ShareTweetSharePinSecondary school students at the NCCU money management sessionOne hundred and twenty students (120) from six secondary schools in the Roseau area were introduced to the basics of money management on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 during a Youth Financial Literacy Seminar organised by the National Co-operative Credit Union Ltd at the Public Service Union Hall.The interactive seminar was well received by third and fourth students who came from the St. Martin Secondary School, St. Mary’s Academy, Dominica Community High School, Wesley High School, Convent High School and Orion Academy.Topics covered included Financial Behaviour: values, needs versus wants; Financial Planning: goal setting, budgeting and saving.The students also received information on NCCU, its structure, reach, becoming a member and relevant products and services.Facilitators were NCCU’s Chief Financial Officer, Curth Charles, and Marva Jervier and Davina Toussaint of the Society’s La Salette Branch.NCCU believes “it is necessary for young persons to learn how to manage money as it is an important life skill”.This was the fifth edition of the NCCU Youth Financial Literacy Seminar.The credit union intends to continue hosting the seminar annually.
January 23, 2019 Photo by L. ParsonsMedicine Room general manager, Dan Cassetti examines a medicinal marijuana plant in their green house. By L. Parsons The Medicine Room, Winslow’s medical marijuana facility, is looking toward expansion. During the Jan. 8 Winslow City Council meeting, the council approved an ordinance and a resolution allowing the operation toSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Ad Expansion of marijuana facility could mean more jobs in Winslow
Best Of Express SC to hear plea seeking new probe into murder of ex-Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya Advertising Taking stock of monsoon rain Who was Haren Pandya? Related News The high court, while criticising the CBI for botched-up investigation in the case, had said, “What clearly stands out from the record of the present case is that the investigation in the case of murder of Haren Pandya has all through been botched up and blinkered and has left a lot to be desired.”The accused were earlier convicted for a larger conspiracy by a special POTA court on the basis of deposition of main accused Asghar Ali, who had admitted to their plan to attack prominent VHP and other Hindu leaders of Gujarat to avenge the 2002 riots.The other accused are — Mohammad Rauf, Mohammad Parvez Abdul Kayum Sheikh, Parvez Khan Pathan alias Athar Parvez, Mohammad Farooq alias Haji Farooq, Shahnawaz Gandhi, Kalim Ahmeda alias Kalimullah, Rehan Puthawala, Mohammad Riaz Sareswala, Aniz Machiswala, Mohammad Yunus Sareswala and Mohammad Saifuddin.According to CBI, prior to Pandya’s killing, the convicts had made an attempt on the life of a local VHP leader Jagdish Tewari on March 11, 2003. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra will also pronounce judgement on a PIL filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) which has sought court-monitored fresh investigation into the killing.Pandya was minister in the then Narendra Modi-led state government in Gujarat. He was shot dead on March 26, 2003 in Ahmedabad near Law Garden during morning walk.According to the CBI, he was murdered to avenge the 2002 communal riots in the state. Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Haren Pandya murder: SC convicts 12 people acquitted by Gujarat HC The former Gujarat home minister was murdered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat by two unidentified assailants when he was sitting in his car after a morning walk in the Law Garden area. (File photo)New Delhi, Jul 4 (PTI) The Supreme Court is scheduled Friday to pronounce verdict on the appeals filed by CBI and the Gujarat government challenging the acquittal of 12 persons facing charges of murdering former state Home Minister Haren Pandya in 2003. LiveKarnataka floor test: Will Kumaraswamy’s 14-month-old govt survive? Kulbhushan Jadhav ‘guilty of crimes’, will proceed further as per law: Imran Khan The agency had claimed these two incidents were part of a single conspiracy to spread terror among people in the aftermath of post-Godhra riots.The offenders were illegally sent to Pakistan by absconding accused Rasul Parti and Mufti Sufiyan Patangia and trained at the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, the agency had claimed. Advertising The appeals were filed by the CBI and the state police questioning the August 29, 2011 acquittal by the Gujarat High Court as being erroneous.The high court, while acquitting the 12 persons of the charges of murder, had upheld the trial court’s decision to convict them of the charges of criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and for the offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).The apex court had on January 31 this year reserved the verdict on the appeals in the matter.On January 5, 2012, the top court had admitted the appeals filed by the CBI and state against the high court’s judgement. The case was earlier probed by the state police but later handed over to the CBI. Advertising Published: July 4, 2019 10:23:05 pm More Explained 0 Comment(s)
“There was no need for them (MLAs who resigned) to approach the Supreme Court and get me advice that I should meet them. They could have willingly come here. That itself shows the whole thing is murky,” Kumar added. Rebel MLAs Vishwanath, Munirathna, Mahesh Kumathalli, Pratap Gowda arrive to meet the Speaker, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (PTI Photo)Earlier in the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the decision taken by the Speaker has to be intimated on Friday when the court takes up the matter again. The bench, comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, also directed the Karnataka DGP to provide protection to the 10 MLAs from the airport to the Assembly after their arrival from Mumbai.Goa meltdown | 10 ex-Congress MLAs join BJP in presence of NaddaThe rebel MLAs, who were camping in Mumbai after resigning from the state assembly, arrived in Bengaluru in two special flights. While 10 of them arrived from Mumbai, one disgruntled Congress legislator Munirathna joined them at the Vidhana Soudha. Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar addressing the media after meeting with rebel MLAs. (Express Photo by Darshan Devaiah)Hours after the Supreme Court asked the Karnataka Assembly Speaker to take a decision “forthwith” on the resignations of 10 rebel Congress-JDS MLAs, the legislators arrived at the Bengaluru Vidhan Soudha to submit fresh resignations. Following a meeting, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said that he will need time to scrutinize the papers to verify if they are in order over the next few days. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Karnataka crisis: SC verdict a moral victory for rebel MLAs, says Yeddyurappa Related News “I have heard them and have directed them to give arguments in writing,” the Speaker said. After rejecting most of the resignation letters for not being in the “proper format”, the Speaker said all resignations are now in order.Follow Karnataka Crisis LIVE UPDATES Here“The Supreme Court has asked me to make a decision. I have videographed everything and I will send it to the Court,” Kumar further said.Defending his position, which had come under severe criticism owing to delay in accepting the resignations, Kumar said that the rebel MLAs failed to communicate to him their decisions and rushed to the Governor. “MLAs didn’t communicate to me and rushed to the Governor. What can he do? Is it not misuse? They approached the Supreme Court. My obligation is to people of this state and the Constitution of the country. I am delaying because I love this land. I am not acting in haste,” Kumar told the media. Best Of Express SC rules: Rebel Karnataka MLAs can’t be compelled to participate in trust vote Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach By Express Web Desk |Bengaluru | Updated: July 11, 2019 9:49:09 pm Advertising Advertising Express daily briefing: Kulbhushan Jadhav verdict out today; SC to rule on Karnataka MLAs’ plea; and more Bengaluru: Rebel MLA Byrathi Basavaraj arrives to meet the Speaker, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak)BJP MLA M P Renukacharya, however, alleged that the police were preventing them from entering the Vidhana Soudha. The police had already clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, restricting the gathering of more than five people and any form of protests within the two-km area around the Vidhana Soudha.CM Kumaraswamy chairs Cabinet MeetingDays after all Congress and JDS ministers resigned to make way for accommodating rebel MLAs, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy called a Cabinet meeting Thursday. The Cabinet resolved to face the unfolding political situation in the state “bravely” and “withstand” it unitedly. “Political developments were discussed, what was discussed and decided was that the government is in a crisis situation, there is no doubt about it, various reasons for it and steps to solve it was discussed,” Rural development minister Krishna Byre Gowda said. The government alleged that this is a “continuous assault” by the BJP using the central government. Bengaluru: Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar arrives at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak) (PTI7_11_2019_000167B)A session of the state assembly is set to begin on Friday and all the Congress and JDS MLAs have been issued whips to attend the session. The whip will be in force under the present circumstances, the Speaker clarified. Legislators who do not attend the assembly session will be liable to face disqualification under the anti-defection law. The BJP is expected to avoid seeking a vote of confidence on account of the Congress JDS retaining its numbers. 2 Comment(s)
