US researchers recommend development of anticancer drugs based on mechanism of Namodenoson

20 Jul 2019

first_imgJul 2 2018Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., a biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of proprietary small molecule drugs that address cancer, liver and inflammatory diseases, today announced that U.S. researchers published scientific findings recommending development of anti-Liver Cancer Drugs based on a mechanism of action utilized by Namodenoson.Can-Fite extensively published that its anti-cancer drug candidate, Namodenoson, inhibits a specific molecular signaling pathway in the liver cancer cells, designated as the Wnt/β-catenin, and is responsible for the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The scientific article published on June 28, 2018 by key opinion leaders from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA, recommends that targeting and inhibiting the very same Wnt/β-catenin pathway leads to an anti-cancer effect against hepatocellular carcinoma (Role of Wnt/β catenin signaling in hepatocellular carcinoma pathogenesis and clinical significance; Authors: Khalaf AM, Fuentes D, Morshid AI, Burke MR, Kaseb AO, Hassan M, Hazle JD, Elsayes KM.Related StoriesStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerLiving with advanced breast cancer”We are very excited to read the MD Anderson group article which we consider as important validation of Can-Fite’s scientific approach to the development of Namodenoson for the treatment of liver cancer. We’re proud to be working in the forefront of research of HCC with our orally available drug Namodenoson with its unique mechanism of action as an anti-cancer agent and its favorable safety profile. We look forward to data release from our ongoing Phase II advanced liver cancer trial,” stated Can-Fite CEO Dr. Pnina Fishman.The currently ongoing global Phase II study is being conducted in the U.S., Europe and Israel. Patients with advanced HCC, Child Pugh B, who failed Nexavar (sorafenib) as a first line treatment are treated twice daily with 25mg of oral Namodenoson or placebo using a 2:1 randomization. The primary endpoint of the Phase II study is Overall Survival (OS). Secondary endpoints include Progression Free Survival (PFS), safety, and the relationship between outcomes and A3AR expression.Accumulated safety data to date continues to indicate a favorable safety profile, with no clinically significant novel or emerging events attributed to chronic treatment with Namodenoson.Can-Fite received Orphan Drug Designation for Namodenoson in Europe and the U.S., as well as Fast Track Status in the U.S. as a second line treatment for HCC. Source:https://ir.canfite.com/press-releases/detail/824/drugs-with-mechanism-of-action-utilized-by-namodenoson-are-recommended-by-leading-u-s-researchers-to-be-developed-to-combat-liver-cancerlast_img read more

first_imgJul 2 2018Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., a biotechnology company advancing a pipeline of proprietary small molecule drugs that address cancer, liver and inflammatory diseases, today announced that U.S. researchers published scientific findings recommending development of anti-Liver Cancer Drugs based on a mechanism of action utilized by Namodenoson.Can-Fite extensively published that its anti-cancer drug candidate, Namodenoson, inhibits a specific molecular signaling pathway in the liver cancer cells, designated as the Wnt/β-catenin, and is responsible for the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The scientific article published on June 28, 2018 by key opinion leaders from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA, recommends that targeting and inhibiting the very same Wnt/β-catenin pathway leads to an anti-cancer effect against hepatocellular carcinoma (Role of Wnt/β catenin signaling in hepatocellular carcinoma pathogenesis and clinical significance; Authors: Khalaf AM, Fuentes D, Morshid AI, Burke MR, Kaseb AO, Hassan M, Hazle JD, Elsayes KM.Related StoriesStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerLiving with advanced breast cancer”We are very excited to read the MD Anderson group article which we consider as important validation of Can-Fite’s scientific approach to the development of Namodenoson for the treatment of liver cancer. We’re proud to be working in the forefront of research of HCC with our orally available drug Namodenoson with its unique mechanism of action as an anti-cancer agent and its favorable safety profile. We look forward to data release from our ongoing Phase II advanced liver cancer trial,” stated Can-Fite CEO Dr. Pnina Fishman.The currently ongoing global Phase II study is being conducted in the U.S., Europe and Israel. Patients with advanced HCC, Child Pugh B, who failed Nexavar (sorafenib) as a first line treatment are treated twice daily with 25mg of oral Namodenoson or placebo using a 2:1 randomization. The primary endpoint of the Phase II study is Overall Survival (OS). Secondary endpoints include Progression Free Survival (PFS), safety, and the relationship between outcomes and A3AR expression.Accumulated safety data to date continues to indicate a favorable safety profile, with no clinically significant novel or emerging events attributed to chronic treatment with Namodenoson.Can-Fite received Orphan Drug Designation for Namodenoson in Europe and the U.S., as well as Fast Track Status in the U.S. as a second line treatment for HCC. Source:https://ir.canfite.com/press-releases/detail/824/drugs-with-mechanism-of-action-utilized-by-namodenoson-are-recommended-by-leading-u-s-researchers-to-be-developed-to-combat-liver-cancerlast_img read more

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Drinking or smoking while breastfeeding and affects later cognition in children

20 Jul 2019

first_imgDrinking or smoking while breastfeeding and affects later cognition in children. Image Credit: By vchal / Shutterstock By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJul 31 2018According to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, quite a few breast feeding women are not abstaining from alcohol and are thus causing exposure of their babies to alcohol. They write in their study that children who are exposed to alcohol in the breast milk that they take are likely to have lower cognitive abilities. Source:http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/07/26/peds.2017-4266center_img According to a team of researchers from the Macquarie University in Australia, “This is the first study in which associations between alcohol exposure through breast milk and cognition in children are examined.”For this study the team of researchers looked at 5,107 Australian infants recruited since 2004. These children were evaluated once in two years till they were of the age 11 years. The mothers of these children were provided with a modified questionnaire devised by the World Health Organization asking them about their alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking during their pregnancy and breast feeding months. The children, on each of the visits, were checked on for their nonverbal reasoning, vocabulary and cognitive abilities.Results showed that children of mothers who had higher consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding had lower nonverbal reasoning scores. These low performing children were mainly 6 to 7 year olds who had been breastfed. This was not seen among children of mothers who consumed alcohol but had not breastfed. Other factors that could have contributed to the lower nonverbal reasoning power among these children included alcohol consumption during pregnancy, sex of the child, age of the mother at pregnancy, birth weight and duration of breast feeding. The low cognitive abilities however evened out by the time the children were 10 or 11 years of age, the researchers noted. Experts say that this could be because of the environmental factors that determined cognitive abilities as the child grew up. As the education levels rose, the effects of alcohol exposure during prenatal and breast feeding months declined said the researchers. The clinical effects of alcohol consumption in the mother on the children were not significant unless the mother drank too much, they noted.Related StoriesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeFinancial incentives may help people quit smoking and remain smoke-freeNew therapeutic food boosts key growth-promoting gut microbes in malnourished childrenThe study also noted that maternal smoking during breastfeeding and pregnancy did not have a significant effect on the child’s cognitive abilities. They compared women smoking 1.06 cigarettes a day with those smoking 2.84 cigarettes a day. Authors as well as experts are quick to point out that women should not take this a green light to go ahead and smoke during pregnancy and breast feeding. They explain that cigarette smoking may not affect the cognitive abilities in the child but have the potential to cause harm to several other organs and organ systems. These toxins may remain on the mother’s body and clothes and the baby might be exposed to them say the researchers.Another finding that came out of the study results was that 91.7 percent of the children had been breast fed at some point of their infancy and only 8.2 percent had never been breast fed. Breastfeeding rates in Australia are higher than those in the United States say the experts and alcohol use is also different. While only one in ten American woman drinks during her pregnancy, at least 40 to 80 percent of women from Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom drink during their pregnancy. This can cause harm to the baby state experts.According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drinking alcohol is not recommended among pregnant mothers. However moderate alcohol consumption up to one drink per day is not known to be harmful for the infant provided at least a two hour gap between the drink and nursing the baby is provided. Alcohol content in breast milk peaks half an hour to an hour after the drink and stays in the milk for at least two to three hours. Many mothers tend to pump and discard the milk after a drink thinking that it gets rid of the alcohol in the milk. The CDC says that it does not rid the milk of alcohol and traces of alcohol can be found in the milk for hours.A commentary was published along with the study in the same issue. It was written by Dr. Lauren M. Jansson, director of pediatrics at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She writes, “Previous recommendations that reveal limited alcohol consumption to be compatible with breastfeeding during critical periods of development, such as the first months of life, may need to be reconsidered in light of this combined evidence.” She said other substance abuse among pregnant and breast feeding mothers such as use of marijuana also needs to be studied in details. She said that this study is important because it shows the “complex neurobiological and developmental vulnerability of the substance-exposed child.”last_img read more

first_imgDrinking or smoking while breastfeeding and affects later cognition in children. Image Credit: By vchal / Shutterstock By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJul 31 2018According to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, quite a few breast feeding women are not abstaining from alcohol and are thus causing exposure of their babies to alcohol. They write in their study that children who are exposed to alcohol in the breast milk that they take are likely to have lower cognitive abilities. Source:http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/07/26/peds.2017-4266center_img According to a team of researchers from the Macquarie University in Australia, “This is the first study in which associations between alcohol exposure through breast milk and cognition in children are examined.”For this study the team of researchers looked at 5,107 Australian infants recruited since 2004. These children were evaluated once in two years till they were of the age 11 years. The mothers of these children were provided with a modified questionnaire devised by the World Health Organization asking them about their alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking during their pregnancy and breast feeding months. The children, on each of the visits, were checked on for their nonverbal reasoning, vocabulary and cognitive abilities.Results showed that children of mothers who had higher consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding had lower nonverbal reasoning scores. These low performing children were mainly 6 to 7 year olds who had been breastfed. This was not seen among children of mothers who consumed alcohol but had not breastfed. Other factors that could have contributed to the lower nonverbal reasoning power among these children included alcohol consumption during pregnancy, sex of the child, age of the mother at pregnancy, birth weight and duration of breast feeding. The low cognitive abilities however evened out by the time the children were 10 or 11 years of age, the researchers noted. Experts say that this could be because of the environmental factors that determined cognitive abilities as the child grew up. As the education levels rose, the effects of alcohol exposure during prenatal and breast feeding months declined said the researchers. The clinical effects of alcohol consumption in the mother on the children were not significant unless the mother drank too much, they noted.Related StoriesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeFinancial incentives may help people quit smoking and remain smoke-freeNew therapeutic food boosts key growth-promoting gut microbes in malnourished childrenThe study also noted that maternal smoking during breastfeeding and pregnancy did not have a significant effect on the child’s cognitive abilities. They compared women smoking 1.06 cigarettes a day with those smoking 2.84 cigarettes a day. Authors as well as experts are quick to point out that women should not take this a green light to go ahead and smoke during pregnancy and breast feeding. They explain that cigarette smoking may not affect the cognitive abilities in the child but have the potential to cause harm to several other organs and organ systems. These toxins may remain on the mother’s body and clothes and the baby might be exposed to them say the researchers.Another finding that came out of the study results was that 91.7 percent of the children had been breast fed at some point of their infancy and only 8.2 percent had never been breast fed. Breastfeeding rates in Australia are higher than those in the United States say the experts and alcohol use is also different. While only one in ten American woman drinks during her pregnancy, at least 40 to 80 percent of women from Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom drink during their pregnancy. This can cause harm to the baby state experts.According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drinking alcohol is not recommended among pregnant mothers. However moderate alcohol consumption up to one drink per day is not known to be harmful for the infant provided at least a two hour gap between the drink and nursing the baby is provided. Alcohol content in breast milk peaks half an hour to an hour after the drink and stays in the milk for at least two to three hours. Many mothers tend to pump and discard the milk after a drink thinking that it gets rid of the alcohol in the milk. The CDC says that it does not rid the milk of alcohol and traces of alcohol can be found in the milk for hours.A commentary was published along with the study in the same issue. It was written by Dr. Lauren M. Jansson, director of pediatrics at the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy and an associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She writes, “Previous recommendations that reveal limited alcohol consumption to be compatible with breastfeeding during critical periods of development, such as the first months of life, may need to be reconsidered in light of this combined evidence.” She said other substance abuse among pregnant and breast feeding mothers such as use of marijuana also needs to be studied in details. She said that this study is important because it shows the “complex neurobiological and developmental vulnerability of the substance-exposed child.”last_img read more

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Fairywrens like humans learn as embryos

20 Jul 2019

first_imgHuman fetuses are clever students, able to distinguish male from female voices and the voices of their mothers from those of strangers between 32 and 39 weeks after conception. Now, researchers have demonstrated that the embryos of the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus, pictured), an Australian songbird, also learn to discriminate among the calls they hear. The scientists played 1-minute recordings to 43 fairy-wren eggs collected from nests in the wild. The eggs were between days 9 and 13 of a 13- to 14-day incubation period. The sounds included white noise, a contact call of a winter wren, or a female fairy-wren’s incubation call. Those embryos that listened to the fairy-wrens’ incubation calls and the contact calls of the winter wrens lowered their heart rates, a sign that they were learning to discriminate between the calls of a different species and those of their own kind, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (None showed this response to the white noise.) Thus, even before hatching, these small birds’ brains are engaged in tasks requiring attention, learning, and possibly memory—the first time embryonic learning has been seen outside humans, the scientists say. The behavior is key because fairy-wren embryos must learn a password from their mothers’ incubation calls; otherwise, they’re less successful at soliciting food from their parents after hatching.last_img read more

first_imgHuman fetuses are clever students, able to distinguish male from female voices and the voices of their mothers from those of strangers between 32 and 39 weeks after conception. Now, researchers have demonstrated that the embryos of the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus, pictured), an Australian songbird, also learn to discriminate among the calls they hear. The scientists played 1-minute recordings to 43 fairy-wren eggs collected from nests in the wild. The eggs were between days 9 and 13 of a 13- to 14-day incubation period. The sounds included white noise, a contact call of a winter wren, or a female fairy-wren’s incubation call. Those embryos that listened to the fairy-wrens’ incubation calls and the contact calls of the winter wrens lowered their heart rates, a sign that they were learning to discriminate between the calls of a different species and those of their own kind, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (None showed this response to the white noise.) Thus, even before hatching, these small birds’ brains are engaged in tasks requiring attention, learning, and possibly memory—the first time embryonic learning has been seen outside humans, the scientists say. The behavior is key because fairy-wren embryos must learn a password from their mothers’ incubation calls; otherwise, they’re less successful at soliciting food from their parents after hatching.last_img read more

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Why are US neuroscientists clamoring for marmosets

20 Jul 2019

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Tom Landers/The Boston Globe/Getty Images By Kelly ServickOct. 23, 2018 , 1:00 PM WASHINGTON, D.C.—A hand-size monkey called Callithrix jacchus—the common marmoset—is in great demand in labs and yet almost nowhere to be found. Marmosets’ small size, fast growth, and sophisticated social life were already enough to catch the eye of neuroscientists. They’ve now been genetically engineered to make their brains easier to image and to serve as models for neurological disorders such as autism and Parkinson’s. The problem: “There are just no monkeys,” says Cory Miller, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego.At a meeting here this week, convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM’s) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, neuroscientist Jon Levine, who directs the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, likened the surge in demand to “a 10-alarm fire that’s about to be set.” In response, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to launch funding to expand marmoset research. And established marmoset researchers, including Miller, are working together to help new labs get animals.When Miller’s lab started to work with marmosets in 2009, many colleagues who studied macaques—the most popular genus of research monkey—didn’t even know that marmosets were monkeys, he remembers. “They were like, ‘Is it those chipmunks that were in the Rocky Mountains?’” (They were thinking of marmots.) Now, he says, “All of those people want marmosets.” In a survey, Miller and colleagues found that the number of U.S. marmoset research colonies jumped from eight in 2009 to 27 today, totaling 1900 marmosets across about 40 principal investigators.Among monkeys, marmosets are known for cooperative social behavior: They call to each other in back-and-forth conversations, and mated pairs share responsibility for rearing young. They’re smaller and easier to house than rhesus macaques, and they give birth twice a year versus once every year or two, aiding multigeneration genetic experiments. Because marmosets mature and age more quickly than bigger monkeys, they speed up studies of diseases that affect development and aging. And a marmoset’s brain is less furrowed than a macaque’s, which makes it easier to image or record activity from its surface.Enthusiasm for marmosets surged in 2009, when they became the first primates shown to pass a genetic modification to offspring in their sperm and eggs. A team at the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA) in Kawasaki, Japan, injected embryos with the gene for a fluorescent protein. The skin and hair of the resulting animals shone green under ultraviolet light.A series of transgenic marmosets followed—many from CIEA geneticist Erika Sasaki and neuroscientist Hideyuki Okano of Keio University in Tokyo. On 5 November at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, their teams will present updates on two transgenic efforts: marmosets with genetic mutations that in humans are linked to Parkinson’s disease and the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome. Researchers hope that by watching disease progress in a marmoset while analyzing its brain, they can lay bare mechanisms that cause illness in people—and maybe find and test new therapies.Japanese research got a leg up in 2014 with a 40 billion yen ($350 million) government initiative to map the marmoset brain. But several U.S. labs now have transgenic primates under development. In 2016, a team at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, with Sasaki, created marmosets with brain cells that fluoresce when excited—a potential tool for monitoring neural activity. And in April, the first marmoset with a mutation in the gene SHANK3—implicated in some cases of autism—was born at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.Making transgenic monkeys requires a large colony, in part because females implanted with manipulated embryos don’t always get pregnant. Guoping Feng, who leads the MIT project, estimates the ideal size is at least 300 animals, far more than a single U.S. facility can breed. (Feng’s group has gradually built up a colony of about 200.) When the new transgenic models become widely available—likely in the next few years—labs hoping to use them may also need their own animals for breeding. Attendees at this week’s meeting also discussed ways to maintain genetic diversity within the U.S. marmoset population.But the supply of new marmosets is limited. An international agreement restricts the export of wild animals from their native Brazil. And importing animals from breeding facilities in Asia is “really, really difficult,” Feng says. Most airlines, facing pressure from animal rights groups, have stopped carrying research animals. Already, public resistance to nonhuman primate research is prompting researchers to tread carefully. Increasing interest in marmoset research is “concerning to us,” says Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States here. It’s especially problematic, she says, to genetically design animals that will become ill.But scientists see no substitute for primates in some studies. “When it comes to [studying] cognitive processes and other complex behaviors, some things you just need to do in a primate model,” Joshua Gordon, director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, said at a 4 October NASEM meeting on genetically engineered nonhuman primates. The study of mental illness requires an understanding of brain structures that don’t exist in rodents, he added. But such research must consider “the degree to which primate experiments are acceptable to the general public,” he said.Next year, Gordon’s agency plans to announce funding opportunities to support centralized infrastructure for marmoset research. Although details are hazy, the funding might bring in new marmosets, expand or establish breeding colonies, or advance transgenic projects, he said. Its money could come from the federal Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative or NIH’s Blueprint for Neuroscience Research.In the meantime, labs are improvising. Last month, several investigators launched a virtual pool, to which existing marmoset colonies will contribute 10% of their animals per year for new investigators to buy or inherit. It’s a stopgap to keep up momentum in the field, Miller says, “because it’s kind of a once-in-a-career opportunity.”center_img Why are U.S. neuroscientists clamoring for marmosets? 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Small and social, marmosets offer advantages for researchers.last_img read more

