Virtual colonoscopy can help jumpstart the transition to screening Americans starting at

first_img Source:https://www.acr.org/Media-Center/ACR-News-Releases/2018/Virtual-Colonoscopy-Can-Attract-Younger-Americans-to-Follow-New-ACS-Guidelines May 31 2018Virtual colonoscopy (CT Colonography) – shown to increase colorectal cancer screening rates at a lower cost than standard colonoscopy – can help jump-start the transition to screening Americans starting at age 45 as new American Cancer Society Screening guidelines recommend.Virtual colonoscopy is an American Cancer Society-recommended screening exam for those at average risk for the disease. It is as accurate as standard colonoscopy in most people and is far less invasive. A CT scanner uses high-tech, low-dose X-rays to generate 3-D, moving images of the colon that doctors examine for polyps and signs of cancer.Related StoriesNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerLiving with advanced breast cancerTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancer”Virtual colonoscopy does not require sedation. It is over in minutes. You can go back to daily activities and you don’t need anyone to drive you home. This can appeal to the many Americans ages 45–50 that the new American Cancer Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines recommend to be screened,” said Judy Yee, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee.Thirty-seven states require insurance policies to cover virtual colonoscopy. Insurers who take part in federal exchanges are required by the Affordable Care Act to cover the exam without patient cost sharing. CIGNA, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and others cover the test irrespective of ACA requirements.”Insurers should recognize the new American Cancer Society Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines and provide full coverage for virtual colonoscopy and the other ACS-recommended screening exams for beneficiaries ages 45 and older,” said Yee.Colorectal cancer deaths are declining, but shocking disparities remain. United States Latinos are more likely to die from the disease than those in many Central and South American countries. African Americans are far more likely to die from colorectal cancer than whites. Members of both groups are less likely to get screened. Their cancers are diagnosed at a later stage than whites.”Virtual colonoscopy can help increase screening in underserved areas and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer outcomes, but only if Americans have covered-access to all ACS-recommended screening exams through private insurers and ultimately Medicare,” said Yee.last_img read more

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Twodrug combination provides more reliable effective care for women suffering miscarriage

first_imgJun 7 2018Two-drug combination shows increased efficacy to help women avoid surgical procedures following miscarriageA combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol can help bring closure to some women and their families suffering from miscarriage, and reduces the need for surgical intervention to complete the painful miscarriage process. Results of a new clinical trial led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, show that while the standard drug regimen using misoprostol on its own frequently fails to complete the miscarriage, a combination of misoprostol and the drug mifepristone works much more reliably. The report is published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.Each year in the United States alone approximately 1 million women have miscarriages. When the body does not expel the pregnancy tissue on its own – the final part of a miscarriage – women need to undergo a surgical procedure or take the drug misoprostol. Though often preferable for its convenience and privacy – patients can take it in the comfort of their own homes – misoprostol does not always work, and many women who use misoprostol are still left with no option but to undergo an invasive procedure they wished to avoid, prolonging an already physically and emotionally difficult situation.”Though rarely discussed openly, miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy, and the public health burden is both physical and psychological. For too many women, misoprostol alone just leads to frustration. I have seen my patients suffer from the insult of the treatment failure added to the injury of the initial loss,” said study lead author Courtney A. Schreiber, MD, MPH, chief of the division of Family Planning and an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “As physicians, we have to do better for these patients, and our new study shows that by combining mifepristone with misoprostol, we can.”Mifepristone is used along with misoprostol to induce abortion in early pregnancy. But the effectiveness of mifepristone-misoprostol for miscarriage patients, in comparison to the commonly used misoprostol alone, has been unclear.Related Stories’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyIn the new study, 300 women who had been diagnosed with early pregnancy loss – described as a miscarriage in the first trimester – were assigned to receive the standard 800 micrograms of misoprostol placed vaginally. Half were also randomly assigned to receive pretreatment with a 200 mg pill of mifepristone, which primes the uterus to respond to misoprostol’s contraction-inducing effect.The researchers found that overall, 91.2 percent of women receiving the mifepristone pretreatment plus misoprostol experienced gestational sac expulsion -; the definition of a completed miscarriage -; 83.8 percent by their first follow-up visit, which occurred two days after the treatment on average. Misoprostol alone was only effective 75.8 percent of the time, with 67.1 percent completing by their first follow up visit.The researchers looked at a variety of outcomes in the study, and essentially all were better for the women taking mifepristone plus misoprostol. Patients assigned to this group, for example, had a much lower chance (8.8 percent) of needing a surgical intervention by day 30, compared to 23.5 percent for the misoprostol-alone group. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of pain, bleeding, or other side-effects. Notably, serious side effects were rare in both groups.Mifepristone is a highly regulated medication. At present, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the drug be dispensed only in registered hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, but not in retail pharmacies. Schreiber says that physicians who wish to treat women with miscarriages – including but not limited to physicians in obstetrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and family medicine – should consider registration.”High-quality care for women who suffer miscarriage not only improves physical outcomes, but helps alleviate the psychosocial stress that can accompany the loss of a pregnancy,” she says. “Given how common miscarriage is and the effectiveness of the drug combination as shown in this new study, any doctor who cares for women who become pregnant, and therefore could have a miscarriage, should be registered to prescribe and dispense mifepristone.”​ Source:https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2018/june/drug-combination-offers-more-effective-care-for-patients-suffering-miscarriage-penn-study-showslast_img read more

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Long term effects of Zika virus exposure during pregnancy studied

first_imgZika was declared an emergency in 2016 after large number of cases were reported from Brazil. The pregnant women affected with the virus gave birth to babies with very small heads and damaged and immature brains. This condition was called microcephaly. Doctors soon found that these babies also developed other problems such as epilepsy, vision loss and problems with development.This new study report or the Vital Signs report followed 1450 babies who have been exposed to the Zika virus. These babies were one year old in February 2018. It was found that 6 percent of the exposed babies were born with birth defects while 14 percent developed certain health problems that could be attributed to the virus by the time the child turned one. Margaret Honein director of the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that this study showed the “full spectrum of impact” of Zika on the children. The study was released yesterday by the CDC and Honein said in a statement, “This is really our first look at how these children are doing as they grow and develop, and really emphasizes that the Zika story is not over, particularly for these children.” What is the Zika Virus? Zika Diagnosis Zika Prevention Zika Symptoms Zika Tramsmission Zika Treatment Zika Vaccine Development Zika Virus in Pregnant Women Zika Virus History Zika virus in blood with red blood cells, a virus which causes Zika fever found in Brazil and other tropical countries. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock Further Reading By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDAug 7 2018Zika is a mosquito borne virus that can be dangerous in pregnant women as it can cause severe congenital malformations and damage to the baby. The extent of danger however is not known and a large study followed children who were exposed to this virus during their time within the womb. Last year the CDC reported that 5 percent of the babies exposed to the Zika virus were born with microcephaly and this study reveals that there are other problems that appear as the child grows. This new study included babies born in U.S. territories such as American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and US Virgin Islands. The risk of microcephaly was found to be 6 percent – higher than speculated before. Further 1 in 7 babies (14 percent) were likely to develop other problems as well. The study found that 20 babies who were born with a normal head circumference developed microcephaly by the time they were one year old. According to Honein, this was occurring because of the impaired brain development among these babies.Honein explained that these babies that seemed apparently normal at birth developed problems with development, cognitive problems, difficulties in walking, swallowing, moving and also developed seizures. She said, “It’s really important that parents and doctors work together to make sure children get all the evaluations they need, even if they look healthy when they are born.” She said that they had found that only one in three babies exposed to Zika in utero were routinely checked for eye problems. “We are still in the early stages of learning about Zika. So we don’t yet know what sort of problems might emerge when the children are 2 years old or 3 years old or when they reach school age,” Honein said. She warned that the transmission of the virus is still active and there could be more outbreaks in future and parents should be aware of the damage this virus could cause.The CDC this week also released guidelines for men who have been exposed to the Zika virus and have asked them to wait for at least three months after contracting the virus before they can conceive to stop the transmission of the virus to the female partner and in turn the unborn baby. Earlier the guidelines had suggested a six month wait. At present there are no vaccines against Zika virus.last_img read more

