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HOUSTON - (May 8, 2017) - Genetic alterations that can be modulated by stress have been identified in children at high risk for bipolar disorder, according to a recently published study by researchers at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Results appeared in Translational Psychiatry, a Nature Publishing Group journal. "We've known that children of patients with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing the illness but the biological mechanisms are largely unknown," said Gabriel R. Fries, Ph.D., first author and a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. "By analyzing the blood of children of controls and comparing it to children of bipolar patients, we identified several genes or markers that can explain the increased risk." Researchers analyzed peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a total of 18 children and adolescents in three matched groups: bipolar patients, unaffected offspring of bipolar parents and children of parents with no history of psychiatric disorders. The analysis revealed that, compared to children in the control group, bipolar patients and unaffected offspring of bipolar parents had genetic alterations that can influence the response to stress. "All combine to modulate the response to stress in these children," Fries said. "We know from clinical studies of behavior and the environment that when children are chronically exposed to stressors, they are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder. Bipolar parents may struggle because of their disease, leading to higher environmental stress. Their children, because of the genetic markers they have, could be more vulnerable to stress." The genetic alterations that researchers discovered were validated in blood samples of unrelated adult bipolar patients, Fries said. New avenues of research could include the effects of reducing environmental stress, as well as whether pharmacological agents might be able to reverse the genetic alternations in vulnerable children before the disorder develops. Blood samples for the research came from the innovative Pediatric Bipolar Registry at the UTHealth Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders. The research was supported in part by grants from the Pat Rutherford, Jr. Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and the John S. Dunn Foundation. Senior author is Jair C. Soares, M.D., Ph.D., professor, chairman and the Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Endowed Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School. Co-authors from McGovern Medical School are Iram Kazimi, M.D., assistant professor; Cristian P. Zeni, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Mood Disorders Clinic for Children and Adolescents; Giovana Zunta-Soares, M.D., assistant professor and director of the Mood Disorders Clinical Trial Program; Consuelo Walss-Bass, Ph.D., associate professor and co-director of the Translational Psychiatry Program; and Joao L. de Quevedo, M.D., Ph.D., professor, vice-chair and director of the Translational Psychiatry Program. Soares, Walss-Bass and de Quevedo are faculty members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Center Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.


The number of people requiring palliative care over the next 25 years is likely to increase substantially, requiring a shift in healthcare priorities in England and Wales, according to new research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. By 2040, at least 160,000 more people each year are likely to have palliative care needs, including pain management of chronic illnesses and end-of-life care at hospitals, hospices, and at home. If all these people are to receive palliative care through the healthcare system, a significant increase in training and resources for both specialist and non-specialist care providers is needed immediately, according to the researchers. Dr Simon Noah Etkind, lead author from the Cicely Saunders Institute, King's College London, said: "Current population and mortality trends in England and Wales suggest that 25% more people will die each year by 2040. In our research we found that if current trends continue, the estimated number of people who will require palliative care will grow by much more than this, due to a sharp increase in the number of people dying from chronic illnesses, particularly cancer and dementia. This, combined with an aging population means that we should expect that there will be 42% more people with palliative care needs by 2040." The projections also found that over half of all deaths will occur in people aged over 85 and that dementia deaths will almost quadruple by 2040. Dr Etkind explained: "By 2040 national data suggests there will be a rise in the prevalence of chronic progressive illnesses, and we believe that many of these will require symptom relief and palliative care. We estimate that at least 85% of deaths in 2040 will require some form of palliative care and we can predict a shift towards dementia as a greater contributor to palliative care need." According to the researchers, the number of people who are likely to have palliative care needs will grow out of proportion to changes in population demographics over the next 25 years. As a result, palliative care services will require greatly increased resources over the next two decades to deal with this growing need. Professor Irene Higginson, Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's College London and co-author of the paper, said: "There is an urgent need to act now to transform health, social and palliative care services to meet the projected growth in palliative care need. More attention should be given to the needs of people and those close to them when facing progressive illness, particularly those dying from chronic and complex illnesses, and age related syndromes such as frailty