Scientists create largest map of brain connections to date

first_imgThis tangle of wiry filaments is not a bird’s nest or a root system. Instead, it’s the largest map to date of the connections between brain cells—in this case, about 200 from a mouse’s visual cortex. To map the roughly 1300 connections, or synapses, between the cells, researchers used an electron microscope to take millions of nanoscopic pictures from a speck of tissue not much bigger than a dust mite, carved into nearly 3700 slices. Then, teams of “annotators” traced the spindly projections of the synapses, digitally stitching stacked slices together to form the 3D map. The completed map reveals some interesting clues about how the mouse brain is wired: Neurons that respond to similar visual stimuli, such as vertical or horizontal bars, are more likely to be connected to one another than to neurons that carry out different functions, the scientists report online today in Nature. (In the image above, some neurons are color-coded according to their sensitivity to various line orientations.) Ultimately, by speeding up and automating the process of mapping such networks in both mouse and human brain tissue, researchers hope to learn how the brain’s structure enables us to sense, remember, think, and feel.last_img read more

Today Trump launches effort to undermine Obama climate policies

first_img By Robin Bravender, E&E NewsMar. 28, 2017 , 11:30 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Additional reading from ScienceInsider What’s in Trump’s executive orderHere’s a look at the contents of the document Trump will sign today, according to the White House: Read more… Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Mixed reactions from friends, foesDemocrats and environmentalists have already been assailing the anticipated executive order, and their complaints are likely to mount once the administration moves ahead on its energy plans.”The administration’s ‘Back to the Future’ environmental policy might be funny if it were a movie, but it’s real life,” Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.”They want us to travel back to when smokestacks damaged our health and polluted our air, instead of taking every opportunity to support clean jobs of the future. This is not just dangerous; it’s embarrassing to us and our businesses on a global scale to be dismissing opportunities for new technologies, economic growth and U.S. leadership,” she added.Supporters of Trump’s energy policies, meanwhile, have been eager to see the president and Pruitt begin to take action on knocking down rules like the Clean Power Plan.”These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue.”The U.S. Chamber has long argued that EPA’s power plant regulations are not only unlawful, they are a bad deal for American families and businesses. Similarly, the Obama administration’s NEPA guidance threatened to obstruct our ability to build badly needed infrastructure of all kinds, and the moratorium on coal leasing exemplified the reckless hostility toward America’s domestic energy resources.”Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2017. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net Trump will knock down the Obama administration’s calculation of the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions. “The previous administration put out its own estimates, not in a very transparent fashion, in a fashion we believe violates long-standing [Office of Management and Budget] policy, so as a matter of federal policy those estimates will no longer stand,” the aide said (Greenwire, March 20). The Obama administration’s moratorium on new coal leases for federal lands will be rescinded. What’s not in Trump’s order Andrew Harnik/ASSOCIATED PRESS The White House will initiate a review of the Clean Power Plan — which limits existing power plants’ emissions — and a related Obama rule aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions of new power plants. There’s no time frame laid out for reviewing the Clean Power Plan, but “I think [EPA] Administrator [Scott] Pruitt is ready to hit the ground running,” the White House aide said. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt was a leader in the legal fight against EPA’s climate rules. Trump is slated to visit U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., this afternoon, where he’ll sign a sweeping executive order that the White House says will advance domestic “energy independence.”Among the big-ticket items the order will target are the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan rule to limit power plants’ greenhouse gases. The document will also wipe out the Obama administration’s coal-leasing moratorium on public lands and executive orders dealing with climate change.The order will steer clear, however, of several controversial climate policies from Obama’s tenure, including the United States’ participation in the Paris climate accord and EPA’s so-called endangerment finding, which triggered climate regulations under the Clean Air Act.A senior White House official told reporters during a background briefing Monday that Trump “believes that we can serve the twin goals of protecting the environment, providing clean air and clean water, getting EPA back to its core mission while at the same time again moving forward on energy production in the United States.”The aide said Trump believes humans are contributing to climate change, but the president “understands there’s a disagreement over the policy response.” Email The order will direct each federal agency to identify rules and policies that “serve as obstacles or impediments to domestic energy production,” the White House aide said. Over about 180 days, agencies and the White House will review those submissions, and “those plans will serve as a blueprint for the administration going forward on energy policy.” Action on the Paris climate treaty. “In terms of the Paris Agreement, whether we stay in it or not is still under discussion,” the White House aide said. Here’s how to improve controversial carbon accounting tool that Trump allies want to gut, says U.S. science academy Trump team targets changes to key metric that calculates social cost of carbon Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) What Trump can—and can’t—do all by himself on climate Climate change guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality that deals with climate change will be rescinded. “That guidance was widely opposed by a number of different industries,” the aide said. “We believe that guidance goes way beyond what [the National Environmental Policy Act] requires” (Greenwire, Aug. 2, 2016). The EPA endangerment finding. Despite pressure from some conservatives to ax the Obama administration’s 2009 finding that triggered EPA greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act, that determination won’t be addressed in tomorrow’s order, the White House said. Additional climate change executive orders and memoranda will be “taken off the books,” the aide said. That will include Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The administration believes that “those orders simply don’t reflect the president’s priorities when it comes to dealing with climate change,” the aide said. Originally published by E&E NewsGoodbye, Obama-era climate policies.With the stroke of a pen today, President Trump plans to wipe out some key components of his predecessor’s climate change legacy while kicking off efforts to repeal major climate rules. Today, Trump launches effort to undermine Obama climate policieslast_img read more

