Soon 14 new products protected by marks of excellence and geographical origin at EU level

first_imgExtra virgin olive oil Cres, Krk ham, Neretva mandarin, Ogulin sauerkraut / Ogulin sauerkraut, Baranja kulen, Lika potatoes, Istrian prosciutto / Istrian prosciutto are listed in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications at the EU level. Dalmatian prosciutto, Poljički soparnik / Poljički zeljanik / Poljički uljenjak, Zagorje turkey, Krrčko olive oil, Korčula olive oil and Pag lambSoon, 14 new products will be on the list of pride, as well as Krk cheese with which the island of Krk with three protected products would be the leader of protected marks of excellence and geographical origin in Croatia.Namely, the Minister of Agriculture prof. dr. sc. At the beginning of September, Davor Romić signed agreements with representatives of producer associations on co-financing the development of a specification for an agricultural or food product for the protection of a designation of origin, geographical indication or guaranteed traditional specialty. The aid includes the allocation of earmarked grants to co-finance the costs of developing product specifications, laboratory tests required to develop product specifications and market surveys, and the amount of aid granted per beneficiary is a maximum of HRK 75,000 (including VAT).Out of the 18 applications received for the Tender for the award of grants under the Program, the Ministry of Agriculture accepted 14 applications in the total amount of co-financing of HRK 726.344,49. Funds have been allocated to develop specifications for the following product names:1. Rudarska greblica – designation of geographical origin 2. Kvargl – designation of geographical origin 3. Zagorje štrukli – designation of geographical origin 4. Zagorje acacia honey – designation of origin 5. Varaždinski klipić – designation of geographical origin 6. Novigrad mussel – designation of origin 7. Vrbovečka Pe – guaranteed traditional specialty 8. Brač olive oil – designation of origin 9. Krk cheese – designation of origin 10. Istrian sheep cheese – designation of origin 11. Međimurski krumpir / Međimurski kalamper – designation of geographical origin 12. Lički škripavac – designation of geographical origin13. Meat of Istrian cattle / Boškarin meat – mark of origin 14. Pag cheese – mark of originThe aim of this Program is to encourage producer groups to enter the process of protecting product names with a designation of origin, a geographical indication or a guaranteed traditional specialty. Do you also have local products that could be protected in various EU countries? Be proactive, get moving because if you stagnate you actually fall because the competition doesn’t sleep.last_img read more

Silently suffering from hearing loss negatively affects quality of life

first_imgShare on Facebook Email Share LinkedIn Pinterestcenter_img Share on Twitter Hearing loss in adults is under treated despite evidence that hearing aid technology can significantly lessen depression and anxiety and improve cognitive functioning, according to a presentation at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.“Many hard of hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help,” said David Myers, PhD, a psychology professor and textbook writer at Hope College in Michigan who lives with hearing loss.In a National Council on Aging study of 2,304 people with hearing loss, those who didn’t wear hearing aids were 50 percent more likely to suffer from sadness or depression than people who did wear them, he said. Additionally, hearing aid users were much more likely to participate in social activities regularly. Although a genetic condition caused him to start losing his hearing as a teenager, Myers did not get hearing aids until he was in his 40s. Like many hard of hearing people, he resisted hearing technology. People wait an average of six years from the first signs of hearing loss before getting treatment, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and adults with hearing loss between the ages of 20 and 69 are half as likely as adults 70 or older to use hearing aids, Myers said. Besides denial, vanity and less awareness of how much they are missing are some reasons for the delay, he added.“Anger, frustration, depression and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing,” Myers said. “Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their life, and achieve emotional stability and even better cognitive functioning.”Myers cited another study published in the Archives of Neurology that found hearing loss could also be a risk factor for dementia. Scientists who conducted the study said years of sensory loss leaves people more susceptible to dementia. Additionally, the social isolation common among the hard of hearing is another known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders, he said.A technology known as a hearing loop could also help those with hearing loss become more social and involved, said Myers. Like Wi-Fi for hearing aids, the technology uses an inductive loop to transmit sound signals directly into an in-ear hearing aid or cochlear implant, where it is received by an inductive device called a telecoil. Efforts over the last dozen years to have hearing loops installed in public places around the U.S. have gained momentum in recent years with new American manufacturers stepping up to design and market hearing loop amplifiers for a wide variety of installations, from home TV rooms and taxis to auditoriums and airports.The loop system, which enables hearing aids to serve as wireless speakers, is popular in Great Britain and Scandinavia but less widespread in the U.S. Proponents of the system say it works especially well in public spaces with background noise or reverberant sound, such as train stations and places of worship. Myers’ hearing loop advocacy has contributed to more than 500 hearing loop installations in Michigan. He has also supported Hearing Loss Association of America efforts to advocate for hundreds of installations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, Utah, Washington state and even in New York City taxicabs, as well as the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Supreme Court.“Making public spaces directly hearing aid accessible is psychologically important for people with hearing loss,” Myers said.last_img read more