and dementia. There is a need to support their families, who shoulder so much of the care. The way in which we provide health care, and palliative care will need to change. In advance of this we are testing new more integrated approaches, where people can have expert palliative care alongside their illnesses." The projections were based on data from the Office of National Statistics. This was used to estimate recent trends of deaths from chronic illnesses likely to require palliative care. These trends were then extrapolated to predict the number of people that would require palliative care through to 2040 accounting for population and demographic change. The authors state that their estimates are a simplification of the issue. They couldn't take into account people suffering from multiple diseases or how long the illnesses were experienced, both common in chronic and progresses diseases in older people. However, this suggests that the projections are likely to be an underestimate and the real increase could be even higher. The projections are based on current trends in disease prevalence and cause of death, which means the numbers presented are not a forecast of what will happen but of what may occur if recent trends continue. How many people will need palliative care in 2040? Past trends, future projections and implications for services. Etkind et al. BMC Medicine May 2017 During embargo period, please contact Matthew Lam for a copy of the article. After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: https:/ Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy. 2. With an ethos of transparency and accessibility, BMC Medicine is an open access, open peer-reviewed general medical journal publishing outstanding and influential research in all areas of clinical practice, translational medicine, public health, policy, and general topics of interest to the biomedical research community. As the flagship medical journal of the BMC series, we also publish stimulating debates and reviews as well as unique forum articles and concise tutorials. 3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www. The Cicely Saunders Institute is the world's first purpose built Institute for Palliative Care and Rehabilitation, named after Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005), recognised internationally as the founder of the modern hospice movement 50 years ago. The Institute is a partnership of Cicely Saunders International, King's College London and associated local clinical services to bring together clinical and academic teams to innovate, discover, evaluate and translate solutions to improve care, symptom control and quality of life for patients and families affected by serious and progressive illnesses. Cicely Saunders International (Registered Charity No. 1087195) is the world's leading charity promoting and supporting best practice and quality research in end of life and palliative care to improve the care and treatment of all those affected by progressive illness and to make high quality palliative care available to everyone who needs it. King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 27,600 students (of whom nearly 10,500 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 6,800 staff. King's has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) King's was ranked 6th nationally in the 'power' ranking, which takes into account both the quality and quantity of research activity, and 7th for quality according to Times Higher Education rankings. Eighty-four per cent of research at King's was deemed 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' (3* and 4*). The university is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of more than £684 million. For further information, please visit the website: http://www.


Obesity, already a global epidemic, is on the rise. Over one third of the U.S. population is currently afflicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the monetary costs alone are approaching $150 billion dollars annually. Causes of the epidemic include changing diets and greater sedentism, though environmental factors may also contribute. A new study compares the two most common surgical therapies for obesity, known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). The results demonstrate that RYGB--the more aggressive of the two surgeries-- produces profound changes in the composition of microbial communities in the gut, with the resulting gut flora distinct from both obese and normal weight patients. The results are likely due to the dramatic reorganization of the gut caused by RYGB surgery, which increases microbial diversity. The new research paves the way for new diagnostics and therapies for obesity. The gamut of adverse health effects associated with obesity is broad, including such devastating illnesses as type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke and certain forms of cancer. Patients often suffer loss of mobility, social isolation and inability to work. Currently bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for morbid obesity, in terms of significant and sustained weight loss. In the new study, appearing in the current issue of the Nature Publishing Group journal International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME), Zehra Esra Ilhan, Rosa Krajmalnik Brown and their colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at ASU, along with researchers from Mayo Clinic, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, explore microbial communities in the human gut following RYBG and LAGB surgeries. The results confirmed their earlier research with a smaller sample size, showing that in the case of the more aggressive and irreversible RYGB surgery, microbial communities underwent a profound and permanent shift following weight loss. The resulting post-surgical composition of gut microbes observed for RYGB patients was distinct from both normal weight and