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Tom Landers/The Boston Globe/Getty Images By Kelly ServickOct. 23, 2018 , 1:00 PM WASHINGTON, D.C.—A hand-size monkey called Callithrix jacchus—the common marmoset—is in great demand in labs and yet almost nowhere to be found. Marmosets’ small size, fast growth, and sophisticated social life were already enough to catch the eye of neuroscientists. They’ve now been genetically engineered to make their brains easier to image and to serve as models for neurological disorders such as autism and Parkinson’s. The problem: “There are just no monkeys,” says Cory Miller, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego.At a meeting here this week, convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM’s) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, neuroscientist Jon Levine, who directs the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, likened the surge in demand to “a 10-alarm fire that’s about to be set.” In response, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to launch funding to expand marmoset research. And established marmoset researchers, including Miller, are working together to help new labs get animals.When Miller’s lab started to work with marmosets in 2009, many colleagues who studied macaques—the most popular genus of research monkey—didn’t even know that marmosets were monkeys, he remembers. “They were like, ‘Is it those chipmunks that were in the Rocky Mountains?’” (They were thinking of marmots.) Now, he says, “All of those people want marmosets.” In a survey, Miller and colleagues found that the number of U.S. marmoset research colonies jumped from eight in 2009 to 27 today, totaling 1900 marmosets across about 40 principal investigators.Among monkeys, marmosets are known for cooperative social behavior: They call to each other in back-and-forth conversations, and mated pairs share responsibility for rearing young. They’re smaller and easier to house than rhesus macaques, and they give birth twice a year versus once every year or two, aiding multigeneration genetic experiments. Because marmosets mature and age more quickly than bigger monkeys, they speed up studies of diseases that affect development and aging. And a marmoset’s brain is less furrowed than a macaque’s, which makes it easier to image or record activity from its surface.Enthusiasm for marmosets surged in 2009, when they became the first primates shown to pass a genetic modification to offspring in their sperm and eggs. A team at the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA) in Kawasaki, Japan, injected embryos with the gene for a fluorescent protein. The skin and hair of the resulting animals shone green under ultraviolet light.A series of transgenic marmosets followed—many from CIEA geneticist Erika Sasaki and neuroscientist Hideyuki Okano of Keio University in Tokyo. On 5 November at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, their teams will present updates on two transgenic efforts: marmosets with genetic mutations that in humans are linked to Parkinson’s disease and the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome. Researchers hope that by watching disease progress in a marmoset while analyzing its brain, they can lay bare mechanisms that cause illness in people—and maybe find and test new therapies.Japanese research got a leg up in 2014 with a 40 billion yen ($350 million) government initiative to map the marmoset brain. But several U.S. labs now have transgenic primates under development. In 2016, a team at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, with Sasaki, created marmosets with brain cells that fluoresce when excited—a potential tool for monitoring neural activity. And in April, the first marmoset with a mutation in the gene SHANK3—implicated in some cases of autism—was born at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.Making transgenic monkeys requires a large colony, in part because females implanted with manipulated embryos don’t always get pregnant. Guoping Feng, who leads the MIT project, estimates the ideal size is at least 300 animals, far more than a single U.S. facility can breed. (Feng’s group has gradually built up a colony of about 200.) When the new transgenic models become widely available—likely in the next few years—labs hoping to use them may also need their own animals for breeding. Attendees at this week’s meeting also discussed ways to maintain genetic diversity within the U.S. marmoset population.But the supply of new marmosets is limited. An international agreement restricts the export of wild animals from their native Brazil. And importing animals from breeding facilities in Asia is “really, really difficult,” Feng says. Most airlines, facing pressure from animal rights groups, have stopped carrying research animals. Already, public resistance to nonhuman primate research is prompting researchers to tread carefully. Increasing interest in marmoset research is “concerning to us,” says Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States here. It’s especially problematic, she says, to genetically design animals that will become ill.But scientists see no substitute for primates in some studies. “When it comes to [studying] cognitive processes and other complex behaviors, some things you just need to do in a primate model,” Joshua Gordon, director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, said at a 4 October NASEM meeting on genetically engineered nonhuman primates. The study of mental illness requires an understanding of brain structures that don’t exist in rodents, he added. But such research must consider “the degree to which primate experiments are acceptable to the general public,” he said.Next year, Gordon’s agency plans to announce funding opportunities to support centralized infrastructure for marmoset research. Although details are hazy, the funding might bring in new marmosets, expand or establish breeding colonies, or advance transgenic projects, he said. Its money could come from the federal Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative or NIH’s Blueprint for Neuroscience Research.In the meantime, labs are improvising. Last month, several investigators launched a virtual pool, to which existing marmoset colonies will contribute 10% of their animals per year for new investigators to buy or inherit. It’s a stopgap to keep up momentum in the field, Miller says, “because it’s kind of a once-in-a-career opportunity.”center_img Why are U.S. neuroscientists clamoring for marmosets? 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Small and social, marmosets offer advantages for researchers.last_img read more

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Pharaoh confident of getting the nod on election day

19 Jul 2019

first_imgShareTweetSharePinDr. Pharaoh Cuffy with members of the South East football team after winning the 2019 Premier Division LeaugueMedical doctor, Pharaoh Cuffy who will, later this week, be officially declared as the United Workers Party (UWP) candidate for Morne Jaune Riviere Cyrique constituency, has expressed confidence that he will win that seat.Dr. Cuffy told DNO recently that given his association with the young sportsmen and women in the constituency, he is confident that his entry into politics will bear good fruits among the sports men and women alike and others in the constituency.A Cuba-trained medical doctor, Cuffy has been a member of the Sagicor South East Football Club since its formation. He also played national football for Dominica for many years.“The young people in the community see me as a role model and a mentor and I intend to work with them as I did in football, to see the constituency move to higher heights,” Dr. Cuffy stated. “I ask them now to give me that very support and more, in the political arena.”He continued, “In the coming weeks, we will be stepping up our campaign and visibility in the constituency. That is very important so the people can know your plans and strategies in moving the constituency forward and improve their lives.”Dr. Cuffy’s medical experience includes working in the Accident & Emergency Department of the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), lecturing at Ross University and serving, on several occasions, as the medical doctor for the under 17 and under 20 national football team . He also has a private practice.“Sports has been on the back burner of this government for the past years. We want to take sports further in Dominica and this constituency whereby, I want to ensure that those with the sporting talent can earn a living through sports,” he stated.The Grand Fond-born Cuffy was part of the victorious South East football team that won the 2019 Dominica Football Association (DFA) 2019 Premier Division Football Championship and played a major part in the team’s victory in the final.On polling day, the UWP hopeful will face Gretta Roberts, the Dominica Labour Party’s (DLP) new candidate for Morne Jaune/Riviere Cyrique and he says he is ready for the challenge.“I am confident that the people come election day; will give me that nod to lead them in the Dominica parliament as I have been doing in football,” he said.Dr. Cuffy is married to Dr. Charlotte Jeremy Cuffy who is also a medical doctor and the couple has two children.His official declaration as a UWP candidate will take place on Friday May 17 at Grand Fond.last_img read more

first_imgShareTweetSharePinDr. Pharaoh Cuffy with members of the South East football team after winning the 2019 Premier Division LeaugueMedical doctor, Pharaoh Cuffy who will, later this week, be officially declared as the United Workers Party (UWP) candidate for Morne Jaune Riviere Cyrique constituency, has expressed confidence that he will win that seat.Dr. Cuffy told DNO recently that given his association with the young sportsmen and women in the constituency, he is confident that his entry into politics will bear good fruits among the sports men and women alike and others in the constituency.A Cuba-trained medical doctor, Cuffy has been a member of the Sagicor South East Football Club since its formation. He also played national football for Dominica for many years.“The young people in the community see me as a role model and a mentor and I intend to work with them as I did in football, to see the constituency move to higher heights,” Dr. Cuffy stated. “I ask them now to give me that very support and more, in the political arena.”He continued, “In the coming weeks, we will be stepping up our campaign and visibility in the constituency. That is very important so the people can know your plans and strategies in moving the constituency forward and improve their lives.”Dr. Cuffy’s medical experience includes working in the Accident & Emergency Department of the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), lecturing at Ross University and serving, on several occasions, as the medical doctor for the under 17 and under 20 national football team . He also has a private practice.“Sports has been on the back burner of this government for the past years. We want to take sports further in Dominica and this constituency whereby, I want to ensure that those with the sporting talent can earn a living through sports,” he stated.The Grand Fond-born Cuffy was part of the victorious South East football team that won the 2019 Dominica Football Association (DFA) 2019 Premier Division Football Championship and played a major part in the team’s victory in the final.On polling day, the UWP hopeful will face Gretta Roberts, the Dominica Labour Party’s (DLP) new candidate for Morne Jaune/Riviere Cyrique and he says he is ready for the challenge.“I am confident that the people come election day; will give me that nod to lead them in the Dominica parliament as I have been doing in football,” he said.Dr. Cuffy is married to Dr. Charlotte Jeremy Cuffy who is also a medical doctor and the couple has two children.His official declaration as a UWP candidate will take place on Friday May 17 at Grand Fond.last_img read more

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At least 12 killed over 100 injured as string of quakes strike

19 Jul 2019

first_imgBy PTI |Beijing | Updated: June 18, 2019 10:18:19 am Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Amid Doklam standoff, PM Modi expresses grief after China quake Taking stock of monsoon rain Related News LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Post Comment(s) Death toll in southern China quake rises to 589 After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Advertising More Explained Advertising Advertising Four people have been rescued and sent to a hospital, according to a rescuer in Shuanghe township. People in Yibin said aftershocks were felt in the following half-an-hour of the earthquakes.“I was resting in my house when the quake struck,” said Chen Hongxia, who lives on the 16th floor of a residential building in Changning County.“The chandelier and furniture were vigorously shaking, and my family first hid in the toilet and then rushed outside,” Chen said, adding that many of her neighbours rushed to the ground floor.Hu Yukun, also a resident of Changning County, said the quake was quite strong, and that “the ground kept shaking for about a minute.” “As so far, 12 people died and another 125 were injured,” China Daily reported.The deaths and injuries were reported from across the province.“Two people remain trapped and one of them is in critical condition,” a rescuer told Xinhua. China accidentally reported two major quakes which never happened: Earthquake administration The Hongyuan Hotel in Meidong township collapsed during the earthquake, according to the county government. The quake caused cracks in a major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County of Sichuan’s Luzhou city and it has has been closed. Some sections of two other highways have also been shut.Meidong and Shuanghe, which are near the epicentre of the quakes, are suffering from poor telecommunications and the townships are being lashed by heavy rains since Monday.Local police are trying to evacuate the people to safety and hospital staff, firemen and other rescuers are rushing to quake-hit areas for rescue efforts.Strong tremors were felt in major districts of neighbouring Chongqing Municipality, which is not far from the epicentre, and a few residential houses were damaged.However, no casualties were reported, the Chongqing Municipal Emergency Management Bureau said. Changning is around 300 km from Chengdu and about 240 km from Chongqing. In neighbouring Yunnan province, the earthquake was felt in a few counties of Zhaotong city, which is close to Yibin city. Local policeman He Zexi said he first felt the electric fan in his house shaking and then the chandelier began to shake. “It lasted about 30 seconds,” he said. In provincial capital Chengdu, an early warning system alerted the people about one minute before the earthquake struck. When the countdown ended, strong tremor was felt.The Ministry of Emergency Management and the provincial department of emergency management have activated an “emergency response”, according to Xinhua.The ministry has sent a work team to the affected areas to provide guidance in rescue and disaster relief.The National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration and the ministry have dispatched 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds and 20,000 quilts to the quake-hit areas, the state media reported. Sixty-three fire tenders and about 302 fire fighters from Sichuan province have been rushed to the scene for rescue operations, the ministry said. China's earthquake administration: Accidentally reported two major quakes which never happened A crack runs through highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County of Sichuan’s Luzhou city. REUTERSAt least 12 people were killed and over 100 injured after China’s southwest Sichuan province was hit by two strong earthquakes, the state media reported Tuesday. The first 6.0 magnitude quake shook Changning County of Yibin City at 10:55 PM on Monday (local time) and according to the China Earthquake Centre (CENC), the second tremor of magnitude 5.3 hit the area on Tuesday morning. Local fire departments have sent teams to help with rescue efforts, the Xinhua report said. Best Of Express last_img read more

first_imgBy PTI |Beijing | Updated: June 18, 2019 10:18:19 am Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Amid Doklam standoff, PM Modi expresses grief after China quake Taking stock of monsoon rain Related News LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Post Comment(s) Death toll in southern China quake rises to 589 After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Advertising More Explained Advertising Advertising Four people have been rescued and sent to a hospital, according to a rescuer in Shuanghe township. People in Yibin said aftershocks were felt in the following half-an-hour of the earthquakes.“I was resting in my house when the quake struck,” said Chen Hongxia, who lives on the 16th floor of a residential building in Changning County.“The chandelier and furniture were vigorously shaking, and my family first hid in the toilet and then rushed outside,” Chen said, adding that many of her neighbours rushed to the ground floor.Hu Yukun, also a resident of Changning County, said the quake was quite strong, and that “the ground kept shaking for about a minute.” “As so far, 12 people died and another 125 were injured,” China Daily reported.The deaths and injuries were reported from across the province.“Two people remain trapped and one of them is in critical condition,” a rescuer told Xinhua. China accidentally reported two major quakes which never happened: Earthquake administration The Hongyuan Hotel in Meidong township collapsed during the earthquake, according to the county government. The quake caused cracks in a major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County of Sichuan’s Luzhou city and it has has been closed. Some sections of two other highways have also been shut.Meidong and Shuanghe, which are near the epicentre of the quakes, are suffering from poor telecommunications and the townships are being lashed by heavy rains since Monday.Local police are trying to evacuate the people to safety and hospital staff, firemen and other rescuers are rushing to quake-hit areas for rescue efforts.Strong tremors were felt in major districts of neighbouring Chongqing Municipality, which is not far from the epicentre, and a few residential houses were damaged.However, no casualties were reported, the Chongqing Municipal Emergency Management Bureau said. Changning is around 300 km from Chengdu and about 240 km from Chongqing. In neighbouring Yunnan province, the earthquake was felt in a few counties of Zhaotong city, which is close to Yibin city. Local policeman He Zexi said he first felt the electric fan in his house shaking and then the chandelier began to shake. “It lasted about 30 seconds,” he said. In provincial capital Chengdu, an early warning system alerted the people about one minute before the earthquake struck. When the countdown ended, strong tremor was felt.The Ministry of Emergency Management and the provincial department of emergency management have activated an “emergency response”, according to Xinhua.The ministry has sent a work team to the affected areas to provide guidance in rescue and disaster relief.The National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration and the ministry have dispatched 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds and 20,000 quilts to the quake-hit areas, the state media reported. Sixty-three fire tenders and about 302 fire fighters from Sichuan province have been rushed to the scene for rescue operations, the ministry said. China's earthquake administration: Accidentally reported two major quakes which never happened A crack runs through highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong County of Sichuan’s Luzhou city. REUTERSAt least 12 people were killed and over 100 injured after China’s southwest Sichuan province was hit by two strong earthquakes, the state media reported Tuesday. The first 6.0 magnitude quake shook Changning County of Yibin City at 10:55 PM on Monday (local time) and according to the China Earthquake Centre (CENC), the second tremor of magnitude 5.3 hit the area on Tuesday morning. Local fire departments have sent teams to help with rescue efforts, the Xinhua report said. Best Of Express last_img read more

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Podcast Converting carbon dioxide into gasoline and autofocal glasses with lenses that

