta, breads, cookies, and sugar-sweetened beverages.In the study, the researchers analyzed the relationship between SGLT-1 mutations and cardiometabolic disease using genetic data obtained from 8,478 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. The study was a 25-year-long observational trial of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk factors in people living in four U.S. communities.The researchers found that about 6 percent of the subjects carried a mutation in SGLT-1 that causes limited impairment of glucose absorption. Individuals with this mutation had a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, were less obese, had a lower incidence of heart failure, and had a lower mortality rate when compared to those without the mutation, even after adjusting for dietary intake (including total calories, sodium, and sugars).Based on these findings, the scientists suggest that selectively blocking the SGLT-1 receptor could provide a way to slow down glucose uptake to prevent or treat cardiometabolic disease and its consequences. They caution that development of such targeted drugs could take years and that clinical trials are still needed to determine if the drugs reduce the incidence of diabetes and heart failure and improve lifespan.last_img read more

To get mental health help for a child desperate parents relinquish custody

first_img This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 9 2019When Toni and Jim Hoy adopted their son Daniel through the foster care system, he was an affectionate toddler. They did not plan to give him back to the state of Illinois, ever.“Danny was this cute, lovable little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby,” Jim said.Toni recalled times Daniel would reach over, put his hands on her face and squish her cheeks. “And he would go, ‘You pretty, Mom,’ ” Toni said. “Oh, my gosh, he just melted my heart when he would say these very loving, endearing things to me.”But as Daniel grew older, he changed. He began to show signs of serious mental illness that eventually manifested in violent outbursts and nearly a dozen psychiatric hospitalizations, starting at age 10. Doctors said he needed intensive, specialized care away from home — institutional services that cost at least $100,000 a year.The family had private insurance through Jim’s job, and Daniel also had Medicaid coverage because he was adopted. But neither insurance would pay for that treatment. Exhausted and desperate, the Hoys decided to relinquish custody to the state. If they sent Daniel back into the foster care system, the child welfare agency would be obligated to pay for the services he needed.“To this day, it’s the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Jim said. He went to the hospital and told Daniel, then 12, that they were legally abandoning him so child welfare could take over. “I was crying terribly. But it was the only way we figured we could keep the family safe.”Two-thirds of states don’t keep track of how many families give up custody to help a child get mental health services. But a study by the Government Accountability Office found that, back in 2001, families in 19 states relinquished nearly 13,000 children.Today in Illinois, state records show that dozens of children enter state custody this way each year, despite a 2015 state law aimed at preventing it. And new data collected by the University of Maryland for the federal government finds that Illinois is not alone in failing to address this issue.Mental health advocates say the problem is one of “too little, too late.” Even when states try to help children get access to treatment without a custody transfer, the efforts come too late in the progression of the children’s illnesses.The advocates blame decades of inadequate funding for in-home and community-based services across the country — a lack of funding that has chipped away at the mental health system. Without that early intervention, children deteriorate to the point of being needlessly hospitalized and requiring costly residential care.Until that underlying problem is addressed, child advocates say, the problem of families trading custody for treatment will never truly be solved.Out Of OptionsDaniel grew up as the youngest of four children in Ingleside, north of Chicago. As a baby, he had been severely neglected in his birth family — starved and left for dead. The early trauma Daniel experienced very likely affected his brain development, doctors said.Toni home-schooled her children until she had to return to work full time in 2005. She said Daniel, who was 10, just fell apart.“After six weeks of being in a public school classroom — something kids do every day — he couldn’t emotionally handle it and had his first hospitalization,” Toni said.Daniel’s post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety manifested in violent outbursts.“He held knives to people’s throats,” Toni said. “He tried putting his fingers and his tongue in the light sockets. He broke almost every door in the house.”In the car, there were times he’d reach over and grab the wheel while Toni was driving, to try to force the car into oncoming traffic. Other times, he would lash out at his siblings.“At the same time, he’s a little boy,” she said. “He didn’t want to be that way. He didn’t like being that way.”Despite Toni and Jim’s efforts to help their son with therapy and medication, the violence escalated, and Daniel was repeatedly hospitalized.Although his doctors and therapists said he needed residential treatment, which would run at least $100,000 a year, both the family’s private health insurance, and Daniel’s secondary Medicaid coverage, denied coverage.So the Hoys applied for a state grant meant for children with severe emotional disorders. They also asked for help from Daniel’s school district, which is supposed to cover a portion of the costs when students need long-term, off-site care. They were denied both.“We were told we had to pay out-of-pocket for it,” Toni said.Then one night, Daniel picked up his brother Chip, threw him down the stairs and punched him over and over before their dad pulled the boys apart.Daniel went back to the hospital for the 11th time in two years. That’s when the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services gave the Hoys an ultimatum.“[They] basically said, ‘If you bring him home, we’re going to charge you with child endangerment for failure to protect your other kids,’” Toni remembered. “‘And if you leave him at the hospital, we’ll charge you with neglect.’”“If any of our other kids got hurt once we brought him home, they would take the other kids,” Jim said. “They put our backs against the wall, and they didn’t give us any options.” So the couple left Daniel at the hospital.Once the state’s child welfare agency steps in to take custody, the agency will place the child in residential treatment and pay for it, said Robert Farley Jr., a lawyer in Naperville, Ill., another Chicago suburb.