Researchers describe strategy used by Oropouche virus to replicate in human cells

first_img Source:http://agencia.fapesp.br/study-shows-how-oropouche-virus-replicates-in-human-cells/28349/ Jul 31 2018The strategy used by the Oropouche virus to replicate in human cells has been described for the first time by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil and international collaborators in an article published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.According to the study, shortly after invading the cell, the pathogen “hijacks” an organelle called the Golgi complex, which becomes a veritable virus factory. The virus does this by recruiting host cell protein complexes known as ESCRT (pronounced “escort”), which are capable of deforming the organelle’s membrane and allowing the viral genome to penetrate it.”This method of hijacking the Golgi complex via the use of ESCRT proteins had never been demonstrated for any other virus. It’s a discovery that points to novel targets for exploration in the effort to prevent infection,” said Natalia Barbosa, a PhD researcher affiliated with USP’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP) and the first author of the article.The study was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP and supervised by Luis Lamberti Pinto da Silva, a professor at FMRP-USP. Scientists at Tübingen University Hospital in Germany collaborated.According to Silva, very little is known about the replication mechanisms of viruses in the family Peribunyaviridae, to which Oropouche virus belongs.”They’re important pathogens from the public health standpoint,” he said. “In Brazil, only Oropouche virus causes disease, but La Crosse encephalitis virus and Crimean Congo virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever, are endemic in other parts of the world. There are also members of the family that cause disease in cattle.”The symptoms of Oropouche virus infection are similar to those of dengue, consisting mainly of joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and high fever. The difference is that in approximately half of all cases, a relapse of the disease occurs after the symptoms improve.The virus is transmitted by Culicoides paraenses, a biting midge with urban habits. Outbreaks in villages and towns in the Brazilian Amazon are estimated to have caused half a million cases, but Oropouche has also cropped up in other parts of the country and is considered an emerging virus by experts.”The disease is certainly underreported, as it’s often confused with other arboviruses,” said the FAPESP scholarship supervisor. “It’s rated as low severity, but the concern is that we don’t yet know whether and how much the infection harms the nervous system in the long run.”In vitro experiments performed by the FMRP-USP group showed that the virus can infect neurons in mice and hamsters. The researchers are now trying to reproduce the experiments using human nerve cells. The principal investigator for this study is Eurico Arruda, a member of FMRP-USP’s Virus Research Center and a coauthor of the article.”Oropouche appears to be capable of infecting various types of cell. In other words, it succeeds in interacting with different receptors located on the surface of human cells. However, we don’t yet know which receptors are used by any member of the family Peribunyaviridae,” Silva said.Related StoriesPuzzling paralysis affecting healthy children warns CDCUsing NMR to Study Protein Structure, Dynamics and MechanismsAustralia leads the world in childhood immunization coverageMethodologyTo investigate Oropouche’s replication mechanisms, the FMRP-USP group performed in vitro experiments with HeLa cells, the oldest and most widely used line in laboratories, derived from a human patient’s cervical cancer cells.”As soon as the cells are infected, the virus starts producing proteins that attract the host’s ESCRT complexes to the external membrane of the Golgi complex. These ESCRT proteins then push on the organelle’s membrane, rupture it and sweep into the Golgi complex, taking the viral genome with them. So the virus replicates inside the complex. What probably happens then is that some time later, the modified organelle full of viruses merges with the plasma membrane and releases the pathogens into the extracellular medium,” Silva said.Other viruses are known to recruit the ESCRT machinery in order to replicate. For example, HIV, the pathogen that causes AIDS, uses ESCRT proteins to cross the plasma membrane that separates the intracellular and extracellular mediums.”However, this mechanism had never been described for invasion of the Golgi complex by viruses,” Silva said.The Golgi complex is a series of stacked membranes and vesicles whose main function is to process, store and distribute proteins produced in ribosomes.”We don’t know exactly how this hijacking of the Golgi complex affects the host cell, but the HeLa cells die some 36 hours after being infected,” Silva said.In a previous study led by Arruda, the group showed that Oropouche produces a protein called NSs that induces apoptosis, a process of programmed death, in the host cell.”This protein isn’t part of the virus’s structure, and we don’t know how killing the host cell by apoptosis benefits the pathogen, but it could be the result of a defense mechanism,” Arruda said. “The NSs protein in isolation can cause apoptosis, and its use could be explored to kill tumor cells, for example.”Possible targetsIn one of the experiments described in the PLOS Pathogens article, the researchers manipulated HeLa cells so that they no longer expressed Tsg101, an important ESCRT protein. To do this, they used RNA interference, a method of blocking gene expression by inserting short RNA sequences into cells.”This intervention made HeLa cells more resistant to infection by Oropouche. They took longer to die and had a much smaller viral load. There are experimental drugs that inhibit Tsg101, and we’re now going to test them against Oropouche,” Silva said.Because Tsg101 is a key protein in normal human cell function, he added, it may not be possible to use drugs that inhibit it or other ESCRT proteins to treat patients. The risk of adverse side effects would be considerable.”However, there may be a molecule that inhibits interaction between the virus and human proteins without impeding the activity of Tsg101 in cells. This deserves to be studied,” he said.The FAPESP-funded research also plans to determine which proteins are produced by Oropouche to recruit the ESCRT complex. “They would also be potential targets worth exploring to halt the infection,” Silva said.last_img read more

Programmed cell death follows a wave pattern killing cells as it moves

first_imgBy Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDAug 10 2018According to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine programmed cell death or apoptosis follows a trigger and a ripple effect pattern. James Ferrell, MD, Ph.D., professor of chemical and systems biology and of biochemistry at Stanford explained that cell death regulation starts with a trigger wave and this occurs in cell regulation recurrently. “Sometimes our cells die when we really don’t want them to—say, in neurodegenerative diseases. And sometimes our cells don’t die when we really do want them to—say, in cancer,” Ferrell said. “And if we want to intervene, we need to understand how apoptosis is regulated,” he added. The study titled “Apoptosis propagates through the cytoplasm as trigger waves,” on the details of apoptosis regulation is published in the journal Science this week.Xianrui Cheng, Ph.D., a Postdoctoral scholar led this study where they found that apoptosis spreads across the cytoplasm like wildfire. The speed of movement of this wave is undeterred they noted. The researchers explain it like falling dominoes. The force necessary to trigger the cell apoptosis is all that is needed for it to spread, they noted. Once the waves start there are special proteins called caspases that are activated. These caspases activate other caspases until it has spread to the whole group of cells. Ferrell explained that it spreads “in this fashion and never slows down, never peters out.” “It doesn’t get any lower in amplitude because every step of the way it’s generating its own impetus by converting more inactive molecules to active molecules, until apoptosis has spread to every nook and cranny of the cell,” he said.Related StoriesNew shingles vaccine reduces outbreaks of painful rash among stem cell transplant patientsSlug serves as ‘command central’ for determining breast stem cell healthNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellFor their experiment Cheng and Ferrell used Xenopus laevis frog eggs as their experimental cells. Each of the eggs is a single cell. Fluid from the eggs were extracted and inserted into tiny Teflon tubes that are a few millimetres long. Then they initiated the “death signal” and started the cascade of apoptosis. They watched as the apoptosis progressed using fluorescent markers at the rate of 30 micrometers per minute. The bright green light that signified apoptosis movement progressed at a constant speed.Cheng and Ferrell saw that when the eggs died they displayed a dark pigmentation on their surface. As the cells continued to die, the dark pigmentation spread across the cells in a curved line. They noted that the cells dying had activated caspases while the intact cells did not have activated caspases. The waves however travelled to all the cells. Ferrel said that this spread of the trigger waves could be the same way as the immune responses and viruses spread from one cell to another. He called this spread as a “recurring theme” in nature.Source: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6402/607 Cell apoptosis, a process of programmed cell destruction that occurs in multicellular organisms, 3D illustration showing changes in cellular morphology, blebbing, cell shrinkage. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstocklast_img read more