19 Jul 2019

first_img Chemists have long known how to convert carbon dioxide into fuels—but up until now, such processes have been too expensive for commercial use. Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about using new filters and catalysts to close the gap between air-derived and fossil-derived gasoline.  Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Nitish Padmanaban of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, about replacing bifocals with “autofocals.” These auto-focusing glasses track your eye position and measure the distance to the visual target before adjusting the thickness of their liquid lenses. The prototype glasses have an onboard camera and batteries that make them particularly bulky; however, they still outperformed progressive lenses in tests of focus speed and acuity.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.  Download a transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.  About the Science Podcast : N. Padmanaban et al., Science Advances 2019 last_img read more

first_img Chemists have long known how to convert carbon dioxide into fuels—but up until now, such processes have been too expensive for commercial use. Staff Writer Robert Service talks with host Sarah Crespi about using new filters and catalysts to close the gap between air-derived and fossil-derived gasoline.  Also this week, host Sarah Crespi talks with Nitish Padmanaban of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, about replacing bifocals with “autofocals.” These auto-focusing glasses track your eye position and measure the distance to the visual target before adjusting the thickness of their liquid lenses. The prototype glasses have an onboard camera and batteries that make them particularly bulky; however, they still outperformed progressive lenses in tests of focus speed and acuity.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.  Download a transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.  About the Science Podcast : N. Padmanaban et al., Science Advances 2019 last_img read more

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Jeffrey Epstein was a sex offender The rich and powerful still welcomed

19 Jul 2019

first_img NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Top News By New York Times |New York | Published: July 14, 2019 8:33:44 am Advertising NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Advertising Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook A strange thing happened when Jeffrey Epstein came back to New York City after being branded a sex offender: His reputation appeared to rise.In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida prison, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Epstein was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. A page popped up on Harvard University’s website lauding his accomplishments, and superlative-filled news releases described his lofty ambitions as he dedicated $10 million to charitable causes.Powerful female friends served as social guarantors: Peggy Siegal, a gatekeeper for A-list events, included him in movie screenings, and Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin, a champion of women’s health, maintained a friendship that some felt gave him credibility. Epstein put up a website showing Stephen Hawking and other luminaries at a science gathering he had organized. Advertising It was a five-day gathering in the Caribbean of some of the world’s top scientists, including Hawking, to share ideas about gravity and cosmology, with scuba and catamaran excursions on the side. One evening, the participants had dinner on the beach at Epstein’s private island.Some of the scientists noticed that Epstein “was always followed by a group of something like three or four young women,” as Alan Guth, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it in an email to The New York Times, but they did not investigate further.Over a decade later, after Epstein was released from the Palm Beach County jail, he employed a similar strategy. He surrounded himself with prestige and counted on others to look past what he had done.“I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender,’ Epstein told The New York Post in 2011. “It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”Siegal recalled, “He said he’d served his time and assured me that he changed his ways.”For someone purported to have vast resources at his disposal, Epstein’s early endeavors to improve his image were oddly unpolished. In 2010 he created the first of at least a half-dozen websites, with names like JeffreyEpsteinScience.com and JeffreyEpsteinEducation.com, dedicated to extolling his philanthropy and fashioning himself a patron of technology and medicine.The websites looked amateurish, the photos of him meeting with top scientists dated to years before his time in prison, and the name of the Harvard professor who led a research center Epstein had funded, Martin A. Nowak, was often misspelled.At the same time, Epstein launched a public-relations campaign composed of a blizzard of news releases, along with canned write-ups designed to resemble news stories. For the most part, the announcements, which circulated from 2012 to 2014, were recycled accounts of donations he had made in the early 2000s and did not reflect new charitable giving. The earliest releases listed Epstein’s personal contact information, though later ones had the name of a media consultant. Some of the ersatz news stories found their way onto sites like Forbes and The Huffington Post.Of all the names Epstein dropped, perhaps the most frequent was Harvard’s.Though Epstein never attended Harvard or even got a college degree, the university has been a recurring theme in his self-styled image as a Renaissance man of finance and science. He found Harvard’s doors open to him once he opened his wallet, with donations starting in the early 1990s that eventually totaled at least $7.5 million.He took to wearing Harvard sweatshirts, gravitated to mingling with celebrity scientists like Stephen Jay Gould and Steven Pinker, and developed friendships with former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and law professor Alan Dershowitz, who later helped defend him. (In civil suits, Dershowitz has been accused of having sex with two of Epstein’s accusers; he has denied the allegations and accused their lawyers of malfeasance.) Epstein, a former math teacher, even popped up for lunchtime discussions among scientists at a Harvard cafeteria, Pinker said in an interview, adding, “He weighted his own opinions as much as scholarly literature.”By 2014, a page appeared on the website for Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, the initiative Epstein had financed 11 years earlier with a $6.5 million donation (and a pledge of $23.5 million more that never came), featuring a studio portrait, his résumé and links to his websites. “He is one of the largest supporters of individual scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Marvin Minsky, Seth Lloyd and Nobel Laureates Gerard ’t Hooft, David Gross and Frank Wilczek,” the Harvard bio said, in what appears to be an exaggerated claim.A Harvard spokesman said he did not know who was responsible for the page, which has since been removed.That same year, Epstein resurfaced at a prestigious science conference. Pinker, who sat at the same table as Epstein, said he was treated as an important donor to be wooed.A Brand-New Start of ItAlthough he was often described as a billionaire, Epstein did not come close in his philanthropy to other superrich people. His charitable foundations rarely gave away more than $1 million a year during the 2000s, according to tax records, and much of it was money others had given him.In 2015, a new foundation Epstein created, Gratitude America, received a $10 million infusion and started making donations. The source of the money is something of a mystery. Like his earlier giving, which was financed largely by $21 million in donations to his foundation from a close friend and business associate, retail magnate Leslie Wexner, the 2015 money did not appear to have come from Epstein.Tax records show the $10 million donation came from a limited liability company located in a 22-story building on Park Avenue in Manhattan that also houses the family foundation of Leon Black, a billionaire investor and chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. He has known Epstein for years. In 1999, Black gave $166,000 to another of Epstein’s charities, and Epstein once served on the board of Black’s own foundation. The two men also appear in photos at a 2007 meeting with scientists at Harvard.It could not be determined whether Black was responsible for the $10 million donation. His representatives did not respond to requests for comment.Andersson-Dubin, founder of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai, gave Epstein another form of currency.The physician, who served for many years as an in-house doctor of NBC, is a breast cancer survivor who used her experience as inspiration for a holistic treatment approach. A former model and Miss Sweden, she is the wife of Glenn Dubin, a founder of Highbridge Capital Management who is No. 1,168 on the Forbes billionaires list. The two are known for their philanthropy, and in 2006 they bought Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ former apartment at 1040 Fifth Ave., a symbol of their standing in the city.Andersson-Dubin also has a long history with Epstein, and has remained loyal to him since the 1980s.At that time, she was putting herself through medical school. She became his girlfriend and, with his encouragement, put modeling aside to focus on her studies. They remained close after she married in 1994. After Epstein’s release from jail, she continued to socialize with him; those in her circle were aware of their continued friendship.Despite long-standing news reports about Epstein’s behavior, Andersson-Dubin said through a spokeswoman that she was shocked by the recent news. “She’s a very loyal friend and didn’t abandon him after 2008, but the frequency of their contact was less,” the spokeswoman said. The new allegations “are completely counter to the person she is familiar with.”Their relationship went a long way toward dispersing the cloud around him, according to some observers. If Epstein had Andersson-Dubin’s friendship, it suggested to others that perhaps he should be given the benefit of the doubt.Siegal, perhaps the city’s most prominent professional hostess, took a more active role, using her gate-keeping powers to usher Epstein, a friend, into screenings and events.In an interview, she said that her relationship with Epstein was not a paid one: They had developed a rapport over the years, with him often quizzing her about films and other topics. “I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people,” she said. “And I think that’s what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York.”After he left prison, she had no trouble continuing the friendship. She knew other people who had served time and then resurrected their lives, she said. “The culture before #MeToo was — ‘You’ve done your time, now you’re forgiven.’”At screenings, Epstein would shuffle in at the last minute, sit in the back, speak to no one and leave before the party, Siegal said. He had no ambitions for New York’s party circuit, she and others said, and preferred to entertain people in his own space.But her invitations helped. In 2010, just after Epstein left prison, he attended a screening of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Soon a flattering blind item appeared in The New York Post about how he was “greeted warmly by guests.”“It was the first time he has been out in two years, but nobody blinked he was there,” an anonymous source told the newspaper.A few months later, Siegal threw the dinner party at Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion for Prince Andrew, giving Couric, Stephanopoulos, Chelsea Handler and others a chance to speak to a member of the royal family a few months before the much-anticipated wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.“It was just one of those strange nights,” Handler said in an interview. Siegal had not emphasized who was hosting, several guests recalled. “The invitation was positioned as, ‘Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?’” Siegal said. Epstein did not speak much. Andersson-Dubin was there, but others said they barely knew who Epstein was or what he had been convicted of.Two of the other guests have also been accused of sexual misconduct, then or since: television host Charlie Rose and Woody Allen, who attended with his wife, Soon-Yi Previn. (“So how did the two of you meet?” Handler recalled asking the couple.) Soon after, outraged headlines appeared about Prince Andrew’s associating with Epstein, a sex offender.In a recent email, Stephanopoulos said he regretted attending. “That dinner was the first and last time I’ve seen him,” he said, referring to Epstein. “I should have done more due diligence. It was a mistake to go.”After the #MeToo era dawned in 2017, others were starting to feel less comfortable with Epstein. The Miami Herald published an investigation that spurred new interest in the case. Siegal began to distance herself. It was obvious that he was going to face renewed scrutiny, she said, but “he was in complete denial.”Others echoed that description. Just three months ago, as federal prosecutors were closing in with new charges, Epstein had a conversation with R. Couri Hay, a publicist, about continuing to improve his reputation. Epstein asserted that what he was convicted of did not constitute pedophilia, recalled Hay, who declined to represent him. More Explained Epstein’s social strategy proceeded from his legal one. The lenient agreement he reached with prosecutors — his plea involved one girl, a 17-year-old, and the crime was prostitution, which made it look like the teenager was in part to blame — gave others a reason to dismiss his wrongdoing, decide he had paid his penalty or not question what had happened.At the top of New York society, plenty of people have “weird chitchat attached to their name,” said Candace Bushnell, the “Sex and the City” writer. She said in an interview that she looked into rumors about Epstein for The New York Observer in 1994 but stopped reporting after she was thrown out of his town house and threatened.For years to come, people brushed such stories aside. “You’d think, ‘It couldn’t possibly be true,’” she said.A Renaissance ManIn March 2006, a year after allegations of sexual misconduct were first reported to police in Palm Beach, Florida, Epstein underwrote the kind of elite event he prized. Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file “If you looked up Jeffrey Epstein online in 2012, you would see what we all saw,” Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, said in an interview. He seemed “like an ex-con who had done well on Wall Street,” who was close to the Clintons and gave money to academic pursuits, Botstein said. That was why, he noted, Bard accepted an unsolicited $50,000 in 2011 for its high schools, followed later that year and in 2012 by another $75,000 in donations.More than a decade ago, when Epstein was very publicly accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, he minimized the legal consequences with high-powered lawyers, monetary settlements that silenced complaints, and a plea deal that short-circuited an FBI investigation and led to the resignation announcement Friday of a Trump Cabinet official who had overseen the case as a prosecutor. Socially, Epstein carried out a parallel effort, trying to preserve his reputation as a financier, philanthropist and thinker.Some of the respect Epstein, 66, drew on was manufactured, the accomplishments recycled. The gathering with Hawking had taken place back in 2006. The positive online notices appeared to have been paid for by Epstein: A writer employed by his foundation churned out the news releases, and the supposed author of a Forbes story calling Epstein “one of the largest backers of cutting edge science” conceded in an interview that he was given $600 to post the pre-written article under his own name.Though some institutions and prominent people, including Donald Trump, said they shunned him, Epstein’s tactics largely worked. Over the past week, as the scope and seriousness of his alleged offenses involving dozens of victims have become clearer after a new indictment in New York, the story of Epstein and his social circles shows how some people were willing to welcome back — or at least give a pass to — a handsome rich man who had been convicted of a crime involving a minor. Jeffrey Epstein, who is Jeffrey Epstein, Jeffrey Epstein sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein sexual assault accused, US top news Jeffrey Epstein, center, appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP/File)Written by Jodi Kantor, Mike McIntire and Vanessa Friedman In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Best Of Express In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook The girls he had sex with were “tweens and teens,” Epstein told him. Post Comment(s)last_img read more

