Source:https://news.tulane.edu/news/treatment-common-std-doesn%E2%80%99t-work-some-women-study-finds Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 7 2018A new study led by an infectious disease epidemiologist at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine could change the way doctors treat a common sexually transmitted disease.Professor Patricia Kissinger and a team of researchers found the recommended single dose of medication isn’t enough to eliminate trichomoniasis, the most common curable STD, which can cause serious birth complications and make people more susceptible to HIV. Results of the research are published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.Related StoriesPatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsStudy: HIV patients continue treatments if health care providers are compassionateHIV DNA persists in spinal fluid despite treatment, linked to cognitive impairmentGlobally, an estimated 143 million new cases of trichomoniasis among women occur each year and most do not have symptoms, yet the infection is causing unseen problems. The recommended treatment for more than three decades has been a single dose of the antibiotics metronidazole or tinidazole.The researchers recruited more than 600 women for the randomized trial in New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama. Half the women took a single dose of metronidazole and the other half received treatment over seven days.Kissinger and her team found the women who received multiple doses of the treatment were half as likely to still have the infection after taking all the medication compared to women who only took a single dose.”There about 3.7 million new cases of trichomoniasis each year in the United States,” Kissinger said. “That means a lot of women have not been getting inadequate treatment for many decades.”Trichomoniasis can cause preterm delivery in pregnant women and babies born to infected mothers are more likely to have low birth weight. The parasite can also increase the risk of getting or spreading HIV.Kissinger believes the CDC will change its treatment recommendations because of the results of this study.”We need evidence-based interventions to improve health,” Kissinger says. “We can no longer do something because it’s what we’ve always done. I hope that this study will help to change the recommendations so that women can get the proper treatment for this common curable STD.”
Source:https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/ Oct 17 2018Includes details of ANTRUK’s Annual Lecture, Thursday 18 October 2018A national charity will use the 90th anniversary of the discovery of penicillin to call for a massive injection of funds into antibiotic research – or risk returning humanity to an age where people died from something as simple as a scratch.In the presence of Sir Alexander Fleming’s granddaughter nurse Sarah Whitlow, attendees at Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK)’s Annual Lecture in the Palace of Westminster, will hear how a woeful lack of resource devoted to new bacterial infection treatments to replace our aging antibiotics has left world health in jeopardy and shamed our nation’s greatest health discovery.“When Fleming received his Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945, he warned that if we didn’t build-on the discovery of penicillin with ever-more treatments, bacteria in our bodies would become resistant to the drugs and humanity put in mortal peril” said Professor Colin Garner, Founder and Chief Executive of ANTRUK. “Politicians response to this has been silence or lip-service and pharmaceutical companies simply won’t invest in research because antibiotics don’t make them enough money. When will they realise we are in grave danger of a health crisis worse than cancer and that medicine could return to the dark ages?”ANTRUK, the small but growing charity tackling the world’s biggest health problem, has responded to the impending crisis by funding research to find new treatments, awarding small academic research grants and beginning a patient support program (Portcullis House, Westminster, Thursday October 18, 1 30pm). The charity is also about to launch their annual major fundraising campaign The Great British Tea Party to coincide with World Antibiotic Awareness Week in November. The aim is to gather communities together around the country and raise funds for research and education around superbugs (see https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/great-british-tea-party/)Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchAntibiotic combination effective against drug-resistant PseudomonasMultifaceted intervention for acute respiratory infection improves antibiotic-prescribingBut Professor Garner admits this is just a drop in the ocean compared to what is required to prevent us from sliding into a pre-antibiotic age. “In many ways antibiotic resistance is a problem akin to climate change which has taken a massive effort by scientists to convince the public and politicians to act” he said, “for years, people have been aware of resistance it, but have seen it as remote to their everyday lives. Already 700,000 people per year are dying globally of bacterial antibiotic resistant infections, illnesses such as cystitis and TB are becoming untreatable, and antibiotic residues are polluting our rivers and food supply. Government, drugs companies, health charities, the NHS and the public must do something about it NOW. Inactivity is no longer an option.”Introduced by Kevin Hollinrake MP for Thirsk and Malton, the ANTRUK Annual Lecture event will feature a presentation by a superbug sufferer and a presentation to Fleming’s granddaughter, practising nurse Sarah Whitlow. The main talk itself will come from Professor Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research within Medicine at the University of Southampton. Paul was awarded a CBE in the Queens 2018 Birthday Honours for services to General Practice Research. Professor Little’s research is focused on reducing antibiotic prescribing and finding non-antibiotic alternatives for the treatment of infection. The title of his talk is “From Nepal to Flesh Eating Killer bugs: a research journey of antibiotic use in primary care”.