Merkel makes a surprise pick for German research minister

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Ralf Hirschberger/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Merkel makes a surprise pick for German research minister German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t known for her political surprises. But she managed a big one this week when she tapped Anja Karliczek, a 46-year-old lawmaker little known outside of party circles, as Germany’s next minister for education and research.Even long-term observers of Germany’s science landscape were left asking, “Anja who?”Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), will have six ministers in a proposed new coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Current Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka had announced months ago that she intended to drop out. Hermann Gröhe, who had served as minister of health in the last Cabinet, was seen as a strong contender for the research post, but was shut out of Merkel’s fourth Cabinet.center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Kai KupferschmidtFeb. 27, 2018 , 2:15 PM As a member of Germany’s parliament, Anja Karliczek was mostly known for her work on financial issues. Instead, the chancellor chose the little-known Karliczek. Trained as a banker, she worked as a hotel manager before being elected to the German Parliament in 2013. There, she worked mostly on finance issues. Unlike her three predecessors, all women, Karliczek has had little contact with research or education policy and has no Ph.D.Reaction has been mixed. The daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said the nomination sends the “wrong signal. … With Karliczek at the head, one has to wonder whether science and research still have the importance in German politics that they supposedly have—and that they should have.”But others cautioned that her outsider status may still turn out to be an asset. “Maybe what’s needed now is a research minister who, when she meets the science managers of this country, asks them why things have to be done the way they are done now. And whether they couldn’t be done completely differently,” journalist and commentator Jan-Martin Wiarda wrote on the website Spektrum.de.Karliczek’s nomination is widely seen as a political signal by Merkel. The new ministers are younger than those picked for previous Cabinets and are split evenly between men and women. And Karliczek belongs to the conservative wing of the powerful North Rhine-Westphalia CDU.Merkel emphasized that Karliczek went through vocational training, an important pillar of Germany’s educational system, twice. She also completed an MBA through distance learning. “I am sure she will have a big heart for research as well,” Merkel said.Karliczek is expected to have some money to play with. The coalition agreement promises an increase of 3% per year for research agencies such as the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the Max Planck Society as well as increasing research spending from 2.9% of gross domestic product to 3.5%. But first, the roughly 460,000 members of the SPD have to approve the coalition agreement. Members can vote by mail ballot until 2 March.*Correction 27 February, 5:10 p.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated the current percent of gross domestic product used for research spending.last_img read more