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Common ADHD drug may cause adverse psychotic side effects

first_img Source:https://www.exeley.com/newsFeature/company/08162018/173 Aug 22 2018In the scientific article recently published in Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, Erica Ramstad and others reviewed the existing evidence between various psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, problems with concentration or anxiety with methylphenidate, a drug commonly prescribed as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.Methylphenidate is a stimulant that increases the activity of the central nervous system, helps to combat fatigue, improves attention and maintains alertness. Its medial use medical use began in 1960 and continues to grow since, reaching global consumption of 2.4 billion doses in 2013. Clinical studies confirmed safety and effectiveness of the drug and proved that its long-term usage reduces abnormalities in brain structure and function usually associated with ADHD syndrome.Related StoriesComputer-generated flu vaccine enters clinical trials in the USScientists discover how resistance to the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil arisesInnovative single-chip platform speeds up drug development processCurrently around around 5.3% children and adolescents worldwide suffer from ADHD condition. Psychostimulants, including methylphenidate, are first-choice drug treatment. Ramstad and others examined whether methylphenidate increases the risk of psychotic symptoms in children and adolescents affected with the illness. Although the amount and quality of existing data did not allow them to draw any strong conclusions, their research suggests that possible adverse symptoms may affect around 1.1% to 2.5% of ADHD patients treated with methylphenidate.The article and its findings are of great importance for patients, physicians and caregivers who should be aware of possible adverse effects of the drug. In case of appearance of psychotic symptoms during the methylphenidate medication, clinicians should be able to address the problem, reduce or stop stimulant medication and ensure proper treatment.last_img read more

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Research team to investigate how blood flow influences formation of plaque

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Aug 30 2018Atherosclerosis-;the narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup-;is the underlying reason for the majority of strokes and heart attacks. When atherosclerosis occurs in the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle, it is called coronary artery disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans.Biomedical Engineering Professor Rita Alevriadou has spent most of her career, which spans two decades, on cardiovascular disease. Her current research on the effects of blood flow on our artery walls recently earned attention and funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).While much about atherosclerosis is unknown, most medical researchers agree that it begins with damage to the endothelium, the arteries’ smooth interior surface. Damage to the layer of endothelial cells leads to the formation of plaque, made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances and cells in the blood. High blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, cigarette smoking and diabetes are often cited as the most common causes of the damage.But in an effort to better understand the disease’s initiation and progression, Alevriadou and her research team want to go with the flow. More precisely, how the flow of blood in our arteries, also known as hemodynamics, contributes to the endothelial damage.Decades ago, according to Alevriadou, bioengineering pioneers discovered that plaques develop on the inner walls of curvatures and the outer wall of artery bifurcations-;or forks. Since then, Alevriadou and other researchers around the world have focused on how blood flow in these arterial locations affects the function of endothelial cells.”My research is focused on the very initial event, when the endothelial cells start to lose their normal function and respond to damage,” she said. “If we understand these initial effects and keep the endothelial cells healthy, we can delay the progression of cardiovascular disease.”Alevriadou’s team is particularly interested in the inner workings of endothelial cells-;called intracellular signaling-;when they are exposed to different types of blood flow, specifically pulsatile and oscillatory. Pulsatile flow is in rhythm with the heartbeat, occurs in the straight parts of arteries and is characterized by high mean flow rates. Oscillatory flow occurs in arterial curvatures and bifurcations and is characterized by low-;close to zero-;mean flow rates.”We know that the areas in arteries that develop atherosclerosis are the ones that are exposed to a certain flow profile, specifically oscillatory flow, or oscillatory shear stress,” Alevriadou said.Related StoriesNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustIn the lab, the research team cultures human or bovine endothelial cells on slides, which are then inserted into perfusion chambers. A pump propels cultured media through the chambers, mimicking blood flow over the cells. Under the microscope, they observe in real-time how intracellular components behave, especially the mitochondria, the cell’s power plant.A $1.8 million, four-year NIH grant will fund their investigation of calcium transport in and out of the mitochondria as the potential origin of endothelial dysfunction and damage that can initiate and propagate atherosclerosis.Alevriadou’s collaborator is University of Texas Health San Antonio Endowed Professor of Medicine Dr. Madesh Muniswamy. A mitochondrial calcium expert, he provided endothelial cell lines and transgenic mouse models enabling focus on the calcium channel called mitochondrial calcium uni­porter (MCU), which allows calcium to go into the mitochondria. The regular function of cells depends heavily on calcium and how it responds to different stimuli acting upon the cells. In this case, the stimulus acting upon the endothelial cells is blood flow or shear stress.”In the literature, the majority of research is on cell responses to chemical stimuli,” Alevriadou said. “That’s where bioengineers separate ourselves from biologists and biochemists. We study cell responses to mechanical or electrical stimuli.”The team has hypothesized that under oscillatory shear stress, the MCU may not operate as intended, leading to cell dysfunction, which may contribute to atherosclerotic disease.”When the mitochondria are dysfunctional, they create a lot of free radicals that damage cellular components leading to cell dysfunction or apoptosis,” she added.By mimicking artery hemodynamics, Alevriadou hopes to discover mechanochemical phenomena related to calcium in the mitochondria that may lead to better drugs or treatments for cardiovascular diseases.”I believe the NIH wants to see innovative ideas, especially those that come from collaborative efforts between engineering and medicine,” she said. “Our initial goal is to identify a critical target, then discover and test small molecules that might modify the activity of the MCU.”​ Source:https://news.osu.edu/research-to-examine-how-blood-flow-influences-plaque-buildup/last_img read more

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Thirty thousand square kilometers of land lost to oil and gas development