“So you get residential services, but then you’ve given up custody of your child,” Farley said. “Which is, you know, barbaric. You have to give up your child to get something necessary.”Taking It To The CourtsThe Hoys were investigated by DCFS and charged with neglect. They appealed in court and the charge was later amended to a “no-fault dependency,” meaning the child entered state custody at no fault of the parents.They didn’t know where Daniel was for several weeks, until he phoned from the group home where he had been placed to tell them he was OK.Losing custody meant Toni and Jim could visit Daniel and maintain contact with him, but they could not make decisions regarding his care.Over the next three years, Daniel lived at three residential treatment centers. One was five hours away by car. His parents visited as often as they could.Toni spent months reading up on federal Medicaid law, and she learned the state-federal health insurance program is supposed to cover all medically necessary treatments for eligible children.The Hoys hired a lawyer and, two years after giving Daniel up, they sued the state in 2010.Six months later, they settled out of court and regained custody of Daniel, who was 15 by then. They also got the money to pay for Daniel’s care on their own.Around the same time, Farley, the attorney, decided to take on the issue on behalf of all Medicaid-eligible children in the state. He filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming Illinois illegally withheld services from children with severe mental health disorders.“There [are] great federal laws,” he said. “But someone’s not out there enforcing them.”In his lawsuit, Farley cited the state’s own data, showing that 18,000 children in Illinois have a severe emotional or behavioral disorder, yet only about 200 receive intensive mental health treatment.As part of a settlement, a federal judge ordered Illinois Medicaid officials to completely overhaul the state system so that kids get home- and community-based treatment in the early stages of their illness.The deadline for the state to roll out those changes is this month.A Law That Didn’t Fix The ProblemWhile these legal battles were taking place, Illinois lawmakers began their own work to ensure that parents no longer have to relinquish custody to get their kids the help they need.Related StoriesEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsOnline training program helps managers to support employees’ mental health needsResearchers set out to define recommended ‘dosage’ of work for optimal wellbeingThe Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act, which became law in 2015, ordered six state agencies that interact with children and families to intervene when a family is considering giving up custody to get access to services.“I think the question is: Shouldn’t government be stepping in and doing their job? And they’re not,” said Democratic state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz. “We just want them to do their job.”B.J. Walker, head of Illinois’ child welfare agency, said the reasons for custody relinquishments are complex.“If law could fix problems, we’d have a different world,” she said.In some places, waitlists for residential treatment beds for kids in crisis can be months long.But even when beds are available, Walker said, some facilities are simply unwilling or unable to take a child who has a severe mental health condition or a co-occurring medical condition.Out of desperation, some parents will give up custody in the hope of getting their child to the top of the waiting list. But that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.As ProPublica Illinois reports, many foster children languish for months in psychiatric wards that are ill-equipped to provide long-term care because the state is unable to place them in an appropriate therapeutic setting. Walker’s agency is being sued for allegedly forcing children to “remain in locked psychiatric wards, causing immense harm,” for weeks or months after they’ve been cleared for discharge.The Underlying IssueNeil Skene, spokesman for Illinois’ child welfare agency, said there are more options for families like the Hoys today than there were a decade ago. That includes a crisis-stabilization program launched in 2017 that helps families get access to services.When the child welfare agency is blamed for this problem, Skene said, it’s like when a pitcher comes in at the end of a losing game to save the day and gets tagged with the loss.Some mental health advocates agree it’s not fair to fault the state’s child welfare agency for a problem that stems from a chronically underfunded mental health system.Heather O’Donnell, a mental health advocate who works for Thresholds, a behavioral health treatment provider in Chicago, blames years of inadequate funding in Illinois and across the U.S.Early-intervention services are either not available or not accessible because insurance companies deny coverage.“If these kids had leukemia or diabetes, they would’ve gotten help long, long before,” O’Donnell said. “It’s because they have a mental health condition that causes their behavior to be challenging and erratic. And as a society, we sweep these conditions under the rug until there’s a crisis. We just wait for tragedy.”“What Illinois needs to put into place is a system that helps these families early on, so that these kids never get hospitalized,” O’Donnell said.Beth Stroul, who has been studying the problem of custody relinquishment for decades, agrees. She is the lead researcher on a new study — commissioned by the federal government and carried out by the University of Maryland — that explores why the problem persists.Stroul said other states, including Georgia and New Jersey, have passed laws and stepped up efforts to help children get treatment while in parental custody.“But those strategies, in and of themselves, are not sufficient unless there are home- and community-based services available that provide the supports and treatment needed to keep children and families safe in the community,” Stroul said.The Difference Treatment And Family Can MakeDaniel Hoy is now 24 and has been out of residential treatment — and stable — for six years.He said treatment was tough, and he would not have gotten better without his parents’ love and support. “It was never a question in my mind that my parents would always be there for me,” he said. “Sometimes it’s so hard to do it for yourself. It almost helps to know that I’m doing it for myself, but I’m also doing it for my family and for our relationship.”Daniel now works nights for a shipping company and lives with his girlfriend and their toddler daughter in central Illinois, not far from his parents.“I just love having a relationship with him,” Jim said. “I feel so privileged that [when] he’s having a bad day, he comes over and talks to us about it.”Toni said, looking back, it’s shameful that families get torn apart by a system that’s supposed to be supportive.She is grateful they made it through intact. Other families that have gone through this same thing, she said, have lost touch with their child forever. “Kids do need services,” Toni said. “But they also need the support of their families.”This story is part of NPR’s reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media and Kaiser Health News. A longer version of this story appears in The Workaround podcast. Christine Herman is a recipient of a Rosalynn Carter fellowship for mental health journalism. KHN’s coverage of children’s health care issues is supported in part by the Heising-Simons Foundation.last_img read more