Drones disrupt flights at Singapore airport for second time in a week SBI plans tapping Singapore SME businesses Related News Singapore must expect some fallout from global trade disruption, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters in Bangkok over the weekend. (REUTERS/File Photo)Last year, Singaporean chemicals factory boss Erman Tan took his employees on a cruise to the Malaysian island of Penang. This year, Tan says the best he can offer is to watch a video of the trip. Best Of Express “Many times you rely on yourself,” said Tan, chief executive of Asia Polyurethane Manufacturing, which is cutting costs as customers in China hold back orders.With revenues down 20 per cent last year, his employees can forget about sailing around tropical islands.“This year, we will watch the video like a virtual (experience). Let them put on goggles,” he quipped.To be sure, parts of the economy, such as construction and private consumption, have held up, supported by upward wage pressure from foreign worker restrictions and large long-term building projects. Indian-origin banker gets 13 years in jail for forgery, cheating in Singapore Advertising Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Advertising More Explained “We are not out of the woods yet,” said Sian Fenner, lead economist at Oxford Economics. “We haven’t seen the worst.” Taking stock of monsoon rain Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach By Reuters |Singapore | Published: June 26, 2019 10:43:12 am After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan But with exports equal to about 200 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product, a much larger weighting than those in neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, bumping up domestic consumption is unlikely to meaningfully boost growth.Singapore must expect some fallout from global trade disruption, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters in Bangkok over the weekend.“You cannot just step on the gas and speed up and make up for a less favourable external environment,” Lee said.The uncertainty is prompting businesses to cut costs as they prepare for a drawn-out battle between the world’s two biggest economies.“No one wants to invest now, because they want to see what happens in the trade war,” said John Kong, chief executive of building materials supplier M Metal, which employs 64 people. Kong has asked his workers to turn off air-conditioning units when they leave for lunch and to stop printing in colour.NOT OUT OF THE WOODSSingapore’s economic data has been grim lately.Electronics exports, a major driver of Singapore’s growth over the past two years, saw their biggest decline in more than a decade, hit by a global downturn in the semiconductor industry, data showed last week.Overall exports in May declined the most in more than three years as shipments to China slumped.In the labour market, the number of retrenchments rose 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 from a year ago, driven by cuts in the manufacturing sector, according to official data released this month.The Monetary Authority of Singapore closely tracks data and there is a growing chance it may ease its currency-focused monetary policy for the first time in nearly three years.Some say the central bank could even ease outside of its bi-annual meeting schedule as it did in January 2015 when it sought to counter deflationary pressures amid slowing growth.But a more accommodative stance won’t be enough to reinvigorate the economy, said CIMB Private Banking economist, Song Seng Wun, as a weaker Singapore dollar will not necessarily push up exports.“Singapore businesses won’t suddenly become so competitive that we are going to be selling a lot more of our goods and services,” he said.The finance ministry also has limited space to help given already-low tax rates, along with numerous incentives and cost offsets and an expansionary budget this year.“The awkwardness is that the economy isn’t really meant for huge additional infrastructure spending,” said Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING.“There’s a lot of expenditure that goes on continuously in Singapore.”Further stimulus could come in the form of tax cuts and more rebates but factory operators aren’t waiting for the government to come to their rescue.“You, as the manufacturer, have to find a way to boost sales,” said Sam Chee Wah, general manager at Feinmetall Singapore, whose products are used for testing semiconductor wafers, a component in microchips.Sam says he’s been bracing for a tech slowdown since last year – holding back hiring and major capital investments. He’s now considering offering discounts or delayed payment terms to customers.With US-China hostilities showing no signs of abating, Singapore will have to weather the storm for some time to come. Advertising Singapore’s economy is expected to grow at its slowest pace in a decade this year, and some experts are predicting a recession in 2020, as the US-China trade war looks set to hit the export-reliant city-state harder than others in Southeast Asia.This has prompted some economists to raise bets on the central bank easing monetary policy at its next meeting in October, or even out of cycle, especially if the US Federal Reserve were to cut interest rates next month.There is also speculation that the government could provide incentives to boost growth, but businesses like Tan’s don’t expect fiscal or monetary policy to be enough to arrest an economic decline that is mostly a result of a global slowdown. Post Comment(s)
Artificial DNA in a Jar DNA Synthesizers DNA synthesizers are machines used to custom-build DNA molecules to contain a particular sequence of nucleotides. DNA synthesizers can create specific DNA molecules for use in the treatment of a variety of diseases by replacing a faulty or damaged section of DNA with a repaired section.The devices accept digital representations of DNA in the FASTA file format over the Internet, and reconstruct them using chemicals represented by the four AT/CG nitrogenous nucleotide bases that make up DNA.Following are some examples of leading commercial DNA synthesizers: “This means you can buy in jars chemicals which are derived from sugar cane, and the chemical phosphoramidites in these four bottles end up being the four bases of DNA … A/T, C/G, T/A, G/C … in a form that can be readily assembled,” explained DrewEndy, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, in a 2008 Long New Foundation presentation titled “Creating Synthetic DNA.””So, you hook these bottles up to a machine, and into the machine comes information from a computer, a sequence of DNA … whatever you would like to build, and that machine will stitch the genetic materials together from scratch,” he continued. “It’s DNA synthesis … . You take information and the raw chemicals and you compile genetic material. It’s practically speaking the coolest, most impressive/scary technology I’ve encountered.”Artificial DNA synthesis involves building a man-made version of the nucleic acid strands that form genetic code.Currently, solid-phase synthesis is carried out automatically using computer-controlled instruments.A “gene of interest” fragment sequence FASTA file is downloaded to an automated synthesizer. The synthesizer computer’s onboard synthesis program applies this code to an actual phosphoramidite chemical mix of nucleobase pairs, the building blocks of DNA — adenine/thymine, cytosine/guanine — represented in the computer as the letters AT/CG.The desired AT/CG sequence is entered on a keyboard and the system’s microprocessor automatically opens the valves of the containers of successive AT/CG phosphoramidite nucleotide bases, reagents and solvents needed at each step, into a synthesizer column, which is packed with tiny microbeads (called a “resin”) made of controlled pore glass (CPG), polystyrene or silica. These beads provide support on which DNA molecules are assembled.The phosphoramidite building blocks are coupled sequentially to the beads that support the growing nucleotide chain in the order required by the sequence of the “gene of interest” and the intended downstream protein product (e.g., a vaccine, biologic). The chemical succinyl acts as a sequence-specific linker of phosphoramidite molecules to target beads.Upon the completion of the chain assembly process and after all steps are finished, the synthesized compound is cleaved chemically from the solid-phase beads, released to solution and deprotected, and the resulting strand of synthetic gene or genes is collected for purification.The method has been used to generate functional bacterial or yeast chromosomes containing approximately 1 million base pairs. (By comparison, the human genome is made up of 3 billion base pairs). Once purified, the gene is ready to make a protein. The journey from gene to protein is complex and tightly controlled within each cell.Isolation of a specific gene begins with scientists constructing a DNA library — a comprehensive collection of cloned DNA fragments from a particular cell, tissue or organism.The