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Szefler S.J.,University of Colorado at Denver | Chmiel J.F.,Case Western Reserve University | Fitzpatrick A.M.,Childrens Healthcare Of Atlanta | Giacoia G.,National Institute of Child Health and Development | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology | Year: 2014

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development convened an Asthma Group in response to the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act. The overall goal of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act Program is to improve pediatric therapeutics through preclinical and clinical drug trials that lead to drug-labeling changes. Although significant advances have been made in the understanding and management of asthma in adults with appropriately labeled medications, less information is available on the management of asthma in children. Indeed, many medications are inadequately labeled for use in children. In general, the younger the child, the less information there is available to guide clinicians. Because asthma often begins in early childhood, it is incumbent on us to continue to address the primary questions raised in this review and carefully evaluate the medications used to manage asthma in children. Meanwhile, continued efforts should be made in defining effective strategies that reduce the risk of exacerbations. If the areas of defined need are addressed in the coming years, namely prevention of exacerbations and progression of disease, as well as primary intervention, we will see continuing reduction in asthma mortality and morbidity along with improved quality of life for children with asthma. © 2013 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Couples who wish to get pregnant may want to avoid caffeine because it's associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests. For women, drinking more than two caffeinated drinks daily before getting pregnant was associated with a 74 percent higher risk of a miscarriage, according to the study published today (March 24) in the journal Fertility and Sterility. But women's caffeine consumption wasn't the only factor: Among couples in which the male partner drank more than two caffeinated beverages daily before conception, there was a 73 percent higher risk of a miscarriage, according to the study. [6 Myths About Miscarriage] "Our findings indicate that the male partner matters, too," Germaine Buck Louis, the director of Intramural Population Health Research at the National Institute of Child Health and Development and lead author on the study, said in a statement. "Male pre-conception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females'," Buck Louis said. The study included 501 couples in Michigan and Texas who had stopped using contraception and were trying to become pregnant. The couples were instructed to keep daily journals of their lifestyle behaviors, including smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, according to the study. Couples who got pregnant within a year continued in the study until they gave birth or experienced a miscarriage, according to the study. Of the 344 couples who became pregnant, 98 experienced a miscarriage, according to the study. Women 35 and older were nearly twice as likely to miscarry as women younger than 35, according to the study. In addition to the caffeine findings, the researchers also found that women who took a daily multivitamin before and during pregnancy were less likely to have a miscarriage. Women who took a daily multivitamin before getting pregnant were 55 percent less likely to miscarry, according to the study. And women who continued to take the multivitamin during early pregnancy had a 79 percent lower miscarriage risk, according to the study. The protective effect from the multivitamin may come from the folate and vitamin B6 found in a multivitamin, both of which have been linked to decreased risk of miscarriage, according to the study. The study only showed an association between caffeine intake and miscarriage, and did not prove cause and effect. Previous studies have shown similar results, although the potential mechanism is still unknown, according to the study. The authors did note, however, that the findings of the study do not necessarily mean that drinking decaf instead of regular coffee is safer, as the study did not include information on decaffeinated drinks, they wrote. Couples may want to limit their caffeine intake to fewer than three daily beverages, and women should continue to to be advised to take daily multivitamins before and during pregnancy, the researchers wrote in their conclusion. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Union rights A US national labour board has ruled that graduate students in the United States who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities must be recognized as employees, and therefore have a right to unionize. Graduate-student unions are already common at public institutions. The 23 August ruling relates to a case involving a group of students at Columbia University in New York City who have struggled to get their union recognized. There has been debate in recent years over the rights of graduate students, many of whom teach courses while completing their degrees. Obama creates largest marine park US President Barack Obama announced the creation of the world’s largest marine protected area on 26 August, with a huge expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea park in the northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. The move will take the park from its current size of around 360,000 square kilometres to 1.5 million square kilometres. The area is home to wildlife including whales, corals, millions of seabirds and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi, pictured). Zika blood scans The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised US blood banks on 26 August to test all blood donations for Zika virus, in light of the virus’s spread in the United States. Thousands of US travellers have been infected with Zika virus, but since July, 29 people in south Florida have contracted it locally through mosquitoes, and the virus is expected to spread to other states. Previously, the FDA recommended Zika blood screening only in states affected by the virus. Separately, Singapore has reported its first small cluster