Source:https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/protein-found-in-patients-with-severe-asthma-can-help-identify-who-would-benefit-from-targeted-drugs Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 23 2018In a novel study, researchers succeeded in identifying patients with a form of severe asthma (type 2 endotype) by measuring periostin concentrations in their airways. These patients with the type 2 (T2) endotype may benefit from newly developed targeted treatments that have the potential to transform their quality of life, report researchers in the journal CHEST®.Asthma can range from very mild with little or no need for medical treatment to severe and life-threatening. Severe asthma is clinically and biologically varied and identifying the specific type of asthma is crucial in targeting patients who will benefit from new treatment options. The role of periostin, a matricellular protein, in asthma and type 2 inflammatory responses, is an area of active research.”The T2 immunity severe asthma endotype is one of the most consistent endotypes to emerge probably because it is a key driver in nearly half of all patients with asthma,” explained Giovanna E. Carpagnano, MD, PhD, Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.Investigators analyzed periostin concentrations in the airways of severely asthmatic subjects, evaluating the role of periostin in clustering the T2 endotype. They enrolled 40 consecutive severe asthmatic patients (25 asthmatics of T2 and 15 of non-T2 endotype); 21 patients with mild to moderate asthma; and 15 healthy control subjects. All individuals underwent exhaled breath condensate and sputum collection, eosinophil count in blood, fractional 32 exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and immunoglobulin E (IgE) measurement. They found that periostin is measurable in the airways and increased in severe asthmatic subjects, especially in those with the T2 endotype.Related StoriesMother calls for protein shake regulation after daughter diesHinge-like protein may unlock new pathways for cystic fibrosis treatmentStudy reveals how protein mutation is involved in Christianson syndrome”There have been several studies about the value of periostin as a marker of severe eosinophilic asthma, but to measure it in blood limits its value as serum periostin derives from several sources outside the lung and can’t be considered an organ-specific marker,” noted Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro, MD, Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy, who heads the group where the research was conducted.”Unlike serum periostin, airways periostin is a useful marker of severe eosinophilic asthma and may help to phenotype patients that will respond to the biologic agents,” stated senior investigator Peter J. Barnes, MD, DSc, FCCP, of the Airway Disease Section, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, UK. “The newly developed biological treatments have the potential to transform the quality of life of patients with T2 severe asthma. This study suggests that airways periostin is the expression of T2 severe asthma and if validated, could be a useful biomarker to apply stratified medicine for severe asthma, and could transform the quality of life of these patients.””Severe uncontrolled asthma is an expensive disease that accounts for more than 60 percent of the costs associated with the disease,” commented Prof. Carpagnano. “The newly developed biological treatments are expensive too, but if directed to the right patients, they will significantly reduce the global cost related to the management of severe asthmatic patients.”
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 11 2018Innovation in immuno-oncology is exploding and new technologies that are set to benefit many patients with cancer are being showcased in the highly diverse array of topics to be discussed at the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress, to be held 13-16 December in Geneva, Switzerland.Prof. John Haanen, Congress Scientific Co-Chair, said: “Immuno-oncology has made great steps forward. Checkpoint inhibitors have been a notable advance, yet just 15-20% of patients with cancer respond to this treatment. Because of fast-paced research developments, we are moving to the next level of being able to treat a greater proportion of patients. This research will find a home in ESMO’s Immuno-Oncology Technology Journal, which will educate medical oncologists so they are ready to use new drugs when they enter clinical practice.”A wide range of promising technologies expected to become standard of care in the future are being discussed at the congress. Some will be applicable across many cancer types, while others are specific to particular situations, or even to individual patients.Multiplex immunohistochemistry is one example which Haanen said “should become the mainstay of how we look at tumors”. Antibodies and tumor samples are used to identify the types of cells in and around the tumor, the so-called “tumor microenvironment”, thereby pointing to the best treatment. “Hot tumors” contain many immune cells and are the most likely to respond to checkpoint inhibitors. Different approaches would be needed for “cold tumors” which lack immune cells and “immune excluded tumors” which are surrounded by T cells that cannot penetrate a tumor.Bispecific antibodies also look promising for multiple types of cancer. They combine two different antibodies so that the immune system is stimulated and the tumor is inhibited. CD137/PD-L1 bispecific antibodies, for example, target the co-stimulatory molecule CD137 on T cells and PD-L1 on tumor cells.Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a type of adoptive cell therapy that is being developed for tumors expressing particular antigens. Viral vectors are used to transduce a gene encoding for CAR into T cells, which are then used to target cancer cells. Currently this results in continuous expression of CAR on the T cell. But researchers are developing “conditional expression” so that it can be switched on and off. This should focus the treatment by switching it on when needed and improve safety by switching it off if there are side-effects.Related StoriesLiving with advanced breast cancerStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessarySugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyEpstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is common and people with a healthy immune system generate antigens to keep the viral load under control. When the immune system becomes suppressed, for example after organ transplantation, patients may be unable to control the viral load. Allogeneic EBV-directed T cells are being developed for