DNA containing the target gene(s) is split into fragments using restriction enzymes or the protein Cas9 (or CRISPR-associated), an enzyme that acts like a pair of “molecular scissors” capable of cutting strands of DNA.The target gene of interest in a segment of DNA is isolated and inserted into the purified DNA genome of a self-replicating genetic element — generally a virus or a bacterial plasmid. The gene of interest merges with the plasmid’s DNA to make a recombinant DNA molecule known as a plasmid “cloning expression vector.”Cloning vectors are plasmids used primarily to propagate DNA. An expression vector is a specialized type of cloning vector designed to allow transcription of the genetic information into messenger RNA (mRNA) and translation into a protein.Because bacteria divide rapidly, they can be used as “factories” to copy DNA fragments in large quantities. E. coli is used widely in laboratories as a host organism because it is easy to manipulate and inexpensive to grow. E. Coli is the most common prokaryotic (no membrane-bound nucleus) organism used in research. It is an excellent host for producing various proteins, and was one of the first organisms to have its genome sequenced, in 1997.Once the vector is inserted into an E. coli bacteria cell (transformation) for amplification, the rDNA molecule replicates inside the host E. coli bacteria cell while the host cell divides, forming a clone of cells called a “library.”DNA contains the instructions to assemble amino acids in a specific order. Each cell type only “turns on” (or expresses) the genes that have the code for the proteins it needs to use.Double-stranded DNA “breathes” (frays) in a rhythmic unwrapping and rewrapping, zippering and unzippering — a dynamic opening and closing of “bubbles” between the two strands that leads to the breaking apart of base pairs.The bubble opening between the two strands results in a transient single-stranded DNA region containing one or more bases, allowing proteins to gain their initial access to DNA through ribonucleic acid (RNA), a long, single-stranded chain of cells that process protein.There are four types of RNA, and each is encoded by its own type of gene: mRNA (messenger RNA) encodes amino acid sequence of a polypeptide; tRNA (transfer RNA) brings amino acids to ribosomes during translation; rRNA (ribosomal RNA), along with ribosomal proteins, makes up the ribosomes — the organelles that translate the mRNA; and snRNA (small nuclear RNA), along with proteins, forms complexes that are used in RNA processing.Gene DNA sequences instruct cells to produce particular proteins. RNA enzymes read the information in a DNA molecule and transcribe it into the intermediary messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) molecule.Transcription begins when an enzyme called “RNA polymerase” attaches to the newly opened DNA template strand and begins assembling a new chain of nucleotides to produce a complementary RNA strand.The Universal Genetic Code contained in DNA sequences enables a cell to translate the nucleotide “language” of DNA into the amino acid “language” of proteins made of long chains of amino acids joined end to end. Amino acids have many functions, but the most well known is that they are the building blocks for protein synthesis.The genes in RNA that code for proteins are composed of codons, a triplet of adjacent nucleotides (ATC/GAC, etc.) in the messenger RNA (mRNA) chain. Each codon codes for a single, specific amino acid in the synthesis of a protein molecule.Here’s where the gene of interest begins morphing into the protein of interest. When the DNA gene of interest segment is fully transcribed into RNA, one base of DNA corresponds to one base of RNA, now mRNA.This DNA-created mRNA molecule then carries DNA’s coded instructions for making a protein. The DNA information contained in the mRNA molecule has been translated into the “language” of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.Together, transcription and translation are known as “gene expression” or “protein synthesis,” all of which describe the same process that takes place in the cell cytoplasm — the cell substance between the cell nucleus and outer membrane.After building the template to construct a protein, the mRNA molecule brings the DNA message out of the cell nucleus into the cell cytoplasm to protein-manufacturing ribosomes. Ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA), the RNA component of the ribosome, is essential for protein synthesis.During translation, ribosomal subunits assemble together like a sandwich on the strand of mRNA newly arrived from the cell nucleus with its genetic code for creating a protein. The ribosomal subunits proceed to attract transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules tethered to amino acids.E. coli has amino acids within the cell, or can pull them into the cytoplasm from an outside environment like a nutrient mix. tRNA transfers amino acids from the cell cytoplasm to the ribosome.The complex ribosomal structures physically move along an mRNA molecule like a train on a track, catalyzing the assembly of amino acids into protein chains. They also bind tRNAs and various accessory molecules necessary for protein synthesis.A long chain of amino acids emerges as the ribosome decodes the mRNA sequence into a polypeptide chain, or a new protein.As the recombinant proteins are produced by the cloned genes, the E. coli host cells start accumulating. Surviving clones that carry the protein of interest form a colony, which is grown into a large culture.The next task is to collect and purify the specific product, i.e., the desired recombinant protein. The first step in the collection of recombinant DNA expressed in E. coli is the lysis (loosening, destruction) of the E. coli cell to release the protein of interest.In the cell lysis process, the bacteria’s cell membrane is ruptured, exposing the contents. Lipids from the cell membrane and the nucleus are broken down with detergents and surfactants. Extraction, separation and purification are the techniques used to concentrate the protein of interest macromolecule.The purification of the newly created target protein is a necessary step after its extraction from the E. coli bacterium and its separation from cell debris and other insoluble material, contaminants, the crude biological source, plasmid DNA, and other proteins and macromolecules. Purification is achieved either by enzymatic or chemical means.Most commercial proteins are developed in phosphate buffered saline solutions. Liquid formulations usually are preferred for injectable protein therapeutics (in terms of convenience for the end user and ease of preparation for the manufacturer).The most common liquid product containers are bottles, flasks, vials and trays. The liquid form is not always feasible, given the susceptibility of proteins to denaturation and aggregation under stresses such as heating, freezing, pH changes and agitation, all of which could result in the loss of biological activity.Lyophilization, also called “freeze-drying,” is one method of drying biological materials that minimizes damage to its internal structure. Lyophilization generally results in improved stability profiles.Lyophilized protein products can be shipped and stored in powder form in plastic and glass jars and bottles. At time of use, the original liquid formulation is reconstituted. The protein can be supplied in a two-chamber cartridge, with the lyophilized powder in the front chamber and a diluent in the rear chamber. A reconstitution device is used to mix the diluent and powder.Some proteins designed for oral consumption can be distributed as capsules consisting of powder or jelly enclosed in a dissolvable gelatin container. A tablet is a compressed powder in solid form. ‘DNA Printing’ in the Cloud, Part 3 Making a Protein – Proteomics in Action the GenPlus Next-Gen HT Gene Synthesis platform from GenScript Biotech Corp.; a semiconductor-based synthetic DNA manufacturing process featuring a high-throughput silicon platform from Twist Bioscience Corp.; the Invitrogen GeneArt GeneAssembler gene synthesis platform from Thermo Fisher Scientific; and the Gene Designer from ATUM (formerly DNA2). ‘DNA Printing’ in the Cloud, Part 1In DNA printing, genetic code becomes computer code. This transformation occurs when the chemical bases adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine present in a chemical mix or gene sequence are translated by computer through gel electrophoresis technology into their representative letters: A/T, T/A, C/G, G/C.This alphabet code was formalized in 1970 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for integration into a text-based bioinformatics format, called “FASTA,” in which nucleotides are represented symbolically using single letters.Also known as “artificial gene sequencing, synthesis and protein production,” DNA printing is a method in synthetic biology that is used to create artificial genes in the laboratory. What sets it apart from molecular cloning and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is that scientists can use DNA printing to make a completely synthetic double-stranded DNA molecule artificially, without the need for preexisting DNA sequences.The science behind DNA printing of rDNA and proteins is known as “phosphonamidite chemistry” and “solid-phase DNA synthesis.” Ned Madden is a California-based marketing professional and journalist who writes about technology and business-related topics. You can email him at nedmadden[at]cox[dot]net.