First-semester GPA a better predictor of college success than ACT score

first_imgUnderrepresented students’ first-semester GPA may be a better predictor of whether they’ll graduate college than their ACT score or their family’s socioeconomic status, a new study found.Researchers at the University of Illinois tracked the academic achievement and degree status of more than 1,900 U. of I. freshmen across a six-year period, beginning when the students first enrolled at the university in 2005 or 2006. The sample was selected to focus on students who were low-income, attended underresourced high schools and/or were historically underrepresented based on race or geography, and who could have completed an undergraduate program within six years.The researchers examined the impact of individual characteristics such as race and gender, along with factors such as the academic units and majors freshmen were enrolled in during their first semester on campus. Pinterest LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twittercenter_img Email Share Of the 69 percent of students who earned diplomas within six years, the researchers found that the composite ACT scores of students who graduated and those who dropped out were nearly identical – 24.5 and 24.1 points, respectively.Racial minorities, who constituted 93 percent of the sample, graduated at higher rates than did the white students who were low-income or from underrepresented counties within Illinois, according to the paper, published in the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice.The freshmen who persisted to graduation had significantly higher first-semester GPAs – 2.84 versus 2.20, respectively – compared with peers who left without earning a degree, according to principal investigator Susan Gershenfeld, who conducted the research while earning a doctorate in social work at the U. of I.Gershenfeld also is the former director of the university’s Illinois Promise program, a scholarship program that covers all of the educational costs – including tuition, books and living expenses – for the most disadvantaged in-state students.“The goal of the research was to help us better understand why some students are not successful, even when some of their financial barriers to college access are removed,” said co-author Denice Ward Hood, a professor of education policy, organization and leadership at Illinois.In the sample, about 44 percent of the students who enrolled in 2005 and nearly 46 percent of those who enrolled in 2006 received federal Pell Grants.Most of the students also were eligible for Illinois Promise and/or two other campus initiatives aimed at promoting the access and success of underrepresented students: a merit program that, at the time, provided $1,000 scholarships annually to high-achieving freshmen, and a program that provided support services such as advising and help with study skills – but no scholarships – to students from underrepresented school districts in Illinois.Freshmen with first-semester GPAs of up to 2.33 were about half as likely to graduate as students who had GPAs in the 3.68 to 4.0 range, the researchers found.“What this research shows is that students who are above that 2.0 cutoff, but below 2.33, are at significant risk of not graduating. Waiting until a student hits a 2.0 GPA or lower may be too late,” Gershenfeld said. “Freshmen with first-semester GPAs of up to 2.33 should be targeted as particularly vulnerable to attrition.”University and federal student aid policies require that students maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA – a C average – on a 4.0 scale. Students’ whose GPAs drop below 2.0 are placed on academic probation and offered services such as advising, mentoring or tutoring.Universities’ approaches to identifying students who may need academic help, based upon their GPAs, and the types of support services offered to these students have changed relatively little over the past three decades, said Ward Hood, who was an academic adviser to at-risk students at another university early in her career.The conventional practice has been to tell freshmen not to be too concerned about their grades unless they can’t pull their GPA up during their second semester, and to suggest they be more selective with their class schedules, balancing one or two difficult subjects with several easier courses each term, Ward Hood said.“There are some things that suggest that we need to re-examine what we’re doing and learn what’s really going on with these students so we can personalize or target our interventions. Maybe what we’re giving them is a handful of forks when what they really need is a spoon,” Ward Hood said.A first step toward developing effective interventions is for scholars to identify the underlying factors that may be negatively affecting these students’ first-semester grades and ultimately their prospects of graduating, the researchers suggest.“First-semester GPA is the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” Gershenfeld said. “This research shows the need to intervene for students with a first-semester GPA below 2.33. At a time when great attention is focused on the graduation rates of underrepresented students, here is valuable evidence of how we can make a difference.”last_img read more

