Opioid pharmaceutical marketing influences physicians opioid prescribing rates

first_img Source:https://www.bmc.org/news/press-releases/2018/05/14/marketing-physicians-opioid-pharma-companies-leads-more-opioid May 15 2018A new study shows the significant impact that even a meal or two paid for by a pharmaceutical company can have on prescribing rates, despite a national decline of opioid prescribing rates. Researchers from Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction examined pharmaceutical payments from 2014, ranging from consulting fees to meals, and found that doctors who received any opioid pharmaceutical marketing increased their prescribing in 2015, writing nine percent more opioid prescriptions than doctors who received no marketing. Published inThe researchers looked at pharmaceutical marketing in 2014 using the Open Payments database, where they compiled information on all opioid-related payments to physicians. This includes industry-sponsored meals, speaking fees/honoraria, education, travel, consulting fees, and education. They also gathered data from Medicare Part D claims, where they studied physicians who wrote opioid prescriptions (new and refill) for Medicare beneficiaries in 2015.The authors identified 369,139 physicians who prescribed opioids under Medicare Part D in 2015, a sample representing 43 percent of actively practicing physicians in the US. In 2014, seven percent of these physicians (25,767) received a total of 105,368 opioid-related pharmaceutical company payments amounting to $9,071,976. The three companies with the highest payment totals were INSYS Therapeutics ($4,538,286), Teva Pharmaceuticals USA ($869,155) and Janssen Pharmaceuticals ($854,251).Receipt of any opioid marketing in 2014 was associated with 9.3 percent more opioid claims in 2015. The vast majority of opioid marketing was meals, which comprised 92 percent of the number of payments and had a median value of $13. For each additional meal that physicians received, the number of opioids they prescribed increased. Only a small group of 436 physicians, or 1.7 percent of physicians receiving marketing, received payments totaling more than $1,000.Related StoriesMedicare going in ‘right direction’ on opioid epidemicPatients taking opioids for chronic pain could face health care access problemsFamily members’ drugs may be risk factor for overdose in individuals without prescriptions”These results indicate that while payments from opioid pharmaceutical companies to individual physicians are typically small in value, the impact on prescribing habits is quite large when considered across the entire workforce,” said Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, lead author and addiction expert at BMC’s Grayken Center.Consistent with national trends, the overall number of Medicare opioid claims decreased slightly between 2014 and 2015 (60,055,242 in 2014 to 59,822,155 in 2015), and physicians who received no opioid-related marketing had fewer opioid claims in 2015 compared to 2014. However, physicians who did receive such payments had more opioid claims in 2015 compared to 2014.”As we continue to confront this pressing public health issue, every avenue must be explored, including marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies,” added Hadland, who is an assistant professor of pediatrics at BU School of Medicine. “Our data suggest that the influence of marketing on physicians’ prescribing is subtle yet widespread, and the pharmaceutical industry must look beyond their bottom lines and make changes to their marketing strategies in order to play a role in helping curb opioid overdose deaths.””State and federal authorities should improve regulation and oversight of direct to physician marketing of opioid-related products,” said Brandon Marshall, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at Brown University School of Public Health, who served as the study’s senior author. “In light of our findings that even free meals influence opioid prescribing, legal limits should be placed on both the number of payments and amount of money spent on pharmaceutical opioid marketing.”last_img

New algorithm may be the key to optimizing alertness with caffeine

first_imgJun 4 2018According to a recent study, a newly developed algorithm may be the key to optimizing alertness with caffeine.Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant to counter the effects of sleep loss on neurobehavioral performance. However, to be safe and most effective, it must be consumed at the right time and in the right amount. This study proposed an automated optimization algorithm to identify safe and effective caffeine-dosing strategies that maximize alertness under any sleep-loss condition.”We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” said principal investigator and senior author Jaques Reifman, PhD. “Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”Related StoriesEnergy drinks may increase blood pressure and risk of electrical disturbances in heartCoffee helps develop healthy gut microbes and aids bowel movementsA cup of coffee could be the key to tackling obesity and diabetesReifman is a senior research scientist and director of DoD Biotechnology High Performance Computing Software Applications Institute and the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command in Ft. Detrick, Maryland.The study used a validated mathematical model, which predicts the effects of sleep loss and caffeine on psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) performance and combined it with a computationally efficient optimization algorithm to determine when and how much caffeine to consume to safely maximize alertness during sleep loss. The algorithm takes a user-provided sleep/wake schedule and maximum allowed caffeine as inputs and provides a caffeine-dosing strategy as the output.The algorithm was assessed by computing and comparing dosing strategies for four previously published experimental studies of sleep loss. For each study, two dosing strategies were computed–one which enhanced the predicted PVT performance using the same total amount of caffeine as in the original studies, and another which achieved an equivalent level of performance as in the original studies using a lower amount of caffeine.Compared to the original dosing strategies used in the studies, the U.S. Army’s algorithm identified strategies that enhanced neurobehavioral performance by up to 64 percent, or reduced caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent. According to the authors, these results suggest that the algorithm can tailor the timing and amount of caffeine to the particular sleep/wake schedule of each study condition to maximize its benefits.”Our algorithm is the first quantitative tool that provides automated, customized guidance for safe and effective caffeine dosing to maximize alertness at the most needed times during any sleep-loss condition,” said Reifman. Source:https://aasm.org/new-algorithm-determines-ideal-caffeine-dosage-and-timing-for-alertness/last_img

Pioneering exercise program improves quality of life for older people in care

first_imgJun 8 2018The Aging-On research group of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has devised a pioneering exercise program that benefits the physical and cognitive level of these individualsAn exercise program adapted to the capabilities of each person has shown how effective it is in improving the physical as well as mental health of elderly people who live in residential care homes. The UPV/EHU’s Ageing-On research group, responsible for developing it, has prepared a strategy to be able to spread its application not just across care homes. If the number of people over 65 currently accounts for 22% of the total population in the Basque Autonomous Community (region), predictions indicate that this percentage will rise to 30% by 2030. That is why it is important to promote healthy aging, one of the main backbones of which is health and physical exercise. In fact, during aging, doing regular exercise may reverse age-related physical deterioration and, at the same time, frailty, a very common syndrome among the elderly and which entails a higher risk of falls, hospital admissions, dependence and even death. This syndrome is more widespread among people living in residential care homes.In order to improve the life quality of this group, the UPV/EHU’s Ageing-On research group led by Jon Irazusta, in collaboration with the Matia Institute, has designed a program of physical exercise adapted to the capabilities of each individual. Strength, balance and stamina are worked on. The program is run progressively and the intensities are increased as the capabilities of the people, for whom the adaptations of the body are greater, increase. This makes it pioneering because firstly there are few studies exploring the effects of physical exercise on frailty in this population, and secondly, the programs do not tend to be adapted to the capabilities of the each individual.The effectiveness of the program was analyzed in a sample of 112 participants from 10 centers for the elderly. They were randomly divided into two groups: the “control” group that continued with its usual activities and care, and the “experimental” group that did two 45-minute sessions of physical exercise per week designed to improve strength and balance. The time they spent walking was gradually increased until they reached at least 20 minutes a day.Related StoriesDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesIt’s never too late to take up exercise, advise researchersCombining aerobic exercise and resistance training helps obese older adults preserve muscle massPhysical and cognitive improvementBy the first assessments a link was found between greater limb strength, an improved cognitive state and enhanced life quality. In other words, the work designed to build strength, which is often overlooked in elderly people, can be of great help in improving their physical and mental state, in particular among those who use walking sticks, crutches, Zimmer frames or other aids.After three months, the study showed a significant improvement in most of the physical variables, such as strength, walking speed and balance in the people who were doing physical exercise. By contrast, the people in the “control” group saw a reduction in their physical capabilities.The results obtained in the SPPB (Short Physical Performance Battery) were particularly significant. These tests are used to measure the degree of frailty and may predict the risk of falls, hospital admittances, dependence or death. Doing physical exercise generated a two-point increase in the SPPB while the result for the “control” group fell by one point. “A difference of a single point on this scale is already regarded as significant; 3 points are a clinically highly significant difference, which points to the effectiveness of the program. In addition, it is remarkable that those individuals with a worse functional status benefited from the program even more. So we can say that the program is appropriate for anyone as long as they enjoy a degree of cognitive capacity and autonomy allowing them to participate in it”, explained Prof Jon Irazusta.The positive results obtained have been published in the journals BMC Geriatrics, Maturitas and Experimental Gerontology. The Aging-On research group has also designed a methodology whereby any center for the elderly can set up an exercise program developed with the guidelines set out in its research. The group is hoping that the program will be extended to improve the life quality of elderly people who are in residential care. At the same time they believe that their methodology could also be of use in improving the status of other people, such as those who have recently spent time in hospital, who suffer dementia or other neurological problems and the main carers of dependent people. Source:https://www.ehu.eus/en/last_img

