Month: July 2019


CRISPRCas9 technique may raise cancer risk


first_img Source:https://ki.se/en/news/genome-editing-tool-could-increase-cancer-risk Jun 11 2018Therapeutic use of gene editing with the so-called CRISPR-Cas9 technique may inadvertently increase the risk of cancer, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the University of Helsinki, Finland, published in Nature Medicine. Researchers say that more studies are required in order to guarantee the safety of these ‘molecular scissors’ for gene-editing therapies.CRISPR-Cas9 is a molecular machine first discovered in bacteria that can be programmed to go to an exact place in the genome, where it cuts the DNA. These precise ‘molecular scissors’ can be used to correct faulty pieces of DNA and are currently being used in clinical trials for cancer immunotherapy in the US and China. New trials are expected to be launched soon so as to treat inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyLiving with advanced breast cancerAdding immunotherapy after initial treatment improves survival in metastatic NSCLC patientsTwo independent articles published in the journal Nature Medicine now report that therapeutic application of the genome-editing tool may, in fact, increase the risk of cancer. In one of the studies, scientists from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Helsinki report that use of CRISPR-Cas9 in human cells in a laboratory setting can activate a protein known as p53, which acts as a cell’s ‘first aid kit’ for DNA breaks. Once active, p53 reduces the efficiency of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Thus, cells that do not have p53 or are unable to activate it show better gene editing. Unfortunately, however, lack of p53 is also known to contribute to making cells grow uncontrollably and become cancerous.”By picking cells that have successfully repaired the damaged gene we intended to fix, we might inadvertently also pick cells without functional p53″, says Dr Emma Haapaniemi, researcher at the Department of Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge and co-first author of the study. “If transplanted into a patient, as in gene therapy for inherited diseases, such cells could give rise to cancer, raising concerns for the safety of CRISPR-based gene therapies.””CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful tool with staggering therapeutic potential”, adds Dr Bernhard Schmierer, researcher at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet, and Head of the High Throughput Genome Engineering Facility of Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), who co-supervised the study. “Like all medical treatments however, CRISPR-Cas9-based therapies might have side effects, which the patients and caregivers should be aware of. Our study suggests that future work on the mechanisms that trigger p53 in response to CRISPR-Cas9 will be critical in improving the safety of CRISPR-Cas9-based therapies.”last_img read more


Microglia play protective role in response to retinal detachment shows study


first_imgJun 19 2018A research team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear has shown that microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain and retina, play a protective role in response to retinal detachment. Retinal detachment and subsequent degeneration of the retina can lead to progressive visual decline due to photoreceptor cell death, the major light-sensing cell in the eye. In a report published online today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers describe, for the first time, the beneficial role of microglial cells in the eye after retinal detachment -; migrating to the site of injury to protect photoreceptors and to regulate local inflammation.”Our results provide clear evidence that microglia protect photoreceptors from cell death in acute retinal detachment,” said senior author Kip Connor, Ph.D., vision researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear and Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “We found that microglial cells rapidly migrate into the injured retina, where they formed close connections with infiltrating immune cells and removed injured photoreceptors. These findings provide the first insight into how microglia respond and function during retinal detachment.”Affecting about 200,000 Americans per year, retinal detachments are considered sight-threatening medical emergencies. When the retina detaches from its normal position, it separates the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the eye, and photoreceptors -; the major light-sensing cells of the retina -; begin to die away. Retinal detachments can occur spontaneously, as a result of blunt trauma or as a side effect of a variety of eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, ocular tumors, and age-related macular degeneration.The current standard of care for retinal detachment is surgical reattachment, with patients in the United States and Europe typically treated within one week. Today’s surgical techniques are highly effective in physically reattaching the retina, and – if surgery is timely – surgical outcomes are generally positive. However, in some cases, patients experience permanent vision loss accompanied by changes in color vision.Related StoriesSleep disorders in patients with low back pain linked to increased healthcare visits, costsResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryResearchers around the world -; across all fields of medicine -; have recently begun to shed light on the function of microglial cells in various conditions. In Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, they are thought to be harmful.In the ophthalmology setting, microglial cells have been known to be activated in retinal detachment; however, it was previously unknown if these cells were harmful or protective against photoreceptor cell death.In the PNAS report, the researchers describe morphological changes in microglia in response to retinal detachment in a preclinical model. In response to retinal detachment, microglia rapidly responded in a uniform migrating pattern, toward the affected area. When the researchers depleted microglia in the model, they saw more of the photoreceptor cells die away.The authors on the PNAS report are hopeful that these findings suggest a new therapeutic avenue for preserving photoreceptors after retinal detachment.”Clinically, in the context of retinal detachment, we think promoting these cells would be of significant therapeutic benefit -; perhaps early on, when they can keep inflammation in check,” said Yoko Okuniki, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Mass. Eye and Ear and the study’s lead author. “This could prevent the initial photoreceptor cell loss, preserving vision longer after retinal detachment and providing an extended therapeutic window for surgery.” Source:https://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2018/06/microglia-protect-sensory-cells-needed-for-vision-after-retinal-detachmentlast_img read more


German Ethics Council Government Should Regulate Dangerous Research


The German government should step in with legislation to regulate so-called dual use research of concern (DURC), the type of science that can benefit mankind but may be dangerous in the wrong hands, says a report issued today by the German Ethics Council. The government should set up a national committee to review DURC proposals in advance, says the report. In addition, the panel says action is needed to raise awareness about the issue, both at home and internationally.Critics of dual-use research welcomed the call for tighter regulations. “This is an admirable, comprehensive, and compelling report,” says Peter Hale, founder of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in Washington, D.C., who has lobbied for limiting dual-use research. The document, “for the first time, contains a set of substantive recommendations that will hopefully inform/inspire debate and action in other countries,” Hale writes in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “The report should be required reading for governments around the world.”Some scientists, however, say the recommendations place needless burdens on researchers and may hamper science. Lars Schaade, vice president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, says he supports some of the council’s proposals, such as developing a code of conduct for German scientists and compulsory biosecurity training, but does not see the need for new legislation and a national DURC committee. “Local committees at universities can review DURC proposals just as efficiently,” Schaade says, “and they may have more support from scientists.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The German government had asked the  council to study the issue in the wake of the fierce debate over two studies a few years ago—one led by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the other by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, Madison—that sought to find out which genetic mutations make the H5N1 bird flu virus more easily transmissible between humans. Critics said that the studies, which were eventually published in Science and Nature, might help aspiring bioterrorists.The council’s 300-page report (PDF, in German; click here for a summary in English) says current regulations are insufficient. It says that German law should classify 10 types of research as DURC, such as studies that increase the transmissibility and infectious potential of a pathogen, expand its host range, make it more stable, or make it more difficult to detect.(That list is an expanded version of what researchers call the seven deadly sins, introduced in a landmark U.S. biosecurity report issued in 2004. The sins were ultimately formalized in several new sets of U.S. government rules requiring research funding agencies to screen proposals for DURC, and for researchers proposing certain kinds of DURC experiments to receive extra review from public funders. U.S. officials are also considering rules that would require universities to review DURC and develop plans for reducing risks.)In Germany, the council recommends that researchers be legally required to submit proposals to a new national DURC committee that would weigh the risks and benefits of the research; if rejected, the government and other funders should not support the work, it says.Stephan Becker, a virologist at the Philipps University of Marburg who has followed the debates closely, says he’s “impressed by the amount of work that went into this expert statement,” but not in favor of new laws to regulate scientists’ work. “Personally I do not believe that the demanded legislation will solve the problem,” Becker says. “In my opinion it is all about education, building of awareness, and communication.”RKI’s Schaade also objects to the idea, supported by some members of the council, to introduce an additional approval procedure, to be conducted by a federal authority such as RKI. RKI carries out research itself; getting involved in judging other researchers’ proposals might be regarded as a conflict of interest, he says. “What if we reject a proposal for some flu study and then a Robert Koch researcher gets a related study approved?” Schaade asks. “It would not be a good idea.”The council sees a guiding role for Germany internationally. Scientists and scientific organizations “should embark on an international process of reflection on the possible benefits and the risks of DURC,” the report says, and the government should try to reach an international agreement about DURC policy. Germany is also asked to lobby for DURC rules within the massive research programs of the European Union, with perhaps a DURC committee at the European level to review research proposals.The question is what the German government will do with the report. German science minister Johanna Wanka appeared noncommittal today. “We don’t want to immediately force something on the scientific community,” she was quoted as saying today by a website for physicians. “New legislation is the last link in the chain,” she said in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.That would be too bad, says virologist Simon Wain-Hobson of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, who testified before the council in August. “If virologists are unhappy, it is because they don’t want to face up to the changing world,” Wain-Hobson says. “We do need DURC committees.” read more