Race and gender of scientists affect perception of credibility

first_imgShare on Facebook Share Pinterest In a series of five studies, Aquino and his co-authors asked more than 900 participants in the United States, Canada and India to read research reports that included photos of researchers that varied by gender or race. Participants then evaluated researchers’ credibility. Their ideological leanings from elitist to egalitarian were gauged in a separate survey asking if they agreed with statements like, “It’s OK if some groups have more of a chance in life than others,” or “We should strive to make incomes as equal as possible.”In the Indian sample, Aquino and his co-authors varied the researchers’ caste instead of race or gender and also assessed whether people endorsed socialist or conservative political parties.Importantly, the perceived credibility of the researcher impacted how the participants interpreted subsequent social situations.Aquino says a key finding was that the people whose ideologies colour their perceptions are those with the most extreme ideologies, at either end of the spectrum.“Elitists and egalitarians are equally susceptible to evaluating people in ways that reinforce their beliefs,” said Aquino. “In the business world, the statements made by academic experts can influence decisions, so it’s vital to be aware of how ideology influences whether people believe what comes from the mouth of an academic.”The study, “What Makes Professors Appear Credible: The Effect of Demographic Characteristics and Ideological Beliefs,” co-authored by UBC Sauder PhD alumnus Luke Zhu, Aquino and Abhijeet Vadera is forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Emailcenter_img Ideology is a key factor in determining how people assess the credibility of scientific researchers, according to a new UBC Sauder School of Business study.People who tend toward an elitist world view are more inclined to judge white male researchers as more credible, while people who ascribe to egalitarian beliefs are the opposite: they’re more likely to judge women or people of colour as more credible researchers.“Our studies suggest that belief systems affect how we judge academics in ways we may not be aware of,” said study co-author Karl Aquino, the Richard Poon Professor of Organizations and Society at UBC Sauder. “People might believe in the merits of research, but biases can still overpower logic and prevent people from evaluating scholars objectively.” Share on Twitter LinkedInlast_img read more

Physical activity encouraged more in boys than in girls

first_imgSchool and family influences on physical activity may be stronger in boys than in girls in Australia, according to a study published March 9, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Rohan Telford from the University of Canberra, Australia, and colleagues.Scientists have observed what appears to be a gender-based disparity in physical activity among youth, where girls are less active than boys. To better understand the mechanisms that underlie these observed differences, the authors of this study collected data from over 550 boys and girls from 29 schools as part of the Lifestyle of our Kids (LOOK) study in Australia.They measured a variety of factors at ages 8 and 12 including individual fitness (multi-stage run), coordination (throw and catch test) and environmental factors measured using questionnaires of an individual’s perception of competence in physical education, family support for physical activity, and school and extracurricular sports participation. LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterestcenter_img Share Email The authors found that school and family influences on physical activity may be stronger in boys than in girls in Australia. They found that girls were 19% less active than boys and that lower physical activity among girls was associated with weaker influences at school and at home.Girls were less physically fit compared to boys at age 8, including 18% lower cardio-respiratory fitness, 44% lower eye-hand coordination, higher percent body fat, and 9% lower perceived competence in physical education. The authors state that a variety of variables not measured in this study may also contribute to physical activity levels in children, but that the factors measured could be modified and potentially reduce the gap in physical activity between boys and girls.Based on these results, the authors suggest strategies aiming to increase physical activity should focus on a variety of areas simultaneously, including home, school, and extracurricular activities, paying particular attention to equality of support and opportunities for girls and boys.last_img read more