first_img Industry has drilled more than 2 million wells since 1900. The displaced productivity of well sites amid croplands (red) is higher than those in rangelands (green). Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email B. W. ALLRED ET AL., SCIENCE Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The study is a mash-up of two types of data. Allred paid tens of thousands of dollars to private sources and state regulators to get the location of well sites. The researchers found that, since 1900, more than 2 million wells have been drilled, and most of that has happened in two spurts—one beginning in the mid-1970s with the OPEC oil embargo, and the other beginning in 2000 with the advent of directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and other techniques that make it easier to extract oil and gas from tight rock formations. In the last decade, they found, industry has been sinking more than 50,000 wells a year. “Whenever we tell people there are 50,000 wells being drilled per year, they think we’re crazy,” says co-author Steven Running, a University of Montana ecologist. “Nobody has any idea of the magnitude of this.” All across North America, patches of land are being taken over by the rigs, roads, and storage facilities of thousands of oil and gas drilling operations. Now, for the first time, a study tallies up the land area they consume: 30,000 square kilometers—an area equivalent to three Yellowstone National Parks.“For all intents and purposes, these are parking lots,” says Brady Allred, an ecologist at the University of Montana, Missoula, who led the study, published online today in Science. “The question is: How long are they going to stay this way?”The authors acknowledge that there are benefits from the operations—namely, energy—and also that the lost land is a small fraction of North America’s total area. But they say the well sites are rarely remediated and replanted, and so the cumulative impact could begin to take its toll through the degradation of animal habitats and the loss of plants, which sop up carbon dioxide. The researchers combined the well locations with satellite imagery to arrive at estimates of the plant productivity lost when the dirt and gravel of a graded site replaces cropland or rangeland. The amount of lost biomass in croplands alone is equivalent to 120 million bushels of wheat, or 13% of what the United States exported in 2013, the team reports. And the collective toll of drilling from 2000 to 2012 means that the landscape has lost the ability to soak up 4.5 teragrams of carbon per year. That number pales in comparison to the 1000 teragrams of carbon per year taken up across the entire study area in croplands and rangelands, Allred acknowledges. But Running points out that the impact of drilling extends beyond the numbers, especially for animals such as sagebrush grouse or mule deer. “They get a sense of the human presence,” he says. “There’s a substantial disruption that’s more than just the well pad itself.”Some researchers say the landscape impacts of oil and gas drilling are far from unique. Jeremy Weber, a natural resource economist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, says the situation is not so different from farmers selling land to developers for housing tracts. “I would see it as equivalent to suburban sprawl—gobbling up farmland and turning it into housing developments.”And Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for Energy In Depth, an outreach organization in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the oil industry, points out in a statement that renewable energy sources also take up space. “Any type of energy development, whether it’s a natural gas well or a wind farm, is going to have some kind of ecological footprint,” she says. With the directional drilling that is now in vogue, the size of well operations can shrink, too, she adds. “Companies are now drilling multiple wells on a single well pad, and these are wells that can stretch miles underground, greatly reducing the surface land footprint.”Allred would like to see more stringent standards for remediation of well sites after drilling is completed. That is already happening in some regions. In Pennsylvania, for instance, regulators require that drillers set aside and save topsoil, return the drill site to its original contours, and reseed it.In the meantime, he’s just glad he can finally affix a number to the collective area associated with oil and gas development in the heartland. “We all use energy and there are tradeoffs,” he says. “But we need to quantify these tradeoffs.”last_img read more

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Talking science and God with the popes new chief astronomer

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 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 Emailcenter_img ROME—On 18 September, Pope Francis appointed Jesuit brother Guy Consolmagno as the new director of the Vatican Observatory, which employs a dozen astronomers to study asteroids, meteorites, extrasolar planets, stellar evolution, and cosmology. The observatory is based at the pope’s summer residence south of Rome and operates a 1.8-meter telescope in Arizona, where the skies are clearer.Consolmagno, 63, grew up in the Detroit, Michigan, area and has a Ph.D. in planetary science. He carried out postdoctoral research and taught astronomy before becoming a Jesuit in 1989. Four years later, he joined the Vatican Observatory, where he studies meteorites and asteroids. “Guy is a true all-around scientist,” says Daniel Britt, an astronomer at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, who has worked with Consolmagno. “He is always willing to learn, and willing to take the risks associated with breaking new ground. On top of all that he is one of the best public speakers I have ever seen.”This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Q: Why does the Vatican do astronomy?A: Years ago, when I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [in Cambridge], I asked myself why I was doing astronomy when people are starving. I didn’t have an answer so I went off to Africa with the U.S. Peace Corps. Then I discovered that as soon as I said I was an astronomer, people wanted to know more. They didn’t have running water but they wanted to look through a telescope.Being able to see the sky is something that makes us human. Ours souls have to be fed every bit as much as our stomachs. That realization made me come back and teach astronomy. To my mind, the Vatican supports astronomy because it is an important part of being human. Indeed, we have summer outreach programs every 2 years to take astronomy to people in the developing world who don’t usually get to experience it.Q: When was the observatory created?A: Its roots go back to Pope Gregory XIII’s reform of the calendar in the 16th century, which needed input from astronomers. But it was in the 1890s that Leo XIII founded the institution, to show that science and religion were not opposed to one another, unlike the popular impression given by the Galileo affair. It was also intended to underline the Vatican’s status as an independent country. So its creation came down to a little bit of politics and a little bit of church teaching.You have to remember that the geneticist Gregor Mendel was a monk, while the reigning Big Bang theory of cosmology was devised by a Catholic priest named Georges Lemaître. As scholars, we are open to go wherever the science leads us. Indeed, my job is simply to do good science. We have no agenda beyond that.Q: How much interest does the current pope take in science?A: The previous director of the Vatican Observatory, José Funes, was Argentinian. When thinking of becoming a Jesuit, he asked a senior member of the order whether he should join then or complete his studies in astronomy first; he was advised to finish studying. The Jesuit who gave that advice was Jorge Bergoglio, who is now Pope Francis. Francis, who has a background in chemistry, was encouraging Jesuits to be astronomers 30 years ago.Q: Have Vatican astronomers made major contributions to science?A: I think so, but those contributions are a little bit different to those of other scientists. It’s not that we have an ideology or are getting things through divine inspiration, but we don’t have a 3-year grant cycle to worry about. Typically, we do survey work, which is painstaking and sometimes tedious. For example, in the 1930s the observatory opened a laboratory to measure the spectral lines of metals, and the data it produced are used to interpret stellar spectra to this day.We also have one of the world’s largest collections of meteorites. We catalog their physical and chemical properties and study how small bodies in the solar system form and evolve. But it took years for other people in the field to realize that this was something worth doing. It isn’t going to make the front page but it provides data that everybody else uses.Q: Does God get in the way of doing good astronomy?A: Just the opposite. He is the reason we do astronomy. I would say that is true even if you don’t believe in God. We do it first of all because we can, because the universe acts according to laws. That is a religious idea. The Romans, on the other hand, believed in nature gods that intervene according to whim—but if you believe in that you can’t be a scientist. Believing in a supernatural god is different.You also have to believe that the universe is real and not an illusion. You have to believe that the universe is so good that it is worth spending your life studying it, even if you don’t become rich or famous. That sense that gets you up every morning is the presence of God.Q: What do you hope to achieve as director of the Vatican Observatory?A: First of all, I want to provide space for other astronomers to do their work. And I also want to show the world that religion supports astronomy. It is often religious people who most need to see that; they need to know that astronomy is wonderful and that they shouldn’t be afraid of it. I often quote John Paul II, when he said [of evolution] that “truth cannot contradict truth.” If you think you already know everything about the world, you are not a good scientist, and if you think you know all there is to know about God, then your religious faith is at fault.last_img read more

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Not unexpectedly a new drugresistant superbug pops up in the United States

first_imgOther research has focused on designing new antibiotics that bacterial evolution hasn’t yet anticipated. Last week, chemists at Harvard University described a powerful way to make new variations on the widely used class of antibiotics known as macrolides—a finding that spurred a new company. Meanwhile, governments are trying to find ways to incentivize the costly development of antibiotics—but as a Science feature detailed last year, an unfriendly market makes it hard to persuade companies that the search can be profitable. A new report from U.K. economist Jim O’Neill, also released last week, proposes a list of solutions to the resistance crisis, from new meat labeling practices to $1 billion incentives for drug companies. For years, public health experts have warned us that deadly bacteria are developing resistance to all our available antibiotics. This week, researchers reported the first known U.S. case of an Escherichia coli infection resistant to colistin, a harsh drug seen as a last resort to knock out stubborn infections. The finding, described in the American Society for Microbiology journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, is no big surprise to researchers tracking the rise of resistant bacteria. The resistance gene, known as mcr-1, was discovered in E. coli in China last year, and has since cropped up in Europe.As the United States crosses the same ominous milestone, research to understand resistance and develop new drugs is surging ahead. As Science reported earlier this month, evolutionary biologists have recently revisited old dogma about how best to prescribe antibiotics—revealing that trusted strategies such as using a high dose may not actually help prevent resistance.last_img read more