this situation, which can lead to EBV-associated lymphomas and leiomyosarcomas.Neoantigen therapeutics are where personalized immuno-oncology comes into play. Because DNA mutations are random, every tumor has a different combination of mutations. When proteins formed from mutated DNA break down, this generates mutated peptides, which are called neoantigens. Researchers are developing individualized vaccines against these neoantigens. And, for patients with T cells that are specific for these neoantigens, scientists are growing large amounts of the T cells outside the body for infusion back into the patient.”Knowledge is accumulating at such a high speed that keeping up-to-date is a challenge. The wealth of novel research and need for oncologists to understand emerging therapies has sparked the launch of ESMO’s Immuno-Oncology Technology Journal,” added Haanen who is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. “The journal will cover improvements in existing immunotherapies and cutting-edge findings in novel areas. Review papers will be published to summarise milestones and explain how innovative therapies work.”Source: https://www.esmo.org/Press-Office/Press-Releases/immuno-oncology-technologies-improve-cancer-treatment?hit=ehp
By Lois Zoppi, BAApr 10 2019Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has reportedly led to a reduction in cancer-causing HPV prevalence, but uptake of the vaccination has been slow, despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The CDC has been recommending that boys and girls up to the age of 15 receive the vaccine since 2006. However, it has now been shown that vaccination rates in populations at high-risk of contracting HIV are particularly low, increasing the risk of HPV and HIV co-infection.Yabusaka | ShutterstockHuman papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for over 100 different types of common viruses. In most people, HPV does not cause any problems and are cleared by the body within two years, but some strains of the virus can cause genital warts or cancer.Any skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or sharing sex toys, can lead to the spread of HPV. As HPV does not present any symptoms, it is hard to know when it has been spread to another person.The cancers associated with high-risk HPV are cervical cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the penis, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer, and some types of head and neck cancer.In the UK, women are offered cervical screenings from ages 25 to 64 to test cervical cells for the presence of HPV to protect them against cervical cancer.Men who are at a higher risk of anal cancer through anal intercourse can also be offered anal screenings in certain sexual health clinics.But, according to results from a study presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, adults who have a high risk of contracting HIV were less likely to have received the human papillomavirus vaccine when compared to the general population, which may increase their risk of an HPV-HIV co-infection.Lisa T. Wigfall, PhD, MCHES, from Texas A&M University in College Station, led the study and said that increasing the rates of vaccination in high-risk populations would include the “wide adoption of routine HIV testing for all adolescents and adults, regardless of perceived risk.”Researchers presenting these results at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019 used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS) of 2016, which documented vaccination rates in individuals who had engaged in high-risk activities in the year before the survey.The results were ‘alarming’Out of 486,303 adults who participated in the survey, 16,507 (3.4%) had engaged in high-risk sexual activities or intravenous drug use. The rates of vaccination were very low in the group of 416 people who had complete data, and vaccination rates were extremely low in non-Hispanic black survey respondents.Considering the “disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDs among this minority group,” Wigfall said, “it was alarming that almost all non-Hispanic blacks in the study were unvaccinated.”Other statistics showed that 26% of gay/bisexual men between 18-33 years did start the three-dose course of the HPV vaccine, but only 6.2% completed the course.In women, one quarter of high-risk heterosexuals aged between 18-36 finished the three-dose course of the HPV series, but no transgender men, women, or gender-nonconforming individuals had started the HPV vaccination series at all.A lack of information may be to blameThere are concerns that these low vaccination rates leave HIV-positive people more vulnerable to anal and cervical cancer, as HIV significantly compromises the immune system, impairing its ability to fight off HPV infection.Previous research published in the AACR journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggested that patient uptake of the HPV vaccine can be influenced by how physicians talk about the vaccine, especially to parents of adolescents.Lack of information, a belief that the vaccination is unnecessary or unsafe, or not receiving strong recommendations from their doctor all held parents back from vaccinating their children against HPV. Each of these concerns can be addressed by talking with a provider. […] This finding really highlights the important role that parent-provider communication can play in increasing HPV vaccination.”Teri L. Malo, PhD, MPH Wigfall believes that communication between doctors and patients about the HPV vaccine should be reinforced in high-risk populations, from HIV-positive men and women, to HIV-negative gay/bisexual men and transgender men and women.She believes that physicians may not have considered the connections between high-risk sexual behaviors in these groups with HIV and HPV co-infection.“Gender and sexual orientation are important topics that should preclude us from identifying and targeting HPV vaccination efforts among high-risk populations,” Wigfall said.The future looks brightIn Northern Ireland, boys aged 12 to 13 years old will be offered the HPV vaccine to protect them against the cancers associated with HPV, which will bring it in line with the rest of the UK.The researchers conclude: We can now look forward to a future where we can be even more confident that we will reduce cervical cancer and other HPV related cancers that affect both men and women.This is an effective vaccine against a particularly harmful virus. I would encourage all parents to take up this offer and ensure their boys and girls are vaccinated.” Source:Adults at High Risk for HIV Infection Have Low Rates of Vaccination Against Human Papillomavirus. ACCR news release.