New clinical trial finds no evidence to support use of tamsulosin for

first_img Source:https://www.gwu.edu/ Jun 18 2018The latest research into finding medications to aid the passage of ureteral or kidney stones has shown that tamsulosin is not effective for patients across the board. Previously approved to help men experiencing enlarged prostates, tamsulosin is an Alpha-1 blocker that, in small studies, had been found to be a promising aid to passing kidney stones.A recent multi-center clinical trial funded by the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, revealed no significant support for the use of tamsulosin for kidney stones. The results, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found no significant effect of patient-reported passage or capture of the stone.Related StoriesNew imaging probe allows earlier detection of acute kidney failureInitiating dialysis at higher level of kidney function linked to lower patient survivalArtificial intelligence can help accurately predict acute kidney injury in burn patients”There is no known medication for helping patients pass kidney stones,” explained Andrew Meltzer, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Current guidelines by the American Urological Society call for all patients with stones to receive tamsulosin to help facilitate passage. “We will likely have to change the guidelines regarding which groups of patients should receive the medication,” he said.During the six-year trial, patients presented to the emergency department describing pain associated with stones. One tablet of tamsulosin was administered per day for 28 days with few patients reporting stone passage.According to Meltzer, the medication isn’t completely out of question. Various subgroup analyses suggest that tamsulosin may work in certain subgroups of patients-;those with larger stones or with distal stones.About 10 percent of people suffer from kidney stones, which cause excruciating pain that many compare to child birth. It is estimated that the annual medical costs associated with stones are approximately $5 billion.”We are still looking for noninvasive ways to manage patients who have ureteral stones in order to promote passage and decrease complications and pain,” Meltzer said.last_img

Christiana Care Health System opens first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Delaware

first_imgJun 21 2018To increase access to advanced neurological care, Christiana Care Health System has opened the first Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) in the First State.Specially outfitted private hospital rooms in the Transition Neuro Unit at Christiana Hospital provide state-of-the-art equipment for video and audio monitoring. In the rooms, brain waves are tracked with electroencephalography (EEG) and electrical activity in the heart is recorded with electrocardiography (EKG), helping clinicians understand what is happening during a seizure. To further enhance safety, nurses assist patients whenever they are out of their bed. And patients wear mobility vests that connect to a stationary lift, a system that allows patients to move around a room – and prevents them from falling if they have a seizure. This is one of the few EMUs in the U.S. that uses a patient lift to prevent falls.Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder, in which brain activity becomes abnormal, leading to seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations or loss of awareness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are 3.4 million Americans with epilepsy and there is a growing incidence of the disease among the adult population in Delaware, especially among people 60 and older.”Our community deserves the very best in neurological care,” said Valerie Dechant, M.D., physician leader, Neuroscience Service Line, and medical director, Neurocritical Care and Acute Neurologic Services. “Our new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit will enable us to serve the complex neurologic needs of our adult patients.”Related StoriesNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerWeightlifting is better for the heart than cardioRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaChristiana Care’s EMU is part of a larger effort to establish an epilepsy center of excellence, so adults of any age can receive the highest quality routine and specialty care for seizure disorders.”We want to help patients who believe they have been over-diagnosed or under-diagnosed so they can see improvement in their lives,” said Neurologist John R. Pollard, M.D., medical director of the new EMU.While most patients with epilepsy are successfully treated by a general neurologist or epileptologist, a significant number of patients have persistent fainting or seizure episodes – or they have unwanted side effects from medications. This new facility enables physicians to work more closely with these patients to understand their seizures and determine appropriate treatment.”Typically, these patients visit an EMU where they may stay for several days so they can be safely taken off medications, inducing seizures that are recorded and studied so a proper diagnosis and treatment can be planned,” said Christy L. Poole, RN, BSN CRNI CCRC, a neurosciences program manager. Visiting an EMU to induce a seizure could be a source of anxiety for patients and their families.”Our staff works with patients and families to reduce any fear by providing information on what to expect, stressing procedures that enhance patient safety and making the stay as pleasant as possible,” said Susan Craig, MSN, RNIII-BC, epilepsy clinical nurse practice coordinator. Source:www.christianacare.org/last_img

FDA approves first oral medication for treatment of adults with Fabry disease

first_imgAug 10 2018The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Galafold (migalastat), the first oral medication for the treatment of adults with Fabry disease. The drug is indicated for adults with Fabry disease who have a genetic mutation determined to be responsive (“amenable”) to treatment with Galafold based on laboratory data. Fabry disease is a rare and serious genetic disease that results from buildup of a type of fat called globotriaosylceramide (GL-3) in blood vessels, the kidneys, the heart, the nerves and other organs.”Thus far, treatment of Fabry disease has involved replacing the missing enzyme that causes the particular type of fat buildup in this disease. Galafold differs from enzyme replacement in that it increases the activity of the body’s deficient enzyme,” said Julie Beitz, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.Fabry disease is an inherited disorder caused by mutations (alterations) in the alpha-galactosidase A (GLA) gene located on the X-chromosome. Fabry disease is rare and affects both males and females. It is estimated that classic Fabry disease (the most severe type) affects approximately one in 40,000 males. The later-onset type is more frequent, and in some populations, may occur in one in 1,500 to 4,000 males. Patients with Fabry disease develop slowly progressive kidney disease, cardiac hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart), arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), stroke and early death.The efficacy of Galafold was demonstrated in a six-month, placebo-controlled clinical trial in 45 adults with Fabry disease. In this trial, patients treated with Galafold over six months had a greater reduction in globotriaosylceramide (GL-3) in blood vessels of the kidneys (as measured in kidney biopsy samples) as compared to patients on placebo.The safety of Galafold was studied in four clinical trials which included a total of 139 patients with Fabry disease.Related StoriesDoes genetic testing affect psychosocial health?Genetic contribution to distractibility helps explain procrastinationLiving a healthy lifestyle may help offset genetic risk of dementiaThe most common adverse drug reactions in patients taking Galafold in clinical trials were headache, nasal and throat irritation (nasopharyngitis), urinary tract infection, nausea, and fever (pyrexia).Galafold was approved using the Accelerated Approval pathway, under which the FDA may approve drugs for serious conditions where there is an unmet medical need and where a drug is shown to have certain effects that are reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. A further study is required to verify and describe the clinical benefits of Galafold, and the sponsor will be conducting a confirmatory clinical trial of Galafold in adults with Fabry disease.Galafold was granted Priority Review designation, under which the FDA’s goal is to take action on an application within six months of application filing where the agency determines that the drug, if approved, would provide a significant improvement in treating, diagnosing or preventing a serious condition over available therapies. Galafold also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.The FDA granted approval of Galafold to Amicus Therapeutics U.S., Inc.Source: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm616598.htmlast_img