Brown researchers understand neural mechanisms behind contextual phenomena

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 24 2018Is that circle green or gray? Are the center lines straight or tilted?Optical illusions can be fun to experience and debate, but understanding how human brains perceive these different phenomena remains an active area of scientific research. For one class of optical illusions, called contextual phenomena, those perceptions are known to depend on context. For example, the color you think a central circle is depends on the color of the surrounding ring. Sometimes the outer color makes the inner color appear more similar, such as a neighboring green ring making a blue ring appear turquoise — but sometimes the outer color makes the inner color appear less similar, such as a pink ring making a grey circle appear greenish.A team of Brown University computer vision experts went back to square one to understand the neural mechanisms of these contextual phenomena. Their study was published on Sept. 20 in Psychological Review.”There’s growing consensus that optical illusions are not a bug but a feature,” said Thomas Serre, an associate professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown and the paper’s senior author. “I think they’re a feature. They may represent edge cases for our visual system, but our vision is so powerful in day-to-day life and in recognizing objects.”For the study, the team lead by Serre, who is affiliated with Brown’s Carney Institute for Brain Science, started with a computational model constrained by anatomical and neurophysiological data of the visual cortex. The model aimed to capture how neighboring cortical neurons send messages to each other and adjust one another’s responses when presented with complex stimuli such as contextual optical illusions.One innovation the team included in their model was a specific pattern of hypothesized feedback connections between neurons, said Serre. These feedback connections are able to increase or decrease — excite or inhibit — the response of a central neuron, depending on the visual context.These feedback connections are not present in most deep learning algorithms. Deep learning is a powerful kind of artificial intelligence that is able to learn complex patterns in data, such as recognizing images and parsing normal speech, and depends on multiple layers of artificial neural networks working together. However, most deep learning algorithms only include feedforward connections between layers, not Serre’s innovative feedback connections between neurons within a layer.Related StoriesScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyTrump administration cracks down on fetal tissue researchOnce the model was constructed, the team presented it a variety of context-dependent illusions. The researchers “tuned” the strength of the feedback excitatory or inhibitory connections so that model neurons responded in a way consistent with neurophysiology data from the primate visual cortex.Then they tested the model on a variety of contextual illusions and again found the model perceived the illusions like humans.In order to test if they made the model needlessly complex, they lesioned the model — selectively removing some of the connections. When the model was missing some of the connections, the data didn’t match the human perception data as accurately.”Our model is the simplest model that is both necessary and sufficient to explain the behavior of the visual cortex in regard to contextual illusions,” Serre said. “This was really textbook computational neuroscience work — we started with a model to explain neurophysiology data and ended with predictions for human psychophysics data.”In addition to providing a unifying explanation for how humans see a class of optical illusions, Serre is building on this model with the goal of improving artificial vision.State-of-the-art artificial vision algorithms, such as those used to tag faces or recognize stop signs, have trouble seeing context, he noted. By including horizontal connections tuned by context-dependent optical illusions, he hopes to address this weakness.Perhaps visual deep learning programs that take context into account will be harder to fool. A certain sticker, when stuck on a stop sign can trick an artificial vision system into thinking it is a 65-mile-per-hour speed limit sign, which is dangerous, Serre said. Source:https://news.brown.edu/articles/2018/09/illusionslast_img read more

Broad Institute receives 650 million for psychiatric research

Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email The Broad Institute, a collaborative biomedical research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has received a $650 million donation from philanthropist and businessman Ted Stanley to study the biological basis of diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.The largest donation ever made to psychiatric research, the gift totals nearly six times the current $110 million annual budget for President Barack Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Stanley has already given Broad $175 million, and the $650 million will be provided as an annual cash flow on the order of tens of millions each year, with the remainder to be given after Stanley’s death. (See other coverage here and here.)The gift accompanies a paper published online today in Nature from researchers at Broad and worldwide, which identifies more than 100 areas of the human genome associated with schizophrenia, based on samples from almost 37,000 people with schizophrenia and about 113,000 without the disease. Researchers are likely to find hundreds of additional genetic variations associated with the disease as the number of patients sampled grows, says psychiatrist Kenneth Kendler of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, a co-author on the study. 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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Identifying the variants themselves is unlikely to lead directly to new drug targets, Kendler says. Instead, the hope is that researchers at Broad and elsewhere will be able to use those data to reveal clusters of genetic variation, like placing pins on a map, he says. Patterns are already beginning to emerge, showing abnormalities in common biochemical pathways that regulate functions such as synaptic plasticity and immune function, said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, in a press conference this morning. “For the first time, we can start to see the underlying biological basis of the disease.”Many pharmaceutical companies largely abandoned drug development for psychiatric diseases decades ago because the conditions are considered too difficult to treat, said Steven Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. Gifts such as Stanley’s are an important signal to drug companies, young researchers, and federal funders that it is time to reinvest in psychiatric research, he said.Although effective new drugs based on such research may be decades away, near-term payoffs could include ways of identifying teens at risk of developing schizophrenia early on, or tools that help physicians better manage their patients’ medications, added Steve McCarroll, director of genetics research at Broad.Genetic research is just one small step toward truly helping people with schizophrenia and other disorders, however, Kendler says. Only half of identical twins whose siblings have schizophrenia develop the disease, making it critical to better understand how known risk factors such as urban environments and complications at birth contribute, he says. Rehabilitation and therapy are also key, he notes. “Medication is not the only thing that is going to work.” read more

Top stories Pluto is alive Big Bird the dinosaur and buckyballs in

first_imgPluto is alive—but where is the heat coming from?This week, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft barreled past Pluto. Scientists will be collecting data until late 2016, but so far they report finding towering mountains of water ice rising above smooth plains covered in veneers of nitrogen and methane ice. The finding is sending scientists back to the drawing board as they try to figure out where the heat needed for such geological mountain building is coming from.Check out Science’s full coverage of NASA’s New Horizons Pluto flyby. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country New report card on global HIV/AIDS epidemicA huge new report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic celebrates the “extraordinary progress” in both treatment and prevention over the past 15 years. With updated country-by-country HIV and AIDS figures, the new UNAIDS report gives us more insight on the epidemic and urges the world to crank up a response.’Big Bird’ dino: Researchers discover largest ever winged dinosaurWhen we see birds winging their way across the sky, we are really looking at living dinosaurs—the only lineage of these mighty beasts that survived mass extinction. Yet before they went extinct, many dinosaurs sprouted wings themselves. Researchers now report finding the largest ever winged dino in China. This “Big Bird” dinosaur lived 125 million years ago and weighed 20 kg (44 lb)—and it probably never flew.Strange new subatomic particles discovered at atom smasherPhysicists have finally found the pentaquark—an exotic subatomic particle made up of five quarks. Researchers at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, claim to have found conclusive evidence for the existence of pentaquarks, and say the discovery may help us understand how matter is built up from quarks as well as provide insight into how stars are formed.Yes, there really are buckyballs in spaceThe space between the stars is so hostile that most astronomers once thought it couldn’t possibly harbor something as fragile as molecules. Nevertheless, chemists report buckyballs—complex molecules with 60 carbon atoms—do indeed exist in deep space. Astronomers suggest that because our solar system arose from interstellar material, some of the carbon now in our bodies once existed in the form of buckyballs.Which movies get artificial intelligence right?Hollywood has been tackling artificial intelligence (AI) for decades, from Blade Runner to Ex Machina. But how realistic are these depictions? Science asked a panel of AI experts to weigh in on 10 major AI movies —what they get right, and what they get horribly wrong. We also rank the movies from least to most realistic. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)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 Emaillast_img read more

How caterpillars use their feces to fool corn

first_imgFor some caterpillars, pooping where they eat is an unavoidable fact of life—even if it’s on the very corn they eat. Now, researchers report that keeping this excrement on hand may be part of the caterpillar’s master plan to dupe the plant into turning off its defenses, allowing the caterpillars to eat more and grow faster.For years, chemical ecologist Dawn Luthe and her students wondered why fall armyworm caterpillars (Spodoptera frugiperda) let piles of feces, known as frass, accumulate on corn, trapped in the plant’s cuplike whorls where the leaves join the stalk. The whorls “are a moist and enclosed space. And the frass, which can become rather liquidy, is right next to the open wounds left by the caterpillar chewing on the plant,” says Luthe of Pennsylvania State University, University Park. “It sounds unpleasant. But to us, it was an obvious question to ask what the effect … was.”In particular, the researchers were curious about what impact chemical cues in the feces were having on the corn. In recent years, scientists have identified a host of compounds called chemical elicitors—found, for example, in insect saliva—that can limit plant defenses, including the production of bad-tasting compounds that ward off herbivores. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email In the new study, the researchers collected the caterpillar frass and turned it into an extract, which they applied to wounded corn leaves. They found that in leaf tissue treated with the fecal extract for 24 hours, the plant switched off its herbivore defense genes, but flipped on its pathogen defense genes, which inhibit the growth of pathogenic fungi or bacteria. In most plants, the two pathways can’t be turned on at the same time. That’s because a defense hormone called salicylic acid (SA), which controls the pathogen defense pathway, inhibits the production of another defense hormone—jasmonic acid (JA)—that controls the herbivore defense pathway.When Luthe and colleagues measured SA and JA levels in treated leaves, they discovered that JA dropped rapidly, whereas SA increased the longer the extract was applied. JA is produced immediately after something damages the plant tissue, and its accumulation usually leads to the creation of the compounds the insects find so distasteful. The production of SA, however, is typically delayed, explaining why leaves needed to be treated for 24 hours before an effect could be seen, the scientists say.When the researchers compared the caterpillars’ growth rates over 4 days, they found that caterpillars fed leaves that had been treated with the extract for 24 hours grew bigger faster than those that ate leaves treated for a shorter period of time, they report in the Journal of Chemical Ecology. And the scientists discovered that leaves treated with the fecal solution for 24 hours also had reduced growth of a fungus known to cause southern leaf blight disease in corn.The exact component of the frass that causes the switch in the plant’s defensive strategy remains a mystery. It could be a protein or group of proteins, Luthe says. In future studies, the researchers will try to nail down the mechanism, which could one day lead to the development of an organic fungicide, she says.Even though that’s possible, says chemical ecologist Andre Kessler of Cornell University, we’re still a long way from an actual application. “What’s most interesting is that the study has helped further establish that the plant can perceive the feces, and that it is not enough to just consider the effect insects have on plants through feeding. You’ve got to consider everything, even down to the poop.”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 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img read more