first_img NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Top News By New York Times |New York | Published: July 14, 2019 8:33:44 am Advertising NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Advertising Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook A strange thing happened when Jeffrey Epstein came back to New York City after being branded a sex offender: His reputation appeared to rise.In 2010, the year after he got out of a Florida prison, Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos dined at his Manhattan mansion with a British royal. The next year, Epstein was photographed at a “billionaire’s dinner” attended by tech titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. A page popped up on Harvard University’s website lauding his accomplishments, and superlative-filled news releases described his lofty ambitions as he dedicated $10 million to charitable causes.Powerful female friends served as social guarantors: Peggy Siegal, a gatekeeper for A-list events, included him in movie screenings, and Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin, a champion of women’s health, maintained a friendship that some felt gave him credibility. Epstein put up a website showing Stephen Hawking and other luminaries at a science gathering he had organized. Advertising It was a five-day gathering in the Caribbean of some of the world’s top scientists, including Hawking, to share ideas about gravity and cosmology, with scuba and catamaran excursions on the side. One evening, the participants had dinner on the beach at Epstein’s private island.Some of the scientists noticed that Epstein “was always followed by a group of something like three or four young women,” as Alan Guth, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it in an email to The New York Times, but they did not investigate further.Over a decade later, after Epstein was released from the Palm Beach County jail, he employed a similar strategy. He surrounded himself with prestige and counted on others to look past what he had done.“I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender,’ Epstein told The New York Post in 2011. “It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”Siegal recalled, “He said he’d served his time and assured me that he changed his ways.”For someone purported to have vast resources at his disposal, Epstein’s early endeavors to improve his image were oddly unpolished. In 2010 he created the first of at least a half-dozen websites, with names like JeffreyEpsteinScience.com and JeffreyEpsteinEducation.com, dedicated to extolling his philanthropy and fashioning himself a patron of technology and medicine.The websites looked amateurish, the photos of him meeting with top scientists dated to years before his time in prison, and the name of the Harvard professor who led a research center Epstein had funded, Martin A. Nowak, was often misspelled.At the same time, Epstein launched a public-relations campaign composed of a blizzard of news releases, along with canned write-ups designed to resemble news stories. For the most part, the announcements, which circulated from 2012 to 2014, were recycled accounts of donations he had made in the early 2000s and did not reflect new charitable giving. The earliest releases listed Epstein’s personal contact information, though later ones had the name of a media consultant. Some of the ersatz news stories found their way onto sites like Forbes and The Huffington Post.Of all the names Epstein dropped, perhaps the most frequent was Harvard’s.Though Epstein never attended Harvard or even got a college degree, the university has been a recurring theme in his self-styled image as a Renaissance man of finance and science. He found Harvard’s doors open to him once he opened his wallet, with donations starting in the early 1990s that eventually totaled at least $7.5 million.He took to wearing Harvard sweatshirts, gravitated to mingling with celebrity scientists like Stephen Jay Gould and Steven Pinker, and developed friendships with former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and law professor Alan Dershowitz, who later helped defend him. (In civil suits, Dershowitz has been accused of having sex with two of Epstein’s accusers; he has denied the allegations and accused their lawyers of malfeasance.) Epstein, a former math teacher, even popped up for lunchtime discussions among scientists at a Harvard cafeteria, Pinker said in an interview, adding, “He weighted his own opinions as much as scholarly literature.”By 2014, a page appeared on the website for Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, the initiative Epstein had financed 11 years earlier with a $6.5 million donation (and a pledge of $23.5 million more that never came), featuring a studio portrait, his résumé and links to his websites. “He is one of the largest supporters of individual scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Marvin Minsky, Seth Lloyd and Nobel Laureates Gerard ’t Hooft, David Gross and Frank Wilczek,” the Harvard bio said, in what appears to be an exaggerated claim.A Harvard spokesman said he did not know who was responsible for the page, which has since been removed.That same year, Epstein resurfaced at a prestigious science conference. Pinker, who sat at the same table as Epstein, said he was treated as an important donor to be wooed.A Brand-New Start of ItAlthough he was often described as a billionaire, Epstein did not come close in his philanthropy to other superrich people. His charitable foundations rarely gave away more than $1 million a year during the 2000s, according to tax records, and much of it was money others had given him.In 2015, a new foundation Epstein created, Gratitude America, received a $10 million infusion and started making donations. The source of the money is something of a mystery. Like his earlier giving, which was financed largely by $21 million in donations to his foundation from a close friend and business associate, retail magnate Leslie Wexner, the 2015 money did not appear to have come from Epstein.Tax records show the $10 million donation came from a limited liability company located in a 22-story building on Park Avenue in Manhattan that also houses the family foundation of Leon Black, a billionaire investor and chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. He has known Epstein for years. In 1999, Black gave $166,000 to another of Epstein’s charities, and Epstein once served on the board of Black’s own foundation. The two men also appear in photos at a 2007 meeting with scientists at Harvard.It could not be determined whether Black was responsible for the $10 million donation. His representatives did not respond to requests for comment.Andersson-Dubin, founder of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai, gave Epstein another form of currency.The physician, who served for many years as an in-house doctor of NBC, is a breast cancer survivor who used her experience as inspiration for a holistic treatment approach. A former model and Miss Sweden, she is the wife of Glenn Dubin, a founder of Highbridge Capital Management who is No. 1,168 on the Forbes billionaires list. The two are known for their philanthropy, and in 2006 they bought Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ former apartment at 1040 Fifth Ave., a symbol of their standing in the city.Andersson-Dubin also has a long history with Epstein, and has remained loyal to him since the 1980s.At that time, she was putting herself through medical school. She became his girlfriend and, with his encouragement, put modeling aside to focus on her studies. They remained close after she married in 1994. After Epstein’s release from jail, she continued to socialize with him; those in her circle were aware of their continued friendship.Despite long-standing news reports about Epstein’s behavior, Andersson-Dubin said through a spokeswoman that she was shocked by the recent news. “She’s a very loyal friend and didn’t abandon him after 2008, but the frequency of their contact was less,” the spokeswoman said. The new allegations “are completely counter to the person she is familiar with.”Their relationship went a long way toward dispersing the cloud around him, according to some observers. If Epstein had Andersson-Dubin’s friendship, it suggested to others that perhaps he should be given the benefit of the doubt.Siegal, perhaps the city’s most prominent professional hostess, took a more active role, using her gate-keeping powers to usher Epstein, a friend, into screenings and events.In an interview, she said that her relationship with Epstein was not a paid one: They had developed a rapport over the years, with him often quizzing her about films and other topics. “I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people,” she said. “And I think that’s what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York.”After he left prison, she had no trouble continuing the friendship. She knew other people who had served time and then resurrected their lives, she said. “The culture before #MeToo was — ‘You’ve done your time, now you’re forgiven.’”At screenings, Epstein would shuffle in at the last minute, sit in the back, speak to no one and leave before the party, Siegal said. He had no ambitions for New York’s party circuit, she and others said, and preferred to entertain people in his own space.But her invitations helped. In 2010, just after Epstein left prison, he attended a screening of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Soon a flattering blind item appeared in The New York Post about how he was “greeted warmly by guests.”“It was the first time he has been out in two years, but nobody blinked he was there,” an anonymous source told the newspaper.A few months later, Siegal threw the dinner party at Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion for Prince Andrew, giving Couric, Stephanopoulos, Chelsea Handler and others a chance to speak to a member of the royal family a few months before the much-anticipated wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.“It was just one of those strange nights,” Handler said in an interview. Siegal had not emphasized who was hosting, several guests recalled. “The invitation was positioned as, ‘Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?’” Siegal said. Epstein did not speak much. Andersson-Dubin was there, but others said they barely knew who Epstein was or what he had been convicted of.Two of the other guests have also been accused of sexual misconduct, then or since: television host Charlie Rose and Woody Allen, who attended with his wife, Soon-Yi Previn. (“So how did the two of you meet?” Handler recalled asking the couple.) Soon after, outraged headlines appeared about Prince Andrew’s associating with Epstein, a sex offender.In a recent email, Stephanopoulos said he regretted attending. “That dinner was the first and last time I’ve seen him,” he said, referring to Epstein. “I should have done more due diligence. It was a mistake to go.”After the #MeToo era dawned in 2017, others were starting to feel less comfortable with Epstein. The Miami Herald published an investigation that spurred new interest in the case. Siegal began to distance herself. It was obvious that he was going to face renewed scrutiny, she said, but “he was in complete denial.”Others echoed that description. Just three months ago, as federal prosecutors were closing in with new charges, Epstein had a conversation with R. Couri Hay, a publicist, about continuing to improve his reputation. Epstein asserted that what he was convicted of did not constitute pedophilia, recalled Hay, who declined to represent him. More Explained Epstein’s social strategy proceeded from his legal one. The lenient agreement he reached with prosecutors — his plea involved one girl, a 17-year-old, and the crime was prostitution, which made it look like the teenager was in part to blame — gave others a reason to dismiss his wrongdoing, decide he had paid his penalty or not question what had happened.At the top of New York society, plenty of people have “weird chitchat attached to their name,” said Candace Bushnell, the “Sex and the City” writer. She said in an interview that she looked into rumors about Epstein for The New York Observer in 1994 but stopped reporting after she was thrown out of his town house and threatened.For years to come, people brushed such stories aside. “You’d think, ‘It couldn’t possibly be true,’” she said.A Renaissance ManIn March 2006, a year after allegations of sexual misconduct were first reported to police in Palm Beach, Florida, Epstein underwrote the kind of elite event he prized. Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file “If you looked up Jeffrey Epstein online in 2012, you would see what we all saw,” Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, said in an interview. He seemed “like an ex-con who had done well on Wall Street,” who was close to the Clintons and gave money to academic pursuits, Botstein said. That was why, he noted, Bard accepted an unsolicited $50,000 in 2011 for its high schools, followed later that year and in 2012 by another $75,000 in donations.More than a decade ago, when Epstein was very publicly accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, he minimized the legal consequences with high-powered lawyers, monetary settlements that silenced complaints, and a plea deal that short-circuited an FBI investigation and led to the resignation announcement Friday of a Trump Cabinet official who had overseen the case as a prosecutor. Socially, Epstein carried out a parallel effort, trying to preserve his reputation as a financier, philanthropist and thinker.Some of the respect Epstein, 66, drew on was manufactured, the accomplishments recycled. The gathering with Hawking had taken place back in 2006. The positive online notices appeared to have been paid for by Epstein: A writer employed by his foundation churned out the news releases, and the supposed author of a Forbes story calling Epstein “one of the largest backers of cutting edge science” conceded in an interview that he was given $600 to post the pre-written article under his own name.Though some institutions and prominent people, including Donald Trump, said they shunned him, Epstein’s tactics largely worked. Over the past week, as the scope and seriousness of his alleged offenses involving dozens of victims have become clearer after a new indictment in New York, the story of Epstein and his social circles shows how some people were willing to welcome back — or at least give a pass to — a handsome rich man who had been convicted of a crime involving a minor. Jeffrey Epstein, who is Jeffrey Epstein, Jeffrey Epstein sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein sexual assault accused, US top news Jeffrey Epstein, center, appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP/File)Written by Jodi Kantor, Mike McIntire and Vanessa Friedman In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Best Of Express In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief Karnataka: Supreme Court to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook The girls he had sex with were “tweens and teens,” Epstein told him. Post Comment(s)last_img read more

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What Should We Expect From AI

19 Jul 2019

first_imgA Safer World Fear mongering about killer robots and the recent deaths connected with Uber and Tesla autonomous vehicles have rekindled concerns about artificial intelligence in the machines around us. We are well beyond answering Alan Turing’s question, “can machines think?” There is now good reason to ask how we should think of AI, and what we should expect from it.There have been phenomenal advances in AI in just the past few years. They are due in part to advances in processor technology that have increased exponentially the compute performance for artificial neural networks, the development of deep learning software frameworks, and the massive amounts of data mined directly from the Internet and the world around us.We now can train artificial neural networks in the time it would take to make a cup of coffee. Should that scare people? Not really. Don’t Expect Perfection You have to remember that these solutions are being trained for a specific function. They do not think out of the box, do not ponder the meaning of life, and do not have feelings. In most cases, especially today, both the initial training and continued training are limited to large server systems in cloud data centers.As a result, public interaction with AI is limited to cloud-related services like Web browsers or trained models that then are passed down to what we call “edge devices” (referring to the edge of the network) such as smart speakers, smartphones or even cars.Eventually, continued training or even initial training may be done at the edge, but that may take a revolutionary change in processor technology — such as neuromorphic computing, which is only in the research stages.”AI” is exactly as the name implies — the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills — meaning that it learns over time and, more importantly, learns with additional data. The more data a system utilizes for training in the form of files or even live sensors, the more accurate it will be in performing a specific task.However, as a form of intelligence, it never will be perfect. Just as humans learn through new information and interactions, so do machines. New teenage drivers may be caught by surprise the first time they drive on ice, but they learn from the experience and get better with time. So too will AI-based systems, but there always will be uncertainty with new data or circumstances.center_img Jim McGregor has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2017. He is the founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research with more than 30 years of high-tech industry experience. His expertise spans a broad range of product development and corporate strategy functions, such as semiconductor manufacturing, systems engineering, product marketing, marketing communications, brand management, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and sales. McGregor worked for Intel, Motorola, ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and General Dynamics Space Systems prior to becoming an industry analyst and In-Stat’s chief technology strategist. Email Jim. The potential for AI to enhance people’s lives and change society are endless, but the areas where we’ll see the greatest short-term impact are healthcare and transportation. Consider the possibility of having genetically engineered prescriptions for each person, or the ability to find cures for an infectious disease in days, or even hours, because of the abilities of AI systems.Also think about autonomous trucks and cars being able to ferry people and goods around the world with no need for stop lights. This is all possible, and it’s coming sooner than you think.AI already is used in a wide variety of scientific, financial, Web applications, user interfaces, manufacturing, and more. This is one of the most enabling advances in technology ever — and like other major advances, it will change the world dramatically. However, it won’t be perfect.With autonomous vehicles, for example, the only way to eliminate any possibility of a human death is to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic completely. That might happen, but it will require significant infrastructure changes that could take from decades to a century.As a result, there will be more accidents that may result in more deaths from cars and other autonomous machines enabled by AI. However, the number of deaths and injuries will be drastically lower compared to human-operated machines. Just as airline accidents have become uncommon, so too will auto and other accidents, due to the use of AI. The rarity of such accidents, however, will result in spectacular headlines when they do occur.AI also will be used in defense applications, another case in which it should improve systems to reduce or prevent virtual and physical attacks, as well as loss of human life.So, what should we expect from AI? We should expect a safer world with significant advances enabled through intelligent systems. How should we think about AI? We should consider it a breakthrough technology that already is changing the world around us for the better.last_img read more

first_imgA Safer World Fear mongering about killer robots and the recent deaths connected with Uber and Tesla autonomous vehicles have rekindled concerns about artificial intelligence in the machines around us. We are well beyond answering Alan Turing’s question, “can machines think?” There is now good reason to ask how we should think of AI, and what we should expect from it.There have been phenomenal advances in AI in just the past few years. They are due in part to advances in processor technology that have increased exponentially the compute performance for artificial neural networks, the development of deep learning software frameworks, and the massive amounts of data mined directly from the Internet and the world around us.We now can train artificial neural networks in the time it would take to make a cup of coffee. Should that scare people? Not really. Don’t Expect Perfection You have to remember that these solutions are being trained for a specific function. They do not think out of the box, do not ponder the meaning of life, and do not have feelings. In most cases, especially today, both the initial training and continued training are limited to large server systems in cloud data centers.As a result, public interaction with AI is limited to cloud-related services like Web browsers or trained models that then are passed down to what we call “edge devices” (referring to the edge of the network) such as smart speakers, smartphones or even cars.Eventually, continued training or even initial training may be done at the edge, but that may take a revolutionary change in processor technology — such as neuromorphic computing, which is only in the research stages.”AI” is exactly as the name implies — the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills — meaning that it learns over time and, more importantly, learns with additional data. The more data a system utilizes for training in the form of files or even live sensors, the more accurate it will be in performing a specific task.However, as a form of intelligence, it never will be perfect. Just as humans learn through new information and interactions, so do machines. New teenage drivers may be caught by surprise the first time they drive on ice, but they learn from the experience and get better with time. So too will AI-based systems, but there always will be uncertainty with new data or circumstances.center_img Jim McGregor has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2017. He is the founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research with more than 30 years of high-tech industry experience. His expertise spans a broad range of product development and corporate strategy functions, such as semiconductor manufacturing, systems engineering, product marketing, marketing communications, brand management, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and sales. McGregor worked for Intel, Motorola, ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and General Dynamics Space Systems prior to becoming an industry analyst and In-Stat’s chief technology strategist. Email Jim. The potential for AI to enhance people’s lives and change society are endless, but the areas where we’ll see the greatest short-term impact are healthcare and transportation. Consider the possibility of having genetically engineered prescriptions for each person, or the ability to find cures for an infectious disease in days, or even hours, because of the abilities of AI systems.Also think about autonomous trucks and cars being able to ferry people and goods around the world with no need for stop lights. This is all possible, and it’s coming sooner than you think.AI already is used in a wide variety of scientific, financial, Web applications, user interfaces, manufacturing, and more. This is one of the most enabling advances in technology ever — and like other major advances, it will change the world dramatically. However, it won’t be perfect.With autonomous vehicles, for example, the only way to eliminate any possibility of a human death is to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic completely. That might happen, but it will require significant infrastructure changes that could take from decades to a century.As a result, there will be more accidents that may result in more deaths from cars and other autonomous machines enabled by AI. However, the number of deaths and injuries will be drastically lower compared to human-operated machines. Just as airline accidents have become uncommon, so too will auto and other accidents, due to the use of AI. The rarity of such accidents, however, will result in spectacular headlines when they do occur.AI also will be used in defense applications, another case in which it should improve systems to reduce or prevent virtual and physical attacks, as well as loss of human life.So, what should we expect from AI? We should expect a safer world with significant advances enabled through intelligent systems. How should we think about AI? We should consider it a breakthrough technology that already is changing the world around us for the better.last_img read more

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Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers Spies

19 Jul 2019

first_imgInitial configurations for many apps can present a problem for consumers, especially those with a minimal interest in security.”The default on these things is to share information,” said Willy Leichter, vice president of marketing at Virsec.”If you allow it to share your location, it’s almost never clear where that information is going,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Once it gets to the app’s server, companies seem to be comfortable sharing it or being creative with it,” Leichter pointed out. “That’s going to change in Europe with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation),” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of lawsuits around things like this because you can no longer share information about people without their explicit permission.””GDPR is going to make some pretty profound changes come about, especially if the U.S. adopts some kind of GDPR-like regulation to protect data,” added Armor’s Milligan.Consumers can protect what apps do with their data in another way, suggested Parham Eftekhari, executive director of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.”One of the most important things consumers need to do, which no one is speaking about, is start to be vocal with app developers and ask questions about security so that developers understand that security is important and a factor in the buying process,” he told TechNewsWorld.”When companies start to tie revenue to security, it will become a bigger priority,” said Eftekhari, “and that process will happen more quickly when consumers begin to speak up in greater numbers during the sales process.” Polar Flow isn’t alone in revealing sensitive information about soldiers and spies. Nathan Ruser, an Australian student studying international security and the Middle East, earlier this year explained how fitness-tracking app Strava could be used to identify the location of Australian military bases and personnel routines.Information leakage through mobile devices isn’t a new problem for the military, either.”Mobile devices, given their promise of mobility with rich functionality, are being deployed with broadening use cases throughout the United States Department of Defense,” Jason L. Brooks and Jason A. Goss wrote in a paper for the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School back in 2013.”All the while, massive quantities of information are stored and accessed by these devices without there being a comprehensive and specialized security policy dedicated to protecting that information,” they added.The military subsequently adopted regulations governing the use of cellphones and tablets, including a prohibition on bringing personal electronic devices into sensitive areas. API Shutdown In response to the Bellingcat and De Correspondent findings, Polar Flow temporarily suspended an API at a website that exposed a rich vein of user information.Polar emphasized that it had not leaked any data and that there had been no breach of private data.The vast majority of its customers maintained the default private profile and session settings, the company said, and were not affected by the issues described in the report.Sharing training session and GPS location data is an opt-in customer choice, Polar said.Still, because potentially sensitive locations were appearing in public data, the company decided to suspend its Explore API temporarily.Users must assume some of the burden of protecting their data, said Corey Milligan, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Armor.”Users need to be aware of the kind of data they’re putting out there,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Any data you put out there, whether it’s on Facebook or on an app like this, you need to utilize the security mechanisms that are in place for the application itself, at the very least.” A popular fitness app provided a convenient map for anyone interested in shadowing government personnel who exercised in secret locations, including intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world.The fitness app, Polar Flow, publicized more data about its users in a more accessible way than comparable apps “with potentially disastrous results,” found Bellingcat and De Correspondent investigators, who released the results of their research on Sunday.Polar Flow provided functionality that combined all of a person’s exercise sessions on a single map.”Polar is not only revealing the heart rates, routes, dates, time, duration and pace of exercises carried out by individuals at military sites, but also revealing the same information from what are likely their homes as well,” states the report.Tracing all of that information was very simple through the site, the investigators noted. Find a military base, select an exercise published there to identify the attached profile, and see where else an individual has exercised.”As people tend to turn their fitness trackers on/off when leaving or entering their homes, they unwittingly mark their houses on the map,” the report notes. Goldmine of Intelligencecenter_img John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Consumers Need to Push Security Through the Polar flow app and public information, such as social media profiles, Bellingcat and De Correspondent identified a number of people working in sensitive positions, including the following:Military personnel exercising at bases known, or strongly suspected, to host nuclear weapons;Persons working at the FBI and NSA;Military personnel specializing in cybersecurity, IT, missile defense, intelligence and other sensitive domains;Persons serving on submarines, exercising at submarine bases;Individuals both from management and security working at nuclear power plants;Russian soldiers in Crimea; andMilitary personnel at Guantanamo Bay. A Familiar Problemlast_img read more