Southern California hit by 71 magnitude earthquake strongest in 20 years

first_imgBy Express Web Desk |New Delhi | Updated: July 6, 2019 11:47:50 am Due to tremors, a rockslide closed State Route 178 in Kern River Canyon, where photos from witnesses also showed that a stretch of roadway had sunk. Traffic drives over a patched section of Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, California, Friday, July 5, 2019. (AP)Cracked buildings and one minor injury were reported by San Bernardino County firefighters.150 miles away, in downtown Los Angeles,  offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds.Another #earthquake in #LA.The 17th floor of this apartment building was rocking like a boat! pic.twitter.com/sRg5Ojruuo— Rebecca Nagle (@rebeccanagle) July 6, 2019 Aftershocks continue in California desert Related News Two low-intensity earthquakes hit Maharashtra’s Satara district Post Comment(s) 5.4-magnitude quake hits China’s Sichuan province, 31 injured Advertising Food that fell from the shelves litters the floor of an aisle at a Walmart following an earthquake in Yucca Valley, California. This is the second massive quake in less than two days. (AP)A 7.1 magnitude earthquake jolted Southern California on Saturday, even as the locals were recovering from an earlier quake that struck the region on Thursday, reports AP. The massive temblor cracked buildings, set fires, broke roads and caused several injuries, authorities, and residents told the news agency. Advertising Preceded by Thursday’s 6.4 magnitude temblor, it was the largest in Southern California in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks.This is the second massive quake in less than two days.Early magnitude estimates from the US Geological Survey wavered between 6.9 and 7.1. The quake hit the region at 8:19 pm (Friday, July 5,  as per GMT-7) and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit.WATCH: Rides at Disneyland were stopped and evacuated when the powerful earthquake hit Southern California; no reports of damage at the park pic.twitter.com/VpZyxpghiw— BNO News (@BNONews) July 6, 2019Megan Person, director of communications for the Kern County Fire Department, told AP there were reports of multiple injuries and multiple fires, but she didn’t have details. The county opened an emergency shelter.last_img read more

A new day for chemistry Molecular CT scan could dramatically speed drug

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) In chemistry, structure rules because it determines how a molecule behaves. But the two standard ways to map the structure of small organic molecules, such as pharmaceuticals, hormones, and vitamins, have drawbacks. This week, two research teams report they’ve adapted a third technique, commonly used to chart much larger proteins, to determine the precise shape of small organic molecules. The new technique works with vanishingly small samples, is blazing fast, and is surprisingly easy.“I am blown away by this,” says Carolyn Bertozzi, a chemist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “The fact that you can get these structures from [a sample] a million times smaller than a speck of dust, that’s beautiful. It’s a new day for chemistry.”The gold standard for determining chemical structures has long been x-ray crystallography. A beam of x-rays is fired at a pure crystal containing millions of copies of a molecule lined up in a single orientation. By tracking how the x-rays bounce off atoms in the crystal, researchers can work out the position of every atom in the molecule. Crystallography can pinpoint atomic positions down to less than 0.1 nanometers, about the size of a sulfur atom. But the technique works best with fairly large crystals, which can be hard to make. “The real lag time is just getting a crystal,” says Brian Stoltz, an organic chemist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “That can take weeks to months to years.” The second approach, known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, doesn’t require crystals. It infers structures by perturbing the magnetic behavior of atoms in molecules and then tracking their behavior, which changes depending on their atomic neighbors. But NMR also requires a fair amount of starting material. And it’s indirect, which can lead to mapping mistakes with larger druglike molecules.The new approach builds on a technique called electron diffraction, which sends an electron beam through a crystal and, as in x-ray crystallography, determines structure from diffraction patterns. It has been particularly useful in solving the structure of a class of proteins lodged in cell membranes. In this case, researchers first form tiny 2D sheetlike crystals of multiple copies of a protein wedged in a membrane.But in many cases, efforts to grow the protein crystals go awry. Instead of getting single-membrane sheets, researchers end up with numerous sheets stacked atop one another, which can’t be analyzed by conventional electron diffraction. And the crystals can be too small for x-ray diffraction. “We didn’t know what to do with all these crystals,” says Tamir Gonen, an electron crystallography expert at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). So, his team varied the technique: Instead of firing their electron beam from one direction at a static crystal, they rotated the crystal and tracked how the diffraction pattern changed. Instead of a single image, they got what was more like molecular computerized tomography scan. That enabled them to get structures from crystals one-billionth the size of those needed for x-ray crystallography.Gonen says because his interest was in proteins, he never thought much about trying his technique on anything else. But earlier this year, Gonen moved from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, to UCLA. There, he teamed up with colleagues, along with Stoltz at Caltech, who wanted to see whether the same approach would work not just with proteins, but with smaller organic molecules. The short answer is it did. On the chemistry preprint server ChemRxiv, the California team reported on Wednesday that when they tried the approach with numerous samples, it worked nearly every time, delivering a resolution on par with x-ray crystallography. The team could even get structures from mixtures of compounds and from materials that had never formally been crystallized and were just scraped off a chemistry purification column. These results all came after just a few minutes of sample preparation and data collection. What’s more, a collaboration of German and Swiss groups independently published similar results using essentially the same technique this week.“I’ve had dreams in my life where I’m looking through a microscope and I see a molecular model with balls and sticks,” Bertozzi says. “They basically find some microcrystalline schmutz on an EM [sample holder], take some data, and there are the balls and sticks I dreamed about. It’s unbelievable it works so well.”Because it does work so smoothly, the new technique could revolutionize fields both inside and outside of research, Bertozzi and others say. Tim Grüne, an electron diffraction expert at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland, who led the European group, notes that pharmaceutical companies build massive collections of crystalline compounds, in which they hunt for potential new drugs. But only about one-quarter to one-third of the compounds form crystals big enough for x-ray crystallography. “This will remove a bottleneck and lead to an explosion of structures,” Grüne says. That could speed the search for promising drug leads in tiny samples of exotic plants and fungi. For crime labs, it could help them quickly identify the latest heroin derivatives hitting the streets. And it could even help Olympics officials clean up sports by making it easier to spot vanishingly small amounts of performance-enhancing drugs. All because structures rule—and are now easier than ever to decipher. M. Martynowycz et al., ChemRxiv (2018), adapted by E. Petersen/Science (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) ‘A new day for chemistry’: Molecular CT scan could dramatically speed drug discovery By Robert F. ServiceOct. 19, 2018 , 1:50 PMcenter_img Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The new technique managed to generate structures from a mixture that contained all four of these organic compounds.last_img read more