Stem cellbased approach to diabetes offers hope for treatment

first_imgWe’ve been able to overcome a major weakness in the way these cells previously had been developed. The new insulin-producing cells react more quickly and appropriately when they encounter glucose. The cells behave much more like beta cells in people who don’t have diabetes.”Jeffrey Millman, Principal Investigator Millman had previously been involved in a study where skin cells from a diabetes patient were converted into stem cells and then treated with a combination of factors to turn them into insulin-secreting beta cells.The resulting cells, however, were not as effective as the researchers had hoped. Although they secreted insulin in response to glucose, they acted more like re hydrants, either making a lot of insulin or none at all, explains Millman: “The new cells are more sensitive and secrete insulin that better corresponds to the glucose levels.”As recently reported in the journal Stem Cell Reports, Millman and team made various changes to the “recipe” used when growing the insulin-producing beta cells from human stem cells.They applied different factors to the cells at different times as they developed, to help them mature and to improve their function. The new cells were then transplanted into diabetic mice that had their immune systems supressed to prevent transplant rejection.The insulin-producing cells were able to control blood glucose effectively. They essentially cured the diabetes for a period of several months, which was generally the duration of the animals’ lifespan.Millman is uncertain of when the new approach may be ready for testing in human trials, but he thinks there are at least two approaches that could be assessed in people.One would be encapsulating the cells in something like a gel with pores small enough to prevent immune cells entering but large enough to let insulin out, he suggests.”Another idea would be to use gene-editing tools to alter the genes of beta cells in ways that would allow them to ‘hide’ from the immune system after implantation.”If the approach is proved to be safe and effective for people with diabetes, manufacture could be ramped up to the industrial scale, says Millman. His team have already grown more than a billion of the stem cell-derived beta cells in no more than a few weeks. By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Jan 17 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have managed to refine a stem-cell based approach to treating diabetes that improves how recipients respond to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood.Nixx Photography | ShutterstockScientists have previously worked with stem cells to transform them into insulin-producing beta cells, but until now, they have had difficulty controlling how much insulin the resulting cells produce.Now, principal investigator Jeffrey Millman and colleagues have tweaked the “recipe” for producing these beta cells and made them more effective.When the newly developed cells were transplanted into mice incapable of producing insulin, the cells started secreting insulin within just a few days and continued to control blood sugar effectively for months.center_img Source:New hope for stem cell approach to treating diabetes.last_img read more