In time for Pediatric Sepsis Week, Sepsis Alliance debuted Bug, a ladybug character to help children learn about infection prevention. Bug is illustrated by Alyssia Aguilar in loving memory of her son Mark Anthony II, who was taken by sepsis when he was only 16 days old.Bug was inspired by the spirit of Erin “Bug” Flatley, an aspiring teacher who passed away from sepsis when she was 23 years old. After her death, Erin’s father Carl Flatley, DDS, MSD, founded Sepsis Alliance. Apr 23 2019On April 21st, Sepsis Alliance launched Pediatric Sepsis Week to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children, and to honor the 75,000 children in the United States who develop sepsis each year.Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening reaction to an infection and it takes the lives of more children every year than pediatric cancers. This annual observance will now take place the third week of April.Sepsis Alliance invites parents and loved ones of pediatric sepsis survivors, and sepsis survivors themselves, to share their sepsis experience on social media using the hashtag #ChildhoodSepsisStory to help raise awareness of sepsis in children and to remind other survivors and families that they are not alone. Not drinking or feeding Repeated vomiting 12 hours without urinating I truly hope that my art will help teach and also spread smiles to young faces and families that are learning about sepsis. I wanted to find a way to remember my son’s name and honor his life by giving back. Partnering with Sepsis Alliance to create Bug was the perfect opportunity to do that.”Alyssia Aguilar Skin abnormally cold to the touch Mottled, bluish, or pale skin Rash that does not fade when pressed Very fast or rapid breathing Seizures Lethargy or difficult to wake Additionally, for children under 5 years old, signs and symptoms may include: Source:Materials provided by Sepsis Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of sepsis and advancing research. Bug will be featured on Sepsis Alliance’s social media throughout the week, along with infection prevention tips for parents, caregivers, and children. To access printable Bug coloring sheets, a downloadable pediatric sepsis week toolkit, and learn how to raise sepsis awareness, click here. “Every day about 18 children in the U.S. die from sepsis. That’s why it’s vital for parents and caregivers to know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children early, and to seek medical attention immediately. It can save their child’s life and reduce the chances of long-term complications,” added Thomas.Early recognition and treatment of sepsis can increase a child’s chances of survival and improves their recovery. The signs and symptoms of sepsis in children may present differently than in adults and may include: During Pediatric Sepsis Week, it is extremely important for us to work closely with pediatric sepsis survivors, their families, as well as with the families of the little ones who did not survive, so we can bring to life and honor their experiences.”Thomas Heymann, President and Executive Director, Sepsis Alliance
I will be forever grateful to God for using four Good Samaritans to save my life and for using the excellent staff at MacNeal Hospital to restore my life.”Dr. Hertzberg It’s extremely rare to survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and not experience any impairments, said Darius Bartkus, MD, who coordinated Dr. Hertzberg’s care. “I’ve only seen it three times in my career,” he said. “When we get a win like this, it makes it all worthwhile.”Dr. Hertzberg recenbtly reunited with the Good Samaritans on the one-year anniversary of the day they saved his life.Dr. Hertzberg is president of Christian Heritage Academy, a preschool-through-12th grade Christian school in Northfield, Illinois. He also volunteers as the Senior Protestant Chaplain for Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports.On June 23, 2018, Dr. Hertzberg was at Midway waiting for a flight to Nashville for a Christian education conference. His wife Lynne and daughter Hiley were joining him for a few days before the conference began.At 1:35 p.m., as he was leaving the men’s room, Dr. Hertzberg collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest. His heart effectively stopped beating, he lost consciousness, stopped breathing and started