first_imgInitial configurations for many apps can present a problem for consumers, especially those with a minimal interest in security.”The default on these things is to share information,” said Willy Leichter, vice president of marketing at Virsec.”If you allow it to share your location, it’s almost never clear where that information is going,” he told TechNewsWorld.”Once it gets to the app’s server, companies seem to be comfortable sharing it or being creative with it,” Leichter pointed out. “That’s going to change in Europe with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation),” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of lawsuits around things like this because you can no longer share information about people without their explicit permission.””GDPR is going to make some pretty profound changes come about, especially if the U.S. adopts some kind of GDPR-like regulation to protect data,” added Armor’s Milligan.Consumers can protect what apps do with their data in another way, suggested Parham Eftekhari, executive director of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.”One of the most important things consumers need to do, which no one is speaking about, is start to be vocal with app developers and ask questions about security so that developers understand that security is important and a factor in the buying process,” he told TechNewsWorld.”When companies start to tie revenue to security, it will become a bigger priority,” said Eftekhari, “and that process will happen more quickly when consumers begin to speak up in greater numbers during the sales process.” Polar Flow isn’t alone in revealing sensitive information about soldiers and spies. Nathan Ruser, an Australian student studying international security and the Middle East, earlier this year explained how fitness-tracking app Strava could be used to identify the location of Australian military bases and personnel routines.Information leakage through mobile devices isn’t a new problem for the military, either.”Mobile devices, given their promise of mobility with rich functionality, are being deployed with broadening use cases throughout the United States Department of Defense,” Jason L. Brooks and Jason A. Goss wrote in a paper for the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School back in 2013.”All the while, massive quantities of information are stored and accessed by these devices without there being a comprehensive and specialized security policy dedicated to protecting that information,” they added.The military subsequently adopted regulations governing the use of cellphones and tablets, including a prohibition on bringing personal electronic devices into sensitive areas. API Shutdown In response to the Bellingcat and De Correspondent findings, Polar Flow temporarily suspended an API at a website that exposed a rich vein of user information.Polar emphasized that it had not leaked any data and that there had been no breach of private data.The vast majority of its customers maintained the default private profile and session settings, the company said, and were not affected by the issues described in the report.Sharing training session and GPS location data is an opt-in customer choice, Polar said.Still, because potentially sensitive locations were appearing in public data, the company decided to suspend its Explore API temporarily.Users must assume some of the burden of protecting their data, said Corey Milligan, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Armor.”Users need to be aware of the kind of data they’re putting out there,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Any data you put out there, whether it’s on Facebook or on an app like this, you need to utilize the security mechanisms that are in place for the application itself, at the very least.” A popular fitness app provided a convenient map for anyone interested in shadowing government personnel who exercised in secret locations, including intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world.The fitness app, Polar Flow, publicized more data about its users in a more accessible way than comparable apps “with potentially disastrous results,” found Bellingcat and De Correspondent investigators, who released the results of their research on Sunday.Polar Flow provided functionality that combined all of a person’s exercise sessions on a single map.”Polar is not only revealing the heart rates, routes, dates, time, duration and pace of exercises carried out by individuals at military sites, but also revealing the same information from what are likely their homes as well,” states the report.Tracing all of that information was very simple through the site, the investigators noted. Find a military base, select an exercise published there to identify the attached profile, and see where else an individual has exercised.”As people tend to turn their fitness trackers on/off when leaving or entering their homes, they unwittingly mark their houses on the map,” the report notes. Goldmine of Intelligencecenter_img John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Consumers Need to Push Security Through the Polar flow app and public information, such as social media profiles, Bellingcat and De Correspondent identified a number of people working in sensitive positions, including the following:Military personnel exercising at bases known, or strongly suspected, to host nuclear weapons;Persons working at the FBI and NSA;Military personnel specializing in cybersecurity, IT, missile defense, intelligence and other sensitive domains;Persons serving on submarines, exercising at submarine bases;Individuals both from management and security working at nuclear power plants;Russian soldiers in Crimea; andMilitary personnel at Guantanamo Bay. A Familiar Problemlast_img read more

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Grossly unfair Widower takes ban on military injury claims to Supreme Court

19 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 11 2018More than four years after Navy Lt. Rebekah Daniel bled to death within hours of childbirth at a Washington state military hospital, her husband still doesn’t know exactly how — or why — it happened.Walter Daniel, a former Coast Guard officer, demanded explanations from officials at the Naval Hospital Bremerton, where his wife, known as “Moani,” died on March 9, 2014.He says he got none. No results from a formal review of the incident, no details about how the low-risk pregnancy of a healthy 33-year-old woman — a labor and delivery nurse herself — ended in tragedy, leaving their newborn daughter, Victoria, now 4, without a mom.”There was no timeline, no records of what steps were taken,” recalled Daniel, 39, sitting in his Seattle lawyer’s high-rise office last month. “I’ve had no answers.”Daniel, who now lives in Dublin, Calif., filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015, but it was dismissed, as were subsequent appeals.The dismissals were based not on the facts of the case but on what’s known as the Feres doctrine, a 68-year-old federal ruling that bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government for injuries.This week, Daniel is taking his quest for answers to the U.S. Supreme Court.Through his lawyer, he petitioned the high court on Thursday to amend the 1950 ruling, creating an exception that would allow service members to sue for medical malpractice the same way civilians can.The military health system, with 54 hospitals and 377 medical clinics, serves about 9.4 million beneficiaries, including nearly 1.4 million active-duty members.”I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” Daniel said.The Supreme Court hasn’t considered the Feres doctrine in more than 30 years, since the 1987 case U.S. v. Johnson, where the justices ruled 5-4 to uphold the ruling. That decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who declared the rule should be scrapped.”Feres [v. United States] was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the widespread, almost universal criticism it has received,” Scalia famously wrote.Since then, however, the court has refused to accept at least two petitions that would have allowed reconsideration of Feres. And chances are slim now. Of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases submitted to the Supreme Court each term, only about 80 are accepted.But Daniel and his lawyer, Andrew Hoyal of the Luvera law firm in Seattle, insist that the circumstances of Moani Daniel’s death warrant new scrutiny.”We thought if we’re ever going to take a shot at the Feres doctrine, this is the case to do it,” Hoyal said. “It was clear negligence. It was an awful situation. And every civilian in the country would be able to bring a lawsuit to get accountability, except for members of the service.”She was treated differently because she had lieutenant’s bars.”Daniel disputes the findings of a Navy autopsy that concluded Rebekah Daniel died of “natural” causes possibly linked to an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare, hard-to-prove complication of childbirth.Daniel claims that his wife — who worked in the maternity unit where she delivered her baby — died from botched medical care that failed to stop her from hemorrhaging nearly a third of the blood in her body.”It was utter chaos,” he recalled. “I remember multiple towels and sponges like they were trying to soak up the blood … but it kept coming.”Doctors failed to perform vital tests, to employ an obstetrical balloon — a standard device used to halt postpartum hemorrhage — and to start massive blood transfusions until too late, court documents claim.Just four hours after the birth of her 8-pound, 7-ounce daughter, Moani Daniel was dead.”I was in shock,” recalled Walter Daniel.Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, said in an email that the circumstances of Moani Daniel’s death were “thoroughly examined in a quality review process.” The results of the review cannot be publicly released, he said, declining further comment because of pending litigation.However, in a press release promoting the “Aloha Moani” 5K run organized in Daniel’s honor, Navy officials publicly said she died “due to a rare complication of childbirth.”Walter and Moani Daniel, who met in Hawaii, had been married nearly a decade when she became pregnant in 2013. Moani Daniel had a son, Damien, now 19, from a previous marriage.Moani Daniel loved her job, but she had submitted her resignation to the Navy months earlier and was set to leave the service in April 2014. Walter Daniel had accepted a job in Northern California, where he had moved with Damien to get him settled in school.The day after his wife’s death, Walter Daniel returned to her empty apartment.”She had all this stuff for the baby set up,” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ It was like a nightmare.'”The Feres doctrine holds that active-duty members of the military cannot sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act for harm “incident to service.” The justices wanted to ensure that Congress would not be “burdened with private bills on behalf of military and naval personnel.”They reasoned then that the military provides comprehensive relief for injuries or death of service members and their families — and that there’s no parallel with private liability because the relationship between the government and its armed forces is distinct. Later, the court insisted that a primary reason for barring such lawsuits is to maintain military discipline.But the decision, particularly the definition of “incident to service,” has been debated fiercely for years by scholars and, at least twice, in bills before Congress.Related StoriesStudy analyzes high capacity of A. baumannii to persist on various surfacesMathematical model helps quantify metastatic cell behaviorMaternal prepregnancy surgery linked to increased risk of opioid withdrawal in newbornsThe rule, however, has been interpreted to include not just military duty, but virtually any activity of an active-duty service member, said Richard Custin, a clinical professor of business law and ethics at the University of San Diego.”It’s just grossly unfair,” he said. “Childbirth is not a military activity. It’s clearly not ‘incident to service.'”Custin and other critics claim the Feres doctrine strips military members of a constitutional right to seek redress for grievances, while also allowing military hospitals and doctors to escape scrutiny for negligent care.Military hospitals reported 545 so-called sentinel events — medical omissions or errors — from 2014 to 2017, according to Defense Health Agency data. In 2014, Naval Hospital Bremerton reported at least one case of postpartum hemorrhage or hysterectomy.But such reports aren’t public, so Daniel doesn’t know whether his wife’s case was included in those records. A 2014 review of military health care found the rate of postpartum hemorrhage was consistently higher in military hospitals than the national average, Hoyal noted.”What they do in the medical arena is no different than what civilian hospitals do and they should be held to the same standards as civilian hospitals and civilian doctors,” Hoyal said.Officials with the Department of Defense declined interview requests regarding the Feres ruling.In an email, however, an agency spokeswoman said that overturning the rule would “destroy the premise” of no-fault workers’ compensation available in the military and elsewhere. It would also “create an unsustainable inequity” between military members allowed to sue and others, such as those injured in combat, who couldn’t.And, rather than improving military health care, overturning Feres would “compromise its effectiveness,” the agency said, noting: “No medical system is perfect.”Custin, the law professor, said he sympathizes with Daniel, but isn’t optimistic that the court will view the case differently than other medical malpractice claims.”What this attorney needs to do is somehow distinguish Daniel from the long line of victims that have been maligned by Feres,” he said.Hoyal intends to argue that the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding Feres have been inconsistent and irreconcilable. In decisions that followed Feres, the court rejected its own “parallel liability” argument, said Hoyal. And it has never ruled that medical decisions like those at stake in Daniel’s case would undermine military discipline.“In short, the legal landscape has undergone a sea change since 1950,” Hoyal’s petition states. “Theories once central to Feres no longer matter. Rationales not considered in Feres are now central.”Such an argument may well sway an increasingly conservative Supreme Court that now includes justices loyal to Scalia’s views — as well as progressives inclined to support workers’ rights, said Dwight Stirling, chief executive of the Center for Law and Military Policy, a Southern California think tank.”The Feres doctrine does not divide the court members on your standard ideological grounds,” he said. “It tends to scramble the typical calculus.”Walter Daniel hopes so. After raising Victoria as a single dad for four years, he left the Coast Guard, recently remarried and returned to college to study to become a high school teacher. Even as his life moves on, he said, he hopes Moani Daniel’s case will provide justice for others.”It’s not about the Daniel family, it’s about those thousands of service members throughout the world who are affected by this rule,” he said. “That’s what our fight is for.”KHN’s coverage of women’s health care issues is supported in part by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 11 2018More than four years after Navy Lt. Rebekah Daniel bled to death within hours of childbirth at a Washington state military hospital, her husband still doesn’t know exactly how — or why — it happened.Walter Daniel, a former Coast Guard officer, demanded explanations from officials at the Naval Hospital Bremerton, where his wife, known as “Moani,” died on March 9, 2014.He says he got none. No results from a formal review of the incident, no details about how the low-risk pregnancy of a healthy 33-year-old woman — a labor and delivery nurse herself — ended in tragedy, leaving their newborn daughter, Victoria, now 4, without a mom.”There was no timeline, no records of what steps were taken,” recalled Daniel, 39, sitting in his Seattle lawyer’s high-rise office last month. “I’ve had no answers.”Daniel, who now lives in Dublin, Calif., filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015, but it was dismissed, as were subsequent appeals.The dismissals were based not on the facts of the case but on what’s known as the Feres doctrine, a 68-year-old federal ruling that bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government for injuries.This week, Daniel is taking his quest for answers to the U.S. Supreme Court.Through his lawyer, he petitioned the high court on Thursday to amend the 1950 ruling, creating an exception that would allow service members to sue for medical malpractice the same way civilians can.The military health system, with 54 hospitals and 377 medical clinics, serves about 9.4 million beneficiaries, including nearly 1.4 million active-duty members.”I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” Daniel said.The Supreme Court hasn’t considered the Feres doctrine in more than 30 years, since the 1987 case U.S. v. Johnson, where the justices ruled 5-4 to uphold the ruling. That decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who declared the rule should be scrapped.”Feres [v. United States] was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the widespread, almost universal criticism it has received,” Scalia famously wrote.Since then, however, the court has refused to accept at least two petitions that would have allowed reconsideration of Feres. And chances are slim now. Of the 7,000 to 8,000 cases submitted to the Supreme Court each term, only about 80 are accepted.But Daniel and his lawyer, Andrew Hoyal of the Luvera law firm in Seattle, insist that the circumstances of Moani Daniel’s death warrant new scrutiny.”We thought if we’re ever going to take a shot at the Feres doctrine, this is the case to do it,” Hoyal said. “It was clear negligence. It was an awful situation. And every civilian in the country would be able to bring a lawsuit to get accountability, except for members of the service.”She was treated differently because she had lieutenant’s bars.”Daniel disputes the findings of a Navy autopsy that concluded Rebekah Daniel died of “natural” causes possibly linked to an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare, hard-to-prove complication of childbirth.Daniel claims that his wife — who worked in the maternity unit where she delivered her baby — died from botched medical care that failed to stop her from hemorrhaging nearly a third of the blood in her body.”It was utter chaos,” he recalled. “I remember multiple towels and sponges like they were trying to soak up the blood … but it kept coming.”Doctors failed to perform vital tests, to employ an obstetrical balloon — a standard device used to halt postpartum hemorrhage — and to start massive blood transfusions until too late, court documents claim.Just four hours after the birth of her 8-pound, 7-ounce daughter, Moani Daniel was dead.”I was in shock,” recalled Walter Daniel.Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, said in an email that the circumstances of Moani Daniel’s death were “thoroughly examined in a quality review process.” The results of the review cannot be publicly released, he said, declining further comment because of pending litigation.However, in a press release promoting the “Aloha Moani” 5K run organized in Daniel’s honor, Navy officials publicly said she died “due to a rare complication of childbirth.”Walter and Moani Daniel, who met in Hawaii, had been married nearly a decade when she became pregnant in 2013. Moani Daniel had a son, Damien, now 19, from a previous marriage.Moani Daniel loved her job, but she had submitted her resignation to the Navy months earlier and was set to leave the service in April 2014. Walter Daniel had accepted a job in Northern California, where he had moved with Damien to get him settled in school.The day after his wife’s death, Walter Daniel returned to her empty apartment.”She had all this stuff for the baby set up,” he recalled. “I’m like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ It was like a nightmare.'”The Feres doctrine holds that active-duty members of the military cannot sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act for harm “incident to service.” The justices wanted to ensure that Congress would not be “burdened with private bills on behalf of military and naval personnel.”They reasoned then that the military provides comprehensive relief for injuries or death of service members and their families — and that there’s no parallel with private liability because the relationship between the government and its armed forces is distinct. Later, the court insisted that a primary reason for barring such lawsuits is to maintain military discipline.But the decision, particularly the definition of “incident to service,” has been debated fiercely for years by scholars and, at least twice, in bills before Congress.Related StoriesStudy analyzes high capacity of A. baumannii to persist on various surfacesMathematical model helps quantify metastatic cell behaviorMaternal prepregnancy surgery linked to increased risk of opioid withdrawal in newbornsThe rule, however, has been interpreted to include not just military duty, but virtually any activity of an active-duty service member, said Richard Custin, a clinical professor of business law and ethics at the University of San Diego.”It’s just grossly unfair,” he said. “Childbirth is not a military activity. It’s clearly not ‘incident to service.'”Custin and other critics claim the Feres doctrine strips military members of a constitutional right to seek redress for grievances, while also allowing military hospitals and doctors to escape scrutiny for negligent care.Military hospitals reported 545 so-called sentinel events — medical omissions or errors — from 2014 to 2017, according to Defense Health Agency data. In 2014, Naval Hospital Bremerton reported at least one case of postpartum hemorrhage or hysterectomy.But such reports aren’t public, so Daniel doesn’t know whether his wife’s case was included in those records. A 2014 review of military health care found the rate of postpartum hemorrhage was consistently higher in military hospitals than the national average, Hoyal noted.”What they do in the medical arena is no different than what civilian hospitals do and they should be held to the same standards as civilian hospitals and civilian doctors,” Hoyal said.Officials with the Department of Defense declined interview requests regarding the Feres ruling.In an email, however, an agency spokeswoman said that overturning the rule would “destroy the premise” of no-fault workers’ compensation available in the military and elsewhere. It would also “create an unsustainable inequity” between military members allowed to sue and others, such as those injured in combat, who couldn’t.And, rather than improving military health care, overturning Feres would “compromise its effectiveness,” the agency said, noting: “No medical system is perfect.”Custin, the law professor, said he sympathizes with Daniel, but isn’t optimistic that the court will view the case differently than other medical malpractice claims.”What this attorney needs to do is somehow distinguish Daniel from the long line of victims that have been maligned by Feres,” he said.Hoyal intends to argue that the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding Feres have been inconsistent and irreconcilable. In decisions that followed Feres, the court rejected its own “parallel liability” argument, said Hoyal. And it has never ruled that medical decisions like those at stake in Daniel’s case would undermine military discipline.“In short, the legal landscape has undergone a sea change since 1950,” Hoyal’s petition states. “Theories once central to Feres no longer matter. Rationales not considered in Feres are now central.”Such an argument may well sway an increasingly conservative Supreme Court that now includes justices loyal to Scalia’s views — as well as progressives inclined to support workers’ rights, said Dwight Stirling, chief executive of the Center for Law and Military Policy, a Southern California think tank.”The Feres doctrine does not divide the court members on your standard ideological grounds,” he said. “It tends to scramble the typical calculus.”Walter Daniel hopes so. After raising Victoria as a single dad for four years, he left the Coast Guard, recently remarried and returned to college to study to become a high school teacher. Even as his life moves on, he said, he hopes Moani Daniel’s case will provide justice for others.”It’s not about the Daniel family, it’s about those thousands of service members throughout the world who are affected by this rule,” he said. “That’s what our fight is for.”KHN’s coverage of women’s health care issues is supported in part by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