Nature changes animal policy after cancer study comes under fire

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The journal Nature is revising its policy on publishing animal experiments after a study it ran in 2011 received criticism because the authors allowed tumors to grow excessively large in mice. The paper reported that a compound isolated from a pepper plant killed cancer cells without harming healthy cells.Yesterday, the journal published a correction to the study (the paper’s second), which noted that “some tumors on some of the animals exceeded the maximum size … permitted by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.” The tumors were only supposed to grow to a maximum of 1.5 cubic centimeters, but some reached 7 cubic centimeters, according to David Vaux, a cell biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, who first raised concerns about the paper in 2012. (Vaux spoke to Retraction Watch, which first reported the correction.)In an editorial published yesterday, Nature calls the large tumors “a breach of experimental protocol,” one that could have caused the mice to “have experienced more pain and suffering than originally allowed for.” The journal also noted the lapse could have implications beyond the one study, saying that “cases such as this could provoke a justifiable backlash against animal research.” Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Nature says it will now require authors to include the maximum tumor size allowed by its institutional animal-use committee, and to state that this size was not exceeded during the experiments. The journal does say, however, that it is not retracting the paper, and that the study remains “valid and useful.”   Science Executive Editor Monica Bradford says that during the manuscript submission process, authors must agree to a list of conditions, one of which is that experimental animals have been handled in accordance with the authors’ institutional guidelines. Furthermore, she says, if during the evaluation of a manuscript, a reviewer requests more information about the handling of experimental animals, Science’s editorial team will follow up with the authors to satisfy the reviewer query. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img read more

After a bar opens the Baka pygmies of Cameroon have fewer babies

first_imgWhen this bar opened in Moange-le-Bosquet, Cameroon, Baka men, women, and even children began drinking a dangerous brew of ethanol and methanol. Email After years studying the Baka pygmy people of Cameroon, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi was surprised when he detected a sudden drop in fertility among young women in 2011. As he analyzed data on birth rates over a decade, Ramirez Rozzi tried to remember what had happened in the community in southeastern Cameroon that could have caused the change. The biggest news was a bar that opened in late 2010 in the heart of Moange-le-Bosquet village, selling a cheap, dangerous mix of methanol and ethanol. Since then, the bar had displaced the Catholic mission as the village’s “center of gravity,” and men, women, and even small children were sipping on $0.09 bags of booze there many nights.But was alcohol to blame for the decline in births? To answer that question, Ramirez Rozzi, a human paleontologist at the French national research agency CNRS’s Molecular Anthropology and Synthesis Imaging Laboratory in Paris, compared the number of births before and after the bar opened.In nomadic hunter-gatherer societies, where most people give birth in their camps, birth and death records are rare. Ramirez Rozzi, however, was lucky enough to have access to records of births since 1980 kept on index cards by nuns at the Catholic mission’s medical center in Moange-le-Bosquet, where more than 800 Baka now live in scattered settlements. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) After a bar opens, the Baka pygmies of Cameroon have fewer babies Fernando Ramirez Rozzi center_img By Ann GibbonsJun. 18, 2018 , 3:00 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Between the nuns’ archive and his own data on family sizes, collected in the field from 2007 to 2017, Ramirez Rozzi found that the total fertility rate in Baka women for the whole period was relatively high—about seven babies on average over the reproductive lifetime of a woman. But the fertility rate dropped significantly after 2011—from an average of 8.8 babies per woman from 2007 to 2010 to 5.6 babies per woman from 2011 to 2016. And the rate plunged even more—by half—in younger women. For example, the rate among women ages 15 to 25 in the same time period.Alcohol—especially the dangerous mix sold at the new bar run by a Bantu-speaking woman—has been shown to contribute to many serious health conditions, including infertility in women. Indeed, government authorities in Cameroon have banned the manufacture of the kind sold at the new bar because it causes major disorders of the nervous system, cancers, and death. (Since 2011, alcohol poisoning has been a leading cause of death among the Baka.) It is also associated with poor semen quality in men, Ramirez Rozzi says. That the drop in fertility was especially high among young women also pointed to alcohol as the culprit, because they generally hung out at the bar more than older women, listening to loud music and getting drunk.Finally, Ramirez Rozzi looked into other major changes, such as higher rates of disease, that could explain the reduction in fertility. He found nothing. So he concludes that alcohol is to blame, in a paper released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The data provide a “first-hand record of the impact of alcohol on fertility in a hunter-gatherer society which appears to be seriously compromising the survival of the Baka,” Ramirez Rozzi writes.Other researchers say Ramirez Rozzi’s argument is convincing. “The case for alcohol abundance causing a drop in fertility is persuasive,” says Nicholas Blurton-Jones, professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. Blurton-Jones was not involved with the new work, but he has studied another group of hunter-gatherers, the Hadza, who also struggle with alcohol when they settle in towns.The drop in fertility could threaten the Baka people’s chances of survival over time, Ramirez Rozzi says. And it could impact infant and child mortality: Even small children and infants suck on the drops of alcohol they find in discarded plastic bags on the ground, Ramirez Rozzi says.When Ramirez Rozzi shared his data with the Baka women in a meeting last year, they told him that men returning from work in the fields would spend their coins on alcohol and arrive home drunk—and that young women also were drinking, and having more trouble getting pregnant. “They were very, very concerned when we told them about these fertility rates,” he says.last_img read more

Cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms point to a powerful new helper for