turning blue.Good Samaritans Rick Yarbrough, a retired Air Force EMT, and Dan Blasini, RN, an Army-trained nurse, arrived at Dr. Hertzberg’s side first. Mr. Yarbrough gently rolled Dr. Hertzberg on to his back and checked for his pulse and breathing – there were none. Mr. Yarbrough secured Dr. Hertzberg’s neck while Mr. Blasini began chest compressions and yelled “Get a defibrillator!”Related StoriesBystander CPR less likely for African American kids from most disadvantaged areasCatheter ablation better than drug therapy for reducing AFib episodes, but not for reducing death‘Promising’ results for beating heart patch that repairs heart cells after cardiac arrestA security guard quickly retrieved an automated external defibrillator (AED). Two other Good Samaritans, EMT Erika Van Hook and her sister-in-law Bridgett Tyler, RN, arrived. Ms. Van Hook helped Mr. Blasini with the chest compressions and they attached the defibrillator pads to Dr. Hertzberg’s chest. The AED checked Dr. Hertzberg’s heart rhythm and delivered a powerful electric jolt to restart his heart.Using a mask from the AED, Ms. Van Hook performed mouth-to-mouth breathing, as Ms. Tyler made sure his neck and head were properly positioned.Dr. Hertzberg’s color improved from blue to pale to pinkish, and by the time the paramedics arrived, he had a faint pulse. The four Good Samaritans – from Monument, Colo. (Mr. Yarbrough), San Antonio Tx. (Mr. Blasini), Corbin, Ky. (Ms. Van Hook) and Norwalk, Ohio (Ms. Tyler) – had come together to save his life.”They worked together so well, you would have thought they had known one another for years,” Lynne Hertzberg said.Paramedics rushed Dr. Hertzberg to MacNeal. His wife and daughter followed in a police SUV, running stop lights with the sirens blaring.At MacNeal, Dr. Hertzberg was put on advanced life support. He was hooked up to a breathing tube, and IVs delivered essential fluids and medications that aided breathing and circulation.A major risk of cardiac arrest is brain swelling, caused by the temporary lack of blood circulation. To prevent such swelling, Dr. Hertzberg was wrapped in cooling blankets filled with ice cold water. His body temperature dropped to 93 degrees F. To tolerate the cold, Dr. Hertzberg was put in a medically induced coma.An angiogram revealed that Dr. Hertzberg had two major blockages in his heart, said MacNeal cardiologist Kishin Ramani, MD. A main artery was 70 to 80 percent blocked and a branch artery was 100 percent blocked. To reopen the vessels, interventional cardiologist George Aziz, MD, performed a balloon angioplasty and stent placement in each artery.”I was so pleased with the medical care,” Mrs. Hertzberg said. “I felt we had the A team.”Mrs. Hertzberg was warned that Dr. Hertzberg could face a long recovery and significant cognitive deficits. But as soon as he woke up and began talking, she could tell he was the same.Dr. Hertzberg was hospitalized on a Saturday afternoon. He went home the following Tuesday and returned to work a little more than a month later.Now, every Saturday afternoon, Dr. Hertzberg and his wife and daughter pause at 1:35 p.m. to thank God for the moment when four strangers came together to save his life.”Every day is a gift from the Lord,” he said. Source:Loyola University Health System Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 29 2019There was no time to spare when air passenger Hutz Hertzberg, DMin, PhD, suddenly collapsed at Midway Airport in full cardiac arrest.With each passing minute that his heart was stopped, Dr. Hertzberg’s chance of surviving dropped by roughly 10 percent. After five minutes, brain damage was likely. After 10 minutes, he likely would die or suffer severe brain damage.But fortunately, four medically trained air passengers – two EMTs and two nurses – were in the right place at the right time to save Dr. Hertzberg’s life. The four Good Samaritans had come to Midway from Colorado, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky. They worked as a team to administer CPR and shock Dr. Hertzberg’s heart back to life with an airport defibrillator.Dr. Hertzberg was taken to MacNeal Hospital, where he was put on life support, underwent an emergency cooling treatment to prevent brain damage and received two coronary stents.Remarkably, Dr. Hertzberg left the hospital after just three days and made a full recovery.