Spider Venom Inspires BeeSafe Pesticide


A new pesticide could be the bee’s knees. Honey bees (Apis mellifera, pictured) pollinate 90% of all U.S. flowering crops, but in recent years their numbers have drastically dwindled. Accumulating evidence implicates several commonly used insecticides in honey bee deaths, sparking a growing demand for bee-safe alternatives. Online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a team of researchers reports the creation of a bee-friendly pesticide produced by fusing Australian funnel-web spider (Hadronyche versuta) venom with snowdrop flower (Galanthus nivalis) proteins. The team says its toxin selectively attacks the central nervous systems of common agricultural pests, such as beetles and aphids, while leaving honey bees unharmed. After exposing bees to their new pesticide for 7 days, the researchers found no detrimental effects on learning or survival. Even when the team directly injected the pesticide into the honey bees, only 17% died within 48 hours. The team next plans to test the toxin’s effect on other beneficial pollinators, such as bumblebees and parasitic wasps. read more


Withholding results from clinical trials is unethical says WHO


first_imgThe movement to ensure that clinical trial results don’t end up in drawers has found an important global ally. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a call to make results from every clinical study publicly available within a year. Not doing so can harm patients and research subjects, waste time and money, and hold back medical science, WHO says.“Failure to publicly disclose trial results engenders misinformation, leading to skewed priorities for both R&D and public health interventions,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant-director at WHO, in a press statement today. “It creates indirect costs for public and private entities, including patients themselves, who pay for suboptimal or harmful treatments.”Clinical trials go unpublished for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a study’s sponsor prefers not to call attention to unwelcome results; sometimes researchers have trouble getting a journal to print their findings—for instance if they show a treatment had no effect; and sometimes scientists never get around to writing a manuscript. But withholding results leads to “publication bias,” which causes treatments to seem more or less effective than they really are, and it can put volunteers in future trials at risk unnecessarily. 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 (*) Emailcenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country In its statement, WHO says that from now on the main findings of every clinical study should be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal within 12 months after data collection ends and be published—in an open-access journal unless there is a specific reason why that’s impossible—within 24 months. “Main findings” may sound rather limited, but actually includes everything from trial design and eligibility criteria to the outcomes, limitations, and interpretation of a study. WHO refers researchers who want a checklist of what needs to be in a paper to the so-called CONSORT statement.In addition, WHO wants the “key outcomes”—a more limited data set including number of participants, key results, and adverse events—made available in a clinical trial registry such as ClinicalTrials.gov within 12 months after a study is completed. WHO also calls on the publication of the results from older studies that have never seen the light of day.”It’s unethical to conduct clinical research without reporting the results,” says Vasee Moorthy, an author of a paper about the new statement published in PLOS Medicine today. Europe and the United States have already made important regulatory strides to registering trials and making their outcomes public, Moorthy says; he hopes WHO’s statement will stimulate countries elsewhere to do the same.Ben Goldacre, a co-founder of the advocacy group AllTrials, praises WHO’s “landmark position statement” in another paper in PLOS Medicine, but says it’s not enough. To make sure that researchers follow WHO’s advice and fulfill their reporting obligations, Goldacre recommends independently conducted audits. For every trial entered in a trial registry more than 12 months ago, auditors can simply check whether the results have been published and post their findings. That “would allow us to name and shame poor performers, and also to reward best practice,” Goldacre writes.The requirement to publish in an academic journal may prove a red herring, Goldacre says, as journal articles are sometimes incomplete, wrong, or full of spin, and publication can take a long time. Reporting results in a structured database like ClinicalTrials.gov is speedier and often better, he argues.last_img read more


Feature Sage grouse war tests limits of partnership in West


first_imgWhen Jack Connelly first began studying the greater sage grouse in Idaho in the late 1970s, “it was not unusual to see 500 in a single flock,” says the biologist, who is retired from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “Today, it would be unusual to see 200.” That dramatic decline has made the sage grouse—a large, pointy-tailed bird with showy mating habits—the subject of one of the biggest endangered species battles ever in the United States. President Barack Obama’s administration is under court order to decide by 30 September how to protect the bird: declare it an endangered species—the nuclear option in conservation—or opt for the less onerous conservation strategies that officials are testing on its fellow rangeland bird, the lesser prairie chicken. An endangered listing could have widespread economic and environmental consequences. The sage grouse’s remaining population is spread over 67 million hectares in 11 western states, pitting it against farming, ranching, mining, and energy interests. Some members of Congress are trying to block any listing, because of the potential cost to industry and private landowners. They have even vowed to stop ongoing government efforts to protect grouse on federal lands, which hold about 65% of its key remaining habitat. “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this issue is the mother of all [endangered species] decisions,” says forestry scientist Eric Washburn, of the law and lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani in Washington, D.C.To read the full story, see the 19 June issue of Science.last_img read more


Beaver ponds boost mercury levels downstream


first_imgBeaver dams transform landscapes, turning stretches of flowing streams into still ponds and flooding forests. Now, researchers have found the dams are transformative in more ways than one. Scientists in Sweden have shown that beaver ponds can cause levels of methylmercury—a particularly toxic form of mercury—to rise in downstream waters by as much as 3.5 times the background levels during summer months. Although mercury, a neurotoxin, occurs naturally in the environment, it is also released into the atmosphere when humans burn coal and other fossil fuels. Once it finds its way back to land or water, bacteria in the soil can convert it into its more toxic cousin, methylmercury. As the researchers reported online last month in Environmental Science & Technology, this kind of bacteria thrives in the waterlogged sediments, rich with decaying vegetation, that pile up behind beaver dams. But the increase in methylmercury appears to be temporary. Surprisingly, it doesn’t occur when beavers move back into old dams: Methylmercury levels above and below recolonized dams were nearly identical in the study. This could mean the submerged vegetation that was feeding the bacteria finally rotted away, leaving them with less food, scientists say. They add that their findings support the practice of leaving old dams in place in Europe and North America where beavers—whose numbers have plummeted over the last 150 years—are making a comeback. Next, the researchers hope to figure out how methylmercury works its way through the ecosystem and whether or not it’s accumulating in fish and other organisms.last_img read more