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New multiallergen test works just as well with dried blood

19 Jul 2019

first_img Source:https://www.meduniwien.ac.at/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 8 2018Using the Allergy Chip co-developed by MedUni Vienna, sensitization to allergens can be detected early on. This normally requires a doctor taking a blood sample for subsequent analysis in a laboratory equipped with the Chip. In Austria, provision is excellent and there are enough laboratories offering this new test. Elsewhere, however, there are only a few per country – blood samples are therefore often protected as well as possible, carefully packed, chilled and air-freighted for analysis. That is a complicated and expensive process. A MedUni Vienna team led by lead investigator Rudolf Valenta from the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research has now shown that this multi-allergen test works just as well with dried blood. Just a few drops of blood dried on a strip of Whatman paper (the extremely absorbent blotting paper most commonly used throughout the world) are enough. This discovery by the Viennese researchers was inspired by the experience gained from the new-born screening programme run by MedUni Vienna’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for more than 50 years. In this program, a small prick of blood is taken from the heel of new-born babies and put onto blotting paper to screen babies for any congenital diseases. “What works well here should also work in the allergy screening developed at MedUni Vienna,” say Valenta and study lead author, Victoria Garib.Dried blood samples provide just as much information as fresh serumThe main finding is as follows: The dried blood samples taken by a doctor produce the same results as analysing fresh serum. And this is true no matter how long the dried specimen has been in a plastic envelope or in the post or at what temperature it was applied. Says Garib: “We measured it at temperatures of +37°C, -20°C and +4°C. The result was always the same.” The test involves stamping a small piece out of the paper and mixing it with a liquid in a plastic thimble, filtering out the antibodies in a centrifuge and then applying it to the Allergy Chip.Related StoriesNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedElectronic consultations in allergy and immunology may reduce need for specialist visitsDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this August”This means that we are now giving every doctor in the world the ability to obtain an analysis quickly and easily, even if they only have a few patients with suspected allergies and do not have a laboratory nearby, so that they can help patients quickly,” adds Valenta, also clarifying: “Of course, laboratories must not accept dried blood samples sent in by private individuals. A doctor must first establish whether the test is necessary and then take the blood sample properly and send it on.” And this would only cost the same as a standard letter, just a few euros. By way of comparison: sending a chilled, correctly protected and packaged blood sample by airmail costs between €250 and €400. At the same time, say the Vienna researchers, it is possible to use the dried blood samples and antibodies obtained from them to evaluate the efficacy of allergy-related immunotherapy treatments and to monitor treatment.About the Allergy ChipThe Allergy Chip, which was co-developed at MedUni Vienna by Valenta’s working group, detects potential allergies by means of fluorescent-labeled antibodies. Currently, serum can be tested for more than 100 allergens at once, ranging from apple to pollen, from grasses, food allergens and bee stings right through to various essentially harmless substances in the environment, such as house dust. It is especially important to identify allergies in children at an early stage, to prevent subsequent chronic diseases such as asthma, for example. The Chip has now become established worldwide as the safest method for early detection of allergies.last_img read more

first_img Source:https://www.meduniwien.ac.at/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 8 2018Using the Allergy Chip co-developed by MedUni Vienna, sensitization to allergens can be detected early on. This normally requires a doctor taking a blood sample for subsequent analysis in a laboratory equipped with the Chip. In Austria, provision is excellent and there are enough laboratories offering this new test. Elsewhere, however, there are only a few per country – blood samples are therefore often protected as well as possible, carefully packed, chilled and air-freighted for analysis. That is a complicated and expensive process. A MedUni Vienna team led by lead investigator Rudolf Valenta from the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research has now shown that this multi-allergen test works just as well with dried blood. Just a few drops of blood dried on a strip of Whatman paper (the extremely absorbent blotting paper most commonly used throughout the world) are enough. This discovery by the Viennese researchers was inspired by the experience gained from the new-born screening programme run by MedUni Vienna’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for more than 50 years. In this program, a small prick of blood is taken from the heel of new-born babies and put onto blotting paper to screen babies for any congenital diseases. “What works well here should also work in the allergy screening developed at MedUni Vienna,” say Valenta and study lead author, Victoria Garib.Dried blood samples provide just as much information as fresh serumThe main finding is as follows: The dried blood samples taken by a doctor produce the same results as analysing fresh serum. And this is true no matter how long the dried specimen has been in a plastic envelope or in the post or at what temperature it was applied. Says Garib: “We measured it at temperatures of +37°C, -20°C and +4°C. The result was always the same.” The test involves stamping a small piece out of the paper and mixing it with a liquid in a plastic thimble, filtering out the antibodies in a centrifuge and then applying it to the Allergy Chip.Related StoriesNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedElectronic consultations in allergy and immunology may reduce need for specialist visitsDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this August”This means that we are now giving every doctor in the world the ability to obtain an analysis quickly and easily, even if they only have a few patients with suspected allergies and do not have a laboratory nearby, so that they can help patients quickly,” adds Valenta, also clarifying: “Of course, laboratories must not accept dried blood samples sent in by private individuals. A doctor must first establish whether the test is necessary and then take the blood sample properly and send it on.” And this would only cost the same as a standard letter, just a few euros. By way of comparison: sending a chilled, correctly protected and packaged blood sample by airmail costs between €250 and €400. At the same time, say the Vienna researchers, it is possible to use the dried blood samples and antibodies obtained from them to evaluate the efficacy of allergy-related immunotherapy treatments and to monitor treatment.About the Allergy ChipThe Allergy Chip, which was co-developed at MedUni Vienna by Valenta’s working group, detects potential allergies by means of fluorescent-labeled antibodies. Currently, serum can be tested for more than 100 allergens at once, ranging from apple to pollen, from grasses, food allergens and bee stings right through to various essentially harmless substances in the environment, such as house dust. It is especially important to identify allergies in children at an early stage, to prevent subsequent chronic diseases such as asthma, for example. The Chip has now become established worldwide as the safest method for early detection of allergies.last_img read more

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Faulty immune receptor in HIV patients could be reason why many experience

18 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 7 2019For HIV patients, treatments that control the infection have come a long way. But many still struggle with a host of other disease-related complications such as neurocognitive disorders, cardiovascular issues, diabetes and chronic inflammation.Why these complications occur isn’t exactly known, but many indicators point to an overactive immune system, something HIV patients are all too familiar with.Michigan State University scientists have discovered SLAMF7, an immune receptor, has the ability to tone down the body’s immune response when activated on certain white blood cells, called “monocytes.” The finding was made after studying both healthy and HIV-infected patients. Yet, for certain HIV patients who experience a myriad of health issues, the researchers found that these patients’ receptors don’t work properly.They also discovered that SLAMF7 made the monocytes more resistant to HIV by increasing the level of a protein, called “CCL3L1,” which is known to make it harder for the HIV virus to get inside cells.The federally funded study is published in the Journal of Immunology.”SLAMF7 can act like a seesaw and keep the balance of the immune system in check,” said Patrick O’Connell, a fourth-year doctoral student who led the project with Yasser Aldhamen, an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “When receptors need to turn immune cells on because of an infection, they bind to the cells and work with fellow receptors to activate the immune system. When signs of infection or inflammation go away, the receptors switch gears and turn off the immune response.”O’Connell explained that for HIV patients, their inability to fight infections stems from chronic immune activation, which exhausts certain cells, such as T-cells, that are needed to help the body ward off diseases.Related StoriesHIV persists in spinal fluid even after long-term treatment and is linked to cognitive deficitsEven when HIV prevention drug is covered, other costs block treatmentHIV therapy leaves unrepaired holes in the immune system’s wall of defensePatients with malfunctioning receptors can’t shut off their immune systems, which can put the body in a chronic proinflammatory state. This constant activation can negatively affect other organs and tissues.”If you have too much activation, you see autoimmune disorders where the body attacks its own tissues and if there’s not enough activation, you see cases where the body can’t fight off infections,” O’Connell said. “HIV patients are different because they can experience both, which can lead to all sorts of health issues and make treatment difficult.”O’Connell and the team tested the blood of study participants, isolated their white blood cells and stimulated them with interferon alpha, a protein that boosts the immune system’s response to infections, sometimes to an unhealthy level. They then investigated how the SLAMF7 receptor responded, and found that it was unresponsive in certain HIV patients who struggled more with complications and often times had a worse prognosis.Understanding the molecular mechanism of the SLAMF7 receptor and how it works could lead to new drug treatments that target immune activation. This could make SLAMF7 a functioning team player again in the immune system – something Aldhamen and O’Connell are looking at in their next phase of research.”There’s always a need to get new drugs that can target different mechanisms related to a disease,” O’Connell said. “Most HIV drugs target the virus itself. Our work comes at it from a different angle – to potentially modify the immune system so we can fight the virus. Finding a drug that does this is our ultimate goal.” Source:https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2019/faulty-immune-receptor-could-be-reason-why-many-face-hiv-complications/last_img read more

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jan 7 2019For HIV patients, treatments that control the infection have come a long way. But many still struggle with a host of other disease-related complications such as neurocognitive disorders, cardiovascular issues, diabetes and chronic inflammation.Why these complications occur isn’t exactly known, but many indicators point to an overactive immune system, something HIV patients are all too familiar with.Michigan State University scientists have discovered SLAMF7, an immune receptor, has the ability to tone down the body’s immune response when activated on certain white blood cells, called “monocytes.” The finding was made after studying both healthy and HIV-infected patients. Yet, for certain HIV patients who experience a myriad of health issues, the researchers found that these patients’ receptors don’t work properly.They also discovered that SLAMF7 made the monocytes more resistant to HIV by increasing the level of a protein, called “CCL3L1,” which is known to make it harder for the HIV virus to get inside cells.The federally funded study is published in the Journal of Immunology.”SLAMF7 can act like a seesaw and keep the balance of the immune system in check,” said Patrick O’Connell, a fourth-year doctoral student who led the project with Yasser Aldhamen, an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. “When receptors need to turn immune cells on because of an infection, they bind to the cells and work with fellow receptors to activate the immune system. When signs of infection or inflammation go away, the receptors switch gears and turn off the immune response.”O’Connell explained that for HIV patients, their inability to fight infections stems from chronic immune activation, which exhausts certain cells, such as T-cells, that are needed to help the body ward off diseases.Related StoriesHIV persists in spinal fluid even after long-term treatment and is linked to cognitive deficitsEven when HIV prevention drug is covered, other costs block treatmentHIV therapy leaves unrepaired holes in the immune system’s wall of defensePatients with malfunctioning receptors can’t shut off their immune systems, which can put the body in a chronic proinflammatory state. This constant activation can negatively affect other organs and tissues.”If you have too much activation, you see autoimmune disorders where the body attacks its own tissues and if there’s not enough activation, you see cases where the body can’t fight off infections,” O’Connell said. “HIV patients are different because they can experience both, which can lead to all sorts of health issues and make treatment difficult.”O’Connell and the team tested the blood of study participants, isolated their white blood cells and stimulated them with interferon alpha, a protein that boosts the immune system’s response to infections, sometimes to an unhealthy level. They then investigated how the SLAMF7 receptor responded, and found that it was unresponsive in certain HIV patients who struggled more with complications and often times had a worse prognosis.Understanding the molecular mechanism of the SLAMF7 receptor and how it works could lead to new drug treatments that target immune activation. This could make SLAMF7 a functioning team player again in the immune system – something Aldhamen and O’Connell are looking at in their next phase of research.”There’s always a need to get new drugs that can target different mechanisms related to a disease,” O’Connell said. “Most HIV drugs target the virus itself. Our work comes at it from a different angle – to potentially modify the immune system so we can fight the virus. Finding a drug that does this is our ultimate goal.” Source:https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2019/faulty-immune-receptor-could-be-reason-why-many-face-hiv-complications/last_img read more

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UMSOM study reveals progress challenges in introducing typhoid conjugate vaccine in Africa

18 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 11 2019Each year there are nearly 11 million cases of typhoid, a disease that is spread through contaminated food, drink and water. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are leading an international consortium that is studying the impact of a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) in an effort to accelerate introduction of the vaccine in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where there is a high burden of typhoid.In a supplement published by Clinical Infectious Diseases, Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) at UMSOM, underscores the importance of introducing a TCV, while outlining the challenges in accelerating wide use of the vaccine in typhoid-endemic countries.Related StoriesGeorgia State researcher wins $3.26 million federal grant to develop universal flu vaccineUM scientists receive $3.3 million NIH contract to develop opioid addiction vaccine$3.1 million NIH funding awarded to develop universal flu vaccine”In the past year, policy and financing milestones have paved the way for the introduction TCVs. In this supplement, collaborators from around the globe detail efforts and provide data to inform country-level decisions on vaccine introduction as a critical part of public health interventions to decrease typhoid disease,” said Dr. Neuzil, who is leading the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), an international group of researchers with a mission to accelerate the introduction of TCV in low-income countries.The special TyVAC journal supplement, edited by Dr. Neuzil, Dr. Andrew Pollard of Oxford University and Dr. Anthony Marfin of PATH, brings together the body of research conducted by TyVAC to date, as well as additional research from other research partners. The research underscores the challenges of typhoid surveillance, the growing resistance to antibiotics and the increasing numbers of typhoid outbreaks in the most vulnerable low-resources settings.”The growing threat of typhoid necessitates a global effort that includes preventative measures such as vaccines and improved waster, sanitation, and hygiene.,” said Dr. Neuzil.In the supplement, TyVAC researchers detail clinical trials that are underway in Nepal, Bangladesh, Malawi, and Burkina Faso. They highlight the health economics of the disease, the growing concerns of drug resistance, and the cost-effectiveness of mass campaigns of a vaccine.Release of the supplement comes as TyVAC researchers in addition to several UMSOM disease experts in the CVD will present their research in Hanoi, Vietnam on March 26-28 at the 11th International Conference on Typhoid and Other Salmonelloses. Dr. Neuzil is a keynote speaker at this event.”This research led by Dr. Kathleen Neuzil demonstrates the impact our work at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has across the globe. It will help inform global vaccine policymakers in settings where diseases like typhoid are a serious threat,” said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. Source:http://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/news/2019/UMSOM-Researchers-Unveil-Progress-and-Challenges-in-Introducing-Typhoid-Conjugate-Vaccine-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa-and-Asia.htmllast_img read more

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 11 2019Each year there are nearly 11 million cases of typhoid, a disease that is spread through contaminated food, drink and water. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are leading an international consortium that is studying the impact of a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) in an effort to accelerate introduction of the vaccine in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where there is a high burden of typhoid.In a supplement published by Clinical Infectious Diseases, Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) at UMSOM, underscores the importance of introducing a TCV, while outlining the challenges in accelerating wide use of the vaccine in typhoid-endemic countries.Related StoriesGeorgia State researcher wins $3.26 million federal grant to develop universal flu vaccineUM scientists receive $3.3 million NIH contract to develop opioid addiction vaccine$3.1 million NIH funding awarded to develop universal flu vaccine”In the past year, policy and financing milestones have paved the way for the introduction TCVs. In this supplement, collaborators from around the globe detail efforts and provide data to inform country-level decisions on vaccine introduction as a critical part of public health interventions to decrease typhoid disease,” said Dr. Neuzil, who is leading the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), an international group of researchers with a mission to accelerate the introduction of TCV in low-income countries.The special TyVAC journal supplement, edited by Dr. Neuzil, Dr. Andrew Pollard of Oxford University and Dr. Anthony Marfin of PATH, brings together the body of research conducted by TyVAC to date, as well as additional research from other research partners. The research underscores the challenges of typhoid surveillance, the growing resistance to antibiotics and the increasing numbers of typhoid outbreaks in the most vulnerable low-resources settings.”The growing threat of typhoid necessitates a global effort that includes preventative measures such as vaccines and improved waster, sanitation, and hygiene.,” said Dr. Neuzil.In the supplement, TyVAC researchers detail clinical trials that are underway in Nepal, Bangladesh, Malawi, and Burkina Faso. They highlight the health economics of the disease, the growing concerns of drug resistance, and the cost-effectiveness of mass campaigns of a vaccine.Release of the supplement comes as TyVAC researchers in addition to several UMSOM disease experts in the CVD will present their research in Hanoi, Vietnam on March 26-28 at the 11th International Conference on Typhoid and Other Salmonelloses. Dr. Neuzil is a keynote speaker at this event.”This research led by Dr. Kathleen Neuzil demonstrates the impact our work at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has across the globe. It will help inform global vaccine policymakers in settings where diseases like typhoid are a serious threat,” said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. Source:http://www.medschool.umaryland.edu/news/2019/UMSOM-Researchers-Unveil-Progress-and-Challenges-in-Introducing-Typhoid-Conjugate-Vaccine-in-Sub-Saharan-Africa-and-Asia.htmllast_img read more