obese patients, and displayed the high microbial diversity associated with a healthy gut. The current study also applied the technique of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to examine the metabolome--a composite of the metabolites produced by the various microbes in the gut, again noting significant alterations as a result of the RYGB procedure. In the case of the alternate treatment, LAGB, changes in the gut microbiota were mild and accompanying weight loss was less pronounced. "This is one of the first studies to show that anatomically different surgeries with different success rates have different microbiome and microbiome-related outcomes," notes Ilhan, lead author of the new paper. Further, the results indicate that correction of obesity tends to improve related metabolic conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol. "One of the key findings of the paper confirms what we had already observed in earlier research. RYGP gastric bypass had a huge effect on the microbial community structure," Krajmalnik-Brown says. This fact may have profound implications for both the understanding and management of obesity. The millions of bacterial microbes in the human gut perform a vast range of critical functions in the body and have even been implicated in mood and behavior. Among their critical responsibilities are the micro-management of nutrients in the food we digest, hence their central place in the regulation of body weight. A tell-tale indicator of pathology in obese patients has been found in the gut, where a markedly lower diversity of microbial communities is observed. As Krajmalnik-Brown explains, diversity of gut microbes is essential to good health. "Diversity is good because of what we call functional redundancy," she says. "If you have 10 workers that can do the same job, when one of them gets sick, the job still gets done." Low microbial diversity in the gut, by contrast, is associated not only with obesity but a range of ailments including inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and autism. (Earlier research by Krajmalnik-Brown and her colleagues demonstrated diminished diversity in the gut microbiome of autistic children and in a more recent study, improvement in the symptoms of autism was demonstrated following transplantation of beneficial microbes.) Competition in diverse microbial networks in the gut helps provide a system of checks and balances. Should diversity fall, a delicate democracy can be shattered and tyranny may prevail, as populations of microbes like Salmonella or Clostridium difficile--usually subsisting at low levels in the gut --expand and take over. The study sought to explore long-term changes in the gut in patients who had undergone either of the two surgeries at least 9 months prior, comparing them with normal weight and pre-bariatric obese patients. While the reasons for the sharp disparity of results between RYGB and gastric banding are not entirely clear, the results indicate that simply reducing the size of the stomach through gastric banding is not sufficient to induce the large changes in microbial communities observed for the RYGB group. One hypothesis the authors put forward is that RYGB alters the physiology of the gut to such a degree that microbes formerly unable to survive conditions in the obese gut are able to flourish in their surgically-modified surroundings. "One of the things we observe from the literature is that the oral microbiome community composition is very similar to the colon microbiome composition after bariatric surgery," Ilhan says. "You're giving new microbes a chance to make it. Most of the species are acid sensitive, which supports the idea that changes in stomach pH levels may permit these microbes to survive and make it to the colon." According to John DiBaise, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale and co-author of the new study, "These new data on microbial community structure and function significantly expand our knowledge on how the microbiome is associated with weight loss following bariatric surgery." While it seems clear that RYGB surgery produced permanent changes in bacterial communities in the gut, the resulting microbial community may also act to help maintain weight loss over the long term. Experiments have shown that transplantation of beneficial microbes from mice that have undergone RYGB surgery into obese mice induces dramatic weight loss. While these results have yet to be replicated in humans, the findings open the door to the eventual use of healthy microbial communities to treat obesity. Although the RYGB surgery has been quite successful for many patients suffering from morbid obesity, it is a serious, invasive procedure that is not without risks. Further, some patients are not successful and regain the weight they have lost post-surgery, perhaps because they lack the favorable microbes necessary for permanent weight loss. As Ilhan says, "a probiotic that would replace surgery would be great. Another positive outcome would be if we can find a microbial biomarker that will identify the best candidates for surgery and sustained weight loss." Research reported in this 24 publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney 25 Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DK090379. Distinctive microbiomes and metabolites linked with weight loss after gastric bypass, but not gastric banding Zehra Esra Ilhan1,2, John K DiBaise3, Nancy G. Isern4, David W. Hoyt4, Andrew K 5 Marcus1, Dae-Wook Kang1, Michael D. Crowell3, Bruce E Rittmann1, and Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown1 1Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University, 85287, U.S.A., 2 School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, 85287, U.S.A, 3 Mayo Clinic, Division of Gastroenterology, Scottsdale, U.S.A., 4 Environmental and Molecular Science Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, 12 WA, U.S.A.