Barrett’s esophagus (BE) occurs when the normal epithelial lining of the esophagus is replaced by goblet cells that are typically found in the lower gastrointestinal tract.Patients with BE have an increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), a cancer that attacks 17,000 people in the United States each year – of which 16,000 will die from.Given this risk, it is recommended that patients with BE undergo periodic surveillance endoscopy to monitor for pre-cancerous changes to the esophageal lining.While non-dysplastic BE (NDBE), low- or high-grade dysplasia (LGD or HGD, respectively) can be diagnosed using standard biopsy criteria, morphologic changes that fell between NDBE and LGD were traditionally classified as indefinite for dysplasia and often grouped with NDBE due to the inability to distinguish dysplasia involving crypt cells (which are located below the epithelial cells) from esophagitis resulting from uncontrolled reflux.Due in part to the inability to accurately diagnose crypt dysplasia (CD), its clinical significance has not been well understood.The study results presented today are the first to show that WATS3D enables accurate diagnosis of CD as a distinct histology; they also show that CD is a risk factor for HGD and EAC and that progression rates from NDBE and LGD to HGD/EAC detected with WATS3D are similar to those obtained using traditional forceps biopsies. What has been under appreciated by clinicians is how incredibly effective the WATS3D computer-assisted analysis and neural network program is at helping pathologists detect dysplasia and, most notably, its earliest form, termed crypt dysplasia.The WATS 3D technology allows pathologists to ‘put into focus’ atypical lesions that would otherwise be considered indefinite.The results of this study prove, for the first time, that early dysplastic lesions are clearly important to detect because of their now established increased risk of neoplastic progression. Thus, computer-assisted pathologic detection of these lesions will undoubtedly improve patient care.”Dr. Robert D. Odze, Harvard Medical School 19 of the NDBE patients followed for 1.4 years experienced progression to HGD/EAC, for a rate of 0.33%/pt-yr. 10 of the NDBE patients followed for 1.25 years experienced progression to HGD/EAC, for a rate of 2.1%/pt-yr. 8 of the LGD patients experienced progression to HGD/EAC, for a rate of 7.7%/pt-yr. The overall rate of progression from WATS3D-determined CD to LGD/HGD/EAC was 9.9%/pt-yr, which is comparable to the rate of progression from biopsy-confirmed LGD. Results show that a finding of NDBE or LGD on WATS3D predicts progression to HGD/EAC at rates that are comparable to or higher than the reported risk of progression when these histologies are determined by biopsy. For patients with BE, CD or LGD at baseline, the trend for progression to HGD/EAC was statistically significant. Oct 9 2018CDx Diagnostics, an innovator in computer-synthesized, three dimensional tissue analysis for the early detection and surveillance of Barrett’s esophagus, today announced new data for WATS3D, or Wide Area Transepithelial Sampling with 3D Tissue Analysis, demonstrating the clinical significance of crypt dysplasia as an important risk factor for progression to high-grade esophageal dysplasia or esophageal cancer.Dr. Nicholas Shaheen, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is presenting the data today in a Presidential Plenary session at ACG 2018, the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, taking place October 5 -10 in Philadelphia. WATS Computer Synthesized En Face View of Crypt Dysplasia. Credit: CDx Diagnostics The clinical significance of dysplasia involving crypt cells has not been well understood due to limitations in detecting crypt dysplasia by conventional biopsies. The data reported today suggest that samples obtained and analyzed with WATS3D allow detection of this condition.Most importantly, the data also suggest that crypt dysplasia is something we should wish to detect, because it has a higher risk of progression to high-grade dysplasia or esophageal cancer compared to non-dysplastic Barrett’s. Together, the data suggest that WATS3D provides information that forceps biopsy cannot.”Dr. Nicholas Shaheen Source:https://www.cdxdiagnostics.com/ Detecting still harmless, but pre-cancerous dysplasia can prevent the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma, the most rapidly growing cancer in the U.S., and one of the most fatal.Accurately identifying which chronic heartburn patients who develop Barrett’s esophagus have also progressed to dysplasia can have an important impact on patient care. “These results highlight the clinical benefits that WATS3D provides with respect to accurate surveillance of esophageal changes in patients with BE,” said Mark Rutenberg, Founder and CEO of CDx Diagnostics.“We believe these data highlight how WATS3D provides physicians and patients with accurate and critical information that can inform the management of BE and help preempt esophageal cancer. The fact that WATS3D accurately differentiates CD from reflux esophagitis, which is not feasible with forceps biopsy analyses, adds to its already compelling value proposition and advances our ability to achieve our vision of preventing unnecessary cancer deaths.” The study reported at ACG 2018 followed 4,512 patients who had two WATS3D assessments six months apart. Patient-years (pt-yrs) were calculated by multiplying the mean period of follow-up by the number of patients with each type of histology.Of 4,512 patients, 4,049 with NDBE at baseline were followed for an average of 1.4 years between WATS3D assessments (5,736 pt-yrs) and 380 with NDBE at baseline were followed for an average of 1.25 years between assessments (475 pt-yrs). An additional 83 patients had LGD at baseline WATS3D and were followed for a mean of 1.25 years (103.7 pt-yrs). Key findings from the study include:
Source:https://www.empa.ch/web/s604/medication-you-can-wear Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 12 2018Drug-releasing textiles could, for instance, be used to treat skin wounds. Empa researchers are currently developing polymer fibers that can be equipped with drugs. The smart fibers recognize the need for therapy all by themselves and dose the active ingredients with precision and accuracy.For the ‘Self Care Materials’ project, fibers are produced from biodegradable polymers using various processes. “The targeted use of the fiber determines which manufacturing process is best”, explains Empa researcher and project coordinator René Rossi. Delicate, light membranes with a large surface are formed during so-called electrospinning. If robust fibers are required, e.g. for protective clothing, it is better to draw the melted ingredients. In the end, all processes produce novel fibers, the nano-architecture of which is made up of several layers and components. “The properties of these new materials are currently being investigated with test substances,” says Rossi. In the finished product, for example, antibiotics or painkillers are to be integrated into the fibers.In order to ensure that the dosage of the active substances is precisely as needed, the researchers have devised a tricky control mechanism: Some polymers are degradable by the body under certain conditions. This property can be used specifically. Rossi: “In response to a stimulus from the body, the fibers should release their drugs into the environment at a calculated degradation rate.” Such an irritation can be the altered pH value of a skin wound, which indicates that the tissue damage must be treated. As a so-called self-care material, the fibers in the form of a plaster or garment thus support the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchDynamic Light Scattering measurements in concentrated solutionsLoose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenation”The use of self-care fibers is conceivable for an enormous number of applications,” says Rossi. In addition to chemical signals from the body, however, stimuli can also be used that are deliberately set from the outside to control the release of medication by the fibers. Textiles or dressings that release a remedy under slight pressure or a stimulus of light can contribute to the quality of life of patients and at the same time relieve the burden on health care staff.The system can also be used for preventive measures. The idea behind it: Where active substances can be released, substances are also able to penetrate the fiber in the opposite direction. “Thus, the fibers can act as sensors and, for instance, measure the sugar level in the blood,» explains Rossi. In the case of premature babies, the sugar balance is particularly likely to be out of balance. With the help of such sensors, blood sugar can be monitored painlessly through the tender skin without the babies having to suffer from a prickly blood sample.For the CCMX project, the team of Empa and EPFL scientists is conducting joint research into the further development of smart medical fibers until 2020. 20 companies have so far been won as industrial partners, including Syngenta and – as the latest addition – Nanosurf from Liestal. The industry association Swiss Textiles and the research initiative of the Swiss textile manufacturers Subitex are also involved in the project.
Source:http://news.rice.edu/2018/10/23/digital-device-overload-linked-to-how-first-impressions-are-formed-2/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 25 2018Beware, media multitaskers: New research from Rice University researchers has found a link between spending too much time on digital devices and how first impression are formed.The study, “Media multitasking is associated with altered processing of incidental, irrelevant cues during person perception,” will appear in an upcoming edition of BMC Psychology. It examines the relationship between people who use multiple digital devices at once (known as media multitaskers) and how they perceive people they have never previously met.”As a result of smartphones, tablets and other devices being embedded in our lives, our attention is in high demand as we switch between multiple devices,” said Richard Lopez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice and the study’s lead author. “Because this form of activity is new to us, its impact on how we perceive and interact with the world and those around us is not well known. This is why we were prompted to explore this topic and conduct this study.”Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustryIndeed, the researchers found a correlation between the use of digital devices and the quality of first impressions. People who reported frequent media multitasking were more likely to be distracted by irrelevant information when making first impressions about someone they had never met, compared with those who did not engage in frequent media multitasking.The researchers compared how 96 college students filtered out unimportant information from their physical environments while evaluating a new person. They collected self-reported information on the level of media multitasking for each student. The students were then placed in either an organized or untidy room to see how the different atmospheres might influence their opinions. Finally, the students were asked to rate the conscientiousness of somebody they were seeing for the first time on a video monitor.The study revealed that frequent media multitaskers sitting in neat rooms were more likely to have higher opinions of people they just encountered — rating the person shown in the video as 16 percent more conscientious -than students sitting in the same room who were not frequent media multitaskers.”Our results suggest that media multitasking may be linked to altered person perception in surprising and unintentional ways, with media multitaskers unknowingly taking in otherwise irrelevant information from their surroundings when they observe and make judgments about other people,” he said.Lopez said that this study is a first step in finding links between media multitasking and how individuals perceive other people, and that he hopes future research will explore this topic, particularly among kids and teens.