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Scientists have discovered how to wrap a single drop of oil—without a

first_img By Robert F. ServiceFeb. 15, 2018 , 2:00 PM Scientists have discovered how to wrap a single drop of oil—without a bottle Wrapping holiday gifts can be tough. But imagine how much harder it would be if your gift were a single drop of oil–you’d have to be as clever as you were cheap to figure it out. Now, scientists have discovered how to do just that. First, they coat a pool of water in a thin film of floating plastic sheets. Then, they drizzle in droplets one by one, which hit the plastic with enough force to drive them below the surface. That causes the plastic “wrappers” to envelop the drops—and seal them in a near-perfect seam. Such packaging could be used to encapsulate oil dispersants and release them steadily over time to fight oil spills. What’s more, the technique also works with multiple layers of thin materials. Down the road, capsules with an inner coat that helps preserve a cancer drug and an outer coat that delivers it to cancerous tissue could target drugs to tumor sites. So even a tiny drop might be a gift worth wrapping, after all.last_img read more

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Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By David GrimmMay. 31, 2019 , 12:00 PM Email Q: What prompted you to put cameras on cats? A: One day in 2014, my cat Treacle brought home a merlin. The falcon was as big as she was, and I wondered whether she had really caught it herself—or if she had just grabbed it after it flew into a window. I wanted to keep a video diary of her exploits, so I bought a small camera on the internet; it’s about the diameter of a golf ball, but flatter and much lighter. It can record for about 2.5 hours, and it clips right onto the collar. And it can record in the infrared, so I could track Treacle at night.I collected footage for about 6 months. In that time, I noticed that Treacle vocalized less outside than she did in the house, and that the pitch of the vocalizations was different. She only caught one thing that whole time: a woodmouse. I began wondering if I could do this more scientifically, and follow a larger number of cats, to get a better sense of how they behave when no one is watching.Q: Had similar studies been done on cats before? A: A couple of other studies had put cameras on cats, but they tended to only look at one thing: how often cats cross roads, for example, or how many animals they kill. We wanted to look at a range of behaviors. In some other studies, people directly observed cats. But cats behave much differently when a person is around. When I was outside in the garden with Treacle, she would spend a lot of time sleeping or grooming, probably because she felt protected with me there. When I wasn’t around, she mostly hunted and even interacted with other cats. And you can’t follow a cat when it jumps over a fence.Q: What were the challenges of getting the cats to wear cameras? A: We started with 21 cats, but only 16 tolerated the cameras. The others either started racing around or tried to scratch them off. One mother cat was like this, and when we put the camera on her son, she began hitting him. So we didn’t use either cat.Q: Did the videos reveal any surprises? A: Cats are seen as relatively lazy, especially compared to dogs. But we saw that when they were outside, they became superalert. They scanned their surroundings, sometimes for a half-hour or more on end. And even though cats are highly territorial, they didn’t always fight with other cats they encountered. Often, they just sat a couple of meters away from each other for up to a half an hour. They may have been sizing each other up. Sometimes they would engage in a greeting, briefly touching noses.When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.Q: How do you hope this work will be applied? A: I hope more people put cameras on cats to understand their behavior. There is also debate over whether cats should be kept indoors all the time. If we find that cats seem more bored or stressed out when kept indoors—for example, by pacing, like some animals do at the zoo—that means we need to think more about enriching their indoor lives, or giving them some outside time.Q: You thank the study cats in the paper’s Acknowledgements section. Why?A: I always acknowledge the animals I work with. I’ve been doing that since my Ph.D. thesis. I do feel thankful because if the cats didn’t oblige us, we couldn’t do the study.center_img Ever since video cameras became ultraportable, scientists have strapped them onto animals from sheep to sharks to see how they view and interact with the world around them. But relatively little has been done with cats, perhaps because they’re so hard to work with. Maren Huck is trying to change that. In a study published this month in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the behavioral ecologist at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom placed small cameras on 16 cats and followed them for up to 4 years as they prowled their neighborhoods. Though the study—co-authored by Samantha Watson, an animal behaviorist at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom—was mostly done to gauge the accuracy of the technology, the duo has already made some surprising findings.Huck spoke with Science about the challenges of getting cats to wear video equipment and how the research might dispel some common misconceptions about felines.This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their thing. Here’s what they foundlast_img read more

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Mysterious human relatives moved into penthouse Siberian cave 100000 years earlier than

first_img By Ann GibbonsJan. 30, 2019 , 1:00 PM Mysterious human relatives moved into ‘penthouse’ Siberian cave 100,000 years earlier than thought Email RICHARD ROBERTS Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img With its light-filled main gallery and sweeping views of the Altai Mountains of southern Russia, Denisova Cave was a Stone Age version of a Manhattan penthouse. Overlooking the Anui River, where herds of animals came to drink, it offered an unparalleled vantage for spotting game and other humans, as well as refuge from Siberian storms. Generations of Neanderthals, their Denisovan cousins, and modern humans enjoyed the view.But when did each group reside there? The timing could yield clues to how these diverse humans interacted and shed new light on the most enigmatic of the three, the Denisovans, who are known only from DNA and scrappy fossils from this cave. Denisova’s human fossils and artifacts have been notoriously difficult to date because of the complex layering of sediments in its three chambers. Now, two teams have combined state-of-the-art dating methods to create a timeline of the cave’s occupants.For the Denisovans, the results—reported in Nature this week—paint a portrait of endurance. They first moved in 287,000 years ago, more than 100,000 years earlier than had been thought, and then occupied the cave off and on through shifting climates until 55,000 years ago, a period when Neanderthals also came and went. “The general picture is now clear,” says archaeologist Robin Dennell of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, who was not a member of the teams. Ever since DNA extracted from a girl’s tiny pinkie bone found in the cave revealed that she belonged to a formerly unknown type of human, researchers have been trying to nail down when the Denisovans lived. In 2015, several samples of cut-marked animal bones and charcoal found near the pinkie bone yielded radiocarbon dates of at least 50,000 years, at the oldest limit of the method. But that was a minimum age because bone fragments, teeth, and DNA from four other Denisovans and from a young woman whose DNA shows she had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father have also been found in the cave, some in deeper, older layers. One tooth might have been as old as 170,000 years.Those older dates had wide margins of error. So, Russian Academy of Sciences archaeologists who have been excavating at Denisova for 40 years invited geochronologists Zenobia Jacobs and Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia to try state-of-the-art optical dating methods. Optical dating reveals when single grains of quartz or potassium feldspar in a sample of sediment were last exposed to sunlight and, thus, when the sediment was deposited. By measuring 280,000 individual grains of these minerals in more than 100 samples collected near stone tools or fossils, the Wollongong team calculated the average age of every layer of the cave’s deposits.The team checked its dates for the most recent layers against radiocarbon dates that geochronologists Tom Higham and Katerina Douka at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom determined from 50 new cut-marked bone and charcoal samples. The Oxford team also developed a new statistical model that merges data from several dating methods, as well as from genetic sequencing, which can reveal the relative ages of fossils. By evaluating all the data and their range of errors, the model determines which dates are most reliable. “There’s a huge value in using multiple techniques,” says Ed Rhodes of the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the work. The resulting dates, he adds, are “fully convincing.”The oldest stone tools in the cave date back to at least 287,000 years, according to the optical methods. These so-called Middle Paleolithic tools look subtly different from those associated with Neanderthals in other caves in Siberia, suggesting they are the first artifacts ever linked to the Denisovans. Direct evidence of Denisovans—so-called environmental DNA found in the sediments—also appears a bit before DNA from Neanderthals, who occupied the cave on and off from 193,000 to 97,000 years ago.The Denisovans were “evidently a hardy bunch,” Jacobs says. They apparently persisted at the site through multiple episodes of cold Siberian climate, based on analysis of fossil pollen. In contrast, when the Neanderthals showed up, the pollen shows that the forest around the cave had hornbeam, oak, and Eurasian linden trees, which thrive in a relatively warm and humid climate.The dates also suggest a new puzzle: Who made so-called Initial Upper Paleolithic artifacts, such as ornaments of bone, animal teeth, mammoth ivory, and ostrich eggshell, that date to between 43,000 to 49,000 years at the site? Higham’s Russian collaborators propose they were made by Denisovans, like the tools from older layers. No modern human fossils have been found in the cave, they note. But others say the artifacts resemble the handiwork of modern humans in Eurasia, suggesting the newcomers arrived just after the Denisovans vanished—or even hastened the disappearance of this lost group.”My money would be on early modern humans, who can be mapped elsewhere at this date, for example at Ust’-Ishim in Siberia,” says paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, not a member of the team. “Only more discoveries and more research can resolve that question.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Denisova Cave offered a good vantage for spotting game—and other humans.last_img read more