of locally transmitted cases. It joins Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines as countries in southeast Asia that have also reported their first sporadic transmissions of the virus this year. Leprosy vaccine India is to begin testing the world’s first vaccine that exclusively targets leprosy. The disease, which is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae,newly affects 125,000 people in India each year  —  60% of global new cases. The vaccine, developed in India, has been approved by the country’s drug-regulation agency as well as the US Food and Drug Administration. According to media reports, tests will begin in a few weeks in five districts in Bihar and Gujarat, treating people who live in close contact with infected individuals. Trials have shown that infections could be reduced by 60% in 3 years. China set for Mars The China National Space Administration is moving ahead with plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020. On 23 August, officials unveiled details of the lander, which will explore a low-latitude area in Mars’s northern hemisphere. The six-wheeled probe, to be named by a public contest, is designed to operate for at least 6 months; its 13 payloads will include a ground-penetrating radar to study rock layers. Other agencies aiming to send rovers to Mars during the 2020 launch opportunity include NASA and the European Space Agency. Robo-taxi trial Technology company nuTonomy said on 25 August that it will start trials of self-driving taxis in Singapore, in which customers will be able to request a ride using a smartphone app. Engineers from the company, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Singapore, will ride in the car, ready to take the wheel as needed. The joint project with the Singapore Land Transport Authority aims to launch a fully autonomous taxi service by 2018. US ride-hailing company Uber and carmaker Volvo have said that they are starting similar trials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Italy earthquake A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of 24 August, killing some 290 people and devastating towns in the Apennine mountains. The quake struck 40 kilometres from L’Aquila, where a similar event killed around 300 people in 2009. The region is tectonically complex, and seismologists had expected a rupture to occur there at any time. More than 900 aftershocks occurred, impeding recovery efforts. See page 15 for more. Airlander nosedive The world’s largest aircraft, which had a successful maiden flight in mid-August, has crash-landed on its second attempt. The 92-metre-long Airlander 10, which combines aeroplane and airship technology, nosedived on landing after the 100-minute test flight in Bedfordshire, UK, on 24 August (pictured). The cockpit of the craft was damaged, but nobody was injured, said the Airlander’s developer Hybrid Air Vehicles of Bedford. Airlander 10 is intended for use in surveillance, communication, aid delivery and even passenger travel. ‘No Planet B’ More than 150 Australian scientists sent an open letter on 24 August to the country’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, urging action on global warming. The 2015 Paris climate agreement remains unbinding, and the world’s governments are “presiding over a large-scale demise of the planetary ecosystems”, the scientists wrote. Citing Turnbull’s 2010 statement that humanity has an obligation to the planet, the scientists called on the Australian government to do what is required to reduce carbon emissions and coal exports. “There is no Planet B,” the scientists wrote. Child-health chief Medical geneticist Diana Bianchi will be the new head of the US National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on 25 August. She replaces Alan Guttmacher, who retired in September 2015. As director, Bianchi will oversee the NICHD’s US$1.3-billion annual budget, which includes the Human Placenta Project and participation in a new NIH longitudinal study called Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes. Bianchi, who studies prenatal diagnostics, will take the helm on 31 October. Iranian physicist Omid Kokabee, a physicist who has been imprisoned in Iran for five years on an espionage conviction, has been granted freedom on parole, his lawyer said on 29 August. Kokabee, 34, was working on his PhD when he was jailed in Tehran in 2011. In April this year, he was moved to hospital to have kidney-cancer surgery. He was then granted temporary medical leave and released after his friends posted bail. Kokabee has maintained his innocence and said that he was persecuted for refusing to work on a military nuclear programme in Iran. See go.nature.com/2cb5ab0 for more. Physicist dies US particle physicist James Cronin died on 25 August, aged 84. In 1964, with colleague Val Fitch and their collaborators, Cronin discovered anomalies in the decay of kaon particles in an accelerator experiment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The anomalies revealed a subtle asymmetry between matter and antimatter known as CP violation. Cronin and Fitch received a Nobel prize for their discovery in 1980. In the 1990s, Cronin became a driving force behind the Pierre Auger Observatory in Malargüe, Argentina, the largest cosmic-ray facility in the world, completed in 2004. Cronin was in the faculty of the University of Chicago in Illinois. By 2085, most cities will be too hot to host the summer Olympics, according to an analysis in The Lancet (K. R. Smith et al. Lancet 388, 642–644; 2016). Using climate modelling and a measure of heat stress, researchers judged the suitability of cities on the basis of whether conditions would be safe to run a marathon. Looking at the Northern Hemisphere, they found 25 cities in western Europe — and just 8 elsewhere — where temperatures were likely to be less than 26 °C in the shade, defined as low risk for marathon running. US$2 billion The latest estimate of the clean-up cost of a 2014 accident at a New Mexico underground nuclear-waste repository. The sum would make the nuclear accident, in which a drum containing radioactive waste blew up, the costliest in US history. Source: Los Angeles Times 4–7 September Researchers gather at the 10th Vaccine Congress in Amsterdam. www.vaccinecongress.com 6–9 September Enthusiasts head to the British Science Festival for activities and talks. britishsciencefestival.org