Wearable monitor uses AI to diagnose heart rhythm and respiratory problems

first_img Source:https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/low-cost-ai-heart-monitor-developed-by-cambridge-start-up Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 12 2018A Cambridge start-up has developed a low-cost next-generation wearable heart and cardiovascular function monitor which uses AI to diagnose heart rhythm and respiratory problems in real time.The company, Cambridge Heartwear, hopes to use its wireless monitor to improve the detection of irregular and dangerous heart rhythms and reduce the impact of stroke and stroke-related mortality and morbidity, which affects 120,000 people in the UK each year.Professor Roberto Cipolla from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering met cardiologist and clinical academic Dr Rameen Shakur in 2015, a year after Roberto’s father had died of a stroke. Their ongoing research collaboration has now led to the formation of Cambridge Heartwear, a company based on the Cambridge Science Park.The company’s device, called Heartsense, includes a multiple lead ECG, oxygen sensing, temperature and tracking device which can be comfortably worn by patients for early screening. Sensors are enclosed in a robust waterproof casing, and the data produced is far more sensitive than that from current single lead wearable devices, as the development team have used their knowledge of clinical anatomy and electrophysiology to place leads for maximal signal output.This data is wirelessly streamed in real time to the cloud where adaptive AI algorithms are able to identify clinically relevant irregular and dangerous rhythms just as a physician would. The device incorporates multiple independent sensors, in order to produce more specific and sensitive data than current heart monitors can provide.The research challenge was to produce algorithms that can learn from a limited amount of supervision from the cardiologist. “Our aim was not to replace the cardiologist, but to give them diagnostic support in real time,” said Cipolla.To encourage the adoption by clinicians the team ensured that the output of the AI algorithms also included the information commonly used by a cardiologist. “This was not necessary for the final diagnosis but made the system a little more understandable and explainable than typical Deep Learning systems, which are still thought of as black boxes,” said Cipolla.NHS figures suggest atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disturbance encountered by doctors, affects in excess of one million people across the UK. According to national and international data, more than 80% of people who either die or are left with severe neurological deficits following a stroke had an irregular heartbeat as the underlying cause. However, irregular heartbeat is often diagnosed only after a person has had a stroke.Related StoriesTeam approach to care increases likelihood of surviving refractory cardiogenic shockNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsThere are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year, and it is the fourth biggest killer in the in the UK, with more than 23,000 deaths last year. The NHS spends £2.5 billion annually on neurological treatment and rehabilitation for stroke patients.”It makes sense to pick up AF before someone has a stroke and put preventative treatment in place,” said Shakur, who was formerly a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellow at Cambridge and is now based at MIT. “Unfortunately, the technology and clinical care systems we currently have in place aren’t really doing this.”Heart rhythms are currently measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG). To use an ECG as someone is going about their daily business, rather than in a GP surgery, a device called a Holter monitor is used. This requires fixing 12 leads to the patient’s chest and carrying the cumbersome device around for 24 hours.It can take as long as four to six weeks from the time when a patient is referred by their GP to when the data from the Holter monitor is analysed and an irregular heartbeat is detected or not. Additionally, a Holter monitor costs as much as £2000.”If you’re wearing an ECG over a long period of time, you’re collecting a huge amount of data,” said Shakur. “Finding an irregularity among all the normal rhythms can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wanted to automate this process, helping the patient to get a diagnosis and start on treatment.”To solve this problem, Shakur began collaborating with Cipolla, a world leader in computer vision and real-world applications, and students from the Department of Engineering. The collaboration led to the founding of Cambridge Heartwear in 2017 and the development of the unique device and some powerful algorithms that can automatically interpret ECG data, which have an accuracy level in excess of 95%.In 2017, the company secured funding to build and test 100 prototypes of the new heart monitor and to extend its AI capability. The Royal College of Art was also helped in the ergonomic design of the device. Heartsense will cost substantially less than a Holter monitor.Clinical trials in Lancashire, UK have begun with patients enrolled from the primary care setting.last_img

APA names lawyer to examine claims it aided US government in shielding

first_imgThe American Psychological Association (APA) last week named a former federal prosecutor to lead an investigation into its role in supporting the U.S. government’s interrogation of suspected terrorists.A new book by reporter James Risen of The New York Times alleges that APA, the largest U.S. professional association of psychologists, bent its ethical guidelines to give psychologists permission to conduct such interrogations at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere. The motivation, according to Risen, was to stay in the good graces of U.S. intelligence and defense officials. APA has denied the allegations and says that it worked closely with the CIA and the Pentagon “to ensure that national security policies were well-informed by empirical science.”David Hoffman, a lawyer with the Chicago, Illinois, law firm Sidley Austin LLP, says that APA has promised him its complete cooperation. “We will follow the evidence where it leads us,” he told ScienceInsider. He added that his full report, “without modification,” will be made public in March 2015. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Risen’s book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, draws heavily on more than 600 e-mails that chronicle an online discussion from 2003 to 2006 among officials at APA, the CIA, and the White House under President George W. Bush. The original source of the e-mails was Scott Gerwehr, a contract researcher for the CIA and an expert on “deception detection” who died in a motorcycle accident in 2008. Two years earlier at a psychology conference, Gerwehr shared his concerns about the enhanced interrogation program with Bradley Olson, a psychologist at National Louis University in Chicago. Olson had put Gerwehr in contact with Nathaniel Raymond, a human rights researcher now based at Harvard University. After Gerwehr’s death, an archive of more than 600 e-mails from his computer were shared with the FBI, Raymond, Risen, and others by an unknown source. (There is neither evidence nor suspicion of foul play in Gerwehr’s accident.)”The significance of the Gerwehr files is not in what they say about him or in what he was doing,” Risen says in his book, which came out last month. “Rather, it is in what they help reveal about the tight network of behavioral scientists so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about getting involved with institutions that were using pseudo behavioral science to brutalize prisoners. They help reveal the close relationships between behavioral scientists and the government that made it easier for the CIA and Pentagon to develop such a large detention and interrogation infrastructure so quickly.”In a 12 November statement announcing Hoffman’s appointment, APA said Risen’s book “has created confusion for the public and APA members. This confusion, coupled with the seriousness of the allegation, requires a definitive, independent and objective review of the allegation and all relevant evidence.”  Hoffman’s work will be reviewed by three members of its board of directors. According to the statement, the board “will take actions … as it finds appropriate.”Olson says he’s “pleasantly surprised” that APA will be opening its files to Hoffman. “He has a reputation as being a tough investigator.” But Jean Maria Arrigo, a member of a 2005 APA task force that examined the original allegations in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, is skeptical. Now a psychologist in Riverside, California, Arrigo helped form a group in 2006 that opposes the involvement of psychologists in what it calls “state-supported abuse.” “It’s him versus the CIA,” she says. “And he answers to an APA committee that does not include any critics.”last_img

China cracks down after investigation finds massive peerreview fraud

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) A massive peer-review fraud has triggered a tough response from the Chinese government. Officials last week announced that more than 400 researchers listed as authors on some 100 now-retracted papers will face disciplinary action because their misconduct has seriously damaged China’s scientific reputation.Some institutions have barred the scientists linked to the fraud from pursuing their research—at least temporarily. And they have imposed other penalties, including canceling promotions, honors, and grants. Government ministries have also announced new “zero tolerance” policies aimed at stamping out research fraud. “We should eradicate the problem from its roots,” said He Defang, director of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s (MOST’s) regulatory division in Beijing.Although China has previously cracked down on scientific misconduct—a chronic problem—these penalties “are the harshest ever,” says Chen Bikun, an information scientist at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology in China who tracks trends in scientific publishing. Email By Dennis NormileJul. 31, 2017 , 2:30 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Emily Petersen center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Springer retracted 107 papers from Tumor Biology in April. China cracks down after investigation finds massive peer-review fraud MOST’s 27 July announcement marked the culmination of an investigation into the mass retraction this past April of 107 papers by Chinese authors that appeared in a single journal, Tumor Biology. The papers, published between 2012 and 2016, were pulled after editors found “strong reason to believe that the peer review process was compromised,” Editor-in-Chief Torgny Stigbrand, of Umeå University in Sweden, wrote on 20 April on the website of the publisher Springer. (Springer, an arm of Springer Nature, published Tumor Biology until December 2016; the journal is now operated by SAGE Publications.)Investigators say the authors engaged in an all-too-common scam. Tumor Biology allowed submitting authors to nominate reviewers. The Chinese authors suggested “experts” and provided email addresses that routed messages from the journal back to the researchers themselves, or to accomplices—sometimes third-party firms hired by the authors—who wrote glowing reviews that helped get the papers accepted.The MOST investigation focused on 101 papers for which there was evidence of faked peer review, according to a summary of a press conference posted on the agency’s website. Investigators concluded that for 95 of the papers third party agencies had provided phony experts or false reviews. In six cases, one or more of the authors perpetrated the fraud themselves.Overall, 80 of the papers reported actual research results, investigators found. But nine were fraudulent, and 12 of the papers had been purchased outright from third parties by the supposed authors. The remaining six papers have various other problems or are still under investigation.Investigators linked 521 academics and physicians to the 107 papers. Just 11 were cleared of misconduct. Twenty-four have been put on a watch list because of insufficient evidence. Of the rest, 102 were deemed to carry primary responsibility for fraud, and 70 carried secondary responsibility. An additional 314 were judged to have not participated in the scam, but bear some responsibility for allowing themselves to appear as co-authors without making sure their colleagues were behaving appropriately.In a sign of how seriously government officials took the case, an array of major agencies—including the Ministry of Education and the China Association for Science and Technology—joined MOST’s investigation. The punishments are being decided by institutions on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with Communist Party regulations. The agencies are also calling on institutions to formulate more stringent rules for identifying and handling fraud.The inquiry was “much more thorough and open than” in previous cases, says Yu Yao, a geneticist at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. And the severe punishments have grabbed the attention of researchers, who have been discussing them on social media, Chen says. Many Chinese scientists are “deeply shocked,” he says, and have vowed to be “more conscientious and careful” in collaborating with other authors.The call to discipline co-authors judged to have been unknowingly caught in deception, however, is a bit controversial. “If an author provides reliable data for the paper and is not involved in fraud, the author should be warned, but not be punished,” Yu says.The journal and its sponsoring society should also take some of the blame, Chen believes. He and others note that Tumor Biology, which is owned by the International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers, has a history of problems. In 2016 it retracted 25 papers all at once for similar peer-review problems. The journal now has the dubious distinction of having retracted “the most papers of any other journal,” according to Retraction Watch. An investigation by ScienceInsider found that several scientists listed on its editorial board had no relationship with the journal and one had even passed away several years ago. The journal “should also improve their examination system to prevent [abuse by] unscrupulous researchers,” Chen says.SAGE took over responsibility for publishing the journal “with the agreement that there would be a complete overhaul of the editorial structure and peer review practices of the journal, specifically the use of preferred reviewers,” a SAGE spokesperson wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.In general, however, the government’s response to the massive fraud is drawing support. Zhu Yong-Guan, a biogeochemist at the Institute of Urban Environment in Xiamen, China, says the episode “reminds us that ‘zero tolerance’ toward academic dishonesty needs further strengthening, and the actions by the Chinese government are very timely.”*Update, 1 August, 10:15 a.m.: Statement from SAGE Publications added.last_img