Study Food insecurity adversely impacts learning ability of adolescents

first_img Strengthening food-for-education preschool programmes by, for example, including breakfast or take-home rations in vulnerable areas; Improving the nutritional content of food received through the public distribution system for households with pre-schoolers; Strengthening the overall quality of early years education for ensuring a strong head-start. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 10 2019Food insecurity–that is, limited access to sufficient safe and nutritious food at home–negatively impacts on the learning ability of adolescents in India, new research shows.The research team investigated inequalities in learning achievements at 12 years by examining test scores. They then looked at whether food insecurity at home at the ages of 5, 8 and 12 was linked to lower test scores at age 12.Some 47% of children studied had experienced household ‘food insecurity’ – including skipping meals, eating less when needed and families not having enough money to put food on the table – at some stage during the observation period.And 18% of the wealthiest of families in the study had also experienced insecurity, highlighting that food insecurity is not exclusively a matter of poverty.Food insecurity at all ages hampered learning. The data showed lower vocabulary, reading, maths, local language (Telugu) and English scores in early adolescence.Children who suffered food insecurity at age 5 or chronic food insecurity had the lowest scores across all outcomes. Early and chronic food insecurity were the most consistent predictor of impaired cognitive skills at 12 years, particularly reading and vocabulary development.Food insecurity in mid-childhood and early adolescence were associated with impaired ability in maths and English.These differences by subject suggest that the influence of food insecurity is not universal throughout childhood.For subjects such as reading and vocabulary, establishing foundational skills early on is very important. Early life food insecurity may disrupt building these baseline skills.For subjects such as maths, where learning at one level builds directly upon learning at the previous level, food insecurity at any time may derail current and future learning.Through lower learning levels, food insecurity during childhood can have ripple effects for future earnings and health, which matters both for individuals and for the economic development of the country overall.The research, ‘Inequalities in adolescent learning: Does the timing and persistence of food insecurity at home matter?’ was written by Dr Elisabetta Aurino, Imperial College, London, Dr Jasmine Fledderjohann, a researcher at Lancaster University, and Dr Sukumar Vellakkal, of BITS Pilani, Goa.Related StoriesScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustrySchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchIt was published online in the Economics of Education Review journal today.This is the first paper of its kind to look at adolescent learning differences and household food insecurities at three stages of childhood – early, mid and adolescence – in India.The data, involving almost 2,000, was taken from the Young Lives Study in India.The research team hope their study findings will inform educational programmes targeting children at a higher risk of food insecurity – in tribal areas, urban slums and remote areas -providing them with extra educational support.They also want their findings to be used by policy-makers working in food programmes and other social protection to devise potential ways in which those schemes can enhance their educational sensitiveness.Based on their findings about 5-year-olds, they suggest: They have prepared a special policy brief on Site4Society focusing on relevance of findings to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, urging policymakers to take up a range of quick fire solutions.Dr Jasmine Fledderjohann, of Lancaster University’s Sociology Department, said: “Our findings really highlight how even very early experiences of food insecurity can have a lasting impact on outcomes across the life course.”Dr Elisabetta Aurino, of Imperial College, added: “These effects are above and beyond factors such as schooling itself, nutrition, and children’s individual characteristics because we have accounted for these potential alternative explanations in our models. So, the findings are very robust.”Source: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/too-hungry-to-learn-new-research-provides-food-for-thoughtlast_img read more