Human knockouts may reveal why some drugs fail


first_img Human ‘knockouts’ may reveal why some drugs fail Email Babar Shah/PPI Images/Newscom By Jocelyn KaiserApr. 12, 2017 , 1:00 PM When scientists want to figure out what a specific gene does in mice, they knock it out. That can’t be done with humans, but some people are natural knockouts—born missing one or more genes. Now, a look at the DNA of 10,500 Pakistanis has found more than 1300 genes that are knocked out without causing obvious medical issues. The results may help confirm why a new heart disease drug flopped in clinical trials, and why another new drug should work just fine.The study is the latest of several hunts for apparently healthy human knockouts that have included Iceland and the United Kingdom. “The Human Genome Project gave us a parts list of 18,000 genes, and this project is trying to understand what missing a part means in terms of biological consequences,” says heart disease geneticist Sekar Kathiresan of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who co-led the study.In Pakistan, people often marry their first cousins. That raises the odds that a mother and father will both pass identical copies of a mutation in a specific gene to their children. (Unless the mutated gene is on a sex chromosome, both parental copies of a gene have to be disabled for a full knockout.) Kathiresan’s group sequenced the DNA of 10,503 Pakistanis who are participating in a long-term heart disease and diabetes study and found 1317 fully knocked-out genes. The team then looked for abnormalities in about 200 clinical blood biomarkers such as cholesterol. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img A genetics study in Pakistan has turned up 1300 genes that humans can live without.  Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Seven genes were disabled in at least two people and clearly matched up with some biomarker change, such as unusually low insulin levels, the team reports today in Nature. One codes for an enzyme called Lp-PLA2 that has been linked to arterial plaque. Because higher blood levels of Lp-PLA2 correlate with more heart attacks, drug companies have already spent billions of dollars on Lp-PLA2–blocking drugs. But Pakistanis who lacked one or both copies of the gene didn’t have a lower risk of heart disease, which adds to other genetics studies that may explain why these drugs failed in the clinic.On the other hand, the study found strong support for another heart disease drug target, a protein called ApoC-III that limits the body’s ability to metabolize fats called triglycerides. Although Kathiresan’s team has studied people missing one copy of the APCO3 gene, “we’ve been looking for the past 4 years for humans who completely lack it.” They had found none in the United States and Europe, he says, but in Pakistan, his group identified a whole family where both parents and all nine of their children lack the APCO3 gene.When the family members drank a fat-laden milkshake, their blood fat levels barely rose, suggesting they have little artery-clogging fat in their bodies and should be protected against heart attacks. The family also seemed perfectly healthy, so ApoC-III–blocking drugs now in clinical testing should be safe, Kathiresan predicts. The drugs could eventually join another heart disease–preventing drug that came out of the discovery of a healthy woman missing a gene called PCSK9.The Pakistani study is the first in which researchers tested some of the knockouts they had found to learn more about their health, says human geneticist David Van Heel of Queen Mary University of London, who last year published a smaller knockout study of British-Pakistanis. Because these individuals are so rare, “we really all need to keep going to sequence more and more people,” he says. About 200,000 Pakistanis would be enough to find knockouts of about 8700 genes, Kathiresan’s team estimates. (Some of these genes are essential to early development, however, so a human knockout would never be born.)Kathiresan and others is now calling for a Human Knockout Project that would pool all the data coming out of these projects and other large population genetics studies in a single database. Co-author Daniel MacArthur of the Broad Institute will soon release a prototype containing knocked-out genes from a larger collection of human genomes called ExAC. Eventually the plan is to make it possible for academic researchers—and drug companies—to reach out to the leaders of the original study so they can contact an individual knockout from the database and bring the person into a clinic for more testing.last_img read more


Building a robot is one of many skills these students have mastered


first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Michael Davies Sergbeh, left, and Gregline Kumba Natt hold the Liberian flag.  Ghalib Alharthy By Zahra AhmadJul. 20, 2017 , 5:15 PM Building a robot is one of many skills these students have mastered Hamood and Ali Nasser Al-Saadi prepare their robot for competition at the FIRST Global Competition. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The model for this week’s global event is a U.S.-based robotics competition begun a quarter-century ago by serial entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen. “These students are living proof of what can be achieved if you get an idea, a task, and dream, and combine them all together,” Kamen says. “This competition is meant to reach students in areas that need STEM the most, developing countries, those who face adversity every day and [who also] are their countries’ future leaders.”Liberia was one of 60 countries whose teams had no prior experience building robots. The competition was designed to be an opportunity for students like Sergbeh to showcase their abilities.“The selection process varied by country for this inaugural year,” says FIRST Global President Joe Sestak in Manchester, New Hampshire, who is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania. “We had some teams that held a regional type of selection process with robots; others could only afford proctor testing to determine who would represent their country.” Sestak began calling STEM organizations around the world last fall to spread the word about the competition. Those organizations were asked to find mentors who spoke English and had a background in technology and software programming. Mentors then identified students interested in building a basic robot. More than 600 people eventually lent a hand. FIRST Global’s theme was access to clean water, one of the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Two three-team alliances worked to see whose robots could clear a hypothetical river of contaminants. The contaminants were represented by blue and orange balls. The robots were expected to sort the balls into the appropriate bins and then hang from a beam before a virtual river flooded and swept them away.Reaching out to AfricaLiberia was one of 40 African countries that fielded teams. And Sestek says the organization deliberately sought students who had traditionally had little exposure to high-quality STEM education. “We didn’t want just the top schools from Africa to participate, we wanted those who needed it most,” Sestak says. “Only four of the schools from Africa were in the top 1% of their socioeconomic class.” The great majority of students were from the lower end of the socioeconomic class, he notes. Another explicit goal of the competition was to provide opportunities for women. “It’s really hard for girls to pursue a career in science in Rwanda, and in Africa in general, because it’s expected of woman to get married and have kids when you graduate high school,” says Ikirezedi Poala, one of seven members—four boys, three girls—from Rwanda.Poala says competitions like this show young girls there are opportunities if they stay focused. “I think people are beginning to become more open minded towards the idea of women pursuing a career before settling down, because they see us succeeding in things like FIRST Global,” she says. The Rwandan team placed 68th. Zahra Ahmad 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 Michael Davies Sergbeh has never let obstacles stand in the way of acquiring an education that could serve as his ticket to a world beyond his small village in Liberia. As a child he worked at his stepfather’s garage to afford private school, a necessity because of the sorry state of most public schools in his native country. Earlier this year, when he was chosen to represent Liberia in a robotics competition for high school students from 157 countries, he wasn’t discouraged by his relative inexperience in the field and by his school’s bare-bones science facilities.  “I had never really worked on a computer before, but I learned from my mentor so that I could teach my teammates,” he says, referring to six other students attending nearby schools. At times, the only light in their workroom came from a cellphone. But Team Liberia persisted. This week the students were rewarded with a 12th place finish in the FIRST Global Challenge held in Washington, D.C.“I never thought I would be able to build a robot that can move, pick things up, and lift itself up,” says Sergbeh, the team’s captain, “so ranking this high is amazing. It’s really encouraged us to pursue STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] because it’s very important in furthering Liberia’s future and bettering the world.”  For Hamood and Ali Nasser Al-Saadi, opportunity came in the form of a dedicated mentor who saw they were skilled in mathematics and science. Growing up on a farm in a valley between the mountains in Sharqiyah, in northern Oman, the twin boys have been deaf and mute since birth and didn’t attend school until age 9.“Their father didn’t know about the resources that were available to them,” says their mentor and teacher, Ghalib Alharthy. “When I started teaching a class at the Abdullah bin Zeid for Basic Education for deaf and mute students, they stood out to me because they’re very clever and can stay focused on a topic for hours.” Unlike those on the Liberian team, the Omani twins had considerable previous experience with robotics competitions. They took top honors 3 years running in the FIRST Lego League in Oman, an international competition in which elementary and middle school students build a LEGO Mindstorm robot.Asked what they enjoy most about the competition, in which they finished 39th, the boys turned to each other and smiled before Hamood signed, “Ali is the hands-on guy, and he loves building the robots. I like programming the robot to do whatever we need it to do, and driving it.” And they weren’t fazed by all the hoopla surrounding this week’s event. “I was nervous and excited when I walked into the arena, it was so big and there were so many people,” Ali signed. “But as soon as the competition started, I knew exactly what to do and when our robot hung, I was so happy.” In addition to the obstacles that most of the individual students had to overcome, FIRST Global officials faced the challenge of obtaining visas for each team. Both the Gambian and Afghan teams were initially denied visas—the Afghan team’s plight became a media sensation—but in the end all were able to attend.“It’s been a blessing to receive the amount of support and attention we’ve gotten,” Lida Azizi, a student from Herat, Afghanistan, said through a translator. “We’re hoping it encourages other young girls in Afghanistan to pursue higher education without fear. It feels great to bring a medal back home.” The all-girls Afghan team finished 114th overall, but joined with the Omani twins in receiving the Rajaa Cherkaoui El Moursli Award for Courageous Achievement.Fresh off their initial success, Kamen and Sestack have already begun planning regional competitions as a prelude to next year’s FIRST Global competition in Mexico City. Many students said they hoped to use the event as a springboard for their STEM advocacy work back home. “In my free time I teach at a community center in Pleebo, [Liberia],” Sergbeh says. “I teach primary education like simple math, science, and English. It’s great practice for me, and it helps the younger kids. I can’t wait to go back and share this experience with them. Hopefully it will show them they can do great things, too.”last_img read more