first_img Lava Scientists are now using fast-breeding organisms to recreate such plasticity-first evolution. In Jonas Warringer’s lab at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, for example, graduate student Simon Stenberg applies environmental stressors to budding yeast for different lengths of time and tests the organisms for plastic or permanent responses. In one set of experiments, he’s been exposing the yeast to the herbicide paraquat, which causes eukaryotic cells to produce high concentrations of oxygen free radicals that damage DNA and other molecules. To gauge the health of the yeast, he measures its doubling time—how long it takes for a colony to double in size. When Stenberg first applied the toxin, the yeast’s doubling time slowed from the usual 1.5 hours to 5 hours.After as few as four generations, some of the colonies recovered half of their growth rate. Because that’s too little time for a genetic adaptation to arise and sweep through a whole colony, Stenberg concluded at least some of the yeast had a form of phenotypic plasticity that allowed them to cope with the excess free radicals. When he stopped applying paraquat and then reapplied it three to 100 generations later, the colonies’ growth rates again plummeted after 10 generations. The reduction indicates that the unknown paraquat-resistance mechanism was not yet permanently encoded in the genomes. But after constant exposure to paraquat for 150 generations, the yeast developed a permanent adaptation. They continued to grow even if Stenberg stopped applying the herbicide for 80 generations and then reapplied it.Since the meeting, Stenberg has found what may be the yeast’s coping mechanism: eliminating some or all of the DNA in their mitochondria, the cells’ energy-producing organelles. (Mitochondria themselves generate free radicals.) When the yeast were first exposed to herbicide, they temporarily reduced their mitochondrial DNA, a reversible change. After extended exposure, though, the change became lasting as they stopped making mitochondrial genomes altogether. (Yeast are among the few eukaryotic organisms that can survive without these genomes.) “The adaptation had become genetically assimilated,” Stenberg says.Making a meal out of momSo far, Stenberg hasn’t pinned down the genes responsible for this transition. But other researchers, working with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, have shown how a single mutation in one wild strain caused a plastic response to starvation to become fixed. In the lab, C. elegans—a key model animal for studying development and many other topics—is usually fed Escherichia coli bacteria. But in the wild, C. elegans lives on microbes in decaying fruit. These wild nematodes and their young live a life of feast and famine: Once the fruit is gone, it could take days to find more. Cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms point to a powerful new helper for evolution CHRISTIAN BRAENDLE/INSTITUT DE BIOLOGIE VALROSE MONTPELLIER, FRANCE—Growing up in South Texas, David Pfennig was fascinated by cannibalistic tadpoles. When summer storms soak the normally dry plains, spadefoot toads emerge from their burrows to lay eggs in short-lived pools. The tadpoles normally dine demurely on algae, tiny crustaceans, and detritus. But even as a boy, Pfennig could tell that the same toads sometimes spawned very different tadpoles. Those tadpoles had bulging jaw muscles and serrated mouthparts. They jostled aggressively in the shrinking puddles. They ate larger crustaceans, such as fairy shrimp—and one another.Later, when he became a biologist, Pfennig’s fascination turned into curiosity. Both kinds of tadpoles had the same parents, and hence the same genes. That they could turn out so differently, presumably because of their environments, didn’t square with the gene-centric view he had acquired during his studies in the 1980s. In that view, the genes inherited from parents should dictate every detail of how animals look and behave. “Yet here I was observing these animals that can modify their traits in response to the environment,” recalls Pfennig, who now runs a lab at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. “It was sort of mind blowing.”The toads display phenotypic plasticity, the ability to change how they look and act, and how their tissues function, in response to their environment. Other researchers had already documented the tadpole transformations. When algae and tiny prey are abundant, the tadpoles are small-jawed and mild-mannered. But if the pond also contains fairy shrimp, some tadpoles turn into the aggressive carnivores. They take advantage of the atypical food source, grow faster on the extra protein, and have a better chance of making it to adulthood before the water dries up. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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DESAI/SCIENCE On the surface, the findings vindicate Lamarck: Acquired traits can be inherited. But biologists are quick to stress that what these organisms show is not true Lamarckian evolution. Application of Lamarck’s idea to modern findings “has led to a lot of confusion and debate,” says Cameron Ghalambor, an evolutionary ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.As biologists explore the underpinnings of plasticity and how it can lead to permanent change, they’ve uncovered a process that extends traditional evolutionary mechanisms rather than challenging them. The plasticity those changeable tadpoles display is built into their genetic code. And when an “acquired” trait does become permanent, it is because of mutations that “fixed” the plastic trait—a process biologists call genetic assimilation.Although some researchers bristle at giving any credence to Lamarckian thinking, “The way plasticity can influence evolution really fits very comfortably in the general framework of how we think evolution works,” Pfennig says.Transformed tadpoleIn 2003, evolutionary biologist Mary Jane West-Eberhard of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City raised eyebrows by suggesting phenotypic plasticity might also set the stage for permanent adjustments. Although her work focused on wasps, she drew on a vast literature about plants, butterflies, and other organisms that changed how they looked or acted. She proposed that, in the face of an environmental challenge, plasticity built into the genome enables at least some members of a species to cope. That would buy time for adaptive mutations to arise and be selected.Some of those genetic changes would simply increase the proportion of the most flexible individuals. But others might favor a specific trait. “This plasticity-first view solves some of the problems that are inherent if organisms have to wait for a genetic mutation,” explains Renee Duckworth, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “That is something that obviously would take a lot of time.” Christian Braendle, CNRS and the University of Nice Institute of Biology Recently, Pfennig and his team have come upon something even more remarkable than that dramatic behavioral plasticity. In one species of spadefoot toad, they found, the carnivorous tadpole stage has become entrenched—there’s no need for a dietary trigger. A flexible response to the environment somehow became fixed.To some, such findings evoke the spirit of the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Decades before Charles Darwin laid out his evolutionary theory in On the Origin of Species, Lamarck and other biologists proposed their own mechanisms for evolutionary change. Among his ideas, Lamarck famously asserted in the early 1800s that organisms can acquire a new trait in their lifetime—longer necks for giraffes reaching for food; webbed feet for water birds—and pass it on to their offspring. Later, biologists cast aside Lamarckism, as the classic view of evolution emerged: that organisms evolve as a result of natural selection acting on random genetic changes.Now, however, evolutionary biologists have shown in multiple organisms, including lizards, roundworms, and yeast, that a plastic response can pave the way for permanent adaptations. The new evidence, much of it reported at the Second Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology here this summer, shows the connection between plasticity and evolution “is a real thing,” says Carl Schlichting, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “If you look for it, you are going to find it.” Pfennig considers this a classic example of what he and others call plasticity-first evolution: Natural selection favored carnivory so strongly in this population of plains toad that this once-inducible phenotype somehow became genetically assimilated. “The idea is that the ancestor has the plastic ability and allows adaptation initially and then fixes it,” Schlichting says. Just why evolution acted to fix the carnivorous traits in this population isn’t clear, Levis says. It could be to avoid competing for the same food as other tadpole species. And Levis told the evolution meeting his group’s unpublished data show that plains toad populations that produce more carnivorous tadpoles do better, a hint there is some advantage to this carnivory.Life on the lavaAmmon Corl, a postdoc with Rasmus Nielsen at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and his colleagues have traced a similar interplay between plasticity and evolution in the side-blotched lizards of California’s Mojave Desert. He’s even caught a glimpse of the genes responsible. In sandy parts of the Mojave, side-blotched lizards scamper around in shades of tan and brown. But those living on the Mojave’s inky Pisgah lava flow are among the blackest lizards, presumably for camouflage from predators.In the 1980s, Claudia Luke, then a graduate student at UC Berkeley and now at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, switched dark and tan lizards between sandy and lava surfaces in the lab and found both varieties can adjust their colors to match their new surroundings in just a few weeks. But she also found the lizards from a sandy environment did not get as dark on lava as the regular lava dwellers, suggesting a genetic difference in the lizards’ ability to change color.Luke’s observation remained a puzzle for 20 years, until her unpublished thesis was discovered by Corl when he was a graduate student with Barry Sinervo, a behavioral ecologist at UC Santa Cruz. Corl sequenced the genes of the offspring of lizards from on and off the lava to track down genetic differences. He and his colleagues discovered two genes, PREP and PRKAR1A, that have mutated in the darker lizards. Each influences how much of the dark pigment, melanin, is produced in the skin.When the lava first cooled 20,000 years ago, the researchers suggest, phenotypic plasticity enabled lizards that wandered onto the newly cooled lava to darken for concealment and survive in the new environment. But these pioneers likely varied in their plasticity, and predators nabbed the lighter ones. That selective pressure favored mutations that increased darkening. “Plastic changes in coloration facilitated initial survival and then genetic adaptations allowed lizards to become even darker,” says Patricia Gibert, an evolutionary biologist at Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France. “This study provides one of the best examples of how plasticity precedes adaptive genetic change,” Ghalambor adds. By Elizabeth PennisiNov. 28, 2018 , 2:00 PM Pfennig and his lab members think spadefoot toads have followed that evolutionary trajectory. Through decades of fieldwork, his team and others have shown that some species, such as the eastern spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii), never naturally develop cannibal tadpoles. Another species, Spea multiplicata—the Mexican or desert spadefoot of Pfennig’s childhood—produces a mix of cannibals and omnivores depending on food availability, which may have enabled it to expand its range to shorter-lasting pools. But in populations of the plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons) whose tadpoles live in the same ponds with S. multiplicata, almost all tadpoles are carnivores.To see how much plasticity each species can muster in the lab, Pfennig’s graduate student Nicholas Levis recently raised tadpoles on diets with a varying proportion of fairy shrimp. The eastern species, thought to be most representative of the first spadefoot toads to arise in evolution, responded just a little to a 100% shrimp diet, developing a shorter gut—better suited to a carnivorous diet—and mouthparts that were altered but still poorly adapted to catching prey. In short, it had limited phenotypic plasticity.Desert spadefoot tadpoles responded more strongly to the shrimp-only diet, exhibiting dramatic changes in gut and head shape and behavior. Metabolic genes that help digest protein became more active in these tadpoles, whereas the activity of genes needed to process the fats and starches in a detritus diet declined. But given a diet with little or no shrimp, the tadpoles could reverse all these adaptations.The plains toads that Levis studied, in contrast, turned out to be confirmed carnivores, he reported at this summer’s evolution meeting and, with Pfennig and lab member Andrew Isdaner, in a paper in the August issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution. Some of its tadpoles even hatched as carnivores, without the need of the fairy shrimp diet. And when given a detritus-only diet, the species’s tadpoles had difficulty regaining traits better suited for omnivory. “Some populations seem to have transitioned to all being carnivores, no matter what the situation,” Levis says. This side-blotched lizard and others living on a lava flow can adjust their coloring, but they are naturally much darker than relatives living on lighter sand. AMMON CORL Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The millimeter-long nematode Caenorhabditis elegans normally lays eggs (left), but when food is scarce the eggs (blue) hatch internally and the young (red) consume their mother from within (right).center_img Color range Email Plasticity DAVID PFENNIG/UNC Lava Genetic mutation Plasticity When conditions are right, spadefoot toad tadpoles can turn into carnivores like these consuming a metamorphosing relative. Sand David Pfennig, University of North Carolina The (adjustable) color of lizards Side-blotched lizards can adjust their skin color to match their environments. After a population moved onto black lava fields long ago, natural selection favored better-camouflaged lizards, and the population eventually developed permanent genetic mutations that enabled them to become even darker. Plasticity What our research shows is that a single mutation can lead to dramatic effects on life history through loss of ancestral plasticity. Lava The way plasticity can influence evolution really fits very comfortably in the general framework of how we think evolution works. The worms have a ghoulish way to cope. They stop laying eggs, which instead hatch inside the mother’s body, turning it into a lifeline for the developing young as they devour her insides. With enough food to survive, the nematode larvae can then enter a state of suspended animation called the dauer stage until the next windfall of fruit, when they mature and return to egg laying.In a compost pile outside Paris, biologists have found a C. elegans strain in which the plastic response has become permanent. For these worms, matricide is the rule: They don’t lay eggs, even when food is plentiful. “All the upstream signals related to food availability are irrelevant,” says Christian Braendle, an evolutionary biologist at the French national research agency CNRS and University of Nice Institute of Biology in Valrose, France, who learned of the strain and decided to follow up. The change in strategy must be adaptive—allowing more offspring to survive—because Braendle’s team keeps finding other matricidal wild strains.By crossbreeding the compost pile strain with nonmatricidal worms and analyzing the DNA of offspring, his team has now tracked down the key gene, which codes for an ion channel, a protein in the cell membrane that transmits signals between nerves and muscle cells. In the matricidal strain, a single base change in the gene alters the ion channel. As a result, the worm’s vulva muscle fails to respond to food signals that would normally cause it to expel eggs, causing them to hatch internally. “What our research shows is that a single mutation can lead to dramatic effects on life history through loss of ancestral plasticity,” Braendle said at the meeting.To confirm the mutation’s effect, his team engineered it into egg-laying worms, which then bore live young. And when they transferred the unmutated gene to the matricidal worms, they reverted to egg-laying, Braendle reported.”This might be the first description of the genetic mechanism underlying the transition from a historically plastic trait to a fixed trait,” Ghalambor says. If Lamarck had come across these matricidal worms, he might have thought a selfless mother had adopted this strategy in a single generation, then passed it on. Braendle’s unpublished work shows matricide is actually a plastic response encoded in the genes that, with one more mutation, became permanent.So 200 years later, biologists are realizing Lamarck wasn’t wrong in emphasizing that fast, flexible responses to the environment—what biologists now know as plasticity—can drive lasting change. Although mutations are still important drivers of evolution, responses to the environment “can be the precursors, and the genes are the followers,” Gibert says. “This is a change in the way of thinking.”last_img read more