News Article | May 29, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Obesity, already a global epidemic, is on the rise. Over one-third of the U.S. population is currently afflicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the monetary costs alone are approaching $150 billion dollars annually. Causes of the epidemic include changing diets and greater sedentism, though environmental factors may also contribute. A new study compares the two most common surgical therapies for obesity, known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). The results demonstrate that RYGB -- the more aggressive of the two surgeries -- produces profound changes in the composition of microbial communities in the gut, with the resulting gut flora distinct from both obese and normal weight patients. The results are likely due to the dramatic reorganization of the gut caused by RYGB surgery, which increases microbial diversity. The new research paves the way for new diagnostics and therapies for obesity. The gamut of adverse health effects associated with obesity is broad, including such devastating illnesses as type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke and certain forms of cancer. Patients often suffer a loss of mobility, social isolation and inability to work. Currently, bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for morbid obesity, in terms of significant and sustained weight loss. In the new study, appearing in the current issue of the Nature Publishing Group journal International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME), Zehra Esra Ilhan, Rosa Krajmalnik Brown and their colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at ASU, along with researchers from Mayo Clinic, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, explore microbial communities in the human gut following RYBG and LAGB surgeries. The results confirmed their earlier research with a smaller sample size, showing that in the case of the more aggressive and irreversible RYGB surgery, microbial communities underwent a profound and permanent shift following weight loss. The resulting post-surgical composition of gut microbes observed for RYGB patients was distinct from both normal weight and obese patients and displayed the high microbial diversity associated with a healthy gut. The current study also applied the technique of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to examine the metabolome -- a composite of the metabolites produced by the various microbes in the gut, again noting significant alterations as a result of the RYGB procedure. In the case of the alternate treatment, LAGB, changes in the gut microbiota were mild and accompanying weight loss was less pronounced. "This is one of the first studies to show that anatomically different surgeries with different success rates have different microbiome and microbiome-related outcomes," notes Ilhan, lead author of the new paper. Further, the results indicate that correction of obesity tends to improve related metabolic conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol. "One of the key findings of the paper confirms what we had already observed in earlier research. RYGP gastric bypass had a huge effect on the microbial community structure," Krajmalnik-Brown says. This fact may have profound implications for both the understanding and management of obesity. The millions of bacterial microbes in the human gut perform a vast range of critical functions in the body and have even been implicated in mood and behavior. Among their critical responsibilities are the micro-management of nutrients in the food we digest, hence their central place in the regulation of body weight. A tell-tale indicator of pathology in obese patients has been found in the gut, where a markedly lower diversity of microbial communities is observed. As Krajmalnik-Brown explains, diversity of gut microbes is essential to good health. "Diversity is good because of what we call functional redundancy," she says. "If you have 10 workers that can do the same job when one of them gets sick, the job still gets done." Low microbial diversity in the gut, by contrast, is associated not only with obesity but a range of ailments including inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and autism. (Earlier research by Krajmalnik-Brown and her colleagues demonstrated diminished diversity in the gut microbiome of autistic children and in a more recent study, improvement in the symptoms of autism was demonstrated following transplantation of beneficial microbes.) Competition in diverse microbial networks in the gut helps provide a system of checks and balances. Should diversity fall, a delicate democracy can be shattered and tyranny may prevail, as populations of microbes like Salmonella or Clostridium difficile -- usually subsisting at low levels in the gut -- expand and take over. The study sought to explore long-term changes in the gut in patients who had undergone either of the two surgeries at least 9 months prior, comparing them with normal weight and pre-bariatric obese patients. While the reasons for the sharp disparity of results between RYGB and gastric banding are not entirely clear, the results indicate that simply reducing the size of the stomach through gastric banding is not sufficient to induce the large changes in microbial communities observed for the RYGB group. One hypothesis the authors put forward is that RYGB alters the physiology of the gut to such a degree that microbes formerly unable to survive conditions in the obese gut are able to flourish in their surgically-modified surroundings. "One of the things we observe from the literature is that the oral microbiome community composition is very similar to the colon microbiome composition after bariatric surgery," Ilhan says. "You're giving new microbes a chance to make it. Most of the species are acid sensitive, which supports the idea that changes in stomach pH levels may permit these microbes to survive and make it to the colon." According to John DiBaise, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale and co-author of the new study, "These new data on microbial community structure and function significantly expand our knowledge on how the microbiome is associated with weight loss following bariatric surgery." While it seems clear that RYGB surgery produced permanent changes in bacterial communities in the gut, the resulting microbial community may also act to help maintain weight loss over the long term. Experiments have shown that transplantation of beneficial microbes from mice that have undergone RYGB surgery into obese mice induces dramatic weight loss. While these results have yet to be replicated in humans, the findings open the door to the eventual use of healthy microbial communities to treat obesity. Although the RYGB surgery has been quite successful for many patients suffering from morbid obesity, it is a serious, invasive procedure that is not without risks. Further, some patients are not successful and regain the weight they have lost post-surgery, perhaps because they lack the favorable microbes necessary for permanent weight loss. As Ilhan says, "a probiotic that would replace surgery would be great. Another positive outcome would be if we can find a microbial biomarker that will identify the best candidates for surgery and sustained weight loss."


