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High Wycombe, United Kingdom

Sanchez-Carazo J.L.,University of Valencia | Lopez-Estebaranz J.L.,Academic Foundation Hospital of Alcorcon | Guisado C.,Janssen
Journal of Dermatology | Year: 2014

Psoriasis is a common, chronic inflammatory immunologically mediated disease of the skin, showing a high prevalence of associated comorbidities, and strongly affecting patients' health-related quality of life (HR-QOL), with profound impact on the psychological aspect. We aimed to establish the correlation between HR-QOL and the associated comorbidities in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis in Spain. A cross-sectional, observational, epidemiological study was conducted at 68 dermatology-based centers across Spain. From October 2010 to June 2011, all adult patients diagnosed with moderate to severe psoriasis at least 6 months prior to the study visit and receiving or not receiving treatment for psoriasis were eligible for inclusion. A total of 1022 patients were included. The study population showed mean 36-item short-form (SF-36) physical and mental health scores and Dermatological Life Quality Index (DLQI) of 49.7, 46.2 and 5.3, respectively. The multiple linear regression models showed that patients with moderate to severe psoriasis and a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA), hypertension, diabetes mellitus, sleep disturbances or obesity were found to have lower SF-36 health physical scores. Female patients with depression or anxiety disorders had lower SF-36 health mental scores. Patients diagnosed with moderate to severe psoriatic disease and associated anxiety disorder had greater DLQI scores. Moderate to severe psoriasis has a significant burden on the HR-QOL of patients. Regardless of sex, patients with several comorbidities such as PsA, hypertension or obesity were found to have worse scores in the physical component of the QOL questionnaire, whilst women were more affected in the mental health component than men. © 2014 Japanese Dermatological Association. Source

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/chemistry-news/

Whereas we tend to think of helium as the hilarious gas that does strange things to your voice and allows balloons to float, it is actually a crucial part of our existence. In addition to being a key component of stars, helium is also a major constituent in gas giants. This is due in part to its very high nuclear binding energy, plus the fact that is produced by both nuclear fusion and radioactive decay. And yet, scientists have only been aware of its existence since the late 19th century. The first evidence of helium was obtained on August 18th, 1868 by French astronomer Jules Janssen. While in Guntur, India, Janssen observed a solar eclipse through a prism, whereupon he noticed a bright yellow spectral line (at 587.49 nanometers) emanating from the chromosphere of the Sun. At the time, he believed it to be sodium, since it was proximate to the D1 and D2 Fraunhofer lines. On October 20th of that same year, English astronomer Norman Lockyer observed a yellow line in the solar spectrum (which he named the D3 Fraunhofer line) which he concluded was caused by an unknown element in the Sun. Lockyer and English chemist Edward Frankland named the element helios, after the Greek word for the Sun. Helium is the second simplest atom when it comes to its atomic model, following hydrogen. It consists of a nucleus of two protons and neutrons, and two electrons in atomic orbits. The most common form is helium-4, which is believed to be the product of Big Bang nucleosynthesis. This event, which lasted from 10 seconds to 20 minutes after the Big Bang, was characterized by the production of nuclei other than the lightest isotope of hydrogen (i.e. hydrogen-1. which has a single proton and nucleus). This event is believed to have produced the majority of helium-4, along with small amounts of the hydrogen, helium and lithium isotopes. All other heavier elements were created much later, as a result of stellar nucleosynthesis. Large amounts of new helium are being created all the time through this same process, where the heat and pressure at the core of stars are causing hydrogen atoms to fuse. The nucleus of the helium-4 atom is identical with an alpha particle, two bound protons and neutrons that are produced in the process of alpha decay (where an element decays, releasing mass and becoming something else). The inertness of helium is due to the stability and low energy of it's electron cloud state, where all of its electrons fully occupy 1s orbitals in pairs, none possessing angular momentum and each cancels the other's intrinsic spin. This stability also accounts for the lack of interaction of helium atoms with each other, which leads to one of he lowest melting and boiling points of all the elements. For some time, helium was believed to exist only in the Sun. However, in 1882, Italian physicist Luigi Palmieri detected helium on Earth when analyzing lava from Mount Vesuvius after it erupted in that year. And in 1895, while searching for argon, Scottish chemist Sir William Ramsay managed to isolate helium by treating a sample of cleveite with mineral acids. After treating the element with sulfuric acid, he noticed the same D3 absorption line. Ramsey sent samples of the gas to Sir William Crookes and Sir Norman Lockyer, who verified that it was helium. It was independently isolated from cleveite the same year by chemists Per Teodor Cleve and Abraham Langlet in Uppsala, Sweden, who were able to accurately determine its atomic weight. Over the course of the next few years, similar experiments yielded the same results. Several interesting properties of helium were discovered in the ensuing years. In 1907, Ernest Rutherford and Thomas Royds demonstrated that an alpha particle is actually a helium nucleus. In 1908, helium was first liquefied by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes by cooling the gas to less than one kelvin. The element was eventually solidified in 1926 by his student Willem Hendrik Keesom, who subjected the element to 25 atmospheres of pressure. Helium was one of the first elements to be found to have superfluidity. In 1938, Russian physicist Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa discovered that helium-4 has almost no viscosity at temperatures near absolute zero (superfluidity). In 1972, the same phenomenon was observed in helium-3 by American physicists Douglas D. Osheroff, David M. Lee, and Robert C. Richardson. Today, helium gas is used in a wide range of industrial, commercial and recreational applications. The most well-known is perhaps flight, where helium gas (being lighter than air) naturally provides buoyancy for airships and balloons. Compared to hydrogen, which was also used in airships, helium has the added benefit of being inflammable and fire retardant. Owing to its unique properties – which include a low boiling point, low density, low solubility, high thermal conductivity and inertness – helium is used for a wide range of scientific and medical applications. The greatest use is in cryogenic applications, where liquid-helium acts as a coolant for superconducting magnets in MRI scanners and spectrometers. Another use is in rocketry, where helium is used as a buffer to displace fuel and oxidizers in storage tanks. It is also used to condense hydrogen and oxygen into rocket fuel and pre-cool liquid hydrogen in space vehicles. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN also relies on liquid helium to maintain a constant temperature of 1.9 kelvin. Thanks to its extremely low index of refraction and the way it reduces the distorting effects of temperature variation, helium is also used in solar telescopes, gas chromatography, and in "helium dating" – i.e. determining the age of rocks that contain radioactive substances (like uranium and thorium). In addition to its inertness, its thermal properties, high speed of sound, and the high value of the heat capacity ration, it is also used in supersonic wind tunnels and aerodynamic testing facilities. It is also used in arc welding and for industrial leak detection. Explore further: The world is running out of helium: Nobel prize winner