Related StoriesStudy uncovers new hunger pathway in the brainStudy reveals how electrical stimulation reorganizes the brainSleep makes synapses ready for new learningBlindness is often caused by the death of rod photoreceptors, a type of cell in the retina. Current treatments have been developed that can save dying rods, but it was not known if the retina could rebuild itself after treatment, which is a key component of regaining vision.Jeannie Chen, Alapakkam Sampath, Greg Field, and colleagues developed a mouse model with genetically defective rods that mimic developmental blindness disorders in humans. Chen, Sampath, and Field’s team examined the structure of the defective retina, as well as its responses to light, at different time points with and without gene therapy. They observed that the rods that received gene therapy not only regained normal light responses, but also recovered normal connections to other retinal neurons. Source:Society for NeuroscienceJournal reference:Wang, T. et al. (2019) Activation of rod input in a model of retinal degeneration reverses retinal remodeling and induces formation of functional synapses and recovery of visual signaling in the adult retina. Journal of Neuroscience. doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2902-18.2019. Jul 10 2019Following gene therapy, the retina can restructure itself and regain normal light responses, according to research in mice published in JNeurosci. These results emphasize the plasticity of the retina and support ongoing development of treatments designed to save dying cells.
Explore further A look at Facebook’s changes over the years in what you see Citation: Tracking activity on social networks now possible with new research (2018, February 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-tracking-social-networks.html In his research, Fredrik Erlandsson has come up with a method that is effective and accurate in terms of mapping interactions on social networks. The method is to build a network of the different interactions between people to see who communicate with each other.In his studies, Fredrik Erlandsson has collected 280 million public posts from Facebook. It includes 35 billion likes and five billion comments from 700 million users. The amount of data is the largest collection of data from Facebook.Although Fredrik Erlandsson has not focused on applications in his research, it is easy to distinguish several different application areas for the methods.”For example, they can be used to find politically and religiously radicalized individuals or groups, or to study how fake news is spread,” he says.But the methods can also be used in completely different areas he believes.”I have been contacted by doctors who say they are interested in testing if my methods can be used to improve accuracy when analyzing x-rays of the brain to detect MS.”In his research, Fredrik has also studied another important aspect – namely the major risks that personal integrity can easily be eliminated when people put up a lot of data about themselves on social media, especially in public groups. Researcher Fredrik Erlandsson at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden has now developed methods that enable human interaction to be traced and to systematically retrieve information from social networks. Provided by Blekinge Institute of Technology This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
When times are tough, people seek out escapist entertainment and are more likely to flock to cinemas for action movies and rom-coms, the researchers found.Dr. Ping Xiao from UTS Business School and Assistant Professor Anirban Mukherjee from Singapore Management University looked at three years of movie attendance in India, and compared this with economic indicators such as consumer sentiment, stock prices and the gold price.”While you might think that movie demand would go down during bad economic times because people are tightening their belts, we found the opposite happens. When people are feeling stressed or miserable, the desire to escape and immerse themselves in a movie increases,” says Dr. Xiao.”Our research shows movie demand increases when the economy is not doing well, and that particular types of movies – those that have escapist features such as action movies, comedies and romantic movies – are those most in demand.”The study included 348 movies across 382 multiplexes, and covered the period before and after the election of Narendra Modi, which revealed that during times of political uncertainty there was an increase in movie demand and a decrease in consumer sentiment.”Why we think it is escapism and not some other motive driving movie attendance is that demand did not go up for all movies, but only movies that have escapist features such as action movies, comedies and romantic movies,” says Dr. Xiao.The analysis supports the findings of previous research from the US showing box-office receipts rose in six of the last seven recessions.The link between movie demand and the economy has implications not only for the movie business but also for other industries that offer an escape from reality through immersive “experiential consumption,” says Dr. Xiao.”Immersive festivals such as Coachella and Burning Man, fitness events such as The Colour Run or Tough Mudder, along with cruise ship holidays and, in Australia, attendance at football and other sporting events, are likely to experience increased demand when economic times are tough,” she says.Indian film director Manmohan Desai has famously said: “I want people to forget their misery. I want to take them into a dream world where there is no poverty, where there are no beggars, where fate is kind and god is busy looking after his flock.”Tapping into this desire might just be the key to success for businesses looking to profit from the next economic downturn or negative consumer sentiment survey. Credit: Shutterstock Movie demand provides a handy barometer for the economy, and a pointer to the types of business that do well in a downturn, according to new research examining the world’s largest film industry, Bollywood. Provided by University of Technology, Sydney Explore further Study: ‘Chick flicks’ also enjoyed by men Citation: Consumers look to escapism when sentiment goes south (2018, March 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-consumers-sentiment-south.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