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Longterm use of inexpensive weightloss drug may be safe and effective

18 Jul 2019

first_img Source:https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2019/03/Generic-WeightLoss-Drug-May-Be-Safe-and-Effective-for-Longterm-Treatment Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 22 2019An inexpensive weight-loss drug approved 60 years ago for only short-term use also may be safe and effective for longer-term treatment, according to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network. The study is published in today’s issue of the journal Obesity.The drug, phentermine, is currently FDA-approved for use of up to three months.”Although diet and exercise are critical components of any weight-loss program, up to half of patients don’t have long-term success with lifestyle changes alone,” said first author Kristina H. Lewis, M.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention, at Wake Forest Baptist.Related StoriesDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaNew method improves detection of atrial fibrillation in stroke survivorsDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetes”In those cases, medications or surgery can help. Generic phentermine is an effective and affordable option, but now that we view obesity as a chronic disease, it’s important to have medications that can be used indefinitely. Most new weight-loss drugs are approved for long-term use, but unfortunately the newer drugs can be expensive if they are not covered by insurance.”Lewis and her team analyzed data from the electronic health records of 13,972 adults who were prescribed phentermine for short-term use versus longer-term use of a year or more. The researchers compared weight loss and changes in blood pressure for up to two years, and the risk of heart attack, stroke or death for up to three years, according to a patient’s duration of medication use.The study found that people who stayed on phentermine longer experienced greater weight loss than those who took the drug for three months or less, and longer-term use was not associated with increases in blood pressure or increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death.”In general, the longer patients were on the medicine the more weight loss they had,” Lewis said. “Not surprisingly, when patients stopped taking the medicine weight regain was common.”However, Lewis cautioned that phentermine is a stimulant and should not be used in people with a history of heart disease, stroke or uncontrolled high blood pressure. But for those with low cardiac risk, normal blood pressure or high blood pressure that is well treated, it could be a good and affordable option, she said.”For patients who respond to and tolerate it, phentermine may be a safe and affordable way to achieve greater and longer lasting weight loss, but we need clinical trials to provide more certainty,” Lewis said. “At the moment, there is no change to the FDA labeling so doctors should use caution with the decision about prescribing it longer-term.”The study did not examine the most effective dose of the drug or potential side effects such as anxiety or insomnia. In addition, the people in the study did not have evidence of pre-existing heart disease and most were young or middle-aged women.last_img read more

first_img Source:https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2019/03/Generic-WeightLoss-Drug-May-Be-Safe-and-Effective-for-Longterm-Treatment Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 22 2019An inexpensive weight-loss drug approved 60 years ago for only short-term use also may be safe and effective for longer-term treatment, according to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Health and the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network. The study is published in today’s issue of the journal Obesity.The drug, phentermine, is currently FDA-approved for use of up to three months.”Although diet and exercise are critical components of any weight-loss program, up to half of patients don’t have long-term success with lifestyle changes alone,” said first author Kristina H. Lewis, M.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention, at Wake Forest Baptist.Related StoriesDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaNew method improves detection of atrial fibrillation in stroke survivorsDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetes”In those cases, medications or surgery can help. Generic phentermine is an effective and affordable option, but now that we view obesity as a chronic disease, it’s important to have medications that can be used indefinitely. Most new weight-loss drugs are approved for long-term use, but unfortunately the newer drugs can be expensive if they are not covered by insurance.”Lewis and her team analyzed data from the electronic health records of 13,972 adults who were prescribed phentermine for short-term use versus longer-term use of a year or more. The researchers compared weight loss and changes in blood pressure for up to two years, and the risk of heart attack, stroke or death for up to three years, according to a patient’s duration of medication use.The study found that people who stayed on phentermine longer experienced greater weight loss than those who took the drug for three months or less, and longer-term use was not associated with increases in blood pressure or increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death.”In general, the longer patients were on the medicine the more weight loss they had,” Lewis said. “Not surprisingly, when patients stopped taking the medicine weight regain was common.”However, Lewis cautioned that phentermine is a stimulant and should not be used in people with a history of heart disease, stroke or uncontrolled high blood pressure. But for those with low cardiac risk, normal blood pressure or high blood pressure that is well treated, it could be a good and affordable option, she said.”For patients who respond to and tolerate it, phentermine may be a safe and affordable way to achieve greater and longer lasting weight loss, but we need clinical trials to provide more certainty,” Lewis said. “At the moment, there is no change to the FDA labeling so doctors should use caution with the decision about prescribing it longer-term.”The study did not examine the most effective dose of the drug or potential side effects such as anxiety or insomnia. In addition, the people in the study did not have evidence of pre-existing heart disease and most were young or middle-aged women.last_img read more

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Computer game can train players to eat less sugar

18 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 8 2019More than half of American adults consume excess added sugars, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Major dietary guidelines recommend limiting foods high in added sugars. A recent study led by Evan Forman, PhD, a psychology professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, shows that a computer game can be used to train its players to eat less sugar, as way of reducing their weight and improving their health.”Added sugar is one of the biggest culprits of excess calories and is also associated with several health risks including cancer,” said Forman, who also leads the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) at Drexel. “For these reasons, eliminating added sugar from a person’s diet results in weight loss and reduced risk of disease.”As part of their study, which was recently published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the researchers developed and evaluated a “brain training” game targeting the part of the brain that inhibits impulses with the hope that it would improve diet, specifically by decreasing the consumption of sweet foods. Think: Lumosity for your diet.”Cognitive, or ‘brain, training’ games have been used to help people reduce unhealthy habits, like smoking,” said Forman. “We were also seeing positive results from labs using computer training programs.”This research is the first to examine the impact of this type of “highly personalized and/or gamified inhibitory control training” on weight loss using repeated, at-home trainings, according to Forman.Forman’s group conceptualized a game based on cognitive training and worked with Michael Wagner, a professor and head of the Digital Media department in Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and a group of digital media students to develop it into a computer-based game, called “Diet DASH,” for purposes of the study.The game automatically customized the training to focus on the sweets that each participant tended to eat and adjusted the difficulty according to how well they were resisting the temptation of sweets.Related StoriesRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsPosterior parietal cortex plays crucial role in making decisions, research showsStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingThe trial randomized 109 participants who were overweight and ate sweets. Participants attended a workshop prior to starting the game to help them understand why sugar is detrimental to their health and to learn which foods to avoid and methods for doing so.”The workshop helped give participants strategies for following a no-sugar diet. However, we hypothesized that participants would need an extra tool to help manage sweets cravings,” said Forman. “The daily trainings could make or break a person’s ability to follow the no-added sugar diet. They strengthen the part of your brain to not react to the impulse for sweets.”Participants then played the game on a computer for a few minutes every day for six weeks and then again once a week for two weeks.In the game, players move as quickly as possible through a grocery store with the goal of putting the correct food (healthy foods) in a grocery cart, while refraining from choosing the incorrect foods (their preferred sweet). Points were awarded for correct items placed in carts.For over half of the participants, who showed higher preferences toward sweets, playing the game helped them lose as much as 3.1 percent of their body weight over eight weeks. Participants also indicated that they found the daily training satisfactory, that it became part of their daily routine and that they wished to continue the trainings if they were available.”The study’s findings offer qualified support for the use of a computerized cognitive training to facilitate weight loss,” said Forman.The study also randomized whether participants received a highly gamified (enhanced graphics and sounds) or a less-gamified versions of the training. While the difference between the level of gamification did not matter, overall, to whether participants reduced sugar consumption and lost weight, they did find that the few men in the study reacted better to the highly gamified version than the women in the study. The WELL Center is now conducting a new trial with the highly gamified version of this training specifically for men and is actively recruiting participants. Source:https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2019/May/brain-train-diet-game/last_img read more

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 8 2019More than half of American adults consume excess added sugars, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Major dietary guidelines recommend limiting foods high in added sugars. A recent study led by Evan Forman, PhD, a psychology professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, shows that a computer game can be used to train its players to eat less sugar, as way of reducing their weight and improving their health.”Added sugar is one of the biggest culprits of excess calories and is also associated with several health risks including cancer,” said Forman, who also leads the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) at Drexel. “For these reasons, eliminating added sugar from a person’s diet results in weight loss and reduced risk of disease.”As part of their study, which was recently published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the researchers developed and evaluated a “brain training” game targeting the part of the brain that inhibits impulses with the hope that it would improve diet, specifically by decreasing the consumption of sweet foods. Think: Lumosity for your diet.”Cognitive, or ‘brain, training’ games have been used to help people reduce unhealthy habits, like smoking,” said Forman. “We were also seeing positive results from labs using computer training programs.”This research is the first to examine the impact of this type of “highly personalized and/or gamified inhibitory control training” on weight loss using repeated, at-home trainings, according to Forman.Forman’s group conceptualized a game based on cognitive training and worked with Michael Wagner, a professor and head of the Digital Media department in Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, and a group of digital media students to develop it into a computer-based game, called “Diet DASH,” for purposes of the study.The game automatically customized the training to focus on the sweets that each participant tended to eat and adjusted the difficulty according to how well they were resisting the temptation of sweets.Related StoriesRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsPosterior parietal cortex plays crucial role in making decisions, research showsStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingThe trial randomized 109 participants who were overweight and ate sweets. Participants attended a workshop prior to starting the game to help them understand why sugar is detrimental to their health and to learn which foods to avoid and methods for doing so.”The workshop helped give participants strategies for following a no-sugar diet. However, we hypothesized that participants would need an extra tool to help manage sweets cravings,” said Forman. “The daily trainings could make or break a person’s ability to follow the no-added sugar diet. They strengthen the part of your brain to not react to the impulse for sweets.”Participants then played the game on a computer for a few minutes every day for six weeks and then again once a week for two weeks.In the game, players move as quickly as possible through a grocery store with the goal of putting the correct food (healthy foods) in a grocery cart, while refraining from choosing the incorrect foods (their preferred sweet). Points were awarded for correct items placed in carts.For over half of the participants, who showed higher preferences toward sweets, playing the game helped them lose as much as 3.1 percent of their body weight over eight weeks. Participants also indicated that they found the daily training satisfactory, that it became part of their daily routine and that they wished to continue the trainings if they were available.”The study’s findings offer qualified support for the use of a computerized cognitive training to facilitate weight loss,” said Forman.The study also randomized whether participants received a highly gamified (enhanced graphics and sounds) or a less-gamified versions of the training. While the difference between the level of gamification did not matter, overall, to whether participants reduced sugar consumption and lost weight, they did find that the few men in the study reacted better to the highly gamified version than the women in the study. The WELL Center is now conducting a new trial with the highly gamified version of this training specifically for men and is actively recruiting participants. Source:https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2019/May/brain-train-diet-game/last_img read more

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Men who delay fatherhood put health of partners unborn children at risk

18 Jul 2019

first_img Source:https://www.rutgers.edu/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 13 2019Men who delay starting a family have a ticking “biological clock” — just like women — that may affect the health of their partners and children, according to Rutgers researchers.The study, which reviewed 40 years of research on the effect of parental age on fertility, pregnancy and the health of children, was published in the journal Maturitas.”While it is widely accepted that physiological changes that occur in women after 35 can affect conception, pregnancy and the health of the child, most men do not realize their advanced age can have a similar impact,” said study author Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.While the medical profession has no clearly accepted definition of when advanced paternal age begins — it ranges from 35 to 45 — infants born to fathers over 45 have risen 10 percent in the United States over the past 40 years, likely due to assisted reproductive technology.The study found that men 45 and older can experience decreased fertility and put their partners at risk for increased pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth. Infants born to older fathers were found to be at higher risk of premature birth, late still birth, low Apgar scores, low birth weight, higher incidence of newborn seizures and birth defects such as congenital heart disease and cleft palate. As they matured, these children were found to have an increased likelihood of childhood cancers, psychiatric and cognitive disorders, and autism.Bachmann attributes most of these outcomes to a natural decline in testosterone that occurs with aging, as well as sperm degradation and poorer semen quality, but she said that some correlations need more research. “In addition to advancing paternal age being associated with an increased risk of male infertility, there appears to be other adverse changes that may occur to the sperm with aging. For example, just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose ‘fitness’ over the life cycle,” she said.Related StoriesDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeDamage to sperm from stresses of aging can lead to a decrease in sperm number and a change in the sperm and egg that is passed from parent to offspring and becomes incorporated into the DNA of cells in the offspring’s body. “In addition to decreasing fertilization potential, this can also influence the pregnancy itself, as is noted by increased pregnancy risks when conception is successful,” she said.These germline or heredity mutations also may contribute to the association of advancing paternal age and disorders in the offspring, such as these children being diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia. “Although it is well documented that children of older fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia — one in 141 infants with fathers under 25 versus one in 47 with fathers over 50 — the reason is not well understood,” she said. “Also, some studies have shown that the risk of autism starts to increase when the father is 30, plateaus after 40 and then increases again at 50.”The study also found that older men struggled with fertility issues even if their partner was under 25.”While women tend to be more aware and educated than men about their reproductive health, most men do not consult with physicians unless they have a medical or fertility issue,” Bachmann said.She recommended that physicians counsel older men as they do older women on the effect their age will have on conception, pregnancy and the health of their child. If men plan on delaying fatherhood, they should consider banking sperm before their 35th — or at least by their 45th birthday — to decrease the increased risks to the health of the mother and child.last_img read more

first_img Source:https://www.rutgers.edu/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 13 2019Men who delay starting a family have a ticking “biological clock” — just like women — that may affect the health of their partners and children, according to Rutgers researchers.The study, which reviewed 40 years of research on the effect of parental age on fertility, pregnancy and the health of children, was published in the journal Maturitas.”While it is widely accepted that physiological changes that occur in women after 35 can affect conception, pregnancy and the health of the child, most men do not realize their advanced age can have a similar impact,” said study author Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.While the medical profession has no clearly accepted definition of when advanced paternal age begins — it ranges from 35 to 45 — infants born to fathers over 45 have risen 10 percent in the United States over the past 40 years, likely due to assisted reproductive technology.The study found that men 45 and older can experience decreased fertility and put their partners at risk for increased pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth. Infants born to older fathers were found to be at higher risk of premature birth, late still birth, low Apgar scores, low birth weight, higher incidence of newborn seizures and birth defects such as congenital heart disease and cleft palate. As they matured, these children were found to have an increased likelihood of childhood cancers, psychiatric and cognitive disorders, and autism.Bachmann attributes most of these outcomes to a natural decline in testosterone that occurs with aging, as well as sperm degradation and poorer semen quality, but she said that some correlations need more research. “In addition to advancing paternal age being associated with an increased risk of male infertility, there appears to be other adverse changes that may occur to the sperm with aging. For example, just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose ‘fitness’ over the life cycle,” she said.Related StoriesDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeDamage to sperm from stresses of aging can lead to a decrease in sperm number and a change in the sperm and egg that is passed from parent to offspring and becomes incorporated into the DNA of cells in the offspring’s body. “In addition to decreasing fertilization potential, this can also influence the pregnancy itself, as is noted by increased pregnancy risks when conception is successful,” she said.These germline or heredity mutations also may contribute to the association of advancing paternal age and disorders in the offspring, such as these children being diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia. “Although it is well documented that children of older fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia — one in 141 infants with fathers under 25 versus one in 47 with fathers over 50 — the reason is not well understood,” she said. “Also, some studies have shown that the risk of autism starts to increase when the father is 30, plateaus after 40 and then increases again at 50.”The study also found that older men struggled with fertility issues even if their partner was under 25.”While women tend to be more aware and educated than men about their reproductive health, most men do not consult with physicians unless they have a medical or fertility issue,” Bachmann said.She recommended that physicians counsel older men as they do older women on the effect their age will have on conception, pregnancy and the health of their child. If men plan on delaying fatherhood, they should consider banking sperm before their 35th — or at least by their 45th birthday — to decrease the increased risks to the health of the mother and child.last_img read more

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Georgetown University Medical Center announces launch of clinical trial for Lewy body