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Planning underway for Hike Fest 2020 after successful 2019 event

first_imgShareTweetSharePinA group of hikers during Hike Fest 2019Hike Fest, hosted by the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), is one of the biggest events on the Tourism Awareness Month calendar. Hiking enthusiasts from across Dominica and the region set foot on some of the nature isle’s most iconic trails every Saturday in May for a unique moment surrounded by nature while enveloped in camaraderie. This year’s theme was Experience Dominica.The first trail, dubbed Cabrits Historical Night Hike, was led by local historian Dr Lennox Honychurch. Sometime after sunset, a crowd of over 70 hikers gathered off the road at Bell Hall Estate on May 4 for what would be the first ever night hike in Dominica. The path took them from Bell Hall, to Cabrits National Park and then, finally, to Purple Turtle Beach.“Not only did we have hikers from Dominica, but we had a large group from Martinique participating as well. The excitement was palpable; I was happy to have been part of the planning and execution of such an extraordinary moment,” DHTA Executive Vice President, Kevin A. Francis revealed.On May 11, nearly two dozen children and their parents, along with certified tour guides, navigated through the rain forest in Laudat to one of the most popular tourist sites – Titou Gorge. The next Saturday, more experienced hikers walked from Bellevue Chopin to Wotten Waven for the wellness hike.And finally, on May 25, over 30 others trekked from Castle Bruce to the Kalinago Territory for the aptly named – heritage hike.“We’re certainly happy about the turn out for this year’s hike fest. And we are excited about the buzz it created not only in Dominica but in other sister islands. We had one group from St. Kitts – Go Ventures SKN who visited nearly a week before Hike Fest because they could not wait to experience Dominica. That’s a great sign that we’re on the right path,” Francis noted.On the last day of his stay, Vaughn Browne, head of Go Ventures SKN described Dominica as ‘a gem’ and promised his groups’ attendance at all future Dominica Hike Fests. “It might be one [or] it might be 10 of us but we will support hike fest,” he stressed.Planning has already started for Hike Fest 2020 and the DHTA promises it will be one of the most memorable.last_img read more

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The making of a wasteland

first_img shamlaat land, punjab illegal mining, illegal mining in punjab, illegal sand mining, punjab sand mining, sand mafia, mining mafia, punjab news, ngt, punjab government, punjab villages, india news, indian express Tractors at work on a mined field in Abhipur village in Mohali. (Express Photo by Kanchan Vasdev)Villages situated on the foothills of Shivalik range, in the vicinity of Chandigarh, are turning out to be a goldmine for the mining mafia which is exploiting this land, as the Punjab government looks the other way. Chandrayaan-2 to launch on July 22 at 2.43 pm: ISRO Minister for Mines Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria told The Indian Express that the new mining policy was aimed at checking the illegal mining. — Kanchan Vasdev Mining is not allowed in the foothills of Shivalik, an area rich in stones and gravel. The sites are not auctioned by the state government in the annual auction. But illegal mining of sand and gravel, a multi-crore business, is rampant in these villages, less than 25 km away from Chandigarh, Punjab’s capital and seat of power. The mafia makes a moolah out of the business, mining premium quality gravel, and selling it in the state capital region, having a good network of roads. On the other hand, the state does not get a single penny in revenue.The illegal mining is also a curse for the residents.Not only the ecosystem and environment of the area is affected, but the village residents also cannot live in peace. On any given day, the roads leading to these villages are cloggers with tippers and JCBs. Amid the cacophony of the crushers, tippers and JCBs, huge craters, mounds of sand and clouds of powdery sand, welcome the visitors to these villages. A team of The Indian Express witnessed many fields being levelled last week, a tell-tale sign that gravel was scooped out of those fields a night earlier. As the illegal activity went on blatantly, the mafia had posted a few youths, on the roadsides, armed with cellphones, eagerly waiting to inform them about any impending danger of a police raid or official action. Advertising Ayodhya dispute: Mediation to continue till July 31, SC hearing likely from August 2 Advertising More Explained Supreme Court asks Meghalaya to deposit Rs 100 crore fine for illegal coal mining An atmosphere of fear prevails in Abhipur, where no village resident is willing to comment on illegal mining. Nobody is willing to accompany anyone around in the village. “They come and attack. I do not want to come with you,” said a village resident, without disclosing his name.There are a few agriculture fields that have not witnessed mining activity. “Almost all private fields have undergone this activity. Under the top layer of soil, the fields have 5 to 15 feet thick layer of gravel. The farmers allow the mining of the gravel for easy money. One gets anything between Rs 5 lakh and 15 lakh for mining of every acre of land. Later, we level it with sand. It requires a lot of work,” said Bahadur Singh, a 50-year-old farmer from Abhipur village.He added he had himself allowed mining in his field. “But I repented later. It took me six months to prepare my field again for agriculture.”Besides the private land, acres of shamlaat land in these villages too have been exploited and mined up till 50 feet leading to huge craters that turn into deep ponds in monsoons. Taking stock of monsoon rain Advertising Best Of Express Mohali: Man informs administration about illegal mining, doesn’t get any response The petition in NGT is based on the plight of residents of Abhipur, Kubbaheri and Mianpur Changar villages in Mohali. The NGT sent a team for experts on May 29 after the petition and Bhag Singh was attacked on the same day with rods in his village.While the petition in NGT refers to these three villages, the situation is no less bleak in several others. In Khizrabad village, a few kilometers away from Abhipur, Sher Khan, a flour mill owner, rues his failure to have got the land of his village saved from sand and gravel sharks. “In my over five-year long fight, there is not one officer that I did not meet. But nothing happens. Our village shamlaat land has been dug deep up to 50 feet. It is a huge crater now. But nobody listens. I have met everybody starting from the SHO to the Vigilance Officers. They have now ordered an inquiry. Let us see what comes out of it,” he says.He said there were about 35 crushers in these 7-8 villages and half of those were illegal. “Shocking fact is that the cream of these villages is also involved in the trade, and enjoys political patronage. That is why nothing happens,” he rues but praises Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) local MLA Kanwar Sandhu for not buckling down under any pressure and raising the issue tirelessly.“Many people came with me to oppose the illegal trade. After five years, I am alone. The rest are also involved in the trade. But there is a silver lining now. A few youths have come with me. They organise dharnas and do not let the tippers pass. They have lent me some hope,” said Sher Khan.Village residents recall how the area, rich in stone and gravel, attracted sand sharks. They say it was about nine years ago when a few crushers set up units in these villages after the government auctioned eight sites in Ghaggar river. The crushers were given permission by the government. Soon after they started mining from shamlaat land in connivance with panchayats. Later, even the farmers started allowing the mafia to mine their fields. Lalach pai gya sab nu. (Everybody became greedy).” said Bhag Singh.For a few years, villagers just kept quiet till 2014 when Ram Singh and others started raising a voice. “I was asked to shut up. I was offered a partnership in the multi-crore business. But I told them they are thieves and I cannot be one of them. I am going strong. They attacked me with rods. But I have taken a vow that even if I am destined to get killed by the mafia, I will continue with my fight,” added Bhag Singh.He said out of 90 families in the village, about 10-15 are involved in the trade directly, claiming: “The massive mining operations gave a big boost to the economy of these villages. The area that was known for being poorly developed saw mushrooming of big houses, expensive cars and mining machinery. People started getting rich and the village started turning poor.”Not only these families, but people from poor strata too are dependent on mining. “Somebody has a small pedal cart to ferry sand, others supply oil to the tippers, many have found a way to earn their bread through mining. That is how we become their enemies and the trade flourishes because of the involvement of locals. All those who were with me earlier fighting against the menace have a crusher each,” said Sher Khan.Mohali Deputy Commissioner (DC) Girish Dayalan, when contacted, said that if anything wrong was going on he will check it. He added that he shall meet the people regarding the issue.Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Minister of Mines, said he was not aware of illegal mining going on in these villages. “It is not in my notice. There are some crushers there that are supposed to get their material from legal mines in Ropar. I will get this checked. If the illegal activity is going on, I will order a crackdown,” he said.New mining policy: All dressed up, but nowhere to goNailing the illegal sand mining was a pre-poll promise of Congress party in Punjab. Two years and three months after the party came to power, the Congress government has not been able to do anything. The illegal sand mining goes on unabated not only in the Kande area but the entire state.The government, after taking over, faced a challenge of not only checking the illegal mining but also running the business smoothly so that the sand could be made available to the public at affordable prices.But even after formulating two policies, one in 2017 and another in 2018, the government has not been able to achieve its goal. During the entire last fiscal, it was not able to auction any sand mines for want of a proper policy.After coming to power, it adopted a progressive bidding policy, in contrast with the previous government’s reverse bidding policy. But the incumbent government’s first auction of mines got surrounded in controversy when former employees of the then sitting Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, bagged mines at exorbitant bids. The controversy died down only after Rana Gurjit ended up resigning from the cabinet.During the last fiscal, the government started formulating a new policy under which the entire state was divided into seven clusters or blocks. The government lost a number of months after the policy was challenged in the High Court which later upheld the policy and gave a go-ahead to the government to stick to it.But the new policy too has its own drawbacks. It is being alleged that the policy only favours the big fish as the reserve price of huge clusters is beyond the approach of small traders. Also, farmers are not allowed to mine their own land.Amid all these allegations, the government has not been able to evince much interest for its clusters. Out of seven clusters, three have not received any bidders depositing earnest money. Another one has got just a single prospective bidder. Internally, the issue is a cause of concern for the government. With curb on illegal mining, out-of-job miners in West Bengal mull NOTA LiveKarnataka floor test: MLAs have made false allegations in SC, says CM Related News Written by Kanchan Vasdev, Jagdeep Singh Deep | Published: July 3, 2019 12:36:41 pm “On any given day about 1,000 tippers cross the link road of our village. The road vanishes within a few days after it is laid. They carry 800 square feet of sand. In order to finish off with the illegal activity, they drive rashly. We do not allow our children to go out fearing accidents. What is their childhood if they cannot venture out of their homes? Women do not feel safe because the mafia has all kinds of men roaming around. The tippers leave a trail of dust that settles everywhere, in our houses, on our crops, and even fodder,” lamented Bhag Singh, (68) an ex-servicemen-turned-activist against sand mining.He is one among a handful of village residents from Abhipur who has been spearheading a campaign against mining in Shivalik foothills. The village residents led by 43-year-old Ram Singh have now moved National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek relief after having knocked the doors of bureaucracy, police and judiciary.shamlaat land, punjab illegal mining, illegal mining in punjab, illegal sand mining, punjab sand mining, sand mafia, mining mafia, punjab news, ngt, punjab government, punjab villages, india news, indian express Mining has already started on these hills while no activity is allowed there as per rules. (Express Photo by Kanchan Vasdev)In their petition to NGT, the village residents have stated that their agriculture has been ruined. “The land has turned infertile due to scooping of earth, the water table has gone down at 350 feet as the crushers use huge amount of water to wash the gravel. As a layer of powdery dust settles on our crops, stopping the process of photosynthesis, our yields are getting affected. We have to wash fodder grown in our fields as even the cattle refuse to eat dust laden fodder. Just visit one of our schools after summer vacation to see how our children suffer due to dust. Everybody on the street is coughing,” said Bhag Singh.He added, “Not just the fields and the shamlaat land, the next target of the mafia is forest land on hills, locked under Section 4 of PLPA. Mining has already started on these hills while no activity is allowed there as per rules.” Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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China says Hong Kong does not need meddling by black hand Western