Anthraxs cousin wreaks havoc in the rainforest


first_imgBack in 2001, Leendertz and his colleagues thought the chimps had died of the familiar form of anthrax, caused by B. anthracis. But that is known to kill many wild animals in arid regions, not rainforests, and in 2010 the researchers linked the deaths to the closely related B. cereus, a common and usually benign soil microbe. (Some strains do cause diarrhea and vomiting in humans.) They also discovered that the Taï strain has acquired two plasmids, or circles of DNA, possibly from B. anthracis, encoding most of the genes that make anthrax a formidable killer.Leendertz and his team examined samples from bones and carcasses from at least 20 different species, collected in the forest over almost 26 years. They detected the pathogen in 81 of 204 carcasses and 26 of 75 bones. In addition to chimps, six monkey species, duikers, mongooses, and a porcupine died of the disease; overall, it appeared to be responsible for about 40% of observed wildlife deaths. The killer strain is not limited to the Taï forest; Leendertz and others have linked wildlife deaths to B. cereus in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Still, Leendertz’s team could only thoroughly examine 15 of the infected carcasses. All showed signs typical of a lethal anthrax infection, such as bleeding and swollen lymph nodes, but in other cases, the only evidence is genetic, meaning that the animals may have carried B. cereus but died of something else, Gillespie notes.Computer simulations by the team showed that anthrax could wipe out the Taï forest’s population of roughly 400 chimps within the next 150 years. Why it hasn’t already done so is a puzzle, because the wide genetic variation found in bacterial samples from the forest suggests that B. cereus has long been present there. But Leendertz says chimps migrating in from other areas may have made up for past die-offs. With populations dwindling elsewhere, that may not happen in the future.Protecting the chimpanzees will be difficult. The standard anthrax vaccine also protects against B. cereus; the team vaccinated about 100 animals in 2012 and 2013 and is now monitoring them. But researchers can only reach the few animals that have been habituated to humans. And protection may only last a year, so the chimps would require regular shots. “Vaccinating them too often is a problem since they get shy,” Leendertz says.A better understanding of how B. cereus spreads might help efforts to fight it, Leendertz says. Animals contract B. anthracis when they inhale or swallow hardy spores released into the soil by cadavers. But B. cereus in Taï “may have a very different ecology and epidemiology,” Gillespie says.“We are currently investigating in depth the source of infection by testing everything the chimps are eating,” Leendertz says. “We’re also looking at other possible sources, such as arthropods.” One candidate is carrion flies. Leendertz’s team found traces of B. cereus DNA in 17 flies; if they help spread the disease, that might explain how some monkey species that only live in trees become infected. The team found the pathogen’s DNA in 12 out of 103 flies living in the canopy.There are other questions. Are humans somehow protected from infection? And how far has this pathogen spread? Whatever the answers turn out to be, the new study provides a lesson, says William Karesh of the EcoHealth Alliance in New York City. Most wildlife research has been done in grasslands, where it’s much easier to work, but “there is a vast amount of information still to be learned from rainforests,” Karesh says. “Here, we’re starting to get a peek at that.” Anthrax’s cousin wreaks havoc in the rainforest By Kai KupferschmidtAug. 2, 2017 , 1:00 PM In 2001, while studying chimpanzees in the Taï National Park in Ivory Coast as a Ph.D. student, Fabian Leendertz watched an alpha male named Leo vomit, climb up on a low branch, then topple over and die. That death and five others in the following months were the first inklings that an unexpected killer was afoot in the rainforest.Five years later, Leendertz and his team at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin showed that what killed the chimps was an unusual form of anthrax. Now, in a Nature paper, they present evidence that the microbe causing it, Bacillus cereus, plays a huge role in the ecology of the rainforest, apparently causing a large proportion of all mammalian deaths. It threatens to wipe out the chimpanzees in Taï, the authors warn.“This needs to be taken seriously,” says Chris Whittier, a veterinary scientist at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the work. “I hope this opens up a lot of people’s eyes.” Hunting and deforestation have already brought chimpanzees to the brink of extinction, but “diseases such as anthrax, Ebola, or introduced human respiratory viruses may serve as the final nail in their coffin,” says disease ecologist Tom Gillespie of Emory University in Atlanta. 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 (*)center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Ph.D. student Etile Anoh takes samples from a chimp skull at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Joachim Puls/filmsalz Emaillast_img read more