Kami D.,Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine | Kitani T.,Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine | Kishida T.,Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine | Mazda O.,Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine | And 8 more authors.
Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine | Year: 2014

Gene transfer technique has various applications, ranging from cellular biology to medical treatments for diseases. Although nonviral vectors, such as episomal vectors, have been developed, it is necessary to improve their gene transfer efficacy. Therefore, we attempted to develop a highly efficient gene delivery system combining an episomal vector with magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). In comparison with the conventional method using transfection reagents, polyethylenimine-coated MNPs introduced episomal vectors more efficiently under a magnetic field and could express the gene in mammalian cells with higher efficiency and for longer periods. This novel in vitro separation method of gene-introduced cells utilizing the magnetic property of MNPs significantly facilitated the separation of cells of interest. Transplanted cells in vivo were detected using magnetic resonance. These results suggest that MNPs play multifunctional roles in ex vivo gene transfer, such as improvement of gene transfer efficacy, separation of cells, and detection of transplanted cells. From the Clinical Editor: This study convincingly demonstrates enhanced efficiency of gene transfer via magnetic nanoparticles. The method also enables magnetic sorting of cells positive for the transferred gene, and in vivo monitoring of the process with MRI. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Kallakuri S.,Yale University | Yu J.A.,National Institute of Child Health and Development | Li J.,Yale University | Li Y.,Yale University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology | Year: 2015

The ciliumis a signaling platform of the vertebrate cell. It has a critical role in polycystic kidney disease and nephronophthisis. Cilia have been detected on endothelial cells, but the function of these organelles in the vasculature remains incompletely defined. In this study, using genetic and chemical genetic tools in the model organism zebrafish, we reveal an essential role of cilia in developmental vascular integrity. Embryos expressing mutant intraflagellar transport genes, which are essential and specific for cilia biogenesis, displayed increased risk of developmental intracranial hemorrhage, whereas the morphology of the vasculature remained normal. Moreover, cilia were present on endothelial cells in the developing zebrafish vasculature. We further show that the involvement of cilia in vascular integrity is endothelial autonomous, because endothelial-specific re-expression of intraflagellar transport genes in respective mutants rescued the intracranial hemorrhage phenotype. Finally, whereas inhibition of Hedgehog signaling increased the risk of intracranial hemorrhage in ciliary mutants, activation of the pathway rescued this phenotype. In contrast, embryos expressing an inactivating mutation in pkd2, one of two autosomal dominant cystic kidney disease genes, did not show increased risk of developmental intracranial hemorrhage. These results suggest that Hedgehog signaling is a major mechanism for this novel role of endothelial cilia in establishing vascular integrity. Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.

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