How to escape a Venus flytrap in one easy step

first_imgiStock.com/Jim1123 The gaping jaws of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) are famous for snapping shut on any creature unlucky enough to wander too close. But a new study shows that some insects never fall prey to this carnivorous plant. Their secret? They’re the pollinators that help the plant reproduce, researchers report this week in The American Naturalist. Because the flytrap, native to only a small area of North and South Carolina, could potentially eat the bugs that help it breed, researchers wanted to know how it discriminates between pollinators and dinner. So they collected more than 600 insects: 400 that had visited the killer flowers and 200 victims from three different study sites. The researchers then measured the Venus flytrap pollen on each bug to find out whether it was a frequent pollinator. They found very little overlap between prey and pollinator—checkered beetles and sweat bees, for example, were almost never eaten. That’s likely because the plants’ flowers stand far above the gaping traps below—about 15 to 35 centimeters. So flying visitors can feast, while insects on the ground become the feast. By Lakshmi SupriyaFeb. 9, 2018 , 9:55 AMcenter_img How to escape a Venus flytrap, in one easy steplast_img

Fossil feathers reveal how dinosaurs took flight

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Now, researchers have shown this directly by analyzing the α- and β-keratins in a handful of exceptionally preserved fossils from China and Mongolia. The researchers, led by paleontologists Pan Yanhong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, designed separate antibodies to bind to identifying segments of various α- and β-keratin proteins preserved in the fossilized feathers of five species that lived between 160 million and 75 million years ago. The antibodies were labeled with fluorescent tags that light up whenever they bind to their targets. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Pan Yanhong ROBERT CLARK/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC This Anchiornis fossil revealed that the dinosaur’s feathers likely had some, though not all, of the molecular characteristics of modern bird feathers. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Anchiornis dinosaur feathers were likely an evolutionary intermediate on the way to flight. Fossil feathers reveal how dinosaurs took flight Scientists have long known that many early dinosaurs, the ancestors of today’s birds, were covered in feathers, likely for warmth and to attract mates. But no one knows exactly when—and how—these feathered dinos took flight. Now, molecular evidence from feathered dinosaur fossils reveals how the key proteins that make up feathers became lighter and more flexible over time, as flightless dinosaurs evolved into flying ones—and later, birds.All modern land animals with backbones have keratins, proteins that make up everything from fingernails and beaks to scales and feathers. In humans and other mammals, α-keratins form the 10 nanometer-wide filaments that make up hair, skin, and nails. In crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and birds, β-keratins form the even narrower, more rigid filaments that build claws, beaks, and feathers.Using the whole genomes of dozens of living birds, crocodiles, turtles, and other reptiles, scientists have built over the past decade a family tree of these animals based on how their β-keratins changed over time. Among the revelations: Modern birds have lost most of their α-keratins, but β-keratins in their feathers have become more flexible, thanks to a missing swath of glycine and tyrosine amino acids that make claws and beaks rigid. This suggests the transition to flight required both changes to take place. By Robert F. ServiceJan. 28, 2019 , 3:50 PM Email The feathers of Anchiornis, a crow-size feathered dinosaur that lived 160 million years ago, lit up to reveal the flexible truncated β​-keratin found in modern birds, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But the dinosaurs—which predate the first recognized bird, Archaeopteryx, by 10 million years—had even more α-keratins, which are largely absent from bird feathers today. Given that, plus structural differences revealed by electron microscopy analysis, it’s likely that Anchiornis feathers weren’t suitable for flight, Schweitzer says, but represent an intermediate stage in the evolution toward flight feathers.Fossilized feathers from a 130-million-year-old small flightless dinosaur called Shuvuuia (which is not an ancestor to today’s birds) reveal that, like modern birds, it lacked α-keratins. But unlike Anchiornis, its feathers were still made up of the larger, more rigid β-keratins. “We’re beginning to uncover the mosaic pattern of feather evolution,” Schweitzer says, which suggests the transition of feathers to flight required both the mutations that eliminated most α-keratins and the truncated flexible β-keratins.“This type of work is every evolutionary biologist’s dream,” says Matthew Greenwold, an evolutionary biologist at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, who helped build the earlier β-keratin family tree. Taken together with modern genetic evidence, the new finding suggests that during the transition to flight, the β-keratin gene was duplicated many times in the genomes of some dinosaurs. As the animals evolved, some of the extra copies then mutated into the truncated form that made flight possible. That not only allowed feathered dinosaurs such as Archaeopteryx to cruise the skies about 150 million years ago, but it also gave rise to all the crows, finches, starlings, and eagles we have with us today.last_img

Ancient Snowball Earth thawed out in a flash

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country An artist’s impression of what Earth looked like during the Snowball Earth glaciations. More than half a billion years ago, our planet was a giant snowball hurtling through space. Glaciers blanketed the globe all the way to the equator in one of the mysterious “Snowball Earth” events geologists think occurred at least twice in Earth’s ancient past. Now, scientists have found that the final snowball episode likely ended in a flash about 635 million years ago—a geologically fast event that may have implications for today’s human-driven global warming.The ice, which built up over several thousand years, “melted in no more than 1 million years,” says Shuhai Xiao, a paleobiologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg who was part of the team that made the discovery. That’s the blink of an eye in our planet’s 4.56-billion-year history, suggesting the globe reached a sudden tipping point, Xiao says. Although the  team doesn’t know for certain what caused it, carbon dioxide emitted by ancient volcanoes may have triggered a greenhouse event, causing the ice sheets to thaw rapidly.To shine light on the pace of deglaciation, Xiao and colleagues dated volcanic rocks from southern China’s Yunnan province. These were embedded below another kind of rock called a cap carbonate—unique deposits of limestone and dolostone that formed during Snowball Earth’s shutdown in response to high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Using radiometric dating techniques, the team found the volcanic rocks were 634.6 million years old, give or take about 880,000 years. Alone, this single new date couldn’t reveal the speed at which the melting happened. But in 2005, a different team of scientists dated volcanic rocks from above a similar cap at a different location—in China’s Guizhou province. They were dated to 635.2 million years, give or take 570,000 years. Ancient ‘Snowball Earth’ thawed out in a flashcenter_img Julio Lacerda/Studio 252MYA Together, the two samples suggest the melting event was a quick thaw of about 1 million years, Xiao and his colleagues wrote last month in Geology. The key, Xiao explains, is that these two dates are far more precise than those of past samples, with error bars of less than 1 million years. Those error bars essentially bracket the period in which the cap carbonates formed—and, thus, bound the period of the final Snowball Earth thawing event. Because previously discovered samples have error bars of several million years or more, Xiao says these new dates are the first that can be used to calculate the pace of melting with any certainty.However, because the two new samples come from southern China, they don’t paint a global picture of the ancient thaw, says Carol Dehler, a geologist at Utah State University in Logan. To do that, scientists would need to find datable volcanic rocks from other parts of the world, which are about “as common as unicorns,” she jokes. But, she adds, they might be out there “waiting to be discovered.”Meanwhile, understanding the nature of these ancient glaciations could help scientists dealing with climate change today: “I think one of the biggest messages that Snowball Earth can send humanity,” Dehler says, “is that it shows the Earth’s capabilities to change in extreme ways on short and longer time scales.” Email By Lucas JoelApr. 2, 2019 , 10:50 AMlast_img