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 13 2018Healthcare professionals nationwide are gathering this week to discuss how to improve programs to better control antibiotic use in healthcare facilities. The Antimicrobial Stewardship Research Workshop, hosted by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), will prepare healthcare professionals to design, deploy, and evaluate antibiotic stewardship interventions to combat the emergence of deadly drug-resistant bacteria.”Antimicrobial stewardship programs are some of the best defenses we have to combat antibiotic resistance,” said Jeffrey Gerber, MD, PhD, MSCE, the workshop co-chair, “But there are still many gaps in our knowledge, particularly in how best to implement these programs effectively across healthcare settings. Making research a priority is key to ensuring we have the most effective programs available in all healthcare settings for future generations.”The emergence of antibiotic resistance has become a major burden on hospitals worldwide. Each year, antibiotic-resistant infections alone are estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $20 billion. Moreover, at least two million patients contract antibiotic-resistant infections every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at least 23,000 of them die.Antimicrobial stewardship interventions help ensure patients get the right antibiotics at the right time for the right duration. These strategies prevent patients from being overexposed to antibiotics, thereby cutting down on the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms, reducing healthcare costs, and shortening the duration of hospital stays. The workshop, which attracts an interdisciplinary audience including physicians, pharmacists, and trainees, raises and reinforces the investigative standards for designing, implementing, disseminating, and assessing programs using sound research methods.Related StoriesPlant foods may transmit antibiotic-resistant superbugs to humansSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapy”This convening brings together professionals from across healthcare settings to help evolve our understanding and discover practical applications for improving these lifesaving programs,” said Elizabeth Dodds-Ashley, PharmD, MHS, co-chair of the workshop, “Together, we hope to inspire collaboration, partnership and, most importantly, strong research.”The third annual Antimicrobial Stewardship Research Workshop is being held November 14-15, 2018, in Baltimore, MD. SHEA is hosting the event in collaboration with the Infectious Disease Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, and the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists. The meeting is supported by an unrestricted grant from Merck & Co.”Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health threats we are facing and it’s important to Merck that we be a part of the solution,” said Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, Merck’s executive vice president and chief patient officer. “That’s why we are proud to help fund workshops like this that educate and prepare future stewards of this important work to make antibiotic stewardship programs more effective in keeping patients safe.” Source:http://shea-online.org/
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 19 2018Controlled ingestion of peanut protein could help build tolerance in peanut allergy sufferers. Authors of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine say an oral immunotherapy drug they tested could be the first FDA-approved medication of its kind for people with peanut allergy. The medication, called AR101, is derived from peanut protein.”The results of this landmark trial are likely to lead to the first FDA-approved treatment for food allergy in 2019,” said Christina Ciaccio, MD, MSc, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at UChicago Medicine and study co-author. “At UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, we were thrilled to be part of this pivotal trial and for the opportunity to change the lives of these children and their families.”Related StoriesDry cracked skin of eczema patients promotes ‘atopic march’First treatment approved by FDA for chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polypsComprehensive gene activity database could significantly reduce animal useResearchers in 10 countries across North America and Europe conducted the trial, known as the Peanut Allergy Oral Immunotherapy Study of AR101 for Desensitization trial, or PALISADE, for short. Of 496 eligible participants ages 4 to 17, 372 received the AR101 oral medication, while the remainder received a placebo drug. At the end of the trial, more than two-thirds of the group taking the active drug were able to tolerate a dose of peanut protein equivalent to about two peanut kernels.”Almost 6 million American children are currently living with a life-threatening food allergy,” said Ciaccio. “Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room, contributing to the total annual cost of caring for children with food allergy of nearly $25 billion. Despite this, not a single treatment for food allergy has been approved by the FDA.”According to the study, oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy has been recommended against in most clinical settings because past trials have been limited by small sample sizes and differing methodologies. The PALISADE trial has shown, however, that oral immunotherapy is a reasonable treatment option. Participants of the PALISADE trial were instructed to continue the standard of care for peanut allergy, which meant eliminating peanuts from their diets and carrying self-injectable epinephrine (an emergency medical treatment for accidental exposure).Qualifying participants started with a one-day supervised increase in dosage from 0.5 mg of peanut protein up to 6 mg, an increase every two weeks from 3 mg to 240 mg and a 24-week “maintenance phase” at 300 mg. When adverse reactions occurred, the study protocol allowed for adjustments to the dosing schedule. Compared to the placebo group, participants who took AR101 had less severe allergy symptoms.”Before this treatment, families having been living with constant anxiety that one wrong bite will send their loved one to the emergency room, or worse. Now, we have a safety net that we can provide to kids that will prevent an allergic reaction if they accidentally take a bite of a peanut-containing food.” Source:https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/pediatrics-articles/2018/november/researchers-find-promise-in-new-treatment-for-peanut-allergy
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 6 2018The spread of invasive cancer cells from a tumor’s original site to distant parts of the body is known as metastasis. It is the leading cause of death in people with cancer. In a paper published online in iScience, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers reported engineering sensors that can detect and measure the metastatic potential of single cancer cells.”Cancer would not be so devastating if it did not metastasize,” said Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, director of the Center for Network Medicine and senior study author.”Although there are many ways to detect metastasis once it has occurred, there has been nothing available to ‘see’ or ‘measure’ the potential of a tumor cell to metastasize in the future. So at the Center for Network Medicine, we tackled this challenge by engineering biosensors designed to monitor not one, not two, but multiple signaling programs that drive tumor metastasis; upon sensing those signals a fluorescent signal would be turned on only when tumor cells acquired high potential to metastasize, and therefore turn deadly.”Cancer cells alter normal cell communications by hijacking one of many signaling pathways to permit metastasis to occur. As the tumor cells adapt to the environment or cancer treatment, predicting which pathway will be used becomes difficult. By comparing proteins and protein modifications in normal versus all cancer tissues, Ghosh and colleagues identified a particular protein and its unique modification called tyrosine-phosphorylated CCDC88A (GIV/Girdin) that are only present in solid tumor cells. Comparative analyses indicated that this modification could represent a point of convergence of multiple signaling pathways commonly hijacked by tumor cells during metastasis.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyResearchers identify potential drug target for multiple cancer typesHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsThe team used novel engineered biosensors and sophisticated microscopes to monitor the modification on GIV and found that, indeed, fluorescent signals reflected a tumor cell’s metastatic tendency. They were then able to measure the metastatic potential of single cancer cells and account for the unknowns of an evolving tumor biology through this activity. The result was the development of Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) biosensors.Although highly aggressive and adaptive, very few cancer cells metastasize and that metastatic potential comes and goes, said Ghosh. If metastasis can be predicted, this data could be used to personalize treatment to individual patients. For example, patients whose cancer is not predicted to metastasize or whose disease could be excised surgically might be spared from highly toxic therapies, said Ghosh. Patients whose cancer is predicted to spread aggressively might be treated with precision medicine to target the metastatic cells.”It’s like looking at a Magic 8 Ball, but with a proper yardstick to measure the immeasurable and predict outcomes,” said Ghosh. “We have the potential not only to obtain information on single cell level, but also to see the plasticity of the process occurring in a single cell. This kind of imaging can be used when we are delivering treatment to see how individual cells are responding.”The sensors need further refinement, wrote the authors, but have the potential to be a transformative advance for cancer cell biology.Source: https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/uc_san_diego_researchers_develop_sensors_to_detect_and_measure_cancers_ability_to_spread