Stimulating neurons could protect against brain damage, research shows

first_imgShare Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebook A breakthrough in understanding how brain damage spreads – and how it could potentially be limited – has been made through a collaboration between neuroscientists and engineers at the Universities of Dundee and Strathclyde.They have uncovered a previously unknown mechanism in the brain that allows networks of neurons to protect against the kind of spreading secondary damage seen in cases of strokes and traumatic brain injuries.“If this network activity could be triggered clinically as soon as possible then major brain damage could be minimised and recovery periods shortened,” said Dr Christopher Connolly, Reader in Neurobiology in the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine.center_img LinkedIn Pinterest “Although this is basic laboratory research, it does now re-open the door to the possibility of stopping ongoing brain damage.“Slow acting neuroprotection is well known but approaches to induce protection require at least 24 hours notice to be effective. This is of no practical use in a clinical emergency situation such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury, so current treatment options are limited to aiding the recovery processes.“We have identified that neuronal networks react to an insult by sending rapid – in minutes – warning signals in an attempt to protect against the toxicity that causes brain damage. If that could be recruited clinically then it would give us a tool to deploy quickly in cases where brain damage was a risk.“Where we can’t protect neurons quickly, we can recruit the help of surrounding neurons to do this for us. It is a case of `If you need a job done quickly, ask the expert’ and in this instance the experts are the neurons themselves.”Laboratory-based modelling also showed that the rapid use of benzodiazepines (Valium) appeared to mimic the protection offered by the neuron networks.“This is something we certainly need to test further but it does suggest the possibility of an effective and immediate pharmacological treatment for stroke,” said Dr Connolly.Dr Connolly worked on the project with Dr Michele Zagnoni, Senior Lecturer in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.Dr Zagnoni said, “Using microfluidic technology, we were able to produce in-vitro neuronal networks to investigate spreading toxicity in the brain, which is the cause of brain damage even after an initial trauma.“Through this process we were able to demonstrate how the spread of this toxicity is driven. In doing that we also uncovered a previously unknown, fast acting, neuroprotective signalling mechanism.“This mechanism utilises the innate capacity of the surrounding neuronal networks (grown in the laboratory) to provide protection against the spreading toxicity. By stimulating that network, then theoretically we could limit the spread of brain damage. That requires further work, but it is an exciting and important possibility.”The results of the research are published in the journal Scientific Reports.The project examined the process known as acute secondary neuronal cell death, which is seen in neurodegenerative disease, cerebral ischemia (stroke) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and drives spreading neurotoxicity into surrounding, undamaged, brain areas.last_img

Virtual reality technology could be a powerful tool in diagnosing social anxiety disorder

first_imgShare Pinterest A team of German researchers is hoping to use virtual reality technology to diagnose social anxiety disorder. Their initial results have been published in the scientific journal Computers in Human Behavior.“Most of the work done with VR so far (including from our workgroup) was done either as a treatment for anxiety disorders or as a method to investigate mechanisms behind exposure therapy. This is one of the first studies that used VR as a possible diagnostic tool (in this case for social fear),” explained study author Youssef Shiban of the University of Regensburg.“Once validated in other studies, this could open new doors for us as therapists and researchers, as we can use behavioral and psychophysiological data to better diagnose. This is extremely useful as most diagnoses are conducted per conversation and are based on subjective input from the patient that could be biased for various reasons.” Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Email The researchers found that they could distinguish between low- and high-social-anxious participants by using VR technology to monitor how long people looked at faces in a virtual social situation.The study of 19 low- and 18 high-socially-anxious participants used two different virtual social environments. One environment involved the participant obtaining a train ticket. The second virtually recreated the waiting room of a doctor’s office. The researchers monitored the participants’ eye movements and skin conductance while they navigated the virtual worlds — but only observed a higher skin conductance response in high-anxious participants in the train scenario. However, they observed that in both virtual environments the high-anxious group concentrated their gaze for a significantly shorter time on the faces of the avatars.“If you had to choose between skin conductance and eye tracking to differentiate between socially fearful participants and someone with less social fear, go with eye tracking,” Shiban told PsyPost. Previous research has found that anxious individuals are quick to gaze at potentially threatening stimuli but subsequently avert their eyes, which serves as a defensive reaction to reduce anxiety.Though the initial results are promising, more research is needed.“This line of research is still in its infancy, there is a lot of work to do before you can diagnose someone using virtual reality,” Shiban said. “We still need to test and validate this in more studies and with pathological groups and validate it using clinical interviews. Give us time.”The study, “Potential Of Virtual Reality As A Diagnostic Tool For Social Anxiety: A Pilot Study“, was also co-authored by Martin Dechant, Sabine Trimpl, Christian Wolff, Andreas Mühlberger. Share on Twitterlast_img read more