News Article
Site: http://cen.acs.org/news/ln.html

One man is dead and five men were hospitalized after participating in a Phase I clinical trial in Rennes, France. The clinical trial, conducted by the company Biotrial on behalf of the Portuguese pharmaceutical firm Bial, was evaluating a pain relief drug candidate called BIA 10-2474 that inhibits fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzymes. Blocking these enzymes prevents them from breaking down cannabinoids in the brain, a family of compounds that includes the euphoria-inducing neurotransmitter anandamide and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive component of marijuana. Phase I clinical trials are conducted to check a drug candidate’s safety profile in healthy, paid volunteers. In this case, the drug caused hemorrhagic and necrotic brain lesions in five out of six men in a group who received the highest doses of the drug, said Gilles Edan, a neurologist at the University Hospital Center of Rennes. The most severely affected man was pronounced brain-dead after hospitalization and then died on Jan. 17. Four men remain in the hospital in stable condition. The only man in the high-dose group who had no adverse symptoms has been released from the hospital. Prior to the hospitalizations, 84 people had taken lower doses of BIA 10-2474 in the clinical trial without complications. A spokesperson for the European Medicines Agency told C&EN that, “since 2007, approximately 12,500 Phase I clinical trials have been conducted in the European Union without any major incidents being reported.” The last major Phase I clinical trial catastrophe took place in London in 2006, when six healthy men suffered permanent organ damage, and the loss of fingers, from unanticipated severe immune reactions during testing of an arthritis and cancer drug candidate called TGN1412. Multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co. and Pfizer, have evaluated FAAH inhibitors as possible treatments for pain, mood disorders, and insomnia, among other applications, with no reports of significant adverse reactions until the Bial clinical trial. After the events in Rennes, Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, voluntarily suspended a Phase II clinical trial of an FAAH inhibitor; no adverse events have been reported, the company noted in a press release, so it was a precautionary step . As news of the clinical trial tragedy broke, the online chemical community exploded with speculation about the nature of the putative drug. “What everybody wants to know now is its structure,” says Christopher Southan, a senior curator for the University of Edinburgh-based Guide to Pharmacology database. As C&EN went to press, Le Figaro posted a 96-page clinical study protocol for BIA 10-2474 that the French newspaper procured from an unnamed source. BIA 10-2474 “is designed to act as a long-active and reversible inhibitor of brain and peripheral FAAH,” notes the protocol. The compound “increases anandamide levels in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissues.” The clinical trial protocol also notes that the company tested BIA 10-2474 on mice, rats, dogs, and monkeys for effects on the heart, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract, among other pharmacological and toxicological evaluations.