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 17 2019An observational study conducted in a French hospital showed that human contact was responsible for 90 percent of the spread of one species of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to new patients, but less than 60 percent of the spread of a different species. These findings suggest hand hygiene is a key, but more methods are needed to fight multidrug-resistant infection. Audrey Duval of the Versailles Saint Quentin University and the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, and colleagues present these results in PLOS Computational Biology.People treated in hospitals and other health care settings are increasingly at risk of infection with multidrug-resistant bacteria. Many of these microbes produce enzymes called extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs), which make them resistant to antibiotics. Understanding how ESBL bacteria spread from person to person is key to developing effective prevention strategies.Related StoriesStudy finds slime and biofilm hidden in hospital sinks, faucetsStudy analyzes high capacity of A. baumannii to persist on various surfacesStudy looks at impact of hospital readmissions penalties on targeted surgical conditionsIn the new study, Duval and colleagues distributed wearable sensors to hundreds of patients and health care workers in a French hospital. Equipped with RFID tags, the sensors allowed the researchers to track patterns of human contact between patients over an eight-week period. Meanwhile, they systematically screened patients for ESBL-producing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia.The scientists found that 90 percent of the spread of ESBL K. pneumonia to new patients could be explained by direct or indirect contact with patients who had the same bacteria within the previous eight weeks; this figure was less than 60 percent for ESBL E. Coli. The findings suggest that contact-prevention strategies–primarily hand hygiene–can be very efficient in limiting transmission of ESBL K. pneumonia. However, additional measures, such as environmental decontamination or using antibiotics more appropriately, may be necessary to prevent spread of ESBL E. Coli.The researchers suggest that the same kind of wearable-sensor analysis could be extended to other multidrug-resistant species. Investigation of more detailed genomic data could further illuminate how ESBL-producing bacteria spread. By combining digital epidemiology and rapid microbiological diagnostic tools, we may be entering a new era to understand and control the risk of hospital-acquired infection with multidrug-resistant bacteria.”Audrey Duval of the Versailles Saint Quentin University and the Institut Pasteur in Paris Source:Institut PasteurJournal reference:Duval, A. et al. (2019) Close proximity interactions support transmission of ESBL-K. pneumoniae but not ESBL-E. coli in healthcare settings. PLOS Computational Biology. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006496.
Young gamer playing video games. Image Credit: Sezer66 / Shutterstock The results of this study titled, “Can Videogames Be Used to Promote Emotional Intelligence in Teenagers? Results from EmotivaMente, a School Program”, were published in the latest issue of the Games for Health Journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers.Study authors Claudia Carissoli and Daniela Villani, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan, Italy) developed their emotional intelligence (EI) training program using experience-based learning methods including integrated video games. The teenagers they recruited in their study participated in eight such sessions. Before start of the program, each of them underwent an evaluation for emotional competency. At the end of the training and three months after the training ended, their emotional capabilities and EI were tested again.The team defines EI as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the emotional information to guide one’s thinking and actions,” and adds that it can be “learned and taught”. The authors of the study write that not being able to cope with emotions could lead to, “maladaptive coping strategies such as substance abuse, eating disorders, rumination, avoidance, passive attitudes dealing with emotional situations, or lower emotional self-efficacy.” These skills need to be promoted, they add, for “future well-being”. The team explains that teenagers who have a good level of EI are “internalizing and externalizing at risk behavior, such as mood disorders, impulsivity, anxiety, depression, addictions, and aggression.” They also add that video games could help provide stress relief after “relational or school problems” and may “satisfy intrinsic needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which are in turn associated with emotional regulation, fun, and well-being”. Video games on the other hand are also associated with “frustration, anxiety, sadness, and fear,” they warn.According to Tom Baranowski, Editor-in-Chief of Games for Health Journal, from USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center, and Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, emotional intelligence is a new health issue and could be implicated in several health problems and lack of such emotional intelligence could mean inability to cope with stress. He added, “Carissoli and Villani created a videogame, EmotivaMente, to enhance emotional intelligence among adolescents, perhaps the group that could benefit most. Their preliminary evaluation indicated that playing the game enhanced the students’ evaluation and expression of emotions. This is an important first step in designing a game to learn to manage emotions. While the impact was limited, further enhancements to the game may have substantial additional effects. Stay tuned!”Related StoriesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeTransobturator sling surgery shows promise for stress urinary incontinenceRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationThe team included 121 teenagers in their study of which 15.7 percent were boys and the average age of the participants was around 14 years. Each of the eight sessions with EmotivaMente was for around 1.5 hours each. The kids were recruited from two Italian senior high schools.The team used videogames such as “Slenderman, Flappy Bird, Tap the Frog and Antsmasher.” These helped the participants “recognize their emotional reactions to different experiences, develop awareness about the physiological component of emotions, and recognize interindividual differences,” they explained. Some of the games, “Flow or Yellow” on the other hand, “allowed students to experience different emotion regulation strategies, immediately applicable in their day-to-day lives.” Games like “The End of the World” helped promote empathy because it was about a man who had lost his girlfriend, the authors explain. There was “collaborative play” the team writes. Several questions were put to assess the EI. One of the questionnaires used was the “Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ)”.Results revealed that there was a significant improvement in the EI among the students who underwent the training. The study group exposed to the video game were able to express their emotions better and had better control over their emotions compared to those who were controls and were not exposed to the game. In the study 57 and 51 teenagers were finally analyzed as the intervention group and control group respectively. The improvement was not seen three months after the training though. This meant that the benefits of the intervention did not persist, write the researchers.The authors write, “In summary, EmotivaMente has shown a partial efficacy in promoting changes in EI.” The team agrees that most of their participants were girls and more studies are needed in both genders to assess the efficacy of the intervention. Nevertheless, they concluded, “EmotivaMente helped adolescents to improve emotional skills. Results confirmed that videogames can be useful to promote EI in adolescents at school, if integrated with a guided and assisted framework.” Journal reference:Carissoli Claudia, Villani Daniela, Can Videogames Be Used to Promote Emotional Intelligence in Teenagers? Results from EmotivaMente, a School Program, Games for Health Journal, DOI: 10.1089/g4h.2018.0148, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/g4h.2018.0148 By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJul 15 2019Video games have been blamed for emotional damage and numerous behavioural problems in children and teenagers. A new study turned it all around by using video games for an emotional intelligence training program and found that exposure to these games could help these adolescents express and manage their emotions better after the training.