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A team of researchers, including UNM Honors College Professor Jason R. Moore, has found a new species of tyrannosaur dinosaur -- the most popular of the prehistoric creatures. After the fossils were pulled out of the muddy banks of a Montana river, the team was able to analyze the texture of the facial bones of the new species. The findings suggest that the face of tyrannosaurs was covered in a scaly protective layer with a high degree of tactile sensitivity, similar to crocodiles. "Being a tyrannosaur, they had really small arms," says Moore. "They wouldn't be able to interact with their environment with their hands the way mammals do -- find food, build nests, tend to eggs and young. In order to do these things, Daspletosaurus needed to use its feet or head. The discovery and analysis of the tyrannosaur shows that the dinosaur had a developed face sensitivity similar to the sensitivity in our finger tips, suggesting it could use its snout for all those complex ecological interactions, similar to the way crocodiles do today." An investigation by a team of scientists from Wisconsin, Australia, Louisiana, Montana and New Mexico has identified and named the new species of the tyrannosaur clan: Daspletosaurus horneri - "Horner's Frightful Lizard." The species is named for the renowned dinosaur paleontologist, John "Jack" R. Horner, formerly curator at the Museum of the Rockies (MOR) in Bozeman, Montana. The tyrannosaur's name honors his discoveries of numerous dinosaur fossils and his mentorship of so many students that launched them on to accomplished scientific careers. The name-bearing specimens are stored in the research collections of the MOR. The fossil resources of Montana, where the new tyrannosaur was found, are central to studies of dinosaur evolution. "Montana, similar to many Rocky Mountain states, has lots of rock exposed at the right time and right environment to contain dinosaurs," says Moore. "The fossils are found preserved in ancient river channels and flood plains. If you know what you're looking for, they are widespread." The research is led by Thomas Carr of Carthage College's Department of Biology in Wisconsin, an expert on the evolution and growth of Tyrannosaurus rex and its closest relatives, collectively called tyrannosaurs. In addition to adding a new species to the tyrannosaur family tree, the team's research provides new information about the mode of evolution and life appearance of tyrannosaurs, specifically the face. This latest study, published in Nature Publishing Group's Scientific Reports, found evidence for a rare, nonbranching type of evolution in tyrannosaurs and that tyrannosaurs had scaly, lipless faces and a highly touch-sensitive snout. "Daspletosaurus horneri was the youngest, and last, of its lineage that lived after its closest relative, D. torosus, which is found in Alberta, Canada," says Carr. "The geographic proximity of these species and their sequential occurrence suggests that they represent a single lineage where D. torosus has evolved into D. horneri." Moore elaborated, "One of the difficulties in demonstrating this style of evolution is establishing that the different species don't overlap in time. The new radiometric dates we measured help support this temporal separation between D. torosus and D. horneri." The research confirms that the ages of the two species shows that the evolution of the dinosaur was slow--happening over a span of 2.3 million years. The team's work literally changes the face of tyrannosaurs, which they found was covered by a lipless 'mask' of large flat scales and extensive patches of armor-like skin. This conclusion results from comparison of tyrannosaur skulls with those of crocodylians, birds and mammals, and earlier work by other researchers who had matched bone texture with different types of skin covering. Jayc Sedlmayr, professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, explained, "Much of our research ... was generated from lab based comparative anatomy, where you get arms deep in 'blood and guts' dissecting birds--living dinosaurs and crocodilians--their closest living relatives." "It turns out that tyrannosaurs are identical to crocodylians in that the bones of their snouts and jaws are rough, except for a narrow band of smooth bone along the tooth row," explained Carr. "We did not find any evidence for lips in tyrannosaurs: the rough texture covered by scales extends nearly to the tooth row, providing no space for lips." "However, we did find evidence for other types of skin on the face, including areas of extremely coarse bone that supported armor-like skin on the snout and on the sides of the lower jaws. The armor-like skin would have protected tyrannosaurs from abrasions, perhaps sustained when hunting and feeding." The researchers found that, like in crocodylians, the snout and jaws of the tyrannosaurs are penetrated by numerous small nerve openings, allowing hundreds of branches of nerves to innervate the skin, producing a sensitivity similar to that of human fingertips. This sensitivity is part of a bigger evolutionary story, explained Sedlmayr. "The trigeminal nerve has an extraordinary evolutionary history of developing into wildly different 'sixth senses' in different vertebrates, such as sensing magnetic fields for bird migration, electroreception for predation in the platypus bill or the whisker pits of dolphins, sensing infrared in pit vipers to identify prey, guiding movements in mammals through the use of whiskers, sensing vibrations through the water by alligators and turning the elephant trunk into a sensitive 'hand' similar to what has been done to the entire face of tyrannosaurs."


