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Simon G.,Swine Virology Immunology Unit | Larsen L.E.,Technical University of Denmark | Durrwald R.,IDT | Foni E.,Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale Della Lombardia e dellEmilia Romagna | And 28 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Swine influenza causes concern for global veterinary and public health officials. In continuing two previous networks that initiated the surveillance of swine influenza viruses (SIVs) circulating in European pigs between 2001 and 2008, a third European Surveillance Network for Influenza in Pigs (ESNIP3, 2010-2013) aimed to expand widely the knowledge of the epidemiology of European SIVs. ESNIP3 stimulated programs of harmonized SIV surveillance in European countries and supported the coordination of appropriate diagnostic tools and subtyping methods. Thus, an extensive virological monitoring, mainly conducted through passive surveillance programs, resulted in the examination of more than 9 000 herds in 17 countries. Influenza A viruses were detected in 31% of herds examined from which 1887 viruses were preliminary characterized. The dominating subtypes were the three European enzootic SIVs: avian-like swine H1N1 (53.6%), human-like reassortant swine H1N2 (13%) and human-like reassortant swine H3N2 (9.1%), as well as pandemic A/H1N1 2009 (H1N1pdm) virus (10.3%). Viruses from these four lineages co-circulated in several countries but with very different relative levels of incidence. For instance, the H3N2 subtype was not detected at all in some geographic areas whereas it was still prevalent in other parts of Europe. Interestingly, H3N2-free areas were those that exhibited highest frequencies of circulating H1N2 viruses. H1N1pdm viruses were isolated at an increasing incidence in some countries from 2010 to 2013, indicating that this subtype has become established in the European pig population. Finally, 13.9% of the viruses represented reassortants between these four lineages, especially between previous enzootic SIVs and H1N1pdm. These novel viruses were detected at the same time in several countries, with increasing prevalence. Some of them might become established in pig herds, causing implications for zoonotic infections. © 2014 Simon et al.

News Article | April 13, 2016
Site: phys.org

Magnesium - a nutrient found in many foods - helps control how cells keep their own form of time to cope with the natural environmental cycle of day and night. The discovery in cells is expected to be linked to whole body clocks which influence daily cycles - or circadian rhythms - of sleeping and waking, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions in people. The surprising discovery may aid the development of chronotherapy - treatment scheduled according to time of day - in people, and the development of new crop varieties with increased yields or adjustable harvesting seasons. Experiments in three major types of biological organisms - human cells, algae, and fungi - found in each case that levels of magnesium in cells rise and fall in a daily cycle. Scientists found that this oscillation was critical to sustain the 24-hour clock in cells. They were surprised to discover that it also had an enormous impact on metabolism in cells - how fast cells can convert nutrients into energy - throughout the course of a day. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge used molecular analysis to find that concentrations of magnesium rose and fell in a 24-hour cycle in all cell types, and that this impacts on the cells' internal clocks. Further tests showed that magnesium levels were linked to the cells' ability to burn energy. It was already known that magnesium is essential to help living things convert food into fuel, but scientists were surprised to discover that it also controls when this biological function takes place, and how efficiently. Their study, published in Nature, was supported by the Royal Society, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. Dr Gerben van Ooijen, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: "Internal clocks are fundamental to all living things. They influence many aspects of health and disease in our own bodies, but equally in crop plants and micro-organisms. It is now essential to find out how these fundamentally novel observations translate to whole tissue or organisms, to make us better equipped to influence them in complex organisms for future medical and agricultural purposes." The study's other senior author, Dr John O'Neill of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, said: "Although the clinical relevance of magnesium in various tissues is beginning to garner more attention, how magnesium regulates our body's internal clock and metabolism has simply not been considered before. The new discovery could lead to a whole range of benefits spanning human health to agricultural productivity." Explore further: Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time