NEWS SCAN: E coli treatment, antibiotic resistance in EU, flu vaccine in preschoolers, measles-shot warnings, Lyme disease risk

first_imgMar 14, 2012Antibiotic use in 2011 German E coli outbreak may have cut sheddingDuring the large 2011 Escherichia coli outbreak linked to sprouts in Germany, use of azithromycin was associated with less frequent long-term E coli carriage and a shorter duration of bacterial shedding in stool specimens, according to a study in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). These findings contradict recommendations against prescribing antibiotics to treat infections with Shiga toxin–producing E coli (STEC) such as the O104:H4 outbreak strain, the study authors say. The study included 65 patients with STEC illness, 37 of whom had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal kidney complication of STEC infection. Of those, 22 received azithromycin (on average 12 days after symptom onset), all of them HUS patients, and 43 did not, 15 of whom had HUS. They were all monitored from the day of symptom onset. Rates of STEC carriage were 31.8% in the treated group versus 83.7% in the non-treated group by day 21 of observation, 4.5% versus 81.4% by day 28, and 0% versus 74.4% by day 35.Mar 14 JAMA abstractMar 13 JAMA news releaseECDC says antibiotic resistance in Europe changed little in 2010Antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals, and food was common in 2010 but showed no major changes from 2009, according to an annual report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the ECDC. The report is based on data from 26 European Union members and covers resistance in zoonotic Salmonella and Campylobacter from humans, food, and animals and in indicator Escherichia coli strains and enteroocci from animals and food. Salmonella isolates from humans showed high resistance to ampicillin, tetracyclines, and sulfonamides, but resistance to third-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones remained low, the report abstract says. Salmonella and E coli isolates from poultry, pigs, and cattle were commonly resistant to tetracyclines, ampicillin, and sulfonamides, but not to third-generation cephalosporins, while Salmonella from poultry showed moderate to high resistance to ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone. “In Campylobacter isolates from human cases, resistance to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid, and tetracyclines was high, while resistance to erythromycin was recorded at low to moderate levels,” the report adds. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in some animal species and foods of animal origin.Mar 14 ECDC press releaseFull 233-page reportMar 5 CIDRAP News story on US report on resistant bacteria in poultry and meatFlu vaccine requirement for daycare children paid off in ConnecticutA requirement for flu vaccination of all Connecticut children in daycare led to a sharp increase in vaccination coverage and a decrease in flu in the age-group, according to a report presented today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta (ICEID). The immunization requirement took effect Jan 1, 2012, for all children aged 6 to 59 months who were enrolled in licensed daycare centers, according to the study abstract. Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Public Health compared flu data from the 2010-11 season and the most recent season dominated by H3N2 strains, 2007-08. Vaccination coverage in the age-group increased from 53.9% in the 2009-10 season to 85% in 2010-11, they reported. For the age-group, the proportion of all emergency department visits attributed to fever or flu in 2011 was lower than in 2008 (30.4% versus 33.5%, P = .01). Also, children 6 to 59 months old made up a smaller share of all patients hospitalized for flu in 2010-11 than in 2007-08 (2.3% versus 4.5%, P = .04)). Finally, daycare-age children accounted for a smaller proportion of all lab-confirmed flu cases in 2010-11 than in 2007-08 (10.3% versus 13.2%, P = .03).ICEID abstracts (see page 176)Ukraine, Purdue University issue measles vaccination warningsHealth officials in Ukraine say soccer fans who plan to attend the European Championship this summer should be vaccinated for measles in view of the outbreak there, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday. Foreigners are also advised to be immunized against tuberculosis, rubella, and other diseases if they haven’t been already, officials said. In a Feb 21 notice, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said Ukraine had had 3,000 measles cases since the start of the year. Ukraine is co-hosting the soccer championship with neighboring Poland from Jun 8 to Jul 1, the AP said.Mar 13 AP storyFeb 21 CIDRAP News itemIn other measles news, 484 Purdue University students have provided no proof of measles vaccination, which could keep them from registering for next semester’s classes, the AP reported yesterday. Mar 12 was the deadline for new students to show proof of immunization. Indiana law requires students at state-funded institutions to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and diphtheria. Jim Westman, director of Purdue’s student health center, said the requirement has drawn increased attention because of Indiana’s recent measles outbreak, with 17 cases since early February. If a campus outbreak occurred, students who have not met the immunization requirement would not be allowed to attend classes or participate in activities for at least a week, Westman said.Mar 13 AP storyNortheastern US may face its worst year for Lyme disease riskOwing to a bumper crop of acorns in 2010, this year could be the worst yet for Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in the northeastern United States, according to Richard S. Ostfeld, PhD, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in East Millbrook, N.Y. Speaking at the ICEID, Ostfeld said yesterday that the acorn crop sparked a 2011 population boom for white-footed mice, which store acorns for winter food and begin breeding earlier when well fed, medical writer Maryn McKenna reported on her blog, Superbug. The mouse population boom intersected with the 2-year life cycle of Lyme-carrying ticks, and this summer could bring a big crop of infected tick nymphs, Ostfeld said. He explained that for several reasons white-footed mice appear to be the best reservoir for Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacterium. Unusually large acorn crops could serve as an early-warning signal for increased Lyme disease risk, he said.Mar 13 Superbug entrylast_img read more