Marilyn vs Liz Battle of the Hollywood Bombshells

first_imgMarilyn and Liz: In the Hollywood of the Fifties and Sixties, no female movie stars were bigger. Though they were total opposites in the looks department — Elizabeth Taylor, a sultry, finely-chiseled, raven-haired brunette; Marilyn Monroe, a luminous, wide-eyed, childlike blonde — they had much in common, including much-publicized marriages, headline-grabbing scandals, and high-maintenance personalities.Though their paths rarely crossed (Liz worked at MGM, while Marilyn was the face of Twentieth Century Fox), in 1962, their lives would intersect in a big way.Marilyn Monroe posing in the white dress.For decades, motion pictures were king, but when the fifties came along, things were changing. For one thing, the Supreme Court put an end to studio-owned theater monopolies in 1948, which took a big bite out of profits.Elizabeth Taylor.What’s more, a new invention — television — kept people home, watching the likes of Lucille Ball and Milton Berle, and out of the theaters. In order to survive, studios had to find ways to make money — fast.Fox producer Walter Wanger hatched a plan to bring people back to the theaters: an epic to end all epics. And he had just the big-screen spectacle in mind: Cleopatra.Theatrical poster for the film ‘Cleopatra’ (1963).After all, movies based on the Egyptian queen’s life, starring Claudette Colbert in 1934 and Vivian Leigh in 1945, had done well in past.And who better to play the seductress this time around than Elizabeth Taylor, who was recently released from her MGM contract and free to work at other studios? Bonus: Liz’s new-found notoriety as a brazen home-wrecker — stealing Eddie Fisher from his wholesome wife Debbie Reynolds — might be just the thing to bring in curious moviegoers.Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, 1963.Taylor needed some convincing, so the studio made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: a $1,000,000 salary, making her the highest-paid performer at the time. A hefty sum, to be sure, but the studio figured they would recoup the money — and more. And then the headaches began.Taylor as Cleopatra.From the start, the production, which began in September 1960 at London’s Pinewood Studios, was beset with questionable decision-making and spiraling-out-of-control costs. Taylor would make 65 costume changes in the film (earning her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records).Elizabeth Taylor from the trailer for the film ‘Cleopatra.’Constant rain (this being England, after all) caused pure gold leaf, meticulously applied to the sets, to peel. Re-writes left hundreds of extras just sitting around, though still picking up paychecks.Rex Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor from the trailer for the film ‘Cleopatra.’At this point, Cleopatra was costing $70,000 a day to make. Then, in March of the following year, Taylor came down with pneumonia, needing a tracheotomy to save her life.When it was decided that the cold, damp English weather wasn’t conducive to her fragile health, the Pinewood sets were torn down and rebuilt in Rome, at an astronomical cost.Glamorous Hollywood leading Ladies QuotesFox was hemorrhaging money and studio execs were freaking out. However, they had come too far to shut things down.Then Fox hatched another plan. What was needed was a movie that could be made quickly (and on a dime) — with the profits used to help recoup the staggering losses from Cleopatra. They decided on remake of My Favorite Wife, a 1940 comedy starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant — refashioned for Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin.Poster for the film ‘My Favorite Wife’ (1940), featuring stars Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, and Gail Patrick.Monroe didn’t exactly love the script — yet another (sigh) frothy role. Nor was she thrilled that she — Fox’s most famous star  — would be making a paltry $100,000 salary, one-tenth of Liz’s take for Cleopatra. But Marilyn, a sex symbol staring down the barrel of her thirty-sixth birthday, wanted to show studio execs (and the world) that she still had it.The cameras starting rolling on Something’s Got to Give in April 1962 — and from the get-go, there were problems. On the first day of production, Monroe called in sick, claiming she had a severe sinus infection and couldn’t work.Monroe on the set of ‘Something’s Got To Give.’The movie was postponed for a month and director George Cukor was forced to shoot around her, putting the production behind schedule and over budget.But what really sent everyone over the edge: Weeks later, Monroe skipped out on filming once again, yet still managed to appear at a May 19th gala at Madison Square Garden for President Kennedy’s birthday, singing a seductive rendition of “Happy Birthday.”Marilyn Monroe – Happy Birthday Mr. President, 1962. Photo by Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs.Upon her return, Marilyn decided to give the movie some buzz, as only she could — with a nude swimming scene.When filming for the day was finished, photographers, invited by Marilyn, were let onto the set to snap away, as the actress posed, first in a flesh-toned bikini bottom, then without it — a provocative move back in the day. The photos would show up in publications around the world, and Marilyn said she was delighted “to get Liz Taylor off the magazine covers.”Marilyn Monroe in 1962.The actress celebrated her 36th birthday on June 1st with a party on the set. That evening, she went to a fundraiser at Dodger Stadium. L.A. was uncharacteristically chilly that night and Marilyn’s health would take another hit. She was unable to report to work the following day. This time, studio execs had enough: On June 8th, she was fired.Though Monroe may have been a headache, ultimately, the decision to close down her movie may have been a result of the progress (or lack thereof) of Fox’s Cleopatra — still in production, still bleeding green.Publicity photo of Marilyn Monroe.The studio didn’t have the money to keep both projects running, and since they had invested so much into Cleopatra, Monroe’s movie was the one to be shut down. Ironically, Liz had been just as much of a headache as Marilyn — showing up late and delaying production because of various illnesses.And then, there were the over-the-top extravagances — like having Liz’s favorite chili flown in from Chasen’s, a favorite West Hollywood haunt, all on the studio’s dime.Still, the studio went into attack mode, blaming Monroe’s “unprofessional” behavior for her film’s demise. But the actress wasn’t going down without a fight. She launched her own publicity campaign to get out her side of the story and enlisted the help of Fox honcho Darryl F. Zanuck.Darryl F. Zanuck in 1964.The studio re-hired her, agreeing to pay her more than her previous salary of $100,000. Filming was set to resume in October, but Marilyn would die of an overdose on August 5th.Cleopatra wrapped on July 28, 1962. Movie-goers came, but it would take years for Fox to see a profit, selling the broadcast rights to television. Meanwhile, the studio revamped Something’s Got to Give as the 1963 comedy Move Over, Darling, with Doris Day in the staring role.Richard Burton as Mark Antony with Taylor as Cleopatra in ‘Cleopatra’ (1963).Liz would go on to marry her Cleopatra leading man, Richard Burton, and nab a second Oscar for 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Read another story from us: Joe DiMaggio and the Mysterious End of Marilyn MonroeBut Marilyn may ultimately have won the battle of the big-screen legends by acquiring icon status in death — something that didn’t sit well with Liz, who would tell British journalist Peter Evans: “Dying young does give Marilyn an edge over most of us. But I nearly died quite a few times. Nearly dying was my specialty. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?”Barbara Stepko is a New Jersey-based freelance editor and writer who has contributed to AARP magazine and the Wall Street Journal.last_img read more