Updated NIH says cancer study also hit by fetal tissue ban


first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country *Update, 13 December, 11:45 a.m.: A third laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also affected by the agency’s temporary ban on acquiring new human fetal tissue, an agency spokesperson confirmed last night. Initially, NIH said only research projects run by staff scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) would be affected. The third laboratory is at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is pursuing a “project on cancer immunotherapy, which will need tissue by January 31,” the agency said in a statement. “We are determining appropriate next steps to obtain tissue so that the NIAID project can begin and to avoid interruption of the NCI project. NEI does not have an immediate need to procure new fetal tissue (they have frozen stores).”Here is our story from 7 December:U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered scientists employed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop acquiring new human fetal tissue for experiments, ScienceInsider has learned. The suspension, imposed this past September without a public announcement, came as the government launched a review of all fetal tissue research funded by the federal government. The pause affects two laboratories run by the Bethesda, Maryland–based agency, NIH officials say. In one case, it disrupted a study probing how the virus that causes AIDS initially colonizes human tissues. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health (CC BY-NC) Email “We were all poised to go and then the bombshell was dropped,” says HIV researcher Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research in San Francisco, California, who was collaborating with an NIH laboratory that received the order. “The decision completely knocked our collaboration off the rails. We were devastated.”The order expands the scope of the Trump administration’s interventions into federally funded research that uses human fetal tissue from elective abortions, which is legal but fiercely opposed by antiabortion groups. In September, it canceled a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contract for acquiring human fetal tissue for testing candidate drugs. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees NIH, told researchers at the University of California (UC), San Francisco, that it would be extending a contract for work involving human fetal tissue for just 90 days instead of the usual 1 year, prompting media reports that the department was preparing to cancel the contract. HHS denied those reports, saying it has made no decisions regarding federal funding for human fetal tissue research pending the outcome of the ongoing review of all such work.Today, however, an NIH spokesperson confirmed that the agency asked staff scientists “to pause procurements of fetal tissue” pending the outcome of the HHS review. The suspension applies only to scientists who work directly for NIH’s intramural program, and not extramural researchers who typically work at universities and receive grants from the government. It affects two laboratories, NIH officials say. One is operated by the National Eye Institute. (Fetal retinal tissue is used to study eye diseases.) The other is run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “Yes, we have instituted a pause of further procurements [of human fetal tissue] pending the audit/review that HHS is undertaking,” an NIAID spokeperson confirmed.The HIV experiment disrupted by the suspension was being conducted at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana, which focus on infectious diseases. Researchers there use fetal tissue donated by women who have had legal abortions to create so-called humanized mice, which have immune systems that behave like a human’s. Humanized mice have played a key role in testing and developing treatments for HIV/AIDS. The NIH lab had, for several years, obtained the human fetal tissue from Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR), based in Alameda, California. According to emails provided to ScienceInsider by Greene, RML researcher Kim Hasenkrug had prepared humanized mice for a trial of an antibody that the researchers believed—based on promising lab dish studies—might prevent HIV from establishing reservoirs in the human body. (Hasenkrug could not be reached for comment.) On 11 September, Hasenkrug informed Greene and Thomas Packard, a postdoctoral student of Greene’s, that he had obtained needed reagents and the mice were ready. Packard responded that they were excited at the prospect of getting the study started, and would immediately send Hasenkrug a batch of the antibodies. “I’ll not be able to get [the antibodies] on the 3 PM FedEx today, but I’ll ship [the antibodies] to you tomorrow, so you should have it on Thursday,” Packard wrote in an email.On 28 September, however, Greene received a message from Hasenkrug that left him stunned. The email, which bore the subject line “HHS directive,” read in part: Hasenkrug had not yet launched the experiment, Greene says, and his supplies of existing mice were too small to conduct the repeated experiments required to reach convincing scientific conclusions.The order to Hasenkrug came just as HHS launched its review of human fetal tissue research, and at the same time that the department killed the FDA contract, which was with ABR. (The department wrote at that time that it was “not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research,” but provided no evidence of violations.)It is unclear whether HHS will next place restrictions on the grants of NIH-funded investigators at universities who don’t work for NIH but whose projects also rely on access to new fetal tissue. ScienceInsider posed this question and others to Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir, who is heading the review, but did not receive a response by press time. Some extramural scientists are concerned. “Everything I am doing involves humanized mice. It would shut my lab down if we were not able to use fetal tissues,” says Jerome Zack, a virologist who studies HIV at UC Los Angeles, and has been using humanized mice for 25 years.Such mice are particularly valuable for HIV drug testing in part because tissue from a single human fetus can readily generate a group of 40 to 50 genetically identical mice, and because the animals can, unlike monkeys, be infected with the human virus, HIV. Potential drugs can then be tested in such a group, with ample mice as controls, giving the studies robust statistical power.Packard calls the HHS review and its attendant constraints “really just a travesty for the outlook for HIV research. Mice made with human fetal tissue are critical to moving from discoveries in the lab to clinical treatments. Blocking this significantly hurts our chances of finding an HIV cure.”Greene adds that even if the HHS order is eventually lifted, the lost time would be consequential. “If we were given the green light right now” to resume acquiring fetal tissue, he says, “it would probably take us a year to get back in the position we were in when the ban was put in place.”After this story was published, NIH emailed an additional statement. It said the agency in September “put a pause in place” for staff scientists procuring new human fetal tissue, “an action NIH thought was prudent given the examination of these procurements. Research with tissue already on hand could proceed, and NIH leaders asked to be notified by intramural investigators if new procurement would be necessary. NIH leadership was not informed that new procurement was necessary for the study you reference in your story. We are looking into why this did not occur.”*Update, 8 December, 10 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify a quote from Thomas Packard.*Update, 9 December, 9:30 a.m.: This story is updated with an additional statement that NIH provided after the story was published.*Update, 10 December, 11:30 a.m.: The story has been updated to clarify what kinds of treatments have benefited from research involving humanized mice. Updated: NIH says cancer study also hit by fetal tissue bancenter_img President Donald Trump’s administration ordered scientists at the federal Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, ​to stop acquiring human fetal tissue, disrupting HIV experiments. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) [HHS] has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue from ABR, the only source for us. I think that they are the only provider of fetal tissue for scientists in the nation who don’t have direct access to aborted fetal tissue. This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV. By Meredith WadmanDec. 13, 2018 , 11:45 AM 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 Zimbabwelast_img read more


Fighting Ebola is hard In Congo fake news makes it harder


first_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Laura SpinneyJan. 14, 2019 , 3:35 PM Fighting Ebola is hard. In Congo, fake news makes it harder A member of UNICEF’s Ebola outreach team addresses the public in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. ALIMA/Anne-Gaelle Borg Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country With 600 confirmed cases and 343 deaths recorded since August 2018, the outbreak is the second largest ever after the massive epidemic that struck West Africa 5 years ago and killed more than 11,000. Conflict has smoldered for years in North Kivu, an antigovernment stronghold, and some at-risk areas are inaccessible because they are controlled by armed rebels or can’t be reached by road or rail. The outbreak has already reached several urban centers, including Butembo, a city of almost 700,000. An experimental vaccine developed by Merck and given to nearly 60,000 people so far, has likely slowed the virus’s spread but hasn’t stopped it.In West Africa, fear kept people away from clinics, meaning Ebola cases, as well as diseases such as measles and malaria, went untreated. Mistrust of governments and aid workers ran high and rumors were rife. That’s even more true in the DRC now. In September 2018, an opposition politician, Crispin Mbindule Mitono, claimed on local radio that a government lab had manufactured the Ebola virus “to exterminate the population of Beni,” a city that was one of the earliest foci of the outbreak. Another rumor has it that the Merck vaccine renders its recipients sterile. On 26 December 2018, the national electoral commission decided to exclude Beni and Butembo from the polls because of the epidemic; the following day, an Ebola evaluation center was attacked during protests. Although opposition organizations condemned the commission’s decision, they called for the Ebola response to be protected—which health workers saw as a small but significant victory. “We’ve managed to get communities to separate in their minds Ebola control from the broader political agenda,” says Michael Ryan, who directs the World Health Organization’s role in the campaign in Geneva, Switzerland. “That’s been really helpful.” Ryan hands much of the credit to social scientists working for the various agencies involved in the response. Along with community engagement workers, they make up one-third of the workforce.Part of their role is to chart the social networks through which the virus spreads, but they also gather information about communities’ perceptions, which is entered within days into an online “dashboard” created by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva. The government has also recruited young people to report misinformation circulating on WhatsApp, a major information channel in the DRC, says Jessica Ilunga, a spokesperson for the DRC’s Ministry of Health in Kinshasa.As rumors surface, communications experts rebut them with accurate information via WhatsApp or local radio. They take care not to repeat the misinformation; research has shown this is the best way to help the public “forget” false news and reinforce the truth. The vocal support of Ebola survivors has helped as well. Grateful for their care, some have become volunteers at Ebola treatment centers (ETCs).So far, the responders believe they are winning the information war. People who think they might be ill are now far more willing to accept a referral to an ETC than they might have been early on, says IFRC’s Ombretta Baggio. The CUBE, used for the first time in this outbreak, is also a big help, says Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s deputy representative in the DRC. In the past, visitors were kept at a safe distance from patients within an ETC or not permitted at all. Designed by a Senegal-based organization called ALIMA, the CUBE, with its transparent walls and external arm entries—like those in a laboratory glove box—allows patients and their relatives to see and speak to each other up close. The €15,000, reusable units also improve care, because health workers don’t need to wear cumbersome protective gear that limits their movements and can only be worn for a short time.Organized tours of the ETCs for members of the local community have helped, too, as have creches for the children of sick mothers, located close to the centers. Ambulances in North Kivu no longer use sirens when transporting suspected Ebola patients, as the sound was judged stigmatizing in West Africa.Burial practices keep evolving as well. In early Ebola epidemics, victims were often buried unceremoniously, sealed in opaque body bags, without allowing relatives and friends to say farewell. That bred resentment and stoked rumors about corpses being stolen to sell their organs. In what are called “safe and dignified” burials, introduced in the West Africa epidemic, families are given more opportunities to see and spend time with the body. For the current epidemic, responders procured transparent body bags, allowing families to see their loved one until the coffin is closed.“One of the starkest lessons we learned in West Africa is that we don’t need to change everything about a traditional burial,” says anthropologist Juliet Bedford, director of a U.K.-based consultancy called Anthrologica in Oxford. “We just need to make sure it is medically safe.” Even touching the body is sometimes allowed, provided relatives wear protective clothing.Contingency plans are in place in case of further unrest, and the partner agencies have bolstered preparedness in neighboring areas not yet touched by the epidemic. Ryan says the political problems may have an upside: “Communities that resist are energetic,” he says. “If you can turn that negative energy into positive energy, then it becomes a force for good. You just have to know how to pick that lock.” The CUBE, a transparent biosecure tent, allows health workers to treat Ebola patients without wearing protective gear. The Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is providing a natural experiment in fighting fake news. Occurring in a conflict zone, amid a controversial presidential election, the epidemic has proved to be fertile ground for conspiracy theories and political manipulation, which can hamper efforts to treat patients and fight the virus’s spread. Public health workers have mounted an unprecedented effort to counter misinformation, saying the success or failure of the Ebola response may pivot on who controls the narrative.Tensions are expected to rise again in the wake of the 10 January declaration by the DRC’s election commission that opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi won the election, held on 30 December 2018. Foreign observers and the Roman Catholic Church’s monitors say Martin Fayulu, another opposition figure, garnered more votes, and his supporters are alleging fraud. Health workers know rumors thrive amid uncertainty.“I usually tell my teams that we fight two outbreaks, Ebola and fear,” says Carlos Navarro Colorado of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in New York City. “It is all about information.” For the first time in an Ebola outbreak, UNICEF and other agencies have joined forces as a single response team, which answers to the DRC’s Ministry of Health and includes dozens of social scientists, who use the airwaves, social media, and meetings with community and religious leaders to fight misinformation. Responders also foster trust by making their work more transparent—in some cases literally. A new biosecure tent, called the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit for Outbreaks (CUBE), allows relatives to visit and see Ebola patients during treatment. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email © UNICEF/UN0228985/Naftalin last_img read more