News Article | July 23, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

The crown jewel of Britain’s technology sector might be heading to Japan via a £24bn takeover but it seemed to be business as usual in ARM Holdings’ home city of Cambridge, bathed in summer sunlight. The Science Park was buzzing with young executives, the river punts overflowing with tourists and the college buildings as beautiful as ever. Scratch the surface of “Silicon Fen”, however, and there is significant unease – and not only about the planned purchase of ARM by SoftBank. Cambridge has been suffering enormous growth tensions for some time and has been served up with a Brexit vote it did not want, as well as absorbing another huge corporate asset grab. “This [the ARM deal] is a symptom of the country being financially broke and all our means of wealth are being plundered by the rest of the world,” said Peter Dawe, one of the area’s former technology titans, who sold his own early internet business Unipalm in 1995 for £150m. “At least SoftBank is one of the better people to buy [ARM] because they don’t already have a department they want to absorb it into. If it was Apple or another Silicon [Valley] manufacturer, they would just be buying the intellectual property and let the management and engineers wither on the vine.” Hermann Hauser, another big name in the local technology firmament and a founder of ARM’s predecessor Acorn, was also disconsolate: “ARM is the proudest achievement of my life. The proposed sale to SoftBank is a sad day for me and for technology in Britain,” he tweeted. He believed the takeover meant the “determination of what comes next for technology will not be decided in Britain any more but in Japan”. However, Mike Lynch, who made £500m from selling his Autonomy business to Hewlett Packard five years ago, was more upbeat. “Yes, we have sold the family silver,” he said, “but it’s an amazing achievement to get what is effectively half the value of Intel” – one of the biggest global technology companies. “It reinforces the fact that you can do it here, in Cambridge.” Unsurprisingly, Simon Segars, the chief executive of ARM, agreed with Lynch, saying the SoftBank acquisition was entirely positive because it will “accelerate our growth”. It is certainly good personally for the chief technology officer, Mike Muller, whose stake is valued at £21m, and Segars, who joined ARM in 1991 as its 16th employee and whose shares are now worth £11m. The Sussex University-educated electrical engineer, who once described ARM as “the least glamorous company in the FTSE”, said there was no question of ARM leaving its Cambridge home, where it is in the midst of a major new office construction project. Segars said: “We are not going anywhere. We are the product of Cambridge roots, where our headquarters is, but it will remain a global company.” SoftBank, whose operations cover telecoms, the internet and robot technology, has promised to double the UK workforce from 1,600 and keep that East Anglian base. Segars says these commitments will be nailed down in legal documents but he has no reason to believe these agreements would be broken – even if Brexit makes it harder to employ skilled European staff. ARM is the third world-beating technology company in the past five years to be born in Cambridge and transfer to foreign parentage. The same fate befell Autonomy and CSR, while the smaller but hi-tech Domino Printing was sold last year to Japan too. ARM is particularly significant because it is at the heart of the much-vaunted “internet of things”. Its self-designed microchips are used in 95% of smartphones, including iPhones, but also in TVs, drones and smart cars. The controversial deal with SoftBank has certainly been an early test for the new Conservative government, which promised to block foreign takeovers if they harmed the public interest. This one was waved through, with Chancellor Philip Hammond quick to present the deal as a positive. It showed “that Britain has lost none of its allure to international investors,” he argued. “Britain is open for business – and open to foreign investment.” But these are difficult days for Silicon Fen, whose leaders have complained that growth is being stifled by poor transport connections and insufficient housing. The chamber of commerce, university and local councils last year produced a “Case for Cambridge”, explaining “why urgent government action is needed if the city is to continue to thrive”. Employers boast there are 4,500 knowledge-intensive companies registered within 25 miles of Cambridge. This is producing annual employment growth of 7.4% – faster than China, they say. They want more than 35,000 houses to be built and investment poured into roads and rail to keep Cambridge up to speed with rival tech centres such as San Francisco and Boston. Silicon Fen, named in honour of the Californian valley that spawned Apple, Google and others, has grown in the middle of what is still largely a farming region. Once a sleepy market town with a major academic institution at its heart, Cambridge is now about computer technology and biosciences as well. Much of this new industry has been spun from the still world-leading university, which has produced 90 Nobel prizewinners in little more than a century. The city is also home to a raft of internationally renowned science centres such as the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, the Babraham Institute for immunology and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute for genomic research. Pharma giant AstraZeneca is building a huge new £330m headquarters next to Addenbrooke’s hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Overall, the city grandees believe that around 45,000 new jobs can be created and the government has offered a City Deal to put in place the transport infrastructure to cope. But moves to cut down trees and make fast busways have caused tension in the close-knit communities that make up the city. Residents’ associations have accused the assembly that oversees the City Deal of prioritising the transport needs of employers over those of inhabitants. Social justice groups say a huge rise in house prices is keeping key workers such as teachers and nurses out of the city. Those forced to live in nearby villages must join the queues of 87,000 cars a day commuting into the centre. And while the city council has a target of 40% of new housing being made “affordable”, the local paper has highlighted examples where developers have beaten this figure down to single-digit levels. The fast economic growth of Cambridge has made it, in the eyes of its supporters, part of a “golden triangle” of success with Oxford and London. But some of the key problems – inequality, unaffordable housing and congested roads – are also replicated in all three cities. The Cambridge Cluster has been built on attracting the best brains from around the world, and the Brexit vote has sent shockwaves through a city that voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain. Peter Williamson, honorary professor of international management at the university’s Judge Business School, said technology companies by necessity look worldwide and there were already signs that EU-funded research projects are nervous about including UK scientists. “I don’t see anything positive and quite a lot negative about Brexit for the Cambridge Cluster. ARM never really had a UK customer base and always needed partners from overseas,” he said. “ARM succeeded because it was born global.” He also quibbled with the government’s idea that the deal somehow represented inward investment, and said any inability of SoftBank to attract new international staff to ARM could test its resolve to scale up in Britain. Dawe – a Brexiter – sees it differently. “There may be short-term pain for university departments who have been subjugated by Brussels on research funding. But if we continue to look globally and have the right local management, Silicon Fen can grow faster and in a way that does not make local living conditions worse.” But no doubt most Silicon Fenners would have agreed more with the sentiments of Hauser, who tweeted on referendum night: “An innumerate clown has wrecked a country ‪#Brexit”. ARM was founded in November 1990 as Advanced Risc Machines. It was a joint venture between Cambridge-based Acorn Computers, US giant Apple and its Silicon Valley sister, VLSI Technology. Based in a converted barn in Cambridge, the ARM team created microprocessor chips that were used in Apple’s Newton device, the first handheld computer, which was a commercial flop. But Newton showed small portable computers had potential. ARM chips went on to be utilised in a wide variety of smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, and are now said to be used in about 95% of smartphones worldwide. From an estimated 9 million units in 1997, ARM’s partners shipped 15 billion chips last year. ARM now has nearly 4,000 employees working in 35 offices, from East Anglia to Silicon Valley to Shenzhen in China.