News Scan for Jul 27, 2015

first_imgSaudi Arabia reports new MERS case, deathSaudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new MERS-CoV case over the weekend and a death in a previously reported patient, both in Riyadh.The new case involves a 30-year-old Saudi man who is hospitalized in stable condition, the MOH reported on Jul 25. He is not a healthcare worker but had contact with a MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patient in either a community or hospital setting, the MOH said.The man who died was a 54-year-old expatriate who had preexisting disease, the MOH said today. He was not a health worker.The developments bring the country’s MERS totals to 1,055 cases and 466 deaths, the MOH said today. Eight patients are currently undergoing treatment.Jul 25 MOH update Jul 27 MOH update More than 100 labs added to DoD anthrax lab error listA Pentagon panel tasked with reviewing inadvertent shipment of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis spores from an Army lab in Utah today said 106 more labs received the material, raising the total to 192.The labs added to the total are all secondary labs that received samples from primary recipients, according to a Department of Defense (DoD) update today. The number of secondary labs affected was not included in previous reports.In its initial report released by the committee on Jul 24 the committee had said 86 labs received live samples of B anthracis—the bacterium that causes anthrax—directly from the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground lab.Also, the update revealed that 21 lab workers are on anthrax postexposure prophylaxis. Fifteen are DoD employees, and 6 work in other labs.The review panel released its full report on Jul 24, finding that faulty inactivation of the spores and inadequate testing led to the shipment of the live spores. It said the key misstep was failure to detect viable spores in samples after they were exposed to gamma radiation intended to inactivate them. The DoD also said it would probe whether leadership failures contributed to the problem.DoD Laboratory Review home page Jul 24 CIDRAP News story “Poor activation, testing blamed for DoD anthrax errors” PAHO reports 20,000 new chikungunya casesThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 20,269 new chikungunya cases, raising the epidemic total in the Americas to 1,614,318 cases.Ecuador, reporting 5 weeks’ worth of data, had the most new cases, 13,561, for a total of 30,045, according to a Jul 24 PAHO update. Colombia, which has for months reported thousands of new cases each week, was next highest, with 6,427 new infections, for a total of 302,171.The previous week PAHO had reported 29,256 new cases. Weekly increases before that ranged from about 11,000 to about 14,000 cases. The total so far this year is 477,371 cases. As has been the case for quite some time, however, many countries have not reported data for weeks.The epidemic began in December 2013 with the first locally acquired chikungunya case ever reported in the Americas, on St. Martin in the Caribbean.Jul 24 PAHO update Jul 21 CIDRAP News scan on previous updatelast_img read more