“It is not fair that for the same service some pay taxes and others no,” Finance Minister Felipe Larrain told reporters on Thursday in an area of Santiago that is home to traditional shoe manufacturers who are struggling to compete with online rivals.The idea is for these online players to pay tax and VAT on their earnings in Chile, unless their country of origin has a free trade agreement with Santiago, the minister said.”We are not trying to resist modernity.. but we can try and ensure that everyone competes on a level playing field,” Larrain said.The proposal is part of a major tax overhaul the government is preparing.As of now, digital platforms like Uber, Netflix and Spotify do not pay taxes in Chile because they have no physical presence here.Uber, technically, is not even legal. Congress is working on a law to regulate its operations.Larrain said it was a challenge to come up with a way to tax these companies.One idea is an indirect transaction tax, he said, or a surtax charged to credit cards used for their services.Larrain said the state could potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars with these new taxes. Citation: Chile wants to start taxing companies like Uber and Netflix (2018, June 22) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-chile-taxing-companies-uber-netflix.html Uber reaches deal in Czech Republic on licencing, tax Platforms such as Uber, Netflix and Spotify pay no taxes in Chile because they have no physical presence there This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Chile wants to start taxing digital giants like Uber, Spotify and Netflix to level the playing field for their more traditional counterparts, a minister has said. © 2018 AFP
Having data at your fingertips isn’t enough – data scientists must know how to apply it. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock Citation: Data science is a growing field. Here’s how to train people to do it (2019, February 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-science-field-people.html The world is inundated with data. There’s a virtual tsunami of data moving around the globe, renewing itself daily. Take just the global financial markets. They generate vast amounts of data – share prices, commodity prices, indices, option and futures prices, to name just a few. Statistics, computer science students collaborate on real-world data problems through mini-think tanks Explore further But data is of no use if there aren’t people able to collect, collate, analyse and apply it to the benefit of society. All that data generated by global financial markets gets used for asset and wealth management – and it must be properly analysed and understood to inform good decision making. That’s where data science comes in.Data science’s primary aim is to extract insight from data in various forms, both structured and unstructured. It’s a multi-disciplinary field, involving everything from applied mathematics to statistics and artificial intelligence to machine learning. And it’s growing. This is because of advances in computer technology and processing speed, the relatively low cost to store data, and the massive availability of data from the Internet and other sources such as global financial markets. For data science to happen, of course, you need data scientists. Because data science is so wide in scope, being a data scientist covers a range of professions. These include statisticians, operations researchers, engineers, computer scientists, actuaries, physicists and machine learners. This variety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. From my own practical experience, I quickly learnt that when solving data science problems, you need a range of people. Some can work in depth on theory and others can explore the application area. But how should these data scientists be trained so they’re prepared for the big data challenges that lie ahead? Data scientists typically use innovative mathematical techniques from their own subfields to try and solve problems in a particular application area. The application areas – finance, health, agriculture and astronomy are just some examples – are very different. This means that each poses different problems, and so data scientists need knowledge about the particular application area.For example, consider astrophysics and the Square Kilometre Array being built on the southern tip of Africa. It will be the world’s largest radio telescope when completed in the mid-2020s. The array of telescopes is said to receive data at one terabyte per second and researchers are typically interested in analysing the masses of data in order to detect tiny signals engulfed in white noise. In finance, researchers exploit large data bases very differently: for example to learn more about their customers’ credit behaviour. The most established subfields of data science are statistics and operations research and it might be worthwhile to learn from the established training programmes in these fields. Are universities training enough graduates in these fields? And is that training good enough? Although students in these fields are well trained academically, many graduates in statistics and operations research lack knowledge about the fields in which they are expected to apply the mathematical techniques. They also tend to battle with real-world problem solving abilities, as well as lacking numerical programming and data handling skills. This is because those skills are not addressed adequately in many curricula.So, drawing from these failings and the lessons of established data science subfields, what should universities be teaching aspiring data scientists? Here is my list.Mathematical and computational sciences, including courses in statistical and probability theory, artificial intelligence, machine learning, operations research, and computer science.Programming skills;Data management skills;Subject matter knowledge in selected fields of application; andProfessional problem-solving skills.This list could be expanded at the postgraduate level. And, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level, all of these courses should have a practical element. This allows students to develop both professionalism and problem-solving skills. For instance, at the Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics at South Africa’s North-West University, my colleagues and I have organised a professional training programme that sees students working for six months at a client company to solve a specific industry problem. These problems are mainly in the financial field; for example, models to predict a customer’s ability and willingness to pay, models for improving collections and models for fraud identification.This helps students to develop the necessary skills to function in the working world, handling real data and applying it to real problems rather than just working at a theoretical level. It also, as a colleague and I have argued in previous research, helps to close the academia-industry gap and so makes data science more relevant. The BMI programmes have been recognised and commended by international experts.Data science, as a field, is only going to grow over the coming decades. It is imperative that universities train graduates who can handle enormous tranches of data, work closely with the industries that produce and apply this data – and make data something that can change the world for the better. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Provided by The Conversation This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