Peeters D.J.E.,University of Antwerp | Van Den Eynden G.G.,University of Antwerp | Van Dam P.-J.,University of Antwerp | Prove A.,University of Antwerp | And 7 more authors.
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2011

Background:The enumeration of circulating tumour cells (CTC) has prognostic significance in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and monitoring of CTC levels over time has considerable potential to guide treatment decisions. However, little is known on CTC kinetics in the human bloodstream.Methods:In this study, we compared the number of CTC in both 7.5 ml central venous blood (CVB) and 7.5 ml peripheral venous blood (PVB) from 30 patients with MBC starting with a new line of chemotherapy.Results:The number of CTC was found to be significantly higher in CVB (median: 43.5; range: 0-4036) than in PVB (median: 33; range: 0-4013) (P0.001). When analysing samples pairwise, CTC counts were found to be significantly higher in CVB than in PVB in 12 out of 26 patients with detectable CTC. In contrast, only 2 out of 26 patients had higher CTC counts in PVB as compared with CVB, whereas in 12 remaining patients no significant difference was seen. The pattern of CTC distribution was independent of the sites of metastatic involvement.Conclusion:A substantial difference in the number of CTC was observed between CVB and PVB of patients with MBC. Registration of the site of blood collection is warranted in studies evaluating the role of CTC assessment in these patients. © 2011 Cancer Research UK All rights reserved.

Van Der Auwera I.,University of Antwerp | Peeters D.,University of Antwerp | Benoy I.H.,Laboratory for Molecular Biology | Elst H.J.,University of Antwerp | And 7 more authors.
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2010

Background: The detection, enumeration and isolation of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) have considerable potential to influence the clinical management of patients with breast cancer. There is, however, substantial variability in the rates of positive samples using existing detection techniques. The lack of standardisation of technology hampers the implementation of CTC measurement in clinical routine practice. Methods: This study was designed to directly compare three techniques for detecting CTCs in blood samples taken from 76 patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and from 20 healthy controls: the CellSearch CTC System, the AdnaTest Breast Cancer Select/Detect and a previously developed real-time qRT-PCR assay for the detection of CK-19 and mammaglobin transcripts. Results: As a result, 36% of patients with MBC were positive by the CellSearch System, 22% by the AdnaTest, 26% using RT-PCR for CK-19 and 54% using RT-PCR for mammaglobin. Samples were significantly more likely to be positive for at least one mRNA marker using RT-PCR than using the CellSearch System (P0.001) or the AdnaTest (P0.001). Conclusion: We observed a substantial variation in the detection rates of CTCs in blood from breast cancer patients using three different techniques. A higher rate of positive samples was observed using a combined qRT-PCR approach for CK-19 and mammaglobin, which suggests that this is currently the most sensitive technique for detecting CTCs. © 2010 Cancer Research UK. All rights reserved.

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