LaDavid Johnsons Widow Snubs Army Ambush Report

first_img More By Bruce C.T. Wright Funeral for Sgt. La David JohnsonSource: Sun Sentinel / GettyThe widow of an Army soldier who was killed in an ambush in Africa reportedly “reacted angrily” when she was briefed on a report surrounding the unexpected siege. It was the latest update in an unfortunate saga that hinted at a possible cover-up of ineptitude that left LaDavid Johnson and three other soldiers dead in Niger in 2017. Everything We Know About Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s Murder Investigation Operational Detachment-Alpha 3212, Oct. 4, 2017, Tongo Tongo, #Niger ~ SSG Dustin Wright, Silver Star. SGT LaDavid Johnson, Silver Star. SFC Jeremiah Johnson, Bronze Star with “V” Device. SSG Bryan Black, Bronze Star with “V” Device. pic.twitter.com/iPH6ltoRhz— James Gordon Meek (@meekwire) June 6, 2019“Myeshia Johnson got up and walked out in frustration about 20 minutes into the tense meeting with Army officials,” ABC News reported about the sergeant’s wife reacting to “being handed a 289-page report by Army officers and learning that no further disciplinary action was required beyond the letters of reprimand that have already been issued.”In other words, the Army appeared to be all but shrugging at what was previously described as preventable military fiasco where soldiers lacked sufficient intelligence before heedlessly rushing into a firefight with militants near the border of Mali. Derion Vence, Maleah Davis, Brittany Bowens Well that came on quietly. Myesha Johnson, the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson, and the other families of the slain soldiers are owed an apology and full and transparent briefing on the truth of what happened. https://t.co/V28UXYqtNV— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) June 6, 2019Myeshia Johnson was not alone with her reaction. ABC News also reported that the families of the other soldiers were equally as upset, with the mother of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson (no relation) declaring that she was “angry as hell.” A Disturbing Timeline Of 4-Year-Old Maleah Davis Going Missing After Being Left With Her Stepfather The Evolving Relevance Of ‘The Talk’ The disrespect didn’t end there.While remembering other soldiers by name who had recently been killed in action, the president seemed to deliberately omit La David Johnson’s name from ceremonies of remembrance during the subsequent Veterans Day and Memorial Day national holidays.All of the above likely made Wednesday’s report that much more intolerable to Myeshia Johnson, who could easily be forgiven if she didn’t want to have anything else to do with Trump’s federal government.SEE ALSO:The White Privileged Audacity Of Golden State Warriors’ Part Owner Pushing Kyle LowryNew Database Shows Thousands Of Cops Publicly Post Racist and Pro-Violent Views To Facebook The new report continued the disrespect officials have repeatedly lent the investigation into the ambush as well as the families of the soldiers who were killed. That especially included Myeshia Johnson, who was reportedly told by President Donald Trump during a phone call of purported condolences that her husband knew what he signed up for, implying that his death was simply an expected statistic.At the time, Myeshia Johnson was being consoled by her Florida Congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, who said she heard the exchange. Trump ended up getting into a Twitter war with Myeshia Johnson and Wilson over his lack of sympathy and lies surrounding the soldiers’ death.Funeral for Sgt. La David JohnsonSource: Sun Sentinel / GettyWhile the U.S. military was investigating the ambush, news surfaced from villagers in Niger in November of 2017 that Johnson and the other three U.S. soldiers were found bound and apparently executed by militants. Johnson’s body was found with his hands tied behind his back and severe head trauma. The militants also stripped the soldiers of their clothes and shoes.Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson stood in stark contrast to one he gave another widow, who is white. Michelle Black was reportedly comforted by Trump’s “gracious” call in the days after her Special Forces husband Bryan Black was killed in the ambush. Unpacking Mayor Pete’s ‘Douglass Plan’ For Black Americalast_img

Iran breaches key uranium enrichment limit in nuclear deal

first_img They’re not afraid Explained: Trump’s immigrant policy; what the ICE planned, and why Karnataka: SC to rule today, says Speaker’s powers need relook Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. At the 4.5% level, it is enough to help power Iran’s Bushehr reactor, the country’s only nuclear power plant.Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, confirmed the increased enrichment to the AP.“At the moment our enrichment is at around 4.5%,” Kamalvandi said. He did not elaborate.Kamalvandi separately hinted in a state TV interview broadcast Monday that Iran might consider going to 20% enrichment or higher as a third step, if the material is needed and the country still hasn’t gotten what it wants from Europe. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts because 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%. Kamalvandi also suggested using new or more centrifuges, which are limited by the deal. Donald Trump and Democrats clash over President’s ‘racist’ tweets Explained: Kulbhushan Jadhav case file There are fears that a miscalculation in the crisis could explode into open conflict. President Donald Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal over a year ago and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran, nearly bombed the country last month after Tehran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone. Even China, engaged in delicate trade negotiations with the White House, openly criticized America’s policy toward Iran.“What I want to emphasize is that the maximum pressure the U.S. imposes on Iran is the root cause of the crisis in the Iranian nuclear issue,” said Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. “It has been proven that unilateral bullying has become a worsening tumor and is creating more problems and greater crises on a global scale.”On Sunday, Trump warned that “Iran better be careful.” He didn’t elaborate on what actions the U.S. might consider but told reporters: “Iran’s doing a lot of bad things.”Under the deal, Iran has been closely monitored by inspectors from the IAEA, which on Monday verified “that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67%.” The Vienna-based agency did not specify how much beyond the threshold Iran has gone. The acknowledgement by the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to The Associated Press shows that the Islamic Republic trying to increase pressure on those still in the 2015 nuclear deal. It also comes just days after Iran acknowledged breaking the 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile, another term of the accord.The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, confirmed that Iran surpassed the enrichment threshold.Experts warn that higher enrichment and a growing stockpile could begin to narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic weapon, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented. While the steps now taken by Iran remain quickly reversible, Europe so far has struggled to respond. By AP |Tehran (iran) | Published: July 9, 2019 10:55:39 am Advertising In undecided Congress, first open call for Priyanka: She should be party chief iran, nuclear deal, united states, us sanctions, donald trump, uranium, iran uranium enrichment, nuclear weapons, economic sanctions, iran oil, iran oil sales, saudi arabia, tehran, middle east, crude oil, world news, indian express news From left to right, spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency Behrouz Kamalvandi, Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo)Iran on Monday began enriching uranium to 4.5%, just breaking the limit set by its nuclear deal with world powers, while it is still seeking a way for Europe to help it bypass U.S. sanctions amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran appreciated the efforts of some nations to save the deal, but offered a jaded tone on whether Tehran trusted anyone in the negotiations.“We have no hope nor trust in anyone, nor any country, but the door of diplomacy is open,” Mousavi said.He also gave a sharp, yet unelaborated warning to Europe about another 60-day deadline that Iran set Sunday. That deadline is Sept. 5, though Iran’s senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri described it as being Sept. 7. The different dates could not be immediately reconciled.“If the remaining countries in the deal, especially the Europeans, do not fulfill their commitments seriously, and not do anything more than talk, Iran’s third step will be harder, more steadfast and somehow stunning,” he said. The remaining signatories to the deal with Iran are Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.The U.S. will not waver from its course of maximum pressure against Iran and “will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Vice President Mike Pence told a pro-Israel Christian organization in Washington.“Iran must choose between caring for its people and continuing to fund its proxies who spread violence and terrorism throughout the region and breathe out murderous hatred against Israel,” Pence said, in comments that were reinforced by national security adviser John Bolton, a longtime advocate of tough measures against Iran, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.America has implemented the “strongest pressure campaign in history against the Iranian regime,” Pompeo told the group, adding, “and we are not done.”The U.S. has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East. Mysterious oil tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia and Iran’s downing of a U.S. military drone have raised fears of a wider conflict engulfing the region.French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and said they are trying to find a way by July 15 to resume international dialogue with Iran. It remains unclear what Europe can do, because Iran wants it to help Tehran sell its crude oil abroad.Macron is sending his chief diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, to Tehran on Tuesday, although it was not immediately clear how long he would stay or with whom he would meet.U.S. sanctions have targeted Iran’s oil sales and top officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It’s also unclear what international company would risk U.S. sanctions to help Europe trade with Iran outside of the exceptions granted for food and medicine.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes Iran’s action would neither help preserve the agreement “nor secure tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people,” according to U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq.Mousavi said he didn’t know where an Iranian supertanker was heading when it was seized off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities there said they seized the Grace 1 last week and confirmed Monday it was fully loaded with crude oil. Its suspected destination was a refinery in Syria that is under European Union sanctions.Hard-liners in Iran have demanded a British oil tanker be seized in response. State TV said Britain’s ambassador to Tehran had been summoned Monday for a third time.A lawmaker also has suggested that Iran charge ships moving through the Strait of Hormuz, something Mousavi dismissed while insisting Iran’s right to patrol the waters off its coast.“We are responsible for maritime protection of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. This is our region. This is our gulf,” he said, reiterating Iran’s longtime stance. “This is our innate duty to secure this region and sustain its security. Countries that claim from thousands of miles from here that they should guarantee the maritime security here are speaking exaggeratedly.” Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami also offered his own warning to the British over the tanker’s seizure: “It won’t remain without a response.” Related News Best Of Express NRC deadline approaching, families stranded in Assam floods stay home Advertising Advertising More Explained Post Comment(s)last_img