Lionel Messi, the world’s top earning footballer, won a legal battle Thursday to register his name as a trademark to sell sports goods after an EU court ruled that he is too famous to be confused with other businesses. The Barcelona and Argentina attacker rode out a seven-year challenge by a Spanish cycling gear manufacturer called Massi, which protested that his trademark was too similar to its own.”Lionel Messi may register his trade mark ‘MESSI’ for sports equipment and clothing,” said a ruling by the General Court of the European Union, the bloc’s second-highest court.”The football player’s fame counteracts the visual and phonetic similarities between his trade mark and the trade mark ‘MASSI’ belonging to a Spanish company,” the Luxembourg-based court said.The ruling comes days after it emerged that Messi has overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest earner in world football, according to France Football magazine.The Barcelona attacker is making 126 million euros ($154mn) in salary, bonuses and commercial revenue for the current season while his great Real Madrid rival is making 94mn euros.Messi first tried in 2011 to trademark his own name with the EU’s intellectual property office for use on “sports and gymnastics clothing, equipment and protective equipment and instruments”.The boss of the Massi cycling goods company filed an appeal the same year, saying there was a “likelihood of confusion” with its own trademark.The trademark office agreed, and dismissed an appeal by the five-time world footballer of the year in 2014.’Public figure’But while judges admitted that the trademarks “are very similar phonetically”, they said the IPO was wrong to assume that Messi was only known by people who were interested in football or sport.”Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio,” the court said.”It seems unlikely that an average consumer of those goods will not directly associate, in the vast majority of cases, the term ‘Messi’ with the name of the famous football player.”It is not the first time that Messi’s business interests have ended up in court.In 2016 a Spanish court sentenced him to 21 months in jail and fined him more than two million euros for tax evasion, although the prison sentence was later commuted to another fine.He was found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying 4.1 million euros in taxes on income he earned from his image rights.While Messi’s finances go from strength to strength, despite the Spanish case, he is at risk of missing out on a sixth Ballon d’Or this year.He has locked down the footballing award in duopoly with Ronaldo for a decade, but Egypt’s Liverpool star Mohamed Salah threatens to break their stranglehold after a stunning year.But Messi’s fame keeps soaring—he has been unveiled as the subject of a painting modelled on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel on the ceiling of a football club in Buenos Aires.In it he features as Adam being touched by the “Hand of God”—belonging to Argentina football legend Diego Maradona. A court rules that Lionel Messi is too famous to be confused with a company with a similar name Are the world’s highest paid football players overpaid? Big data says yes © 2018 AFP Explore further Citation: Gooooal! Messi scores in EU court battle to trademark name (Update) (2018, April 26) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-messi-scores-eu-court-trademark.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
After determining the humic and fulvic acid content in peat and conducting the XRD analysis of elements and minerals, the possible test mixtures were modeled and small test pieces printed. On the photo, Toomas Tenno is showing these test pieces. Credit: Merilyn Merisalu Scientists from the University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences have created a construction material consisting primarily of peat and oil shale ash that could reduce the construction costs of a private house nearly tenfold. The aim was to create a self-supporting construction material based on local natural resources and waste that could be used to 3-D print houses up to two-storeys high directly at the construction site. Citation: Printing a house from a novel peat material (2018, July 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-house-peat-material.html Biocomposites containing peat fibre for making new kinds of biodegradable products This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Estonian Research Council Wetlands cover about 22 percent of Estonia’s area, but the peat growing there is not widely used. Only the drier top part of the peat layer has been deemed usable. The unused part is left to decay. This peat could also be used in an economically beneficial way. Many fractions can be separated from peat, for example humic substances and waxes, and the final residue can even be used for producing cellulose.The most popular method for mining peat is milling. During milling, 10 to 20-mm layers are cut loose from the peat deposit and left to dry. For this method to pay off, most milling fields are larger than 100 hectares.Raising the value of waste”So far, no one has produced peat composite as a construction material because peat prevents many materials from hardening. In our project, we managed to overcome this issue,” said Liiv. Instead of the usual cement, scientists from Tartu use oil shale ash as the binder in their mix. In Estonia, it is estimated that about 7 million tonnes of oil shale ash are created in a year, only 5 percent of which is reused. The rest is deposited in ash hills and this creates considerable environmental pollution.Oil shale ash is classified as a hazardous waste because it becomes very basic when in contact with water (pH almost 13). However, ash with such a pH is the best fit for construction materials. The developed material is completely harmless and safe for the environment.Furthermore, during testing, the scientists found a solution for reducing the setting time from about 30 days to one day. If the pH of a pore solution is below nine, it won’t harden. This issue is solved by a very high pH by binding the potassium oxide and alkali metals found in oil shale ash to insoluble compounds.Inside the peat, oil shale ash reacts with humic acids and absorbs carbon dioxide. Due to chemical reactions, the binder becomes regular concrete and limestone. According to Toomas Tenno, a professor at the University of Tartu’s chair of colloidal and environmental chemistry, nanosized additives, e.g. nanosilica or silicon smoke, are added to peat and oil shale ash to improve their properties.”As the particles are very small, they dissolve well and distribute throughout the material evenly. Silicon smoke improves the quality of this material significantly,” said Tenno.It took about a year before the right mixture was found for the material that is strong and has high thermal conductivity. After final hardening, the material is strong and very light, has low heat transfer and is durable. Even though peat is also used as fuel, the material developed by scientists is incombustible. The peat material achieves its initial hardness in 24 hours but remains elastic for a considerably longer time. Thus, there is no need for insulation or fillers and the entire structure becomes airtight without adding any wind protection. Furthermore, it is a good noise blocker.As peat and oil shale ash are not very expensive, builders would be especially happy about the price of the material. According to Liiv, scientists calculated that the cost for the construction of a house shell printed from this material with a floor surface of 100-150 square meters could be about €5,000 (compared to the construction of the shell of a framed building of equivalent size, which would cost about ten times more).By now, the research as well as many tests have been completed. Issues with materials technology have been resolved successfully. Peat material is ready for manufacture as elements, but a lot of work still needs to be done for 3-D printing. Explore further
In this file photo dated Friday May 19, 2017, watched by the media WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy prior to speaking, in London. Newly released Ecuadorean government documents made public late Tuesday Oct. 16, 2018, by Ecuadorean opposition lawmaker Paola Vintimilla, have laid bare an unorthodox attempt to extricate the WikiLeaks founder from his embassy hideaway in London by naming him as a political counselor to the country’s embassy in Moscow. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE) Julian Assange: Hacker. Journalist. Diplomat? Newly released Ecuadorean government documents have laid bare an unorthodox attempt to extricate the WikiLeaks founder from his embassy hideaway in London by naming him as a political counselor to the country’s embassy in Moscow. In this file photo dated Friday May 19, 2017, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Newly released Ecuadorean government documents made public late Tuesday Oct. 16, 2018, by Ecuadorean opposition lawmaker Paola Vintimilla, have laid bare an unorthodox attempt to extricate Assange from his embassy hideaway in London by naming him as a political counselor to the country’s embassy in Moscow. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE) Citation: Newly published files confirm plan to move Assange to Russia (2018, October 17) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-newly-published-assange-russia.html But the 47-year-old Australian’s new career in international affairs was nipped in the bud when British authorities vetoed his diplomatic status, effectively blocking him from taking up the post in Russia.The files were made public late Tuesday by Ecuadorean opposition lawmaker Paola Vintimilla, who opposes her government’s decision to grant Assange nationality. They largely corroborate a recent Guardian newspaper report that Ecuador attempted the elaborate maneuver to get Assange to Moscow just before Christmas last year.Russian diplomats called the Guardian’s story “fake news,” but the government files show Assange briefly was made “political counselor” to the Ecuadorean Embassy in Moscow and eligible for a monthly salary pegged at $2,000.Ecuador also applied for a diplomatic ID card, the documents show, but the plan appears to have fallen apart with the British veto.A letter dated December 21, 2017 from Britain’s Foreign Office said U.K. officials “do not consider Mr. Julian Assange to be an acceptable member of the mission.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. WikiLeaks names one-time spokesman as editor-in-chief Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. An eight-page memo to Vintimilla summing up the episode noted that Assange’s position as counselor was scrapped a few days later.WikiLeaks did not return messages. The British Foreign Office and the Russian Embassy in London declined to comment.Assange’s relationship with Russian authorities has been the subject of intense scrutiny following the 2016 U.S. election, when Russian spies are alleged to have handed WikiLeaks leaked emails from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign in a bid to help elect her rival, Donald Trump.Assange has denied receiving the files from the Russian government or backing the Trump campaign, despite a growing body of evidence suggesting he received material directly from Russia’s military intelligence agency and coordinated media strategy with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.Last month, the AP published internal WikiLeaks files showing Assange tried to move to Russia as early as 2010.The AP’s WikiLeaks files: www.documentcloud.org/search/p … ctid:40593-WikiLeaks