News Article | September 2, 2016
Site: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

The National Institute of Mental Health announced a $15.4 million initiative that will bring academia and industry together using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to delve into the cellular underpinnings of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and identify or develop drugs to treat the illnesses. Hongjun Song, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Rusty Gage Ph.D., of the Salk Institute for Biological studies, will co-lead the consortium, which is made up of four academic institutes and two industry partners. The two other academic partners are the University of Michigan and Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. The industry partners are Janssen Research & Development and Cellular Dynamics International. According to the announcement, one of the major goals of the project will be to improve the quality of iPSC technology, by creating standards and a reliable, scalable, and reproducible test system for quickly screening libraries of drugs that may be effective against the disorders. “There has been a bottleneck in stem cell research,” Song, professor of neurology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins said in a prepared statement. “Every lab uses different protocols and cells from different patients, so it’s really hard to compare results.  This collaboration gathers the resources needed to create robust, reproducible tests that can be used to develop new drugs for mental health disorders. The research groups hope to take into account a large variety of genetic differences by using iPSCs created from more than 50 patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.  The teams will generate four different types of brain cells using iPCs to see which types of cells are influenced by certain genetic differences and at what stage in development those effects occur. After characteristics of each disease are determined at a cellular level, the industry partners will use the system to help determine or develop drugs that can treat these illnesses. “This exciting new research has great potential to expedite drug discovery by using human cells from individuals who suffer from these devastating illnesses,” Husseini K. Manji, M.D., the global therapeutic area head of neuroscience for Janssen Research & Development said in the statement. “Starting with a deeper understanding of each disorder should enable the biopharmaceutical industry to design drug discovery strategies that are focused on molecular pathology.” The consortium hopes that the large amounts of data produced on the molecular and genetic differences between the two disorders will also provide insights for the study of many other mental illness that share some of the genetic variations as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The precompetitive agreement is funded by the National Cooperative Reprogrammed Cell Research Groups, which was created by the NIMH in 2013. Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels, and affects about 5.7 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While there are medications that treat symptoms of schizophrenia, which is a disease that affects about 3.2 million Americans, the underlying causes are still unknown.

News Article | September 7, 2016
Site: http://boingboing.net

“Frigid alien landscapes” are coming to light in new radar images of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, captured from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has radar vision that allows it to peer through the haze that surrounds Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The video below focuses on 'Shangri-la,' a large, dark area on Titan filled with dunes. The long, linear dunes are thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan's atmosphere. From the Cassini press team at NASA: Cassini obtained the views during a close flyby of Titan on July 25, when the spacecraft came as close as 607 miles (976 kilometers) from the giant moon. The spacecraft's radar instrument is able to penetrate the dense, global haze that surrounds Titan, to reveal fine details on the surface. One of the new views (along with a short video) shows long, linear dunes, thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan's atmosphere. Cassini has shown that dunes of this sort encircle most of Titan's equator. Scientists can use the dunes to learn about winds, the sands they're composed of, and highs and lows in the landscape. "Dunes are dynamic features. They're deflected by obstacles along the downwind path, often making beautiful, undulating patterns," said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Another new image shows an area nicknamed the "Xanadu annex" earlier in the mission by members of the Cassini radar team. Cassini's radar had not previously obtained images of this area, but earlier measurements by the spacecraft suggested the terrain might be quite similar to the large region on Titan named Xanadu. First imaged in 1994 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Xanadu was the first surface feature to be recognized on Titan. While Hubble was able to see Xanadu's outline, the annex area went unnoticed. The new Cassini image reveals that the Xanadu annex is, indeed, made up of the same type of mountainous terrains observed in Xanadu and scattered across other parts of Titan. "This 'annex' looks quite similar to Xanadu using our radar, but there seems to be something different about the surface there that masks this similarity when observing at other wavelengths, as with Hubble," said Mike Janssen, also a JPL member of the radar team. "It's an interesting puzzle." Xanadu -- and now its annex -- remains something of a mystery. Elsewhere on Titan, mountainous terrain appears in small, isolated patches, but Xanadu covers a large area, and scientists have proposed a variety of theories about its formation. "These mountainous areas appear to be the oldest terrains on Titan, probably remnants of the icy crust before it was covered by organic sediments from the atmosphere," said Rosaly Lopes, a Cassini radar team member at JPL. "Hiking in these rugged landscapes would likely be similar to hiking in the Badlands of South Dakota." The July 25 flyby was Cassini's 122nd encounter with Titan since the spacecraft's arrival in the Saturn system in mid-2004. It was also the last time Cassini's radar will image terrain in the far southern latitudes of Titan. "If Cassini were orbiting Earth instead of Saturn, this would be like getting our last close view of Australia," said Stephen Wall, deputy lead of the Cassini radar team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Cassini's four remaining Titan flybys will focus primarily on the liquid-filled lakes and seas in Titan's far north. The mission will begin its finale in April 2017, with a series of 22 orbits that plunge between the planet and its icy rings. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the U.S. and several European countries.

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