18 Jul 2019

first_img Source:Georgetown University Medical Center Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 3 2019Georgetown University Medical Center announces the launch of the only known therapeutic (disease modifying) clinical trial for Lewy body dementia, a neurological disorder that affects a million people in the United States for which there are no approved medications that modify the disease.The researchers are studying bosutinib (Bosulif®)––approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat a form of leukemia, but not approved for other uses.The repurposing of this cancer drug for neurologic disorders is based on research from the Laboratory of Dementia and Parkinsonism at Georgetown University Medical Center, a Lewy Body Dementia Association “Research Center of Excellence.”The clinical trial’s principal investigator, Fernando Pagan, MD, says a treatment for Lewy body dementia, the second most common cause of dementia, is desperately needed. Lewy body dementia is often confused with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. People with Lewy body dementia experience various symptoms including problems with cognition or memory, behavior and mood, but people with this disorder also have movement problems like those seen with Parkinson’s disease.”Pagan, medical director of Georgetown’s Translational Neurotherapeutics Program (TNP) and director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at MedStar Georgetown University Hospitalcenter_img “The first clinical step in studying bosutinib in Lewy body dementia is to carefully examine if the drug is safe and if it is tolerable, and we’ll do that in this trial,” Pagan says. “We’ll also look to see if they can change the levels the abnormal proteins and dopamine in the blood and spinal fluid.”Thirty (30) patients with Lewy body dementia will be enrolled for the bosutinib study through MedStar Georgetown, Georgetown’s clinical partner.The study is a phase II, randomized double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, meaning study participants will be randomly selected by a computer to receive the active drug (bosutinib) or an inactive pill called a placebo. Neither the patient nor the health care providers will know whether the study participant is taking the active drug or placebo (double blinded). Participants must have a study partner to accompany them to clinic visits.Related StoriesOU Health Sciences Center awarded federal grant to enhance dementia care across OklahomaNew app created to help people reduce exposure to anticholinergic medicationsDementia patients hospitalized and involved in transitional care at higher ratesAlpha-synuclein accumulation can cause the loss of dopamine, which controls movement, emotions, attention and other cognitive functions. Other proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, are also thought to contribute to the disease.Animal studies have shown that bosutinib, can lower the levels of alpha-synuclein, tau and beta-amyloid; reverse the loss of dopamine; and reduce inflammation in the brain. These animal studies have also shown that bosutinib may be able to decrease inflammation and reverse dopamine loss at lower doses than what is used for leukemia.Bosutinib is the second investigational drug developed by the Translational Neurotherapeutics Program to be validated in animal studies and advance to clinical trials.”We have been studying bosutinib for almost a decade as a potential therapy to modify neurodegenerative pathologies, including Lewy body dementia,” says Charbel Moussa, MBBS, PhD, clinical and scientific research director of the TNP and director of the Laboratory of Dementia and Parkinsonism.”In animal models, bosutinib ameliorates neurodegenerative pathologies and behavior at much lower doses than the cancer dose, providing strong feasibility to study this drug in individuals with LBD,” adds Moussa.The clinical trial is being funded by an Alzheimer’s Association grant (#PCT19-604325) received by Moussa.Patients seeking information about this and other dementia or movement disorders research should contact Joy Arellano at mja6@gunet.georgetown.edu. Additional information can be found at clinicaltrials.gov.The FDA has approved an “investigation new drug” (IND) application submitted by Georgetown to study bosutinib.Georgetown University has a granted patent in Australia and pending patent applications in US and other foreign jurisdictions on the use of bosutinib to treat alpha-synucleopathies. Moussa, a co-investigator on the study, is named as the inventor on the patent.last_img read more

first_img Source:Georgetown University Medical Center Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 3 2019Georgetown University Medical Center announces the launch of the only known therapeutic (disease modifying) clinical trial for Lewy body dementia, a neurological disorder that affects a million people in the United States for which there are no approved medications that modify the disease.The researchers are studying bosutinib (Bosulif®)––approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat a form of leukemia, but not approved for other uses.The repurposing of this cancer drug for neurologic disorders is based on research from the Laboratory of Dementia and Parkinsonism at Georgetown University Medical Center, a Lewy Body Dementia Association “Research Center of Excellence.”The clinical trial’s principal investigator, Fernando Pagan, MD, says a treatment for Lewy body dementia, the second most common cause of dementia, is desperately needed. Lewy body dementia is often confused with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. People with Lewy body dementia experience various symptoms including problems with cognition or memory, behavior and mood, but people with this disorder also have movement problems like those seen with Parkinson’s disease.”Pagan, medical director of Georgetown’s Translational Neurotherapeutics Program (TNP) and director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at MedStar Georgetown University Hospitalcenter_img “The first clinical step in studying bosutinib in Lewy body dementia is to carefully examine if the drug is safe and if it is tolerable, and we’ll do that in this trial,” Pagan says. “We’ll also look to see if they can change the levels the abnormal proteins and dopamine in the blood and spinal fluid.”Thirty (30) patients with Lewy body dementia will be enrolled for the bosutinib study through MedStar Georgetown, Georgetown’s clinical partner.The study is a phase II, randomized double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, meaning study participants will be randomly selected by a computer to receive the active drug (bosutinib) or an inactive pill called a placebo. Neither the patient nor the health care providers will know whether the study participant is taking the active drug or placebo (double blinded). Participants must have a study partner to accompany them to clinic visits.Related StoriesOU Health Sciences Center awarded federal grant to enhance dementia care across OklahomaNew app created to help people reduce exposure to anticholinergic medicationsDementia patients hospitalized and involved in transitional care at higher ratesAlpha-synuclein accumulation can cause the loss of dopamine, which controls movement, emotions, attention and other cognitive functions. Other proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, are also thought to contribute to the disease.Animal studies have shown that bosutinib, can lower the levels of alpha-synuclein, tau and beta-amyloid; reverse the loss of dopamine; and reduce inflammation in the brain. These animal studies have also shown that bosutinib may be able to decrease inflammation and reverse dopamine loss at lower doses than what is used for leukemia.Bosutinib is the second investigational drug developed by the Translational Neurotherapeutics Program to be validated in animal studies and advance to clinical trials.”We have been studying bosutinib for almost a decade as a potential therapy to modify neurodegenerative pathologies, including Lewy body dementia,” says Charbel Moussa, MBBS, PhD, clinical and scientific research director of the TNP and director of the Laboratory of Dementia and Parkinsonism.”In animal models, bosutinib ameliorates neurodegenerative pathologies and behavior at much lower doses than the cancer dose, providing strong feasibility to study this drug in individuals with LBD,” adds Moussa.The clinical trial is being funded by an Alzheimer’s Association grant (#PCT19-604325) received by Moussa.Patients seeking information about this and other dementia or movement disorders research should contact Joy Arellano at mja6@gunet.georgetown.edu. Additional information can be found at clinicaltrials.gov.The FDA has approved an “investigation new drug” (IND) application submitted by Georgetown to study bosutinib.Georgetown University has a granted patent in Australia and pending patent applications in US and other foreign jurisdictions on the use of bosutinib to treat alpha-synucleopathies. Moussa, a co-investigator on the study, is named as the inventor on the patent.last_img read more

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Scientists create minibrain for studying sporadic CreutzfeldtJakob disease

18 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 16 2019National Institutes of Health scientists have used human skin cells to create what they believe is the first cerebral organoid system, or “mini-brain,” for studying sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). CJD is a fatal neurodegenerative brain disease of humans believed to be caused by infectious prion protein. It affects about 1 in 1 million people. The researchers, from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), hope the human organoid model will enable them to evaluate potential therapeutics for CJD and provide greater detail about human prion disease subtypes than the rodent and nonhuman primate models currently in use.Human cerebral organoids are small balls of human brain cells ranging in size from a poppy seed to a small pea. Their organization, structure, and electrical signaling are similar to brain tissue. Because these cerebral organoids can survive in a controlled environment for months, nervous system diseases can be studied over time. Cerebral organoids have been used as models to study Zika virus infection, Alzheimer’s disease, and Down syndrome.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskIn a new study published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, scientists at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories discovered how to infect five-month-old cerebral organoids with prions using samples from two patients who died of two different CJD subtypes, MV1 and MV2. Infection took about one month to confirm, and the scientists monitored the organoids for changes in health indicators, such as metabolism, for more than six months. By the end of the study, the scientists observed that seeding activity, an indication of infectious prion propagation, was present in all organoids exposed to the CJD samples. However, seeding was greater in organoids infected with the MV2 sample than the MV1 sample. They also reported that the MV1-infected organoids showed more damage than the MV2-infected organoids.The scientists also noted other differences between how the MV1 and MV2 infections evolved in the organoids. They plan to further investigate those differences in hopes of identifying how different subtypes of CJD affect brain cells. Ultimately, they hope to learn how to prevent cell damage and to restore the function of cells damaged by prion infection. The new system also provides opportunities to test potential therapeutics for CJD in a tissue model that mimics the human brain.Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesJournal reference:Groveman, B.R. et al. (2019) Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease prion infection of human cerebral organoids. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. doi.org/10.1186/s40478-019-0742-2.last_img read more

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 16 2019National Institutes of Health scientists have used human skin cells to create what they believe is the first cerebral organoid system, or “mini-brain,” for studying sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). CJD is a fatal neurodegenerative brain disease of humans believed to be caused by infectious prion protein. It affects about 1 in 1 million people. The researchers, from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), hope the human organoid model will enable them to evaluate potential therapeutics for CJD and provide greater detail about human prion disease subtypes than the rodent and nonhuman primate models currently in use.Human cerebral organoids are small balls of human brain cells ranging in size from a poppy seed to a small pea. Their organization, structure, and electrical signaling are similar to brain tissue. Because these cerebral organoids can survive in a controlled environment for months, nervous system diseases can be studied over time. Cerebral organoids have been used as models to study Zika virus infection, Alzheimer’s disease, and Down syndrome.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskIn a new study published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, scientists at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories discovered how to infect five-month-old cerebral organoids with prions using samples from two patients who died of two different CJD subtypes, MV1 and MV2. Infection took about one month to confirm, and the scientists monitored the organoids for changes in health indicators, such as metabolism, for more than six months. By the end of the study, the scientists observed that seeding activity, an indication of infectious prion propagation, was present in all organoids exposed to the CJD samples. However, seeding was greater in organoids infected with the MV2 sample than the MV1 sample. They also reported that the MV1-infected organoids showed more damage than the MV2-infected organoids.The scientists also noted other differences between how the MV1 and MV2 infections evolved in the organoids. They plan to further investigate those differences in hopes of identifying how different subtypes of CJD affect brain cells. Ultimately, they hope to learn how to prevent cell damage and to restore the function of cells damaged by prion infection. The new system also provides opportunities to test potential therapeutics for CJD in a tissue model that mimics the human brain.Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesJournal reference:Groveman, B.R. et al. (2019) Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease prion infection of human cerebral organoids. Acta Neuropathologica Communications. doi.org/10.1186/s40478-019-0742-2.last_img read more

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New genetic marker linked to higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer

18 Jul 2019

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 20 2019University of Alberta researchers have added a new genetic marker to the breast cancer map, helping to expand the list of genetic mutations clinicians can watch for in cancer screenings.The genetic marker–called rs1429142–was found to confer a higher risk of breast cancer in Caucasian women carrying the genetic variation compared to women without the variation. In premenopausal women, that risk reached as high as 40 per cent. The ability to identify those genes and their variants (called alleles) can be vital to early detection and life-saving treatment. Though the study primarily focused on genetic causes of breast cancer in Caucasian women, Damaraju’s team went on to validate their findings in women of Chinese and African descent to explore the impact demographics may have on cancer risk.Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an estimated one out of every eight women expected to develop it in their lifetimes. While environmental factors like smoking, diet or lack of physical activity can lead to cancer, a person’s genes also contribute to the risk of getting the disease.”One of the real benefits of this research is that it brings a lot of focus to premenopausal breast cancer, which otherwise wasn’t thought much about,” said Mahalakshmi Kumaran, Damaraju’s graduate student and first author on the paper.The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, is the first of its kind to examine breast cancer risk in Caucasian women divided into premenopausal and postmenopausal groupings. Because the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 55, most genetic association studies focus on postmenopausal women. However, inherited forms of cancers, typically related to genetic mutations, are more likely to be more aggressive and be diagnosed earlier in life.Related StoriesHealthy lifestyle lowers dementia risk despite genetic predispositionBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskThe researchers examined more than 9,000 women from Alberta for the study, utilizing samples from patients diagnosed with breast cancer and unaffected healthy controls from the Alberta Cancer Research Biobank and The Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, respectively.The DNA isolated from the participants’ blood provided clues to specific chromosomes that showed links to breast cancer risk. Using those clues, the team began to zero in on the specific regions of the chromosome to locate genetic variations across samples. They noticed that rs1429142 showed a consistent association with breast cancer risk in multiple tests. When the data was analyzed based on menopausal status, the risk was shown to be significantly higher for premenopausal women.After confirming the link between the genetic variant and breast cancer, the team then took the extra step of zooming in the genomic region to identify the specific location of the gene on the chromosome and marking it for future researchers.”Finding this genetic marker is like starting with a high-resolution Google map of the world, and then slowly zooming in to the image of your house,” Damaraju said. “It is valuable to do because now we have essentially planted a road sign on the chromosome that can help future researchers to carry out further in-depth studies.”Using international data from other genetic studies of breast cancer, and contributions from Vanderbilt University and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital investigators from Tennessee, the team was also able to validate their findings in women of Chinese and African descent. They found that women of African descent were at a particularly high risk of premenopausal breast cancer as a result of the variant gene. This underlined the idea that genetic ancestry plays an important role in cancer risk.While the study focused primarily on the genetic variation present on a single chromosome, Damaraju said they also found promising leads for identifying more cancer-related genetic markers on other chromosomes as well. In the future, he hopes to see his research contribute to a more precise method of treating breast cancer by tailoring therapies to the specific needs of the patient.”My focus for the last 20 years has been to build a pipeline from genetic research to benefit the patient,” he said. “We identify the genetic predispositions and focus on developing population-related risk models to enable potential screening of populations and eventually possible interventions.” Source:University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & DentistryJournal reference:Damaraju.S. et al. (2019) Fine‐mapping of a novel premenopausal breast cancer susceptibility locus at Chr4q31.22 in Caucasian women and validation in African and Chinese women. International Journal of Cancer. doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32407. This is important because the more we are able to create a complete picture of all the genes and all the variations and mutations that contribute to breast cancer, the closer we get to developing a genetic screen for breast cancer on a population level. If we can identify women at risk before they are diagnosed, and as long as we have the resources to mitigate that risk through preventative approaches, we can reduce the overall burden of breast cancer risk in a population.”Sambasivarao Damaraju, a professor at the U of A’s Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology and a member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Albertalast_img read more

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 20 2019University of Alberta researchers have added a new genetic marker to the breast cancer map, helping to expand the list of genetic mutations clinicians can watch for in cancer screenings.The genetic marker–called rs1429142–was found to confer a higher risk of breast cancer in Caucasian women carrying the genetic variation compared to women without the variation. In premenopausal women, that risk reached as high as 40 per cent. The ability to identify those genes and their variants (called alleles) can be vital to early detection and life-saving treatment. Though the study primarily focused on genetic causes of breast cancer in Caucasian women, Damaraju’s team went on to validate their findings in women of Chinese and African descent to explore the impact demographics may have on cancer risk.Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an estimated one out of every eight women expected to develop it in their lifetimes. While environmental factors like smoking, diet or lack of physical activity can lead to cancer, a person’s genes also contribute to the risk of getting the disease.”One of the real benefits of this research is that it brings a lot of focus to premenopausal breast cancer, which otherwise wasn’t thought much about,” said Mahalakshmi Kumaran, Damaraju’s graduate student and first author on the paper.The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, is the first of its kind to examine breast cancer risk in Caucasian women divided into premenopausal and postmenopausal groupings. Because the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 55, most genetic association studies focus on postmenopausal women. However, inherited forms of cancers, typically related to genetic mutations, are more likely to be more aggressive and be diagnosed earlier in life.Related StoriesHealthy lifestyle lowers dementia risk despite genetic predispositionBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskThe researchers examined more than 9,000 women from Alberta for the study, utilizing samples from patients diagnosed with breast cancer and unaffected healthy controls from the Alberta Cancer Research Biobank and The Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, respectively.The DNA isolated from the participants’ blood provided clues to specific chromosomes that showed links to breast cancer risk. Using those clues, the team began to zero in on the specific regions of the chromosome to locate genetic variations across samples. They noticed that rs1429142 showed a consistent association with breast cancer risk in multiple tests. When the data was analyzed based on menopausal status, the risk was shown to be significantly higher for premenopausal women.After confirming the link between the genetic variant and breast cancer, the team then took the extra step of zooming in the genomic region to identify the specific location of the gene on the chromosome and marking it for future researchers.”Finding this genetic marker is like starting with a high-resolution Google map of the world, and then slowly zooming in to the image of your house,” Damaraju said. “It is valuable to do because now we have essentially planted a road sign on the chromosome that can help future researchers to carry out further in-depth studies.”Using international data from other genetic studies of breast cancer, and contributions from Vanderbilt University and St Jude Children’s Research Hospital investigators from Tennessee, the team was also able to validate their findings in women of Chinese and African descent. They found that women of African descent were at a particularly high risk of premenopausal breast cancer as a result of the variant gene. This underlined the idea that genetic ancestry plays an important role in cancer risk.While the study focused primarily on the genetic variation present on a single chromosome, Damaraju said they also found promising leads for identifying more cancer-related genetic markers on other chromosomes as well. In the future, he hopes to see his research contribute to a more precise method of treating breast cancer by tailoring therapies to the specific needs of the patient.”My focus for the last 20 years has been to build a pipeline from genetic research to benefit the patient,” he said. “We identify the genetic predispositions and focus on developing population-related risk models to enable potential screening of populations and eventually possible interventions.” Source:University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & DentistryJournal reference:Damaraju.S. et al. (2019) Fine‐mapping of a novel premenopausal breast cancer susceptibility locus at Chr4q31.22 in Caucasian women and validation in African and Chinese women. International Journal of Cancer. doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32407. This is important because the more we are able to create a complete picture of all the genes and all the variations and mutations that contribute to breast cancer, the closer we get to developing a genetic screen for breast cancer on a population level. If we can identify women at risk before they are diagnosed, and as long as we have the resources to mitigate that risk through preventative approaches, we can reduce the overall burden of breast cancer risk in a population.”Sambasivarao Damaraju, a professor at the U of A’s Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology and a member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Albertalast_img read more

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