first_img After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Post Comment(s) Advertising Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield The protests against the bill, that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, saw some of the worst violence since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.The Hong Kong government has since postponed the legislation, though the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, on Tuesday refused to say the bill would be withdrawn, only that it would not be re-introduced during her time in office if public fears persist.Beijing has said it respects and supports Lam’s decision, but has been angered by criticism from Western capitals, including Washington and London, about the legislation. Related News Beijing | Updated: June 19, 2019 7:57:36 pm Hong Kong protesters, police clash as demonstrations target Chinese traders Best Of Express center_img State Councillor Wang Yi, in the first public comments by a senior Chinese leader since the protests took place, said the proposed Hong Kong government’s legislation “completely suited the interests of the Hong Kong people”.“But due to the fact that all sides need to further understand and discuss this, the Hong Kong government decided to postpone this process. The central government has already formally expressed our support, understanding, and respect for this,” Wang said at a joint news conference with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok.“What we must be on guard against is that some Western forces are taking advantage of this issue to stir up trouble and incite opposition in an attempt to destroy Hong Kong’s social stability and the implementation of one country, two systems,” Wang added.“We must say it here loudly: you must withdraw your black hand. Hong Kong is China’s domestic affair. We don’t need your meddling here. Hong Kong is not a place for you to run amuck.” Advertising Hong Kong tourism, hotel occupancy falls as protests drag on Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Clashes break out as Hong Kong protesters escalate fight in suburbs Since the proposed amendments to the Fugitives Offenders’ Ordinance were first put to the city’s legislature in February, Lam has repeatedly rebuffed concerns voiced about it from many quarters, including business groups, lawyers, judges, and foreign governments.Critics say the bill would undermine Hong Kong’s independent judiciary and rule of law, guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” formula under which it returned to China in 1997, by extending China’s reach into the city and allowing individuals to be arbitrarily sent back to China where they couldn’t be guaranteed a fair trial.Chinese courts are controlled by and loyal to the Communist Party. Protesters poured into the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, June 16, 2019, with renewed determination and a lengthening list of demands, rejecting the government’s retreat on a contentious extradition bill and extending the political crisis gripping the semiautonomous territory. (Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times)Hong Kong does not need meddling by “black hand” Western forces who are trying to destroy its stability, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Wednesday, after mass protests there against a controversial extradition bill.last_img read more