Everyones a Winner in AppleQualcomm Settlement

first_imgApple and Qualcomm on Tuesday unexpectedly announced a settlement as their case entered the second day of a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Diego.In related news, Intel on Tuesday announced it was getting out of the 5G smartphone chip business.The Apple-Qualcomm settlement provides the following:An unspecified one-time payment from Apple to Qualcomm;A six-year licensing arrangement, effective April 1, 2019, under which Apple will source chipsets directly from Qualcomm instead of having its OEMs do so. This agreement has a two-year extension option; andApple’s agreement to pay royalties to Qualcomm.The settlement will free Apple to enter the 5G smartphone competition, where it has been outstripped by Android device manufacturers. Winners and Losers Apple, which had battled Qualcomm fiercely for years — alleging that it had overcharged for its chips and was leveraging its monopoly — apparently folded in the face of evidence of deception that emerged in court on Monday.”The opening remarks in the latest action in San Diego detailed documentation from Apple indicating [it] had been acting disingenuously and had embarked on a five-year plan to destroy Qualcomm,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.”Both Apple and Intel were caught stealing IP from Qualcomm, which could have resulted in criminal charges,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “Folks do get jail time for IP theft, and the result would have opened up Apple to other IP theft charges that would have been far more difficult to defend.”Further, the disclosure of the documents “would turn the regulatory agencies that Apple had fooled dramatically against it — and that may still happen,” Enderle said. “This had the potential to put Apple out of business.”Germany and China banned sales of some iPhone models because of the litigation.To top things off, Apple faces an antitrust challenge in the EU that could spread to the United States and China, Enderle noted.With all these factors adding up, “this simply became a fight [Apple] could no longer afford,” he said. The industry as a whole won with the settlement of the litigation, Taylor suggested. “A lot of people in the industry were concerned because Apple was refusing to pay for the use of Qualcomm’s IP, and it looks like that principle is saved.”Apple can argue that it was overcharged, “but that’s a contractual matter between it and Qualcomm,” he said. “Refusing to pay — that seems pretty low.”Apple, Qualcomm and Intel all win, Enderle said.”Long term, win or lose, Apple would be weakened by the fight and the chance of a monumental settlement would have cratered their stock. Intel had taken its eyes off its core business and was being carved up by AMD,” he added.”Qualcomm was badly damaged by the litigation,” Enderle noted. The settlement “will allow it to recover, and they were vindicated by this.” Troublesome Docs Introduced in Court Intel’s Weaknesscenter_img Barriers to 5G Removed Apple’s selection of Intel as its 5G chip supplier posed yet another problem.”Intel just makes the transceiver and baseband process, and that works with the Apple applications processor, so it’s basically two digital processors in the iPhone,” Strategy Analytics’ Taylor said. “Everybody else in the world puts these both together in an SoC, which is what the Snapdragon is.”That gives Intel a very limited market.Further, Intel “decided to use what it knows best — the x86 architecture,” Taylor said. “Everybody else uses ARM-based processors for smartphones because they draw very little power.”Also, Intel’s 5G technology “was tied to the theft of IP from Qualcomm,” Enderle pointed out. “That cloud will likely hang over Intel for some time. Repercussions from IP theft have, in the past, knocked companies out of industries. Intel admitted this was likely to happen to them, and, effectively, it did.” At least 10 companies — including Apple arch-rival Samsung and LG Electronics, as well as Huawei, Oppo and other Chinese smartphone makers — are producing 5G smartphones or have announced them.Apple reportedly planned to delay offering a 5G smartphone until 2020 or later. That would have hit it hard.”Even in 4G, Apple is up to two years behind Android devices,” noted Chris Taylor, a research director at Strategy Analytics.”It looks like they were going to be behind in 5G as well,” he told TechNewsWorld.Apple had agreed to source 5G smartphone chips from Intel. However, it “was behind on Apple’s requirement for chips, and Apple had a commitment for a 2020 5G release,” remarked Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.”Qualcomm has stayed very innovative and, at the end of the day, has the better chip,” he told TechNewsWorld.Further, Qualcomm has outgeneraled Apple:It is producing, or plans to produce, 5G chipsets including the Snapdragon Automotive Platform announced at MWC in February; It Demonstrated at MWC 18 an industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) 5G application using industrial equipment from Siemens; At MWC 19, it demonstrated how it can reach 99.9999 percent reliability in its 5G over-the-air test network in San Diego. At Messe 2019 in April, Hannover Messe selected Qualcomm and Nokia as the technology partners to provide 5G OTA connectivity for research collaboration with Bosch on features in the next 5G standard release — 3GPP Rel-16; Also at Hannover Messe 2019, Qualcomm announced partnerships with Gosch, IFAK, Siemens, Zeiss and other key industrial players to develop 5G IIOT applications; and Earlier this month, it announced commercial 5G services in Europe with Swisscom’s 5G network in Switzerland as well as a number of device makers, including LG Electronics, Opportunities and Askey. Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.last_img read more

Samara scholars assessed a new way of skin cancer early diagnostics

first_img Source:https://ssau.ru/english/ Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 25 2018A team of scholars of Samara National Research University and Samara State Medical University as well as clinic specialists of Samara Regional Oncology Centre (SROC) tested a new way of skin cancer early diagnostics with the help of original complex of three devices.The efficiency of oncology treatment is directly connected with the timeliness of their detection. For instance, for melanoma – the most aggressive form of skin tumor detected at the first stage – five-year survival rate after the treatment makes 98% and does not exceed 15% with diagnostics at the fourth stage.Methods created by the team of Samara scholars allowed enhancing the efficiency of active and early skin neoplasm diagnostics up to 97% when the exactness of usual standard clinical research does not exceed 50-60%.The research results are given in the article “Combined Raman and autofluorescence ex vivo diagnostics of skin cancer in NIR and visible regions” which was published in one of the most authoritative journals devoted to the use of modern optical technology for research in Medicine and Biology – Journal of Biomedical Optics.In the basis of methodology developed by Samara scholars at the Department of Laser and Biotechnical Systems of Samara University (headed by professor Valeriy Zakharov) is a system of spectral measurement of problem skin areas with the further medical interpretation of the received data offered by the Department of Oncology of SSMU (headed by professor Sergey Kozlov).As professor Zakharov explained the developed system of spectral measurement allows registering parameters of a patient’s skin in many spectral ranges simultaneously and this gives opportunity to spot pathological changes on cell level as ill cells in their range are different from the healthy ones.This means is the most suitable for screening programmes: not only it allows diagnosing pathology rather precisely and quickly, but it also does not require any use of additional consumable materials and chemical agents and permits to do without the use of invasive method of diagnosis confirmation. “For example, in case of suspicion in skin melanoma incorrect biopsy of a tumour increases the risk of metastasis”, – Alexander Moryatov, the curator of the project, associate professor of the department of Oncology of SSMU added. – In any case after examination of a patient and surgical treatment we finally confirm the diagnosis morphologically”.The scholars use three devices for diagnostics.The first one is an experimental setting for measurement of Raman scattering, it studies spectral characteristics of neoplasms, first of all, skin melanoma. According to Sergey Kozlov this device is suitable for precise diagnostics of a malignant tumor nature allowing to diagnose and differentiate between melanoma and other forms of skin tumor quickly and safely. “This setting can be set in an ordinary regional hospital”, – the professor specified.Related StoriesStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsThe second device – dermatoscope – gives a visual picture of tumor with the maximum approach to its surface and allows seeing and fixing characteristic signs of this disease in real time. According to Sergey Kozlov this device can be compared favorably with the similar ones in respect of a user-friendly interface, the ability to conduct analysis in the mode of polarized light, as well as with the help of special highlight to study peculiarities of melanin, hemoglobin, structure of capillary network in the studied skin area.The third – hyperspectral camera – allows in a short period of time to make several tens of shots in different ranges (for different skin neoplasms are characteristic different optical characteristics) with high definition.All three devices represent a joint development of Samara University scholars, SSMU and SROC and are directed at comparative research of optical characteristics of healthy and pathologically changed tissues in which analysis of different types of neoplasms is built on the basis of joint interpretation of their ranges got with the application of completely safe technologies and laser light sources of different wavelengths.It is said about two types of spectral analysis the character of which depends on biochemical composition of tissues under investigation – Raman spectrum (RS) and autofluorescence spectrum (AS). “Thus “double” spectroscopy allows, as our experiments show, getting information about tissue structure on the basis of which different types of skin tumor can be identified rather precisely”, – Ivan Bratchenko, associate professor of Department of Laser and Biotechnical Systems of Samara University, asserts.All three devices work at the department of Oncology of SSMU, clinical site of Samara Regional Clinical Ontology Dispensary and have already been used for several months when oncologists examine patients. With the help of this equipment more than 400 people have already been examined. “The received results give hope that we approach precise diagnostics comparable with morphological research”, – Alexander Moryatov mentioned.According to Sergey Kozlov diagnostic devices showed high resolution and with time can emerge in the market of medical equipment: “We have few rivalries in Russia and abroad and here we have received better results”.Samara scholars connect perspectives of their research in diagnostics of skin neoplasm with the increase of its resolution due to the complication of mathematical analysis of spectrum data. Their further plans are to integrate a complex of three devices with fiber-optics to use them for diagnosis of inner located tumors (gastrointestinal tract, lungs, etc.) preserving with this safe for a human being research principle – spectral analysis of tumors.last_img read more

Why Mosquitoes prefer some people over others Genetic discovery

first_img Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0692-z Aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin. Image Credit: khlungcenter / Shutterstock By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDNov 25 2018A new study has tried to assess the genetic variants among mosquitoes that make them more susceptible to spreading deadly viral diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, Zika and chikungunya and more resistant to insecticides that are used to kill them.The study titled, ‘Improved reference genome of Aedes aegypti informs arbovirus vector control’, by researchers from seven countries, including Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, has mapped the genetic make-up of these insects which could be ground breaking in vector control.  The team was looking at the genomes of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry viruses like Zika and dengue. They noted that some newly discovered genes could make them resistant to insecticides.Modification of these resistant genes may help stop the mosquitoes from spreading disease, the researchers hope. Dr. Gordana Rasic, one of the researchers said, “One of the key things that we want to achieve is to modify these mosquitoes in a way that will help control them.”center_img They looked at “physical and cytogenetic maps of the mosquitoes to see how these mosquitoes differed in their preference for human hosts for biting as well as how it alters their egg laying sites. They noted that there is a specific locus called the M locus on the mosquito genome where there is a variation in the glutathione S-transferase genes or the GST gene that is important for resistance to insecticides.Related StoriesDoes genetic testing affect psychosocial health?Gene modulation goes wireless hacking the “boss gene”Study: Causes of anorexia are likely metabolic and psychologicalThese GST genes are actually responsible for coding for proteins that detoxify and excrete the insecticides that are used to kill the mosquitoes. When modified these GST genes help the mosquitoes develop a resistance to the insecticides used against them and this makes the chemical ineffective against the pests.A look at these genes of the AaegL5 genome would help interventional strategies for vector control in controlling mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus and the Zika virus.The authors write, “high-quality genome assembly and annotation described here will enable major advances in mosquito biology.”The team also found variants of “chemosensory ionotropic receptors” among the mosquitoes. These connect the attraction of the mosquitoes to certain smells and tastes present on human skin that make them more prone to mosquito bites.The authors state in their work that this could provide clues to developing “novel mosquito repellents. ‘Sterile Insect Technique’ and ‘Incompatible Insect Technique’” that could help reduce mosquito populations. Genetic modification of the male mosquitoes could help alter the genes of the progeny is ways so that they fail to transmit the infection.The authors sign off that better understanding of the genetics of mosquitoes could “facilitate genetic control of mosquitoes that infect many hundreds of millions of people with arboviruses every year.”Mosquito bites are known to spread several life-threatening diseases including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika etc.Zika alone affects around 86 countries and regions around the world and can affect pregnant mothers and severely harm the unborn babies.Dengue too is a viral infection carried by mosquitoes that causes deadly hemorrhagic fever or fever along with very low platelet counts that can cause spontaneous bleeding.Malaria is a parasitic infection that still manages to kill hundreds of thousands around the world.last_img read more