Martian dust devils may create rare rocket fuel ingredient


first_img The Red Planet is a rich source of perchlorates—chemical compounds used in fertilizer and rocket fuel that are rarely formed naturally on Earth. Now, lab experiments suggest how the unusual compounds are created on Mars: from the electrical fields formed by global dust storms, as well as whirlwinds known as dust devils.For more than 5 years, scientists have surmised that perchlorates are relatively common on Mars, thanks to evidence from the Phoenix Mars lander and the Curiosity rover. On Earth, the chemical reactions that generate these compounds are typically powered by sunlight. But models of atmospheric chemistry suggest mere sunlight isn’t enough to do the trick on Mars. Instead, they indicate that strong electric fields, such as those created by static electricity in global dust storms, could break down gases in the martian atmosphere and thus drive perchlorate-generating reactions.To test that notion in the lab, researchers put a gas mixture representing the martian atmosphere—95% carbon dioxide, 2% nitrogen, 2% argon, and 1% oxygen—in a large chamber, along with a source of chlorine, table salt. The researchers decreased temperature and pressure in the chamber until they matched Mars-like conditions. They then exposed the mixture to electric fields of the magnitude likely present inside martian dust storms and dust devils (seen from orbit, above). Martian dust devils may create rare rocket fuel ingredient By Sid PerkinsOct. 29, 2018 , 12:35 PM University of Arizona/JPL-Caltech/NASA Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Almost immediately, some of the gases in the chamber broke down to form highly reactive, positively charged versions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen molecules. Over time, reactions generated substantial amounts of chlorates (ions that contain one chlorine atom and three oxygen atoms) and perchlorates. The team estimates rates of perchlorate formation inside martian dust storms could be as much as 10 million times higher than those driven by sunlight, the researchers report in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.To astrobiologists, perchlorates are intriguing. Although these substances are toxic to humans—and thus could endanger potential human settlements on Mars—some microbes can to use perchlorates to fuel their metabolism. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Ancient Mongolia was a good place to live—if you could survive the


first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Thousands of years before Genghis Khan and his descendants conquered vast stretches of Eurasia, the pastoral people of Mongolia lived healthy, but violent, lifestyles, new research reveals.Although some Mongolians remain nomadic in modern days, researchers didn’t know how far back this tradition stretched. Any early nomadic pastoralists would have been healthier than sedentary people, who, especially before the advent of trash pickup and sewage infrastructure, lived more densely and among their own waste.To find out whether this was true in the late Bronze Age, archaeologists analyzed the remains of 25 individuals excavated from burial mounds in the region dating mostly to about 3500 to 2700 years ago. The bones bore very little evidence of inflammatory lesions indicative of infectious disease, or signs of rickets, scurvy, or other diseases resulting from malnutrition. Ancient Mongolia was a good place to live—if you could survive the horse falls By Joshua Rapp LearnJan. 8, 2019 , 4:05 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy Stock Photo 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 That’s not to say these people didn’t suffer. The remains also display evidence of broken noses, ribs, and legs—common injuries that occur in assaults or when falling from horses. The individuals’ spines also show evidence of the type of wear and tear associated with horseback riding, the authors reported in November 2018 in the journal HOMO.According to the researchers, the lack of much disease in these individuals adds to the growing body of evidence showing Mongolians lived in small nomadic groups in the late Bronze Age. But they were clearly also honing the type of horse skills displayed in the 14th-century woodcut above, which had proved useful in their conquests throughout Eurasia.last_img read more


White Cop Racially Profiles Black Officer In Detroit


first_img SUBSCRIBE Jamaican Republican Who Is Running Against AOC Supported Her A Year Ago Thanks for signing up! Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox. Get ready for Exclusive content, Interviews,and Breaking news delivered direct to your inbox. There are countless headlines and videos of police officers obviously profiling Black citizens who are going about their everyday activities. Now one Black police officer in Detroit has found that his badge does not make him immune.On June 6, Christopher Williams was among about 100 plainclothes officers who attended a session at the city’s police training center, the same place where officers are required to complete diversity training. Williams said his girlfriend, also an officer who participated in the training, gave him $5,000 she withdrew from her account to purchase money orders for bills. According to ABC News, after a full day of training, Williams encountered a white officer in the bathroom who saw him put the cash in his pocket. That same officer later approached Williams in the parking lot, threw him against a fence and handcuffed him. “You’re not supposed to have that kind of money,” Williams said he remembered the officer saying to him.Williams said his girlfriend had to show the white officer her bank withdrawal receipt before he was freed.Assistant Police Chief James White, who is Black, was not so quick to denounce the actions of the white officer involved.“I’d like to see what happened,” White said in a brief statement on the department’s Facebook page. “To say that it’s a racial component, I’ve got someone in the bathroom with a very large sum of money on him and an inquiry is being made as to where did you get the money. That’s not unreasonable to me.”White also went on to say that the second thing he would look at in the situation is where the cash came from and why Williams had it. The chief also casually defended the white officer by noting that there were also people in the building who were not officers, as there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the building that day. Detroit Police Department , police racial profiling , Racial Profiling A Complete, Recent Timeline Of Disaster For Americans Visiting The Dominican Republic More By Megan Sims While White did have some questions for Williams, he also had some for the unidentified white officer.“One of the things that I’d be trying to find out is at what point did the officer identify himself as a police officer, which is required by our policy — that once you’re engaged in confrontation or conversation relative to an investigation, you should identify yourself as a member of our agency,” White said.Williams’ attorney Todd Perkins called White’s response “shameful” as it required his client to justify having money.“My client was injured by this — mentally,” Perkins said. “He’s distraught. There has to be some remuneration that comes to my client. He doesn’t want this to happen to anyone.”SEE ALSO:Girl, Be Gone! Fraudulent Candace Owens Uses Malcolm X To Justify Her Self HateBlack Couple Who Were Nearly Killed By Phoenix Cops Reject ‘Insincere’ Apology Caribbean beach full of tourists White Tears! Former Meteorologist Files Lawsuit Claiming He Was Fired Because Of Diversity Entertainment, News and Lifestyle for Black America. News told by us for us. Black America’s #1 News Source: Our News. Our Voice. Morehouse Students Take To Social Media And Claim Sexual Harassment Complaints Were Ignoredlast_img read more