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Why Hong Kongs protesters are turning to G20 leaders for help

first_img After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Advertising More Explained Advertising Hong Kong tourism, hotel occupancy falls as protests drag on Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Hong Kong protesters, police clash as demonstrations target Chinese traders Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, said on Tuesday that the government would not issue licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong “unless we are satisfied that concerns raised on human rights and fundamental freedoms have been thoroughly addressed.” He called for an independent investigation of police violence, echoing one of the demands of the protesters. Demonstrators march past the US Consulate in Hong Kong. (Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times)Trump is a particular focus for themThe protesters’ first stop in what they described as a marathon march was the American consulate. There, Lawrence Wong, a 46-year-old filmmaker, handed to an American consulate spokesman a letter addressed to President Donald Trump. The letter asked Trump to raise Hong Kong’s issues at the G-20 with Xi Jinping, China’s top leader.“We hope President Trump can give President Xi some pressure,” Wong said in an interview later. “We need all the friends of liberal democracy, people who believe in human rights and freedom, to be on our side.”Trump has expressed sympathy for the Hong Kong protesters, but not offered to take up their cause at the summit, where he is expected to meet with Xi to discuss trade.But a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, prompted by the trade war and the protests, earlier this month introduced a bill that could affect Hong Kong’s trade status. That bill angered China, which summoned a senior American diplomat in Beijing to lodge a complaint against what the government saw as foreign interference in its affairs.If passed, the bill would require the State Department to affirm every year that the territory remained autonomous from the mainland. If the department found that Hong Kong had lost its autonomy, that could make Hong Kong subject to controls the United States imposes to prevent the shipment of many high-tech, militarily sensitive goods to mainland China.Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce and economic development, said that Hong Kong’s separate trade status from mainland China is secured by many international agreements and by pacts with Beijing. The city is a big base for American banks and other companies, he added.“We help push the door open for overseas companies into the mainland,” Yau said in an interview in his office last week.Hong Kong protest, Hing Kong extradition biill protests, Hong Kong rallies, extradition bill  protest, Carrie Lam, China extradition bill, Hong Kong China ties, World News, Indian Express, Latest news A message opposing Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the China extradition bill is written on a wooden tablet at the Meiji Jingu in Tokyo. (AP)The city’s leader is lying low as pressure growsCarrie Lam appeared to be lying low this week, perhaps to avoid embarrassing Xi before his trip to Japan or setting off a fresh conflict with her critics at home.A standing weekly meeting of her Executive Council, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled. And even though Hong Kong’s protests have made global headlines in recent days, her office has not issued a news release for a week.Lam’s popularity in the city has sunk since she started pushing the extradition bill several months ago. On Tuesday, the University of Hong Kong said Lam’s popularity rating had plunged in the past two weeks to a historic low for the position of chief executive. Even some of Lam’s allies in the territory’s pro-Beijing political establishment have joined calls for her to withdraw the bill.The leader of the largest pro-establishment party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said on Sunday that supporters of the extradition bill would not oppose the government if it gave in to the demands of the protesters and fully retracted the legislation. By New York Times | Published: June 27, 2019 7:34:49 am Clashes break out as Hong Kong protesters escalate fight in suburbs Advertising Taking stock of monsoon rain Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Protesters in Hong Kong have flooded the streets and the grounds of government offices in rallies over the past three weeks against an unpopular bill that has thrown the territory into a political crisis. On Wednesday, they directed their appeals to a new audience: the world.Hundreds of protesters, dressed in black and white T-shirts, demonstrated at foreign governments’ consulates in Hong Kong to demand that world leaders address their concerns at the annual summit of the Group of 20 later this week in Osaka, Japan. And thousands turned out for a peaceful demonstration outside City Hall Wednesday night chanting “Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!”Later in the night, the demonstration took a rowdier turn as thousands of young protesters walked to the headquarters of the city’s police force and surrounded it, blocking nearby roads. A few piled metal barricades against a closed metal gate outside the driveway of the complex as officers watched from inside. “Without the trade war chaos and the G-20 summit, would Carrie Lam have announced the suspension?” said Joshua Wong, a prominent youth activist.The demonstrations represent the biggest resistance to Beijing’s rule on Chinese soil since Britain handed back the territory in 1997, said Willy Lam, a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.“This is a direct slap in the face of Xi Jinping,” said Willy Lam, “and so some Western countries, particularly the U.S., may want to use this as an excuse to further put pressure on Xi Jinping.”But China says it is having none of it. Zhang Jun, an assistant foreign minister, told reporters this week that Beijing opposed discussing Hong Kong at the G-20. “Under no circumstance would we allow any country or individual to intervene in Chinese internal politics,” he said. Hong Kong has been roiled in recent weeks by what have been some of the city’s largest-ever demonstrations, which have already forced Carrie Lam, the embattled chief executive, to suspend the bill. The measure would allow the extradition of Hong Kong’s residents and visitors to mainland China’s opaque judicial system.But demonstrators still want the legislation to be formally withdrawn and they want to send a broader message that they will resist the erosion of the civil liberties that set the city apart from the rest of China.The protesters see the G-20 as a way to pressure ChinaThe demonstrators hope to draw to Hong Kong the attention of the leaders of industrialized and emerging nations and the European Union, who will soon arrive in Osaka for the Group of 20 meeting. They say that world events have given them extra leverage in forcing Lam and Beijing’s leaders to agree to suspend the law. Related News The party’s leader, Starry Lee, when asked in a televised interview whether the party would support or agree with the government if it described the bill as withdrawn instead of suspended, said: “If the government believes that doing this would help repair society, I think we would support and understand.” Best Of Express Hong Kong protests, G20 Summit, Hong Kong Extradition Bill protests, Hong Kong china ties, g20 summit japan, Hong Kong demonstrations, XI Jinping in G20 Thousands of people demonstrate peacefully outside City Hall in Hong Kong (Lam Yik Fei/The New York Times)Written by Keith Bradsher, Daniel Victor and Mike Ives (Tiffany May and Katherine Li contributed reporting. Luz Ding contributed research.) Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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Machine learning may be useful tool to predict outcomes for people at

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 26 2018Machine learning, also known as artificial intelligence, could be a useful tool for predicting how well people at high risk of psychosis or with recent onset depression will function socially in the future, an international research study has found.The research team, led in Australia by Professor Stephen Wood from Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, evaluated whether clinical, neuroimaging-based, or machine-learning methods could better predict patients’ social outcomes (e.g., their ability to undertake social interactions, or create and maintain relationships with others) than methods currently in use. In all three approaches the results of brain imaging and clinical measures from client interviews were analyzed.Related StoriesTargeted treatment offers symptom relief for patients with psychosisCPAP treatment for sleep apnea can improve depression symptomsTeens who can describe negative emotions are better protected against depressionProfessor Wood said the research team found that machine learning outperformed human experts and could correctly predict social outcomes one year later in up to 83 per cent of patients in clinical high-risk states for psychosis and 70 per cent of patients with recent-onset depression.”Predicting social outcomes is important as among young people and emerging adults in OECD countries the top causes of ‘disability’ – and poor social functioning is included in that – are mostly disorders of mental health, including those that typically present with a first episode of psychosis,” Professor Wood said.”By being able to better predict what will happen to people at high risk of psychosis or with recent onset depression over time, we are able to provide individualized treatments to clients when they first present to mental health services and potentially improve their social functioning.For the study the research team followed 116 people at clinical high-risk of developing psychosis and 120 people experiencing recent onset depression aged 15 to 40, as well as 176 healthy control participants.Source: https://www.orygen.org.au/last_img read more

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The impending risk of African Swine Fever Virus

first_img Source:https://www.liebertpub.com/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 15 2018A new emerging pathogen, African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) has caused outbreaks in 15 countries, including across Europe, and a month ago it was identified in China, the world’s largest producer of pork. The U.S. pork industry is highly vulnerable, as it imports large amounts of products from China that may be contaminated with ASFV, such as animal feed and dietary supplements. The impending risk of ASFV is discussed in an Editorial published in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.Related StoriesPhoseon exhibits KeyPro KP100 UV LED instrument for virus inactivation at World Vaccine CongressCommon cold virus strain could be a breakthrough in bladder cancer treatmentWhy hay fever persists, despite low pollen countsThe Editorial entitled “African Swine Fever Virus: A Call to Action” is written by Stephen Higgs, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases and Director, Biosecurity Research Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS. ASFV infects pigs “and although people are not infected by it, they are certainly affected by it. People can also play an important role in spreading the virus,” says Dr. Higgs.”The report of ASFV in the consumer port supply in China was “a gamechanger with respect to risk of ASFV introduction into the U.S.,” Dr. Higgs states. “Control is based on effective biosecurity and culling,” however, with a relatively stable virus like ASFV, one inadequately decontaminated truck driving between farms could be all it takes to spread the virus to a remote farm. As a demonstration of how quickly the ASFV situation is developing, since the editorial was released online, ASFV has now been reported in eight Chinese provinces and, independently, virus has somehow been introduced into the wild boar population in Belgium.last_img read more