New astronomy workshop for students with hearing loss

first_img Source:https://www.ucr.edu/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 6 2019Astronomers at the University of California, Riverside, have teamed with teachers at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, or CSDR, to design an astronomy workshop for students with hearing loss that can be easily used in classrooms, museums, fairs, and other public events.The workshop utilized a sound stage that allowed the CSDR students to “feel” vibrations from rockets, stars, galaxies, supernovae, and even remnants of the Big Bang itself. The members of the team have made their materials public and written up their experiences to help teachers and other educators worldwide to similarly engage the deaf community in STEM activities.Since 2015, Gillian Wilson, senior associate vice chancellor for research and economic development and a professor of physics and astronomy at UCR, and Mario De Leo-Winkler, director of the National System of Researchers of Mexico and a former postdoctoral scholar at UCR, have developed astronomy outreach activities – astronomy photography competitions, traveling astronomy exhibitions, K12 workshops, interdisciplinary honors thesis projects, hands-on undergraduate astrophotography – that have touched 40,000 people.They have worked closely with CSDR teachers before, ensuring American Sign Language, or ASL, at public astronomy events, but had never developed an activity targeted for the deaf community.Around 360 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. In the United States, about 11 million citizens are functionally deaf or report some trouble hearing. The city of Riverside contains a large concentration of deaf students because it is home to CSDR, the only public school for the deaf in Southern California.”Designers of informal STEM education and public outreach activities often overlook people with hearing loss,” De Leo-Winkler said. “For our workshop we decided to focus on astronomy -a gateway to science- because of the breathtaking imagery it offers, the big questions it tackles, and its increasingly interdisciplinary nature. We used storytelling, videos, and images in the workshop to bring meaning to the sounds of the universe — all of which made for a very engaging experience for the students.”Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTMalaria drug may help those with hereditary hearing loss finds studySmarter, more educated people get a cognitive ‘head start’, but aren’t protected from Alzheimer’s”The students clearly loved the experience,” said Wilson, “and that’s the whole point.”De Leo-Winkler and Wilson presented the workshop multiple times over three days at CSDR, using feedback from the teachers and students not only to better convey the scientific concepts, but also to improve the students’ experience. Their presentation took the students on a cosmic voyage: the students “traveled” from Earth, where thunderstorms were raging, to the sun, where they experienced a solar storm. The voyage continued to Jupiter, flew through the rings of Saturn, and continued on to stars Alpha Centauri A and B. The students flew past the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy and encountered a supernovae explosion. The voyage ended by encountering the Cosmic Microwave Background, the radiation leftover from the Big Bang. Temperature variations in this radiation were sonified to allow the students to experience them as vibrations.”Deaf individuals have a more developed sense of touch than hearing people due to their brain ‘rewiring’ in a process called neuroplasticity,” De Leo-Winkler said. “We paid close attention to this when designing the workshop. The students sit on a special interlocking wooden floor and face a TV screen. When sounds are played, they are transmitted by the sound system onto the floorboard as vibrations. Meanwhile videos and images that provide information are displayed on the screen. We tell the story and an interpreter signs what we say in American Sign Language.”The workshop opens a new way of communicating cosmic phenomena, related to sound, to the deaf community, and opens the door for further developments in public outreach using vibrations to engage and excite students.”It was very important to us to make our materials publicly accessible,” Wilson said. “There are dozens of these sound stages in the U.S. alone. Our workshop could easily be adapted to include other astronomical phenomena or to focus on another scientific discipline. I hope knowing that this was such a positive experience for us will inspire others.”last_img read more

Sperm quality not affected by one course of postoperative treatment for early

first_img Source:https://www.esmo.org/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 25 2019First study to investigate long-term effect of postoperative chemotherapy or radiotherapy on sperm count and concentrationMen with early stage testicular cancer can safely receive one course of chemotherapy or radiotherapy after surgery without it having a long-term effect on their sperm count, according to a study published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology today (Monday).Although it is known already that several rounds of chemotherapy or high doses of radiotherapy given to men with more advanced testicular cancer can reduce sperm count and concentration, it has been unclear whether a single cycle of chemotherapy or radiotherapy would have a similar effect in men with stage I disease.Dr Kristina Weibring, a cancer doctor at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, who led the study, said: “We wanted to examine in more detail if postoperative treatment, given to decrease the risk of recurrence after the removal of the tumorous testicle, would affect the sperm count and sperm concentration long term in testicular cancer patients with no spread of the disease. To our knowledge, no such study has been done before.”This is important to find out, since treatment with one course of postoperative chemotherapy has been shown to decrease the risk of relapse substantially, thereby reducing the number of patients having to be treated with several courses of chemotherapy.”Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men between the ages of 15 and 40. When it is diagnosed, all patients have the testicle containing the tumour removed, a surgical procedure called orchiectomy.In this study, 182 men aged between 18 and 50, diagnosed with stage I testicular cancer and who had had an orchiectomy within the past five years, took part in the study between 2001 and 2006. They were treated either in Stockholm or Lund. After surgery, they received radiotherapy (14 fractions of 1.8 Gy each, up to a total dose of 25 Gy) or one course of chemotherapy, or were managed by surveillance, meaning there was no postoperative treatment. They provided semen samples after orchiectomy but before further treatment, and then six months, one year, two years, three years and five years thereafter. From 2006 onwards, radiotherapy was no longer used as a standard treatment in Sweden because of the risk of causing secondary cancer.”We found no clinically significant detrimental long-term effect in either total sperm number or sperm concentration, irrespective of the type of postoperative treatment received,” said Dr Weibring. “Among men who received radiotherapy, there was a distinct decrease in average sperm number and concentration six months after treatment, though not in those who received chemotherapy. However, sperm number and concentration recovered in the radiotherapy group after six months, and continued to increase in all groups up to five years after treatment.Related StoriesResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemLiving with advanced breast cancerHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumors”I am very excited to see these results as I wasn’t expecting sperm to recover so well after postoperative treatment. I didn’t expect as negative an effect as if the patient had received many courses of chemotherapy, since it is much more toxic, but I was not sure how much the sperm would be affected by one course.”With the results of this study we can give the patients more adequate information on potential side effects from postoperative treatment. Testicular cancer patients are often young men wanting to father children at some point, and we find, in many cases, that the patients are afraid of the potential risk of infertility caused by chemotherapeutic treatment. These findings should provide some reassurance to them.”A well-known problem for men diagnosed with testicular cancer is an impaired ability to create sperm. A condition called testicular dysgenesis syndrome, characterised by poor semen quality among other things, may play a role in this and is also associated with a higher risk of developing testicular cancer. In addition, the orchiectomy and the cancer itself may also affect sperm quality. The removal of one testicle does not necessarily affect a man’s sperm count and concentration as the remaining testicle can compensate.Dr Weibring concluded: “Our results are promising but more studies are needed, and we still recommend sperm banking before orchiectomy as a number of patients may have low sperm counts at the time of diagnosis that persists after postoperative treatment. In addition, the type of testicular cancer and whether or not it will need further treatments are unknown factors before the orchiectomy. Assisted reproductive measures may be necessary for these patients regardless of any treatment given.”Editor-in-chief of Annals of Oncology, Professor Fabrice André, Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, commented: “This study, together with other research efforts, explores the paths to recovering a normal life after cancer. The finding that one course of chemotherapy has minimal impact on sperm count offers hope for thousands of patients worldwide, but we all must keep in mind that these data are preliminary and will require validation before we can use them in clinics. The next step will be to establish how to predict the toxic effects on sperm count of different chemotherapy regimens.”last_img read more

Increased stress hormones accelerate breast cancer metastasis

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 14 2019It has long been thought that stress contributes to cancer progression. Scientists from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel have deciphered the molecular mechanisms linking breast cancer metastasis with increased stress hormones. In addition, they found that synthetic derivatives of stress hormones, which are frequently used as anti-inflammatory in cancer therapy, decrease the efficacy of chemotherapy. These results come from patient-derived models of breast cancer in mice and may have implications for the treatment of patients with breast cancer, as the researchers report in the scientific journal Nature.One major obstacle in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer is the phenomenon of tumor heterogeneity. As the disease progresses, the tumor becomes more diverse, and the difference between the cancer cells may lead to inadequate treatment.Because the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon remain unclear, the research group of Prof. Mohamed Bentires-Alj from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and University Hospital of Basel has been studying the cells of a highly metastatic form of cancer known as triple-negative breast cancer. This cancer type is resistant to standard therapies leaving patients with fewer treatment options.Stress accelerates metastasisTo explore the heterogeneity between tumors and metastases, the researchers profiled the activity of genes in a mouse model of breast cancer. They found that metastases have increased activity of glucocorticoid receptors (GR) which mediate the effects of stress hormones such as cortisol.Concentrations of the stress hormones cortisol and corticosterone were higher in mice with metastases that in those with no metastases. The scientists show that increased levels of these stress hormones activate the GR, which cause increased colonization and heterogeneity of the cancer cells – and ultimately, shortened survival.Related StoriesCancer killing capability of lesser-known immune cells identifiedUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerLiving with advanced breast cancerReduced efficacy of chemotherapyGR also mediates the effects of synthetic derivatives of cortisol such as dexamethasone which is used widely to treat the side effects of chemotherapy. The research group shows that in mice with metastatic cells the efficacy of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel was decreased when administered in combination with dexamethasone.These findings suggest that caution should be taken when prescribing glucocorticoid hormones to patients with breast cancer. The study also suggests that GR inhibition may be beneficial for patients and could lead to the development of new therapies to combat breast cancer metastasis.”Tumor heterogeneity is a serious hurdle for therapy. These findings highlight the importance of stress management in patients – and especially those with triple-negative breast cancer,” states Prof. Bentires-Alj. “Moderate exercise and relaxation techniques have been shown to correlate with enhanced quality of life and greater survival in patients.”Basel Breast ConsortiumThe Basel Breast Consortium was initiated in 2014 by Prof. Mohamed Bentires-Alj and Prof. Walter Paul Weber, Chief Physician Department of Breast Surgery at the University Hospital Basel. It has more than 160 researchers and clinicians from academia and industry as well as patient advocates, committed to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge breast cancer clinical studies.Source: https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Stress-hormones-promote-breast-cancer-metastasis.htmllast_img read more