Are dinosaur fossils minerals The Montana Supreme Court will decide high stakes

first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Read more… By Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E NewsJul. 10, 2019 , 11:10 AM Are dinosaur fossils ‘minerals’? The Montana Supreme Court will decide high stakes case Email The remains of two “dueling dinosaurs” have sparked an ownership dispute that could set legal precedent. ©BHIGR 2013 Originally published by E&E NewsPristine dinosaur fossils discovered in Montana have sparked a property rights dispute that has hit paleontologists like an asteroid.The lawsuit, now at the Montana Supreme Court, concerns who owns some of the greatest fossil finds in the last century, including two dinosaurs preserved while locked in combat and a rare complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) They are worth millions, and paleontologists say a federal appeals court ruling would have “fundamental and extraordinary impacts upon the conduct of science concerning the history of life on Earth.”The case hinges on a seemingly straightforward question: Are fossils considered “minerals” under Montana state law?In Montana, rights to a property’s mineral estate are often severed from its surface rights. Historically, fossils have been considered part of the surface estate.That all seemed to change last November when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the owners of the mineral rights of a ranch where the fossils were found.The ruling sent shock waves through the paleontology world, threatening to upend the way fossil hunters have operated for decades.It would make searching for fossils extremely complicated, said David Polly, a former president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, based in Bethesda, Maryland, because paleontologists would need to navigate both surface ownership—to get to the dig location—and mineral ownership of a parcel. Often, mineral rights are hard to find and frequently change hands between large corporations.More alarmingly, he said, it could raise questions about the ownership of fossils currently in museums.”In principle, it could have opened those to post hoc challenges,” Polly said. “If those started disappearing from collections, it would be a disaster.”Polly’s group, as well as several museums across the country, got involved after that 9th Circuit ruling. They enlisted Gary Guzy, the former White House Council on Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency general counsel.Now, they’ve convinced the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit to pump the brakes. It has referred the case to the Montana Supreme Court, where it will be taken up later this year.Guzy, who now works for the firm Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., said his clients quickly realized the scope of the 9th Circuit decision.”What seemed apparent was that what had been depicted all along as a private party contractual and almost property dispute really had significant implications for the paleontological profession,” he said, “and the range of institutions that are involved in promoting the knowledge of the history of life on Earth.””Greatest paleontological find of this century”Spanning parts of Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, the Hell Creek Formation is one of the world’s most studied areas for clues into life some 66 million years ago.Within the formation is a tract of land in Garfield County, Montana, that was previously owned by George Severson.Around 1983, Mary Ann and Lige Murray leased the land from Severson and worked it as ranchers. Over the following years, Severson transferred parts of the land to the Murrays and his two sons—Jerry and Bo Severson.In 2005, the Severson sons agreed to sell the surface rights to the Murrays while retaining much of the mineral rights.The value of those rights quickly escalated.Shortly after the sale, the Murrays and an amateur fossil hunter, Clayton Phipps, found on their property a mother lode of fossils—a “spike cluster,” as it is known in paleontology.In 2006, they discovered complete fossils of two dinosaurs that appear to have been fighting when they died.The Murrays quickly named the fossils the “Dueling Dinosaurs,” and the scientific importance of the fossils is hard to overstate, said paleontologist Peter Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, South Dakota.”The Dueling Dinosaurs are probably the greatest paleontological find of this century,” said Larson, who has seen the fossils and spoken with the Murrays.Larson explained why such a find is so rare. The dinosaurs appear to have been fighting on a sandbar in the middle of a river. Something happened — probably an earthquake — that liquefied the sand underneath them, sucking them down and preserving their skeletons.”It is a pristine record of an interaction between a prey animal and predator,” he said, adding that they were the most pristine complete dinosaurs ever found in the area.The following year, a triceratops foot was found, then, in 2011, a triceratops skull.Then came perhaps the pièce de résistance. In 2013, a complete T. rex was discovered on the property. The “Murray T. rex” is considered one of only a dozen ever found in such condition.A “bizarre” rulingWhen the Seversons got word of the finds, they quickly sought to declare ownership of the fossils, including the T. rex, which the Murrays were trying to sell to a Dutch museum for several million dollars.The Murrays filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the fossils were theirs because they owned the surface rights to the land.A district court sided with the Murrays, leading the Seversons to appeal to the 9th Circuit.There, in a colorful opinion, the court sided with the Seversons.”Once upon a time, in a place now known as Montana, dinosaurs roamed the land,” wrote Eduardo Robreno, a senior Pennsylvania district judge who was on the panel by designation.”On a fateful day, some 66 million years ago, two such creatures, a 22-foot-long theropod and a 28-foot-long ceratopsian, engaged in mortal combat. While history has not recorded the circumstances surrounding this encounter, the remnants of these Cretaceous species, interlocked in combat, became entombed under a pile of sandstone. That was then … this is now.”The 2-1 ruling sided with the Seversons, saying they “have the better of the arguments” (E&E News PM, Nov. 6, 2018).Lawyers for the Murrays declined to comment and said their clients are not speaking to the media. The Seversons’ attorneys said their clients are traveling and could not be reached.The ruling spurred considerable hand-wringing in the paleontological community, Larson of the Black Hills Institute said, calling the 9th Circuit decision a “really bizarre ruling.”Quickly, some of the most important players in the field weighed in, including the 2,200-member Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Museum of the Rockies.They, along with a Montana property rights group, backed the Murrays in court documents when they asked the court to reconsider the case — or send it to the Montana Supreme Court.”The panel’s decision imposes extraordinary uncertainty upon scientists and the public,” they wrote, and it may “destabilize title to countless important fossils in academic, museum, and private collections around the world … potentially subjecting those fossils to ownership challenges by holders of Montana mineral deeds.”The 9th Circuit took the unusual step of granting the rehearing, vacating their earlier decision and then punting the question to the Montana Supreme Court — a good sign for the Murrays.”Given the frequency of divided ownership of Montana surface and mineral estates, and that Montana possesses vast deposits of valuable vertebrate fossil specimens, the issue is substantial and of broad application,” the court wrote.”Therefore, after considering these factors, and in the spirit of comity and federalism, we exercise our discretion to certify this question to the Montana Supreme Court.”Other aspects of the dispute also appear to be breaking the Murrays’ way.In April, Montana enacted a law that states “fossils are not minerals and that fossils belong to the surface estate.”The law, however, does not apply to existing disputes, though the “Dueling Dinos” case is likely the only existing matter of its kind.”One can always make assumptions, and courts can do whatever they want,” Larson said. “But it seems like our side is in a good position.”Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2019. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.netRelated stories:Not Sold! ‘Dueling Dinos’ Flop at Auction (November 2013)Selling America’s Fossil Record (January 2014)last_img