News Article | April 13, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

B vitamins can mitigate the impact of fine particle pollution on cardiovascular disease, according to new research conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Healthy non-smokers who took vitamin B supplements nearly reversed any negative effects on their cardiovascular and immune systems, weakening the effects of air pollution on heart rate by 150 percent, total white blood count by 139 percent, and lymphocyte count by 106 percent. This is the first clinical trial to evaluate whether B vitamin supplements change the biologic and physiologic responses to ambient air pollution exposure. The study initiates a course of research for developing preventive pharmacological interventions using B vitamins to contain the health effects of air pollution. The findings are published online in the Nature Publishing Group journal, Scientific Reports. Ambient fine particulate pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths annually worldwide, predominantly through acute effects on the cardiovascular system. Particulate matter pollution is the most frequent trigger for myocardial infarction at the population level. "Ambient PM2.5 pollution is one of the most common air pollutants and has a negative effect on cardiac function and the immune system," said Jia Zhong, PhD, principal investigator, and postdoctoral research officer in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School. "For the first time, our trial provides evidence that B-vitamin supplementation might attenuate the acute effects of PM2.5 on cardiac dysfunction and inflammatory markers." The paper builds on research published in March that found B vitamins reduce the negative effects of air pollution as measured by epigenetic markers. In the new study, researchers recruited ten healthy, 18 to 60-year-old, non-smoking volunteers who were not on any form of B vitamin supplements or other medication. All volunteers received a placebo for four weeks preceding a two-hour exposure experiment to concentrated ambient PM2.5 (250 μ g/m3), after which they were administered B vitamin supplements for four weeks before the next two-hour exposure experiment to PM2.5. A particle-free two-hour exposure was included to provide baseline data. The controlled exposure experiments were conducted from July 2013 to February 2014 at the same time of day and adjusted for season, temperature, and humidity. "Our results showed that a two-hour exposure to concentrated ambient PM2.5 had substantial physiologic impacts on heart rate, heart rate variability, and white blood counts. Further, we demonstrated that these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation," noted Andrea Baccarelli, M.D., Ph.D., chair and Leon Hess Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School. Because the researchers studied healthy adults from lightly polluted urban environment, they caution that their findings might not be generalizable to populations that are at higher risk for pollution-induced cardiovascular effects, including children, older adults, individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and individuals residing in heavily polluted areas. "With ambient PM2.5 levels far exceeding air quality standards in many large urban areas worldwide, pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects. Studies like ours cannot diminish--nor be used to underemphasize--the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to--at a minimum--meet the air quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries. However, residual risk remains for those who are sensitive, and high exposures are, unfortunately, the rule still in many megacities throughout the world," said Baccarelli.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

April 12, 2017 -- B vitamins can mitigate the impact of fine particle pollution on cardiovascular disease, according to new research conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Healthy non-smokers who took vitamin B supplements nearly reversed any negative effects on their cardiovascular and immune systems, weakening the effects of air pollution on heart rate by 150 percent, total white blood count by 139 percent, and lymphocyte count by 106 percent. This is the first clinical trial to evaluate whether B vitamin supplements change the biologic and physiologic responses to ambient air pollution exposure. The study initiates a course of research for developing preventive pharmacological interventions using B vitamins to contain the health effects of air pollution. The findings are published online in the Nature Publishing Group journal, Scientific Reports. Ambient fine particulate pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths annually worldwide, predominantly through acute effects on the cardiovascular system. Particulate matter pollution is the most frequent trigger for myocardial infarction at the population level. "Ambient PM2.5 pollution is one of the most common air pollutants and has a negative effect on cardiac function and the immune system," said Jia Zhong, PhD, principal investigator, and postdoctoral research officer in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School. "For the first time, our trial provides evidence that B-vitamin supplementation might attenuate the acute effects of PM2.5 on cardiac dysfunction and inflammatory markers." The paper builds on research published in March that found B vitamins reduce the negative effects of air pollution as measured by epigenetic markers. In the new study, researchers recruited ten healthy, 18 to 60-year-old, non-smoking volunteers who were not on any form of B vitamin supplements or other medication. All volunteers received a placebo for four weeks preceding a two-hour exposure experiment to concentrated ambient PM2.5 (250 μ g/m3), after which they were administered B vitamin supplements for four weeks before the next two-hour exposure experiment to PM2.5. A particle-free two-hour exposure was included to provide baseline data. The controlled exposure experiments were conducted from July 2013 to February 2014 at the same time of day and adjusted for season, temperature, and humidity. "Our results showed that a two-hour exposure to concentrated ambient PM2.5 had substantial physiologic impacts on heart rate, heart rate variability, and white blood counts. Further, we demonstrated that these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation," noted Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, chair and Leon Hess Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School. Because the researchers studied healthy adults from lightly polluted urban environment, they caution that their findings might not be generalizable to populations that are at higher risk for pollution-induced cardiovascular effects, including children, older adults, individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and individuals residing in heavily polluted areas. "With ambient PM2.5 levels far exceeding air quality standards in many large urban areas worldwide, pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects. Studies like ours cannot diminish--nor be used to underemphasize--the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to--at a minimum--meet the air quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries. However, residual risk remains for those who are sensitive, and high exposures are, unfortunately, the rule still in many megacities throughout the world," said Dr. Baccarelli. The study, conducted with colleagues at Harvard's T. H. Chan School of Public Health, in Sweden, China, Singapore, and Canada, was supported by NIH grants (R21ES021895, R01ES021733, R01ES020836, R01ES021357, T32ES007142, P30ES000002) and by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants (RD-834798, RD-832416). The authors declare no competing financial interests. Founded in 1922, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit http://www. .