Broadcom lowers offer for Qualcomm as takeover saga continues

Explore further © 2018 AFP Broadcom CEO Hock Tan is seen at a November 2017 White House meeting with President Donald Trump where he announced the Singapore-based firm would be reincorporating in the United States This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to about $43.22B Singapore-based Broadcom said Wednesday it was cutting its offer price for mobile chip maker Qualcomm in the wake of the US firm’s increased bid for Dutch rival NXP. Broadcom reduced its offer to $79 a share, which would still be the largest-ever deal in the tech sector if completed at an estimated value of nearly $117 billion.The move came amid a closely watched hostile bid for Qualcomm which could reshape the fast-evolving sector of chips for smartphones and connected devices.A Broadcom statement said the offer was reduced because “Qualcomm’s board acted against the best interests of its stockholders by unilaterally transferring excessive value to NXP’s activist stockholders.”Qualcomm, the dominant maker of smartphone chips, has moved to fend off Broadcom’s hostile takeover efforts and last week rejected the latest offer of $82 a share as too low. The California company on Tuesday raised its offer for NXP to an estimated $43 billion, aiming to alleviate concerns of some NXP investors and seal the tie-up which would make a Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm less enticing. Broadcom said Wednesday it remained committed to acquiring Qualcomm and its cash-and-stock offer would revert back to $82 per share should Qualcomm fail to acquire NXP.The Singapore firm accused Qualcomm’s board of acting against shareholder interest “by unilaterally transferring excessive value to NXP’s activist shareholders.””Broadcom remains confident that Qualcomm’s stockholders will continue to support its proposal to acquire Qualcomm,” Broadcom said in a statement.Qualcomm is due to hold an annual meeting March 6 at which Broadcom has nominated six people to replace the majority of Qualcomm’s board of directors.Broadcom’s original offer for Qualcomm came days after CEO Hock Tan visited the White House and told President Donald Trump the company would be moving back to the United States. Citation: Broadcom lowers offer for Qualcomm as takeover saga continues (2018, February 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-broadcom-adjusting-buyout-qualcomm.html read more

House panel says Facebooks Zuckerberg to testify April 11

In this April 18, 2017 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The leaders of a key House oversight committee say Zuckerberg will testify before their panel on April 11. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, file) Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing will focus on the Facebook’s “use and protection of user data.” Announcement of the hearing date comes as Facebook faces scrutiny over its data collection following allegations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users to try to influence elections. Walden is the committee’s Republican chairman and Pallone is the panel’s top Democrat.”This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online,” Walden and Pallone said.Their committee is the first of three congressional panels that requested Zuckerberg’s testimony to announce a hearing date. The Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees also have called for Zuckerberg to appear before them.Walden and Pallone said last month that they wanted to hear directly from Zuckerberg after senior Facebook executives failed to answers questions during a closed-door briefing with congressional staff about how Facebook and third-party developers use and protect consumer data.Zuckerberg said during a March 21 interview on CNN that he would be “happy” to testify before Congress, but only if he was the right person to do that. He said there might be other Facebook officials better positioned to appear, depending on what Congress wanted to know. Walden and Pallone said a day later that as Facebook’s top executive, Zuckerberg is indeed the “right witness to provide answers to the American people.” This March 28, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook is asking users whether they think it’s “good for the world” in a poll sent to an unspecified number of people. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) Citation: House panel says Facebook’s Zuckerberg to testify April 11 (2018, April 4) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-house-panel-facebook-zuckerberg-testify.html Explore further The data was gathered through a personality test app called “This Is Your Digital Life” that was downloaded by fewer than 200,000 people. But participants unknowingly gave researchers access to the profiles of their Facebook friends, allowing them to collect data from millions more users.It’s far from certain what action, if any, the GOP-led Congress and the Trump administration might take against Facebook, but the company will almost certainly oppose any efforts to regulate it or the technology business sector more broadly.As do most large corporations, Facebook has assembled a potent lobbying operation to advance its interests in Washington. The company spent just over $13 million on lobbying in 2017, with the bulk of the money spent on an in-house lobbying team that’s stocked with former Republican and Democratic political aides, according to disclosure records filed with the House and Senate. The company sought to influence an array of matters that ranged from potential changes to government surveillance programs to corporate tax issues. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a House oversight panel on April 11 amid a privacy scandal that has roiled the social media giant, the panel announced Wednesday. Their call represented the first official request from a congressional oversight committee for Zuckerberg’s appearance as lawmakers demanded that Facebook explain reports that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of more than 50 million Facebook users.The company, funded in part by Trump supporter and billionaire financier Robert Mercer, paired its vault of consumer data with voter information. The Trump campaign paid the firm nearly $6 million during the 2016 election, although it has since distanced itself. Other Republican clients of Cambridge Analytica included Sen. Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign and Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon who also ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. UK MPs ask Facebook’s Zuckerberg to testify on data row read more

UK lawmakers summon exCambridge Analytica chief to testify

Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. British lawmakers investigating the use of Facebook users’ information in political campaigns issued a summons Thursday for the former head of data firm Cambridge Analytica after he declined to answer their questions. UK MPs pressure Zuckerberg to testify on Facebook data breach Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said it had summoned the company’s ex-chief executive, Alexander Nix, to appear June 6.It also issued a summons for Dominic Cummings, former director of the Vote Leave campaign in Britain’s 2016 European Union membership referendum. It wants him to answer questions May 22.Last month Nix refused to appear before the committee, citing British authorities’ ongoing investigation into Cambridge Analytica.Committee chairman Damian Collins said Nix and Cummings could be found in contempt of Parliament if they ignored the summons.Former Cambridge Analytica staffer Christopher Wylie sparked a global debate over electronic privacy when he alleged the company used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts to help U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Wylie said the Brexit “leave” campaign also had access to the Facebook data.Cambridge Analytica announced last week that it plans to file for bankruptcy in Britain and the United States, saying negative publicity from the scandal had driven potential clients away.The House of Commons can punish people “for disorderly and disrespectful acts committed against it” although in practice its powers are limited.In the past offenders could be imprisoned in a special cell in Parliament, but the power has not been used since 1880. Parliament also once had the power to fine those found in contempt, but it has not done so since the 17th century. Citation: UK lawmakers summon ex-Cambridge Analytica chief to testify (2018, May 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-uk-lawmakers-summon-ex-cambridge-analytica.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

World Bank says demand for blockchain bond tops expectations

first_img Explore further Banks don’t want to be weakest link in blockchain revolution The Washington-based bank, which has embraced blockchain as a valuable tool in its economic development mission, had initially expected to garner Aus$50 million ($36.8 million) for the two-year bond, with a possible doubling of that size depending on investor interest.”I am delighted that this pioneer bond transaction using the distributed ledger technology, bond-i, was extremely well received by investors,” World Bank Treasurer Arunma Oteh said in a statement.”We are particularly impressed with the breadth of interest from official institutions, fund managers, government institutions and banks.”Blockchain is a digital public registry of transactions that has aroused considerable enthusiasm in financial and government circles over its potential to facilitate transactions and improve supply chains and product verification in myriad industries.World Bank areas of focus that could be helped by blockchain and other disruptive technologies include land administration, health, education and carbon markets, the bank said.Investors included Commonwealth Bank of Australia, First State Super, Northern Trust and the Treasury Corporation of Victoria.Derek Young, chief operating officer for group investments at QBE Insurance Group, another investor, said in remarks provided by the bank that blockchain offered “untapped potential for the application of this product to capital markets.”There is no central bank behind blockchain. The vehicle will be organized around Australian dollars. The technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies—like bitcoin—which often raise suspicions about their reliability and volatility, as well as their use for criminal purposes. However, even some critics of bitcoin have said blockchain offers significant potential among emerging financial technologies.Microsoft was an independent code reviewer for the bond offering, while TD Securities served as market maker. © 2018 AFP Bitcoin mining is viewed at BitFarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec in 2018center_img The World Bank raised Aus$110 million ($80.9 million) in the first-ever blockchain bond offering following investor demand that exceeded expectations, the global lender announced Thursday. Citation: World Bank says demand for blockchain bond tops expectations (2018, August 23) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-world-bank-demand-blockchain-bond.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more