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Bilingual therapy is vital to improve language disorders in duallanguage children finds

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 7 2018New research has found that providing bilingual therapy is vital to improving developmental language disorders in dual-language children.The study, which brought together Birmingham City University academics and members of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, also found that there is no evidence to suggest providing second language therapy is more effective than bilingual therapy.A systematic review was conducted in which articles were screened, reviewed and appraised independently by two reviewers in accordance with the research questions. The study found that bilingual therapy is equally effective as second-language therapy in improving the second-language, but also improves first-language skills which are vital to helping children remain active in their communities.Related StoriesResearch reveals genetic cause of deadly digestive disease in childrenRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerApproximately seven per cent of children experience developmental language disorder, which is characterised by difficulties learning new words, understanding language and expressing their thoughts and feelings.Speech and language therapy aims to develop a child’s language abilities to their full potential and teach children, and those around them, strategies to reduce the impact of their difficulties.The research saw Birmingham City University academic Dr Sarahjane Jones, and trainee research assistants deliver a hands-on research project whilst also increasing the research skills of clinicians at the Trust, including Speech and Language Therapist Hazel Allaway.Dr Sarahjane Jones said: “It has been brilliant working with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on this research. Our collaboration demonstrates that when frontline clinicians work with researchers to undertake real-world, practice-based research training, it can be of high quality and have wide implications beneficial to the community.”Hazel Allaway added: “Our findings have important implications for how speech and language disorders are treated. Often the focus is on improving the second language, but for dual-language children, it’s really important that they improve in their home language skills too so they can remain active and included in their communities.”The partnership, which began in 2014, aims to support professionals in carrying out real-world research under the supervision of a more experienced researcher.Amit Kulkarni, Research and Development Manager at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists commented: “I am delighted to see this high level research, which informs speech and language therapy intervention choices concerning children who have developmental language disorder and who are bilingual.”Around seven per cent of children in the UK start school with developmental language disorder, so it is vital that research continues in this field to ensure that the support available to them is the best it can be.” Source:https://www.bcu.ac.uk/news-events/news/research-finds-bilingual-therapy-vital-to-improving-language-disorders-in-dual-language-childrenlast_img read more

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Failure of critical cellular energy sensor responsible for CKD progression study finds

first_img Source:http://www.tmd.ac.jp/english/press-release/20181207_1/index.html Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 7 2018Chronic kidney disease (CKD), an affliction characterized by progressive loss of kidney function, affects millions of people worldwide and is associated with multi-organ damage, cardiovascular disease, and muscle wasting. Just like engines, living cells require energy to run, thus the combined millions of cells forming an organ have huge energy requirements. Although the heart has the highest energy needs of all human organs, the kidneys come a close second. Energy depletion can result in kidney damage and the build-up of toxic compounds in the body, contributing to the progression of CKD. Currently, there is no effective treatment to halt this progression.Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the major “fuel” in most living cells and is converted to adenosine monophosphate (AMP) during energy transfer. A specialized energy sensor called 5ʹ-AMP-activated protein kinase  (AMPK) detects even the slightest changes in cellular energy by sensing AMP levels, triggering the production of ATP in response to energy depletion. However, AMPK activity is decreased in CKD and the mechanism controlling this dysregulation is unclear.Related StoriesLow dose of endotoxin could have protective effect on men at risk of acute kidney injuryChronic kidney disease patients are excluded from clinical trialsBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryNow, a research team from TMDU and Kyushu University has shown that failure to sense AMP is the key mechanism underlying the inactivity of AMPK in CKD. In a recent study published in Kidney International, they outline how they came to this conclusion and what it may mean for CKD patients.”Metabolites can tell us a lot about what’s going on in a cell,” explains lead author Hiroaki Kikuchi. “In CKD mice, metabolite profiling showed that despite high levels of AMP, there was a substantial decrease in AMPK activation, leading us to conclude that the AMP-sensing function of AMPK was defective.”Armed with this new information, the researchers tried bypassing the AMP-sensing mechanism to determine whether AMPK could still be activated in CKD mice. By treating the mice with A-769662, an AMPK activator that binds at a different site to AMP, they could significantly attenuate CKD progression and correct associated tissue damage.Critically, the build-up of waste products in the blood as a result of reduced kidney function was shown to be responsible for the decreased AMP-sensing activity of AMPK. “Our findings suggest that energy depletion, CKD progression, and the accumulation of toxic metabolites form a vicious cycle in CKD patients,” says co-corresponding author Eisei Sohara. “However, AMPK activation via AMP-independent mechanisms can break this cycle and represents a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of CKD.”last_img read more

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Genes play a role in physical activity and sleep

first_img Source:https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 10 2018Time spent sitting, sleeping and moving is determined in part by our genes, University of Oxford researchers have shown.In one of the most detailed projects of its kind, the scientists studied the activity of 91,105 UK Biobank participants who had previously worn an activity monitor on their wrist for a week.The scientists taught machines to automatically identify active and sedentary life from the huge amounts of activity monitor data.They then combined this data with UK Biobank genetic information to reveal 14 genetic regions related to activity, seven new to science, they report in Nature Communications1 today (Monday 10 December).The work paves the way for better understanding of sleep, physical activity, and their health consequences.Further analysis of the human genetic data showed for the first time that increased physical activity causally lowers blood pressure.Physical inactivity is a global public health threat and is associated with a range of common diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Changes in sleep duration are linked to heart and metabolic diseases and psychiatric disorders.The genetic analysis also showed overlap with neurodegenerative diseases, mental health wellbeing and brain structure, showing an important role for the central nervous system with respect to physical activity and sleep.Dr Aiden Doherty, who led the work and is based at the Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, said: “How and why we move isn’t all about genes, but understanding the role genes play will help improve our understanding of the causes and consequences of physical inactivity.”It is only by being able to study large amounts of data, such as those provided by UK Biobank, that we are able to understand the complex genetic basis of even some of the most basic human functions like moving, resting and sleeping.”Related StoriesNIHR review reveals evidence on how to increase physical activity in everyday lifeMolecular switches may control lifespan and healthspan separately, genetic discovery suggestsFungal infection study identifies specific genetic vulnerability among Hmong peopleThe study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at Oxford. The study was collaborative, and performed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from a diverse set of fields, including machine learning, genetics, statistics, and epidemiology.The use of machine learning in big healthcare datasets is advancing quickly, and having a profound effect on the sorts of studies that can be carried out, Dr Karl Smith-Byrne, one of the lead analysts of the study said.”We have carefully developed machine learning models to teach machines how to analyze complex functions like activity,” he said. “These models provide exciting new insights into human movement behaviours in large studies such as UK Biobank with its half a million participants.”Professor Michael Holmes, a BHF Intermediate Clinical Research Fellow, said: “This provides scientists with a wonderful opportunity to learn much more about how genes and environment interact in our daily lives, causing us to move as we do, and possibly putting us at increased risk of disease. For instance, it might help us determine whether inactivity is a cause or a consequence of obesity.”To help identify the types of activity recorded on the wrist monitors, the researchers turned to 200 volunteers who wore a special camera that captured their activity every 20 seconds over two days. The images were compared with the activity data captured by the wrist-worn monitors, providing a guide to interpreting the data.last_img read more

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