UK Home Secretary Apps Shouldnt Serve as Terrorist Hiding Places

first_imgNo Door Secure Enough UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday called for greater government access to encrypted content on mobile apps.Apps with end-to-end encryption, like Facebook’s WhatsApp, should not be allowed to conceal terrorists’ communications from law enforcement, Rudd said in an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show, a BBC broadcast. Backdoor Law in Place? Even if backdoors were installed in applications like WhatsApp, they most likely would miss their mark — assuming that mark is to prevent terrorists from communicating securely.”If the bad guys feel that this application has been compromised by government officials and backdoors become available, this leads to a simple response by the bad guys — use a different application,” explained Paul Calatayud, CTO at FireMon.”WhatsApp is a third-party application on a mobile device,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Nothing prevents the bad guys from moving to a lesser known third-party application.”While WhatsApp can’t crack the encrypted contents on the parliament killer’s phone, it still can provide authorities with information about the terrorist’s phone activity — such as the time a message was sent, who it was sent to, and the physical location of the sender and recipient.”It doesn’t matter what this guy said before he did this thing,” said Bruce Schneier, CTO of IBM Resilient. “What matters is who it was, and WhatsApp doesn’t protect that.”Investigators can access all kinds of information without recourse to backdoors, he told TechNewsWorld, “but that would require a real conversation about the problem, which you don’t get from these people who grandstand after tragedies.” Even though she supported end-to-end encryption as a cybersecurity measure, Rudd later said in an interview on Sky News, it was “absurd” to have terrorists talking on a formal platform and not have access to those conversations.”We are horrified at the attack carried out in London and are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations,” WhatsApp spokesperson Anne Yeh said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld.During her appearance on Marr’s show, Rudd disclosed that she would be meeting with Facebook and other technology companies on Thursday to discuss ways to meet the information needs of security officers. She did not rule out new legislation to regulate encrypted messaging if the government and the tech companies were unable to reach an accord.However, that law may already exist. The UK last year adopted the Investigatory Powers Act, which compels tech companies to “provide a technical capability” to remove “electronic protection” within their products. That law has been interpreted in some quarters to mean that tech companies can be compelled to install “backdoors” into their products in order to decrypt data when necessary.A backdoor would not have helped prevent Masood’s attack, however.”To use a backdoor, you have to identify somebody as a target and hack them,” explained Matthew Green, a computer science professor specializing in cryptography at Johns Hopkins University.”With this terrorist, they identified this person and decided he wasn’t a threat and stopped monitoring him,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Nothing is going to help once you look at a guy then look away.” Application Hopping 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. Backdoors have been criticized as a means to meet the information needs of law enforcement because they undermine the purpose of encryption.”Many technologists and even many in law enforcement have acknowledged there’s no secure backdoor,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology.”You simply cannot build a door that only the good guys can walk through,” he told TechNewsWorld. “If you start building backdoors, they will be exploited by hackers; they will be exploited by terrorists.”Tech companies have been skeptical of creating backdoors to break the encryption used by their products and then turning over the keys to law enforcement.Another idea floated is that the companies should create the backdoors but retain control of the keys to prevent abuse.”That won’t work. The systems are too complicated and the backdoors too difficult to keep secure,” Calabrese said.”Companies don’t want to have to worry about their employees misusing these keys, and they don’t want to have to secure them,” said Johns Hopkins’ Green. “There should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said. “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.”Khalid Masood, who killed four people outside the UK’s parliament building last week before being shot dead, reportedly used WhatsApp a few minutes before going on his murder spree.”On this situation, we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp,” Rudd maintained.last_img

Fewer daylight hours during late pregnancy may increase risk of postpartum depression

first_img Source:https://www.springer.com/gp/about-springer/media/research-news/all-english-research-news/postnatal-depression-could-be-linked-to-fewer-daylight-hours-during-late-pregnancy/16149696 Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Sep 27 2018Women in late pregnancy during darker months of the year may have a greater risk of developing postpartum depression once their babies are born. This is consistent with what is known about the relationship between exposure to natural light and depression among adults in the general population. Deepika Goyal of San José State University in the US is the lead author of a study published in a special issue “Post-partum Health” in Springer’s Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The findings of Goyal and her colleagues should lead clinicians to encourage at-risk women to increase their exposure to natural daylight and vitamin D.Although reduced exposure to natural light has been associated with depression among adults in the general population, there is not yet a consensus about whether light exposure or seasonality influences the development of depression during and after pregnancy.In this study, Goyal and her colleagues at the University of California San Francisco analyzed available information from 293 women who participated in one of two randomized controlled clinical trials about sleep before and after pregnancy. The participants were all first-time mothers from the US state of California. Data included the amount of daylight during the final trimester of their pregnancy, along with information about known risk factors such as a history of depression, the woman’s age, her socioeconomic status and how much she slept.Overall, the participants had a 30 per cent risk of depression. The analysis suggested that the number of daylight hours a woman was exposed to during her final month of pregnancy and just after birth had a major influence on the likelihood that she developed depressive symptoms.The lowest risk for depression (26 per cent) occurred among women whose final trimester coincided with seasons with longer daylight hours. Depression scores were highest (35 per cent) among women whose final trimester coincided with “short” days and the symptoms continued to be more severe following the birth of their babies in this group of women. In the northern hemisphere, this timeframe refers to the months of August to the first four days of November (late summer to early autumn).Related StoriesMaternal obesity may negatively affect children’s lung developmentSocial media use and television viewing linked to rise in adolescent depressive symptomsPesticide exposure may increase risk of depression in adolescents”Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity,” Goyal explains.The findings suggest that using light treatment in the late third trimester when seasonal day length is shortening could minimize postpartum depressive symptoms in high-risk mothers during the first three months of their children’s lives. Goyal says that women with a history of mental health problems and those who are already experiencing depressive symptoms in the third trimester might further benefit from being outdoors when possible, or using devices such as light boxes that provide light therapy.”Women should be encouraged to get frequent exposure to daylight throughout their pregnancies to enhance their vitamin D levels and to suppress the hormone melatonin,” adds Goyal, who says that clinicians should also advise their patients to get more exercise outdoors when weather and safety permit. “Daily walks during daylight hours may be more effective in improving mood than walking inside a shopping mall or using a treadmill in a gym. Likewise, early morning or late evening walks may be relaxing but would be less effective in increasing vitamin D exposure or suppressing melatonin.”last_img

New review points to statistically small link between childrens screen media use

first_img Source:http://www.uva.nl/en/content/news/press-releases/2018/10/much-still-unclear-about-relationship-between-screen-media-use-and-adhd-in-children.html?origin=kUP%2Byx6UTZqvuJiCJKnnEQ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 4 2018There is a statistically small relationship between children’s screen media use and ADHD-related behaviors. This is the finding of an extensive literature review on this subject carried out by researchers from the UvA’s Center for research on Children, Adolescents and the Media (CcaM). The review also reveals several shortcomings. For example, the effects of program pacing and violent content on ADHD-related behaviour is still not clearly understood, and much remains unknown about how individual differences in temperament, development and social factors influence such behaviours. As a result, the researchers call for a systematic series of empirical studies on the relationship between screen media use and ADHD. Their results were recently published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. Over the last four decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This has led scholars and healthcare professionals alike to repeatedly attribute the increase to the violent, arousing and fast-paced nature of screen media entertainment. However, the degree to which screen media use and ADHD are linked remains a point of debate.Four decades of researchTo throw light on the current body of knowledge and to open the way for future research, UvA researchers Ine Beyens, Patti Valkenburg and Jessica Taylor Piotrowski decided to do a systematic review of four decades of scientific research on the relationship between children’s screen media use and ADHD-related behaviour such as hyperactivity, impulsivity and attention problems. The researchers used the so-called Differential Susceptibility to Media effects Model (DSMM) to systematically organize the literature, identify possible shortcomings and to point the way for future research.Related StoriesNew curriculum to improve soft skills in schools boosts children’s health and behaviorRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeThe scientific literature revealed evidence that points to a statistically small relationship between screen media use and ADHD-related behavior. It also showed that individual differences such as gender or aggressive traits can influence this relationship. On the basis of their findings, the researchers therefore recommend that future research on the relationship between screen media use and ADHD-related behavior focus on causality, underlying mechanisms and individual differences in susceptibility.Cause or consequence?’Up till now little attention has been paid to causality in the relationship between screen media use and ADHD. This makes it difficult to determine whether media use is the cause or consequence of children’s ADHD-related behaviors, or both’, says Beyens. ‘We also need to take a closer look at the role of violent media content and pacing (the tempo of media content) in the emergence of ADHD-related behaviour and examine associations of different types of media use with executive functioning skills, including working memory, inhibitory control and attention, that have been linked to ADHD-related behaviours.’ In addition, the researchers believe it is important to seek further evidence for possible differences in susceptibility to media-effects on ADHD by examining age differences, dispositional susceptibility and social sensitivity. The development of a child, his or her temperament, character and the social context in which the child is raised all have an influence on the type of media (and media content) the child uses and how he or she responds to it. Beyens: ‘Studying individual differences is crucial for determining who is or isn’t susceptible to screen media effects. Only by carrying out more empirical research will it be possible to better understand the relationship between screen media use and ADHD.’last_img