Lab study reveals Zika damage mechanism in fetal brain

first_imgScientists working to sort out how Zika virus might damage developing fetal brains revealed another piece of the puzzle today—its ability to hijack a human immune molecule.However, their experiments in the lab with a three-dimensional stem cell model also showed that treatment of infected cells with an inhibitor might be able to blunt the damage. A team based at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) reported its findings in Cell Stem Cell.The group’s work is the latest to involve organoids, or “minibrains,” to explore how the virus affects developing brains, which could lay the groundwork for potential new therapies.Stunted cell differentiation and cell deathUsing the 3-D stem cell model of a first-trimester human brain, the researchers discovered that Zika virus activates TLR3, a molecule that human cells typically use to fight off viruses. Zika-activated TLR3 shuts down genes the stem cells use to specialize into brain cells and switches on genes that trigger cell death—a double punch signifying apoptosis.Tariq Rana, PhD, senior author of the study and professor of pediatrics at UCSD School of Medicine, said today in UCSD news release, “We all have an innate immune system that evolved specifically to fight off viruses, but here the virus turns that very same defense mechanism against us.”Fortunately, there are TLR3 inhibitors that can block the process, he added.During the experiments, the organoid shrank after the scientists added a prototype Zika virus strain. The healthy mock-infected organoids grew an average of 22.6%, compared with a Zika-infected organoid that decreased in size by an average of 16%.To test if TLR3 activation was the cause of shrinkage, scientists treated some of the infected organoids with a TLR3 inhibitor. Though the inhibitor tempered Zika’s severe effects on cell health and brain size, the response wasn’t perfect: The treated infected organoids still showed more cell death and disruption than the healthy ones.Researchers cautioned that although the results are promising, they reflect only experiments on human and mouse cells grown in the lab and that the Zika strain they used came from Uganda, which is slightly different from the one responsible for the outbreak in the Americas.Rana said the 3D model was useful for identifying one microcephaly mechanism, “but we anticipate that other researchers will now also use this same scalable, reproducible system to study other aspects of the infection and test potential therapeutics.”Other developmentsOxitec’s transgenic mosquitoes will be used to fight Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Grand Cayman island to reduce the threat of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, the company and the Grand Caymans Mosquito Research and Control Unit announced yesterday in a statement. Officials said they have had a difficult time reducing mosquito populations with traditional methods. The first phases of the roll-out will involve informing residents about the program, then conducting a pilot program to compare population levels of a limited treatment area with a non-treatment area.Spanish health officials today reported the country’s first microcephaly detection in the fetus of a woman with a travel-related Zika and dengue infection, Reuters reported today. Catalonia’s health department said various malformations were seen in the fetus, adding that the woman is 20 weeks along has decided to continue with her pregnancy.Ecuador has reported a slight increase in reports of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in children younger than 15 years old, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said yesterday in its weekly situation update. AFP can be a manifestation of a wide spectrum of diseases. In reports in March and April PAHO noted increased rates of AFP in Colombia, Venezuela, and Honduras.See also:May 6 Cell Stem Cell studyMay 6 UCSD press releaselast_img read more