Explore further Raging ‘Fortnite’ eSport game gets $100 mn prize pool This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Heck, when you were 15, you’d have probably preferred surviving “Battle Royale” than geometry, too. But the issue is serious for parents and educators. “This is something that we have to deal with. This isn’t a small story; this is a big story,” says Jon Cohen, director of research at SurveyMonkey, commenting on the classroom revelation.There’s good news, tooFortunately, there are glass half-full results in the survey, too: Half of the teens revealed that “Fortnite” helps them keep up with friends, and half say it helps with teamwork. Another 44 percent say they’ve made a friend online while playing, and 39 percent say they’ve bonded with a sibling.Yes, teen girls (47 percent) play as well, though not as often as their brothers (75 percent). And about 22 percent of boys play at least once a day, compared to 9 percent of girls.As popular as “Fortnite” is, 61 percent of the teens overall say they’ve played, but the percentage is lower compared to the teens who say they use Snapchat (73 percent) and Instagram (74 percent), albeit in a prior survey.Still, Cohen calls the number of kids playing “Fortnite” “staggering” and a phenomenon given the game’s recent emergence.Adds Steyer: “This is the arms race for kids’ attention, and whether it’s ‘Fortnite’ or Instagram, the tech industry is winning.”But is this really all that different from generations past with eyes glued to TV screens instead of handheld, portable screens? Actually, Steyer says, yeah.”The scientific studies about the impact on brain development, etc., between video games or online and social media versus you sitting there and watching ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ is a totally different experience,” Steyer says. “And, by the way, most people didn’t spend eight hours in a row just watching ‘Gilligan’s Island’ or ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ “Establish limitsSo how can parents divert Junior’s attention away from “Fortnite”? One tip is to play the game yourself, something 1 in 5 dads has already done compared to 18 percent of moms. You might end up having a nice bonding experience with your kid while discovering the tricks of the game and just what it is you are up against.Whether you play or not, set clear limits, which might vary depending on how your kid plays. “Fortnite” has a “playground mode” that allows players to “respawn” or come back to life; in that mode, set limits by time. The length will vary by family, of course, but something reasonable would be a half-hour to 90 minutes a day, with the higher limit reserved, say, for the weekend.Meanwhile, if your kids are engaged in a “Battle Royale,” you might also limit gameplay by the number of “rounds.”Either way, tell your kids they can’t play after a certain hour of day and don’t let them take a device to bed. In fact, some parents might choose to let their kid play only in a common space of the house.”It requires active parenting. You just cannot sit there on the couch and ignore this,” Steyer says. “And, by the way, if they don’t follow the rules, take ‘Fortnite’ (or the phone) away … for two weeks … It’s torture, but too bad. And they do get the message.”Other options for parents: If you’re worried about your kid talking to strangers, don’t give them the headset they would use for that purpose.Common Sense also directs parents to settings within “Fortnite” to limit conversations to people whose handles the kids know. You can also turn off voice chat. And if all else fails, impose the parental controls that are on the phone or computer the kid uses to play or that may be part of your Wi-Fi router.It remains to be seen whether “Fortnite” can sustain its popularity long term, but even if it fades, expect something else to capture your kid’s fancy.”There will be something after ‘Fortnite,’ ” Steyer says. “This is the story of kids’ lives today and our lives, and we have to come to terms with that.” ___ If getting the kids and teens in your home to disconnect from “Fortnite” feels like a battle royal, take just a little bit of comfort. Parents, you are not alone. (c)2018 USA TodayDistributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Citation: ‘Fortnite’ survey shows kids are playing in class. So what can parents do? (2018, December 7) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-fortnite-survey-kids-class-parents.html Not that that’s going to completely relieve your stress over the widely popular third-person shooter game, played by over 200 million mostly obsessed people, your kids very likely among them. The game can be played solo or in teams or squads as part of a multiplayer match known as “Battle Royale.”Kids play “Fortnite” in class when they should be paying attention to their teachers. They play on phones, tablets, PCs, Macs and on video game consoles hooked up to wall-size TVs.What’s more, when they play, they may be chatting up strangers, exposed to (cartoonish) violence and taking in inappropriate language. And, oh yeah, they’re playing at the expense of doing their homework or engaging in physical activities.While free to play, the kids are also spending gobs of money. Publisher Epic Games has made at least $1.2 billion on the sale of V-Bucks, the in-game currency used to purchase dances (which are called “emotes”), skins and custom outfits for your in-game alter-ego.”There is no question that ‘Fortnite’ is the biggest pain point in terms of media and tech for kids today, and certainly their parents,” says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy group for kids and families. “In the big picture, media and tech are designed to be addictive, period. This is emblematic of the fact that kids and teens are living their life on devices and online.”To get a better handle on the cultural phenomenon that “Fortnite” has become, and its impact, Common Sense teamed up with SurveyMonkey and in October polled a national sample of 19,063 adults—including 2,111 parents with children between 8 and 17 years old—and 1,348 teenagers ages 13 to 17.Among the high-level results of the Common Sense study, which have been released exclusively to USA TODAY and timed with the launch of “Fortnite” Season 7, about 1 in 5 parents find it at least moderately difficult to get kids off the game, and about a quarter say they’re concerned about how much time their kid is playing.Meantime—and this has especially got to be a bummer for you moms and dads to hear—27 percent of teens admitted that they were playing “Fortnite” in the classroom.
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. France has been driving hard for a new so-called “GAFA tax”—named after Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon—to ensure the global giants pay a fair share of taxes on their massive business operations in Europe France has been driving hard for a new so-called “GAFA tax”—named after Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon—to ensure the global giants pay a fair share of taxes on their massive business operations in Europe.”The tax will be introduced no matter what on January 1 and it will be for the whole of 2019, for an amount that we estimate at 500 million euros ($570 million),” Le Maire told a press conference in Paris. In addition to taxing direct sales, France will also require the companies to pay a levy on “advertising revenues, websites and the resale of private data,” he said, after a meeting with Russia’s economic development minister Maxim Oreshkin.Under EU law, American technology titans like Google and Facebook can choose to report their income in any member state, prompting them to pick low-tax nations like Ireland, the Netherlands or Luxembourg.Such firms, on average, pay a nine percent levy, compared to 23 percent for other businesses, according to Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner.The low tax rates have caused anger among voters in many European countries, but the 28-member bloc is divided on how to tackle the issue.Ireland, which hosts the European headquarters of several US tech giants, leads a small group of otherwise mostly Nordic countries that argue a new tax could lead to reprisals against European companies and stoke anger in the US.But Paris argues the measure would be a vote-winning accomplishment for mainstream EU politicians before the European Parliament elections next May, in which anti-Brussels populists could do well.Any tax changes must be approved unanimously by member states.’Fully determined’France and Germany had agreed this month to introduce a scaled-back measure that would come into effect in 2021.It would set a three percent levy on advertising sales only, and would come into effect only if a broader deal is not reached.The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups open-market democracies, is trying to forge a global solution to ensure internet groups are taxed in the countries where they do business.Le Maire said he was still hopeful an EU-wide agreement could be reached by March.It would target companies with worldwide annual turnover above 750 million euros, mainly US giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Airbnb and Uber.”We are fully determined to win a unanimous European decision,” he said, adding that Paris and Berlin would work together to convince those in Europe still opposed to the tax.Policymakers across the world have struggled over how to tax the US-based giants who dominate their sectors internationally, but who often route their revenues and profits via low-tax jurisdictions to reduce their liabilities.EU member states such as Britain, Spain and Italy are also working on national versions of a digital tax, while Japan, Singapore and India are planning their own schemes.The head of Google France, Sebastien Missoffe, said this month his firm was ready to pay a new tax, but pointed to the difficulty of assessing how much any one country might receive from worldwide advertising.”The issue isn’t one of knowing how much Google will pay, but where Google will pay,” he said.France’s move to introduce a tax applicable from January 1 comes as the government is seeking revenue to pay for a series of financial relief measures to ease the “yellow vest” protests which have roiled the country for the past month.The package will cost around 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion) and push the deficit well above the EU-mandated three percent of GDP unless new cost savings and revenue are found. Explore further France races to save EU digital tax proposal France will push ahead with its own tax on large internet and technology companies from January 1, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday, as the European Union struggles to finalise a new EU-wide levy. © 2018 AFP Citation: France to push ahead with digital tax starting January 1 (2018, December 17) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-france-digital-tax-january.html