Faster cheaper surgery across the border could be deadly


first_img Part I By Linda Kor With the high cost of medical care, the option of traveling across the border to Mexico can be tempting. There, the cost for procedures such as gastric bypass band orSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad October 4, 2017 Faster, cheaper surgery across the border could be deadlylast_img


Cabinet nod to better pay benefits for CAPF officers


first_img Central Armed Police Forces, cadre status to CAPF officers, what is Central Armed Police Forces, Supreme Court on CAFF cadre status, Armed Police Forces, indian express Notably, this longstanding demand of paramilitary forces has been opposed by the government in all courts until the Supreme Court ruling.The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal to grant organised cadre status to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) officers which will make them eligible for several benefits, including Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU). The move comes after a Supreme Court order asked the government to extend the benefit —already available to IPS, IAS, IRS and IFS officers — to CAPF officers. Advertising ExplainedWhat the decision meansThe move will benefit thousands of serving officers and many others who have retired since 2006 from the five primary CAPFs or paramilitary forces — CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB. The officers will now get better deputation chances as they will be eligible to get empanelled under the central staffing scheme, get enhanced facilities of transportation, house rent allowance, travelling and dearness allowance. Besides the pay hike, the demand for NFFU also encapsulates a long-standing tussle between CAPF cadre officers and IPS officers who come on deputation to the forces. Most top positions in these forces are occupied by IPS officers.In February this year, the Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court judgment granting the status of organised group ‘A’ services and NFFU to CAPF officers. The High Court judgment, delivered on September 3, 2015, said benefits contemplated by VIth Central Pay Commission by way of NFFU to remove disparity between all India services and other organised group ‘A’ services must be granted to the CAPF officers.In both the High Court and the Supreme Court, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and IPS Association opposed the demand of CAPF officers. The home ministry argued that this would lead to command chaos in the forces and impact deputation of IPS officers. The MHA maintained that this would happen because a second in command earning the same salary as the commandant would not listen to him.This stand was criticised by the High Court when it said that NFFU was by its definition “non-functional”.“The Government’s contention that NFFU cannot be granted since the CAPFs comprise a strict hierarchy with a well defined Command and Control structure; that any interference with this structure would be detrimental to the interest of the forces and would adversely affect its operation and functioning; It was thus, claimed that all posts in the CAPFs are functional and there is no room for Non Functional posts, is untenable because by very definition there is no interference with functions, duties or the posts but only an increase in the financial prospects,” the High Court order granting relief to CAPF officers had said. Harish Salve: The lawyer who represented India in Kulbhushan Jadhav case NFFU basically makes an officer eligible for higher salary in case he is not promoted due to lack of vacancies despite being eligible for promotion. Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Updated: July 4, 2019 2:03:58 am Related News center_img Notably, this longstanding demand of paramilitary forces has been opposed by the government in all courts until the Supreme Court ruling. In the apex court, the government was opposed to granting this benefit to the forces, even though non-availability of NFFU has been among the reasons for high attrition rate in these forces.“The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for Grant of Organized Group ‘A’ Service (OGAS) to Group ‘A’ Executive Cadre Officers of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and extension of benefit of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU) and Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG),” a PIB statement said.It added that the government order would benefit CAPFs as “this would result in grant of NFFU to eligible Group ‘A’ Executive Cadre Officers of CAPF; and …would also benefit Group ‘A’ Executive Cadre Officers of CAPF for availing the benefit of NFSG at an enhanced rate of 30% as per guidelines”. Advertising Karnataka crisis: SC verdict a moral victory for rebel MLAs, says Yeddyurappa SC rules: Rebel Karnataka MLAs can’t be compelled to participate in trust vote Post Comment(s)last_img read more


Microsoft Unveils PowerPacked Surface Book 2


first_imgRichard 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. Surface Book returns hit about 17 percent during the device’s launch period in 2015, and remained above 10 percent for six months, according to a leaked Microsoft memo, as reported by The Verge.Consumer Reports this summer announced it would no longer recommend Microsoft Surface products because their breakage rates were higher than for most other brands.That said, “I don’t know that the Surface Book was ever destined to be a smash hit,” said Eric Smith, a research director at Strategy Analytics.”It’s clearly meant for people who need a lot of power with a minimalist design,” he told TechNewsWorld, such as graphic artists, C-Suite executives, “and perhaps even some gamers uninterested in flashy design.”With a flagship like the Surface Book 2, Smith suggested, Microsoft “provides guidance to its OEM partners on how to approach the premium market.” Touch Is the Differentiator Microsoft on Tuesday launched the Surface Book 2, positioning it as the laptop of the future.The device is powerful enough for the next wave of computing, characterized by mixed reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and immersive gaming, said Microsoft Devices Corporate Vice President Panos Panay.Integration between the Surface Book 2 and the Adobe Creative Cloud has been improved, and Microsoft’s Surface Dial functionality is coming to Photoshop, the company noted.An HP TWP 2.0 chip offers enterprise-grade protection with Windows Hello facial sign-in. The Surface Book 2 “is a high-ticket computing behemoth designed to demonstrate what Microsoft can do in a vertically aligned package when it flexes its muscles,” said Linn Huang, a research director at IDC.”Consequently, their story continues to revolve around creatives and gamers,” he told TechNewsWorld. For the Gamer Surface Popularity Gamers will get a performance boost, thanks to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update’s Game Mode, and access to faster streaming through Mixer.The Update can handle the most popular PC games at 1080p and 60 FPS. In some cases, it lets the Surface Book 2 match the graphics performance of game consoles like Xbox One.The 15-inch Surface Book 2 has built-in Xbox One wireless support, so users can pair their Xbox One controllers and compatible headsets for cordless gaming.Surface Book 2 is ready for Windows Mixed Reality Ultra with the addition of a compatible headset and controller. The Surface Book 2 comes in a 13-inch and a 15-inch version.The 13-inch Surface Book 2 is powered by either a 7th-Gen Intel Core i5 or an 8th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor; the 15-inch is only offered with the 8th-Gen processor.The Surface Book 2 uses either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1060 discrete graphics processing unit that provides up to 17 hours of video playback.The device has a 10-point multitouch PixelSense Display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, and up to 3240 x 2160 pixel resolution. It supports E Ink, Surface Pen, and Surface Dial.”Apple’s reluctance to add touch to its laptops gives Microsoft a differentiator on the high end,” noted Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.The 13-inch Surface Book 2 weighs 3.38 pounds and up, and the 15-inch starts at 4.2 pounds.The Surface Book 2 has two full-size USB 3.1 Gen-1 ports, one USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, two Surface Connect ports — one in the base, and a full-sized SD card reader.”The combination of the new Surface features and the tremendous battery life, if true, have the potential to change the way people work with their devices,” Mueller told TechNewsWorld.The 13-inch Book 2 will be available for pre-order starting Nov. 9. The 15-inch Book 2 will be available Nov. 9 at Microsoft stores in the U.S. and on Microsoft.com. Delivery will begin Nov. 16.Pricing starts at about US$1,500.last_img read more