Higher levels of physical activity not linked to greater volume or activity

first_imgStudies that analyze the effect of regular physical activity, from a molecular point of view, are necessary to help us understand the mechanisms that mediate the therapeutic effects of exercise in humans.”Francisco Miguel Acosta Manzano, doctoral student in Biomedicine, UGR’s International School for Postgraduate Studies Source:University of GranadaJournal reference:Acosta, F.M. et al. (2019) Association of objectively measured physical activity with brown adipose tissue volume and activity in young adults. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. doi.org/10.1210/jc.2018-01312. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 5 2019A study conducted by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) has found that, in contrast to scientific thinking to date, higher levels of physical activity are not linked to a greater volume or activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT is a thermogenic organ that burns glucose and fats, releasing the energy that is produced in the form of heat.When BAT is activated, it consumes glucose and lipids, partially preventing them from being stored in other tissues, such as white adipose tissue (or common fat), which is located, for example, around the abdomen.Over the last decade, several studies have unequivocally confirmed the presence of BAT in human adults. BAT is a thermogenic organ equipped to dissipate energy in the form of heat through the so-called “uncoupling protein”. Therefore, it has been postulated that generating a greater volume of BAT, and increasing its activity, could be a potential strategy for combatting obesity and associated comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes.Researchers have tended to channel their efforts into identifying strategies to help improve BAT function safely over the long term. On this premise, previous studies have suggested that raising levels of physical activity could be an effective strategy for increasing the volume and activity of BAT. However, the data from extant studies conducted on humans are both scarce and contradictory.In this new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the UGR scientists investigate, for the first time, the link between objectively-measured levels of physical activity and the quantity and activity of BAT. The latter are measured by means of proton-emission tomography combined with computed tomography (using a radiopharmaceutical known as18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose). This study was performed on a sample of sedentary young adults, whose BAT was measured (the largest cohort of its kind to date). The sample comprised 87 women and 43 men, with an average age of 22 years.Related StoriesLiver fat biomarker levels linked with metabolic health benefits of exercise, study findsMetabolic enzyme tied to obesity and fatty liver diseaseWeightlifting is better for the heart than cardioThis study was part of the ACTIBATE (Activating Brown Adipose Tissue Through Exercise) project (http://profith.ugr.es/actibate), which was implemented by the University of Granada during 2014-2017. It was funded by Spain’s then-Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, via the Health Research Fund of the Carlos III Institute of Health (PI13/01393).No link identifiedThe authors of the article observed that there was no link between the levels of physical activity and the volume and activity of BAT, even after adjusting the analyses for covariables that could be influencing the results. Nor was the time spent being sedentary associated with the volume and activity of BAT, they noted. The authors concluded that, although physical activity is one of the main interventions recommended in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, other mechanisms beyond an increase in the volume and activity of BAT could be mediating its beneficial metabolic effects. These findings contradict the results of previous studies, and call into question the role of exercise in improving BAT function.last_img read more

Safer airport approaches with 3D satellitebased navigation

first_img Citation: Safer airport approaches with 3-D satellite-based navigation (2018, July 12) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-safer-airport-approaches-d-satellite-based.html Provided by CORDIS Credit: beeboys, Shutterstock More information: BLUEGNSS project website: www.bluemed.aero/ This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. EGNOS augments the U.S. GPS system for safer skies Explore further BLUEGNSS’s focus has been on advancing the adoption of the European global navigation satellite system (GNSS) in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta. The four countries together form the BLUE MED functional airspace block (FAB), airspace in which air traffic is managed irrespective of national boundaries. BLUE MED is one of the nine FABs formed in Europe in order to reduce the fragmentation of the European air traffic network.Three-dimensional GNSS approaches are being designed for 11 airports in the BLUE MED FAB: 4 each in Greece and Italy, 2 in Cyprus and 1 in Malta. The primary aim is to harmonise the implementation of required navigation performance approaches among the four countries. This will enable aircraft to fly along precise flight paths with greater accuracy, and will make it possible to pinpoint aircraft position with precision and integrity. So far, substantial progress has been made towards safety and airport accessibility in the target countries. Since the beginning of 2018, three new GNSS procedures have been validated for Italian airports Cuneo, Lamezia and Parma, followed by another two for Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus. The poor weather conditions under which the Cyprus GNSS approaches were validated served to demonstrate the benefits of GNSS vertical guidance. Since its launch in 2016, BLUEGNSS has designed and validated 14 GNSS procedures. Augmented performance of Europe’s GNSS, Galileo, has been achieved through the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS). EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves GNSS positioning. Its 3 satellites and network of more than 39 reference stations in 24 countries enable it to provide greater accuracy than Galileo alone. EGNOS’s safety advantages and lower investment costs greatly benefit small and regional airports, which usually can’t afford the high costs of installing and maintaining ground-based navigation aids. For this reason, BLUEGNSS has promoted its use in this geographically challenging Mediterranean region. “Today the southeast Mediterranean region lacks full EGNOS coverage,” said GNSS expert Patrizio Vanni of ENAV S.p.A., project coordinator and Italy’s air navigation service provider, in a news item posted on the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency’s website. “To make things even more challenging, each airport involved in the project presents a very different operational environment.”The project hasn’t only focused on designing and validating GNSS approaches at airports where no such procedures have been available up to now. It has also provided the necessary training and monitoring in order to support implementation by the BLUE MED FAB countries. Now close to completion, BLUEGNSS (Promoting EGNSS Operational Adoption in BLUEMED FAB) is the first project of its kind to be coordinated at FAB level. It may serve as a catalyst to spread required navigation performance approach know-how in the region and beyond, to the whole of Europe. As air traffic grows in Europe’s skies, so does the challenge to ensure that its airports are safely accessible at all times. BLUEGNSS, a project supported by the EU, has been developing global satellite navigation applications in selected European airports to increase safety and airport accessibility.last_img read more