The US technology giant said the lab in the capital Accra would address economic, political and environmental issues.”Africa has many challenges where the use of AI could be beneficial, sometimes even more than in other places,” Google’s head of AI Accra, Moustapha Cisse, told AFP at the centre’s official opening this week.Similar research centres have already opened in cities around the world including Tokyo, Zurich, New York and Paris.The new lab, Cisse said, would use AI to develop solutions in healthcare, education and agriculture—such as helping to diagnose certain types of crop disease.Cisse, an expert from Senegal, said he hoped specialist engineers and AI researchers would collaborate with local organisations and policymakers.Google is working with universities and start-ups in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa to enhance AI development regionally, he said.”We just need to ensure that the right education and opportunities are in place,” he said.”That is why Google is sponsoring a lot of these young people for their degrees… to help develop a new generation of AI developers.”‘Clear opportunity’Other tech companies, including Facebook, have launched initiatives in Africa and demographics are a key factor behind the drive.Africa’s population is estimated to be 1.2 billion, 60 percent of them under the age of 24.By 2050, the UN estimates the population will double to 2.4 billion.As online social networks expand, that presents a huge market for US tech giants to tap into.”There’s a clear opportunity for companies like Facebook and Google to really go in and put a pole in the sand,” said Daniel Ives, a technology researcher at GBH Insights in New York. “If you look at Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, where is a lot of that growth coming from? It’s international,” he told AFP in a recent interview. An artificial intelligence research laboratory opened by Google in Ghana, the first of its kind in Africa, will take on challenges across the continent, researchers say. Moustapha Cisse, head of Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) centre in Ghana, wants to collaborate with local universities and start-ups This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Google takes on ‘Africa’s challenges’ with first AI centre in Ghana (2019, April 13) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-google-africa-ai-centre-ghana.html © 2019 AFP Silicon Valley eyes Africa as new tech frontier Explore further
Google apologizes after online services stumble Citation: Outage knocks out Google Calendar on desktop computers (2019, June 18) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-outage-google-calendar-desktop.html That’s because the widely used Google Calendar was down on Tuesday morning.Users trying to access Google Calendar from their computers instead received a “Not Found Error 404” message.Google acknowledged the service disruption with a post at 10:22 AM:”We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Calendar. We will provide more information shortly. The affected users are unable to access Google Calendar.”At least some users were still able to access the calendar through their mobile phones.Other Google services, including Gmail, were apparently unaffected.That was not the case earlier this month when a Google Cloud outage knocked out Gmail, YouTube and other sites.This latest disruption is worldwide.At the Downdetector.com website, comments on Google Calendar being down came from as far away as Croatia, Portugal, Brazil and the Czech Republic, as well as all across the U.S.Google has not yet responded to a U.S. TODAY request for comment on the possible cause of the outage and or when the Calendar might again be up and running.The timing of the outage is especially embarrassing for Google given that the Calendar went down shortly after the official G Suite Twitter account tweeted a message: “Scheduling made simpler @googlecalendar.”The promise of simpler scheduling will have to wait. (c)2019 U.S. TodayDistributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Hopefully you remember when and where your next appointment is. Explore further
PARIS (Reuters) – G7 ministers meeting in France on Wednesday agreed on the need to confront the emergence of digital currencies following Facebook’s plans to launch its Libra digital coin, a French G7 presidency source said on Wednesday. Speaking after the first of two days of discussions in Chantilly, north of Paris, the source said there was “a very large consensus on the need to act quickly”. The source added that there was also unanimous agreement around the table on the need for minimum corporate taxation although it was still too early to agree on a specific rate. Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Myriam RivetOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
September 04, 2018 Kolkata Published on SHARE SHARE EMAIL accident (general) COMMENT A portion of the old rail overbridge at Majerhat in southern fringes of the city collapsed this evening. A number of vehicles are trapped under the bridge. Unofficial sources claim at least five people have died while nine are injured. They have been rushed to the state-run SSKM Hospital.Evacuation of cargo from the port is expected to be disrupted as the rail line connects Kolkata dock system of the Kolkata Port Trust. Train movement along the south sub-urban route will also be affected, sources said.“We have ordered a probe and asked the city police to prepare a report on the matter. Rescue work is on and we are monitoring the situation. The death toll is not yet known. Even one death is unfortunate. We will take all necessary steps in this regard,” West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said, who is currently in Darjeeling for an administrative meeting.This is the second overbridge to collapse in the city in the last two years. In 2016, an under-construction flyover in north Kolkata collapsed leading to the death of 21 people. A portion of the Majerhat rail overbridge collapsed on Tuesday evening. Photo: Debasish Bhaduri – BusinessLine SHARE COMMENTS