Lead accumulation in shin bone linked to treatmentresistant hypertension


first_imgBy Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Oct 24 2018Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)A study has found that treatment-resistant hypertension may be associated with low-level accumulation of lead in the shin bone of men.Image Credit: Jiri Vaclavek / ShutterstockAs reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Park and team tested lead levels in the blood, kneecaps and tibia of 475 men with hypertension, 97 of whom had high blood pressure that did not respond positively to treatment.The men were monitored by the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a longitudinal Veterans Affairs study started in 1963 to characterize health and disease risk factors that impact the aging process.After adjusting for age, race, body weight, cigarette smoking and other demographic, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, the researchers found a 19% greater risk of resistant hypertension for every 1 µg increase in lead in the tibia.No such significant association was identified when the kneecap or blood were tested. Since the lead problems in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, have surfaced, the issue has become more troubling, especially in older U.S. cities.”Professor Sung Kyun Park, Lead Author Park says that laws limiting exposure to lead have been around for decades but that it has recently been recognized that lead remains an environmental toxin that is still with us.He suggests that this likely reflects the long after-effects of historically high lead exposures, but that it could also reflect ongoing exposure to lead as the result of an aging infrastructure where many urban areas still have older, lead-containing water pipes. Source:Lead accumulation in shin bone may be associated with resistant high blood pressure. Our study demonstrates that cumulative lead burden, as measured by cortical bone in the tibia (shin bone), may be an unrecognized risk factor for drug-resistant hypertension. We believe this is the first study to find this association.”Professor Sung Kyun Park, Lead Author, University of Michiganlast_img read more


A mumps quarantine in La may encroach on rights of detained immigrants


first_img This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 7 2019A mumps outbreak and quarantine at the Pine Prairie Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Louisiana blocked immigrants from legal resources, including their lawyers and the law library, for about two weeks in January and February, according to the attorneys.The outbreak has also raised questions about how officials dealing with public health concerns can undermine detainees’ legal rights.Lawyers said the illness did not stop immigration court proceedings — meaning from at least Feb. 3 to Feb. 14 quarantined individuals were required to continue with removal hearings, conducted from their dorm rooms via video chat, while not receiving access to legal aid.Pine Prairie, run by the privately held GEO Group, is a 100-mile drive northwest of Baton Rouge. It holds about 700 immigrants awaiting hearings to decide whether they can stay in the United States, accept voluntary repatriation or face deportation.Emily Trostle, an attorney with the local branch of the Southern Poverty Law Center, estimates about half of these people — between 300 and 400 — were quarantined to their dorms. As of Feb. 14, 288 detained people were under quarantine, according to an ICE spokesman.Per ICE, six people at Pine Prairie had a confirmed or likely case of mumps before Jan. 15; seven cases were reported between Jan. 15 and Jan. 30; and five were reported in February.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also did not respond to requests for data regarding mumps cases nationally at ICE centers. Pine Prairie redirected requests for comment to ICE.Detention center officials told lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center that the dorm lockdown was aimed at preventing the spread of mumps, which has an incubation period of 12 to 25 days. The restriction applied to detainees who may have been exposed to the virus as well as people who had confirmed infections, said attorneys. If new cases emerge in a quarantined dorm, the lockdown clock starts over.”We were locked in our bunkers — before, they would take us out to the dining hall, but due to the quarantine, they brought us food in disposable plates,” reads a legal declaration from Christian Alexander Mejia Martinez, one Pine Prairie detainee.The inability to go to the law library is critical because the majority of detainees don’t have legal representation. Such libraries are their main source for forms, translations and paperwork necessary for detention proceedings.The Southern Poverty Law Center said it was blocked from seeing at least 17 detained immigrants during the two-week period. Homero Lopez, another lawyer working with detained people, said at least 17 of his clients were quarantined as well.Lopez, who heads ISLA, a group that gives immigrants at Pine Prairie free legal help, learned of the problem when a client could not attend a legal hearing.”He wasn’t infected, but was in one of the dorms where someone was,” so he was quarantined, Lopez said.The detainees had “zero access to resources to prepare for court,” said Trostle, who is working with clients at Pine Prairie. Attorneys were unable to consult with quarantined people — both when it came to taking on potential new cases and for meeting with existing clients.”It became disastrous,” Trostle said.ICE did not comment on visitation or legal proceedings. “Each facility is responsible for its visitation protocols for detainees exposed to infectious organisms,” the spokesman said.ICE’s health service unit provided Pine Prairie with a reference guide for handling quarantines, according to the agency. But individual facilities are given the freedom to design their own protocols, the spokesman added. (That said, the system attorneys described at Pine Prairie does reflect the standards put forth by ICE’s medical division, though ICE recommends isolating someone confirmed to have the disease.)Quarantined people are now able to see attorneys but still cannot leave their dorms to use the law library, she said. Attorneys are now able to video conference with clients, or visit those who aren’t infected, as long as they wear gloves and masks.Related StoriesScientists discover weakness in common cold virusVirus killing protein could be the real antiviral hero finds studyStudy reveals how dengue virus replicates in infected cellsThe Department of Justice tracks all immigration court proceedings and verdicts, but a spokeswoman said the February data for the Oakdale Immigration Court, which is where the cases are heard, had not yet been processed. Trostle said the speed with which cases at Pine Prairie are processed is evidence that most quarantined people likely went through at least some portion of immigration proceedings without legal aid.On average, a detained person spends about a month in an ICE facility while undergoing legal proceedings, according to ICE.Legal aid — and particularly the law library — are of vital help to detainees, attorneys said. According to ISLA data, more than 80 percent of detainees in the Oakdale Immigration Court had no legal representation during fiscal year 2018, running from October through September. That means the law library is often their only resource in crafting a defense, or simply providing the appropriate paperwork to stave off immediate deportation.Legal representation makes a significant difference, too. Of the 89 percent of detainees Oakdale’s court ordered removed, 7.4 percent had representation, according to the data, derived from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which gathers information from federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act. Conversely, more than half of the detainees who voluntarily leave, get permanent relief or are released from custody have legal representation, according to those statistics.Those with attorneys were generally able to get their hearings postponed, but those without were less likely to do so, said Lopez. Advocates and lawyers say they still have trouble at times when trying to meet with clients. And cases that went forward during the two-week period, without a lawyer involved, are harder to take up after the fact.The outbreak is one of several at detention centers nationally. In the past year, ICE confirmed, 51 of its facilities have reported investigations into mumps, chicken pox and the flu.In the general U.S. population, the incidence of mumps nationally remains low, with most of the cases in recent years occurring in close groups, such as sports teams, or people in schools, colleges or camps, according to the CDC. While there is not a federal requirement to report cases, many state and local health departments do track the virus. The CDC listed 58 cases in 18 states from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31. Louisiana’s health department referred all questions to ICE and the CDC.The classic symptom of mumps is swelling along the jaw line, but not every patient shows symptoms. (Death from mumps is very rare; complications are more likely in adults than children.)To get infected, a person generally has to be in close contact — within a few feet — unlike the measles virus, which is more easily spread over a wider area, said Dr. Matthew Zahn, chair of the public health committee for the Infectious Disease Society of America.With any outbreak, “you try to isolate the people with the illness,” said Zahn, who was not involved with the Louisiana detention center outbreak.Still, that can be complex. In a setting like a college dorm, prison or detention center, if only a small number of people are exposed to the ill person, isolating the patient and those few is “much more logistically simple,” than if larger numbers are involved.last_img read more