Scripps Research scientists reveal potential new approach to design HIV vaccines

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 26 2018A new candidate HIV vaccine from Scripps Research surmounts technical hurdles that stymied previous vaccine efforts, and stimulates a powerful anti-HIV antibody response in animal tests.The new vaccine strategy, described in a paper on November 23 in Science Advances, is based on the HIV envelope protein, Env. This complex, shape-shifting molecule has been notoriously difficult to produce in vaccines in a way that induces useful immunity to HIV.However, the Scripps Research scientists found a simple, elegant method for stabilizing Env proteins in the desired shape even for diverse strains of HIV. Mounted on virus-like particles to mimic a whole virus, the stabilized Env proteins elicited robust anti-HIV antibody responses in mice and rabbits. Candidate vaccines based on this strategy are now being tested in monkeys.”We see this new approach as a general solution to the long-standing problems of HIV vaccine design,” says principal investigator Jiang Zhu, associate professor in the Department of Integrative Structural and Computation Biology at Scripps Research.Copies of Env study the surface of HIV; their chief function is to grab hold of host cells and break into them to initiate infection. Since Env plays this crucial role in infection, and is the viral structure with the most exposure to the immune system of an infected host, it has been the main target of HIV vaccine efforts. The idea has been to inoculate people with the whole Env protein or subunits of it to stimulate the production of Env-binding antibodies, in the hope that these antibodies will prevent HIV from infecting host cells in future exposures to the virus.So far, of course, no HIV vaccine has been effective in large-scale clinical trials. Many researchers believe that an HIV vaccine can work if it presents Env proteins to the immune system in a way that closely resembles the shape of Env on a real virus before it has infected a cell. But presenting Env correctly has been a huge challenge.On an HIV virus, Env protrudes from the viral membrane in tight clusters of three, called trimers, and these complex structures adopt radically different shapes before and after infecting cells. HIV vaccine researchers, despite years and tens of millions of dollars of experimentation, have failed to find a broadly applicable method for stabilizing Env trimers in the desired, pre-infection shape.”The trimer-stabilization solutions that have been reported so far have worked for a few HIV strains but have not been generalizable,” Zhu says. “Env trimer ‘metastability’, as we call it, has really been a central problem for trimer-based HIV vaccine design.”Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairNovel vaccine against bee sting allergy successfully testedEven when HIV prevention drug is covered, other costs block treatmentZhu, trained as a biophysicist, sought a more general solution to the Env stability problem, and in a paper in 2016 he and his Scripps Research colleagues reported that modifying a short, springy section of Env called HR1 might do the trick–it allowed Env to stay in the pre-infection, “closed” shape.In the new study he and his team showed that this strategy does indeed work for Env trimers from diverse HIV strains circulating in different parts of the world. This “uncleaved prefusion-optimized” (UFO) approach, as they call it, yields Env trimers that are stabilized in the closed shape and can be produced efficiently, with surprisingly little need for purification, in the types of cells normally used in biotech manufacturing.”By now in my lab we’ve made this modification to Envs from 30 to 40 different HIV strains, and in most of the cases it has worked like a charm,” Zhu says.He and his colleagues further optimized their vaccine strategy by genetically linking their stabilized Env trimers, up to 60 at a time, to individual nanoparticles that mimic the globular shape of a whole virus. In this way the vaccine molecule, though artificial and lacking the genetic material for viral replication, seems to the immune system very much like a real invading virus and stimulates a stronger reaction.In mice, Zhu and his team found, a sample Env-on-nanoparticles vaccine, within just eight weeks, elicited antibodies that in lab tests successfully neutralized a naturally circulating HIV strain–of a type that prior candidate vaccines generally have failed against.”This is the first time any candidate HIV vaccine has induced this desired type of antibody response in mice,” Zhu says. Similarly unprecedented results were obtained in rabbits, demonstrating that the nanoparticle-based approach is clearly superior to the use of isolated Env proteins–it elicits a significantly stronger response and does so much more quickly.Further tests are now underway in 24 monkeys at the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Southwest National Primate Center in San Antonio, Texas.Zhu and Scripps Research have licensed their HIV vaccine technology to a startup company, Ufovax LLC, which is sponsoring the ongoing tests. “We’re now testing two candidate vaccines based on Env trimers from different HIV strains, plus a third candidate vaccine that is a cocktail of three Env-based vaccines,” says Ji Li, Ufovax CEO. “We think this new approach represents a true breakthrough after 30 years of HIV vaccine research.” Source:https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2018/20181126-zhu-hiv-vaccine.htmllast_img

Researchers find potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimers

first_img Source:https://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2019/02/038.html Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 20 2019Researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona (UBNeuro) have identified a potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimer’s, according to a study published in Journal of Neuroscience. The study shows, in a model of the illness in mice, that astrocytes -a type of cells in the brain- are able to release proteins that favour survival of neurons. According to the researchers, these results are a step forward in the understanding of the physiology of astrocytes, and they bring the chance to use this type of cells in therapeutic ways to treat Alzheimer’s.The study is led by Albert Giralt, Ramon y Cajal researcher at the UB, and also signed by the experts Jordi Alberch, Laura López Molina, Anna Sancho-Balsells, Ana López and Silvia Ginés, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and UBNeuro, and members of the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and the Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED).Other participants in the study are José María Delgado García and Angès Gruart, from Universidad Pablo de Olavide, and other experts from Inserm (France) and Institut du Fer à Moulin (France).A promising strategy with important challengesAlzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia among people. Neurodegeneration in patients with this disease causes damage in memory and in other cognitive skills, sometimes combined with symptoms such as mood swings and personality changes. One of the most promising therapies against Alzheimer’s is the use of neurotrophic factors -a family of proteins favouring neuron survival- such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, BDNF administration has important challenges, such as the lack of control of its release, which does not allow leading it specifically to the sick tissue nor releasing the proper amount of levels, mainly considering high doses can be neurotoxic.In this study, researchers studied BDNF generated by astrocytes, a type of star-shaped glial cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Astrocytes are affected by one of the neuroinflammation processes of Alzheimer’s, the astrogliosis, in which the glial fibrillary astrocytic protein (GFAP) and its coding gene are the most altered ones. In this context, researchers designed an experiment in which genetically modified mice suffer from Alzheimer’s and produce the BDNF protein depending on the GFAP levels. “With this design, from the moment neuroinflammation and pathology came up, the astrocytes could generate BDNF in the most affected areas of the sick brain. Therefore, the endogen reactions of the brain would regulate BDNF administration depending on the severity of the disease”, says Albert Giralt, member of the Consolidated Research Group on Physiopathology of Neurodegenerative Diseases of the UB.Effects of neuron formation and plasticityRelated StoriesNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairMother calls for protein shake regulation after daughter diesThe study shows this method restores the production and release of the neurotrophin in the sick neuronal tissue when the pathology starts. Then, the BDNF generated by astrocytes regulates neuron formation in samples of in vitro neuronal cultures and has cognitive effects in transgenic mice models. “These results show for the first time that astrocytes, so far regarded as neuronal, can produce BDNF and have the necessary molecular mechanisms to release it in the areas of the diseased tissue which requires activity to favour neuronal survival”, says Albert Giralt.Researchers also note that “the singularity of the design of the experiment enabled the astroglial cells to ‘decide’ when, where and what amount to produce and give BDNF to altered brain tissues”. Therefore, “traits of the patient can mark endogenously and self-regulated the dose and other necessary therapeutic dynamics for a customized treatment”.Although the use of this therapy in humans is still far from taking place, researchers note the use of astrocytes out of induced pluripotent stem cells as a promising therapeutic strategy to be explored. “One possibility would be to derive induced stem cells from the skin of the patients, and then modify them genetically in vitro to express the BDNF under the GFAP promoter. Last, the last step would be to differentiate them and move them to the most altered brain regions of patients to boost survival and proper functioning of the existing neurons”, notes Albert Giralt.Viability in other neurodegenerative diseasesThis study using neuroinflammation processes makes it possible to apply them to other neurodegenerative diseases. “Our objective is, on the one hand, making this therapeutic approach plausible for the use in humans, and on the other, present similar approaches for neurodegenerative diseases in which neuroinflammation is a main symptom”, concludes the researcher.​ last_img