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New human rights laws to prepare for advances in neurotechnology that put the 'freedom of the mind' at risk have been proposed today in the open access journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy. The authors of the study suggest four new human rights laws could emerge in the near future to protect against exploitation and loss of privacy. The four laws are: the right to cognitive liberty, the right to mental privacy, the right to mental integrity and the right to psychological continuity. Marcello Ienca, lead author and PhD student at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel, said: "The mind is considered to be the last refuge of personal freedom and self-determination, but advances in neural engineering, brain imaging and neurotechnology put the freedom of the mind at risk. Our proposed laws would give people the right to refuse coercive and invasive neurotechnology, protect the privacy of data collected by neurotechnology, and protect the physical and psychological aspects of the mind from damage by the misuse of neurotechnology." Advances in neurotechnology, such as sophisticated brain imaging and the development of brain-computer interfaces, have led to these technologies moving away from a clinical setting and into the consumer domain. While these advances may be beneficial for individuals and society, there is a risk that the technology could be misused and create unprecedented threats to personal freedom. Professor Roberto Andorno, co-author of the research, explained: "Brain imaging technology has already reached a point where there is discussion over its legitimacy in criminal court, for example as a tool for assessing criminal responsibility or even the risk of reoffending. Consumer companies are using brain imaging for 'neuromarketing', to understand consumer behaviour and elicit desired responses from customers. There are also tools such as 'brain decoders' which can turn brain imaging data into images, text or sound. All of these could pose a threat to personal freedom which we sought to address with the development of four new human rights laws." The authors explain that as neurotechnology improves and becomes commonplace, there is a risk that the technology could be hacked, allowing a third-party to 'eavesdrop' on someone's mind. In the future, a brain-computer interface used to control consumer technology could put the user at risk of physical and psychological damage caused by a third-party attack on the technology. There are also ethical and legal concerns over the protection of data generated by these devices that need to be considered. International human rights laws make no specific mention to neuroscience, although advances in biomedicine have become intertwined with laws, such as those concerning human genetic data. Similar to the historical trajectory of the genetic revolution, the authors state that the on-going neurorevolution will force a reconceptualization of human rights laws and even the creation of new ones. Marcello Ienca added: "Science-fiction can teach us a lot about the potential threat of technology. Neurotechnology featured in famous stories has in some cases already become a reality, while others are inching ever closer, or exist as military and commercial prototypes. We need to be prepared to deal with the impact these technologies will have on our personal freedom." Towards new human rights in the age of neuroscience and neurotechnology Marcello Ienca and Roberto Andorno. Life Sciences, Society and Policy April 2017 During embargo period, please contact Matthew Lam for a full copy of the article. After the embargo lifts, the article will be available at the journal website here: https:/ Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy. 2. The purpose of Life Sciences, Society and Policy (LSSP) is to analyse social, ethical and legal dimensions of the most dynamic branches of life sciences and technologies, and to discuss ways to foster responsible innovation, sustainable development and user-driven social policies. LSSP provides an academic forum for engaged scholarship at the intersection of life sciences, philosophy, bioethics, science studies and policy research, and covers a broad area of inquiry both in emerging research areas such as genomics, bioinformatics, biophysics, molecular engineering, nanotechnology and synthetic biology, and in more applied fields such as translational medicine, food science, environmental science, climate studies, research on animals, sustainability, science education and others. 3. SpringerOpen, launched in June 2010, includes Springer's portfolio of 200+ peer-reviewed fully open access journals across all areas of science. In August 2012, due to the growing demand for open access and the success of our SpringerOpen journals, we expanded our offering to open access books. Published under the SpringerOpen brand they complement our established open access journal portfolio. SpringerOpen journals and books are made freely and permanently available online immediately upon publication. They are subject to high-level peer review, author and production services ensuring quality and reliability of the work. Authors publishing with SpringerOpen retain the copyright to their work, licensing it under a Creative Commons license. To cover the cost of the publication process, all SpringerOpen journals and books charge an open access fee. 4. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Nature, a major new force in scientific, scholarly, professional and educational publishing, created in May 2015 through the combination of Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Springer Science+Business Media. http://www.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 5.00M | Year: 2014

Quantum technologies promise a transformation of measurement, communication and computation by using ideas originating from quantum physics. The UK was the birthplace of many of the seminal ideas and techniques; the technologies are now ready to translate from the laboratory into industrial applications. Since international companies are already moving in this area, there is a critical need across the UK for highly-skilled researchers who will be the future leaders in quantum technology. Our proposal is driven by the need to train this new generation of leaders. They will need to be equipped to function in a complex research and engineering landscape where quantum physics meets cryptography, complexity and information theory, devices, materials, software and hardware engineering. We propose to train a cohort of leaders to meet these challenges within the highly interdisciplinary research environment provided by UCL, its commercial and governmental laboratory partners. In their first year the students will obtain a background in devices, information and computational sciences through three concentrated modules organized around current research issues. They will complete a team project and a longer individual research project, preparing them for their choice of main research doctoral topic at the end of the year. Cross-cohort training in communication skills, technology transfer, enterprise, teamwork and career planning will continue throughout the four years. Peer to peer learning will be continually facilitated not only by organized cross-cohort activities, but also by the day to day social interaction among the members of the cohort thanks to their co-location at UCL.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 3.99M | Year: 2014

The Scottish Doctoral Training Centre in Condensed Matter Physics, known as the CM-DTC, is an EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) addressing the broad field of Condensed Matter Physics (CMP). CMP is a core discipline that underpins many other areas of science, and is one of the Priority Areas for this CDT call. Renewal funding for the CM-DTC will allow five more annual cohorts of PhD students to be recruited, trained and released onto the market. They will be highly educated professionals with a knowledge of the field, in depth and in breadth, that will equip them for future leadership in a variety of academic and industrial careers. Condensed Matter Physics research impacts on many other fields of science including engineering, biophysics, photonics, chemistry, and materials science. It is a significant engine for innovation and drives new technologies. Recent examples include the use of liquid crystals for displays including flat-screen and 3D television, and the use of solid-state or polymeric LEDs for power-saving high-illumination lighting systems. Future examples may involve harnessing the potential of graphene (the worlds thinnest and strongest sheet-like material), or the creation of exotic low-temperature materials whose properties may enable the design of radically new types of (quantum) computer with which to solve some of the hardest problems of mathematics. The UKs continued ability to deliver transformative technologies of this character requires highly trained CMP researchers such as those the Centre will produce. The proposed training approach is built on a strong framework of taught lecture courses, with core components and a wide choice of electives. This spans the first two years so that PhD research begins alongside the coursework from the outset. It is complemented by hands-on training in areas such as computer-intensive physics and instrument building (including workshop skills and 3D printing). Some lecture courses are delivered in residential schools but most are videoconferenced live, using the well-established infrastructure of SUPA (the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance). Students meet face to face frequently, often for more than one day, at cohort-building events that emphasise teamwork in science, outreach, transferable skills and careers training. National demand for our graduates is demonstrated by the large number of companies and organisations who have chosen to be formally affiliated with our CDT as Industrial Associates. The range of sectors spanned by these Associates is notable. Some, such as e2v and Oxford Instruments, are scientific consultancies and manufacturers of scientific equipment, whom one would expect to be among our core stakeholders. Less obviously, the list also represents scientific publishers, software houses, companies small and large from the energy sector, large multinationals such as Solvay-Rhodia and Siemens, and finance and patent law firms. This demonstrates a key attraction of our graduates: their high levels of core skills, and a hands-on approach to problem solving. These impart a discipline-hopping ability which more focussed training for specific sectors can complement, but not replace. This breadth is prized by employers in a fast-changing environment where years of vocational training can sometimes be undermined very rapidly by unexpected innovation in an apparently unrelated sector. As the UK builds its technological future by funding new CDTs across a range of priority areas, it is vital to include some that focus on core discipline skills, specifically Condensed Matter Physics, rather than the interdisciplinary or semi-vocational training that features in many other CDTs. As well as complementing those important activities today, our highly trained PhD graduates will be equipped to lay the foundations for the research fields (and perhaps some of the industrial sectors) of tomorrow.

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