Sticky proteins could protect crops more safely than chemical pesticides

first_imgSticky molecules could help soybean plants fight off a fungus even when it rains. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Many pesticides have an inherent weakness: The active ingredients don’t adhere well to the plants they protect. After the chemicals are sprayed onto crops, rain can wash them off into the soil and groundwater. Farmers must spray again and hope for dry weather.Now, researchers have devised a stickier approach to protecting plants, one that could be applied less frequently than chemical pesticides and might be less toxic. They have designed a molecule with two separate chains of amino acids, called peptides. One peptide embeds itself in the waxy surface of a leaf, holding tight in the rain; the other juts out like a spear to attack microbial pests. In a proof of concept published this month in Green Chemistry, lab tests showed the molecules lessened symptoms of soybean rust, a dreaded fungus that causes one of the world’s worst agricultural diseases.The peptides will face many challenges before they can reach the market. But plant pathologists say they could be a flexible new way to protect crops. “With the current scale of the soybean rust problem, and the rapid evolution of resistance against multiple fungicides, any addition to the toolbox would be welcome,” says Nichola Hawkins at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K. Ralph Hückelhoven at the Technical University of Munich in Germany also considers the technique promising. “It opens a treasure box of solutions,” he says. “It’s a bit surprising that no one has done this before.” (GRAPHIC) V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE; (DATA) GAURAO DHOKE AND MEHDI DAVARI DOLATABADI/RWTH AACHEN UNIVERSITY Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Waterproof protectionAn antimicrobial protein has been designed to stick to leaves in the rain. One part of the protein is anchored in leaf wax. The other ruptures membranes of fungal spores.{font-family:’Roboto Condensed’,’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;font-weight:bold;}{font-family:’Roboto Condensed’,’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;font-weight:bold;font-style:italic;}BOLDREGULARITALICBOLD ITALIC{font-family:’Roboto Condensed’,’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;}{font-family:’Roboto Condensed’,’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;font-style:italic;}REPLACE {font-family:’RobotoCondensed-Bold’;} etc WITH: Dan Ross/shutterstock.com By Erik StokstadApr. 25, 2019 , 12:10 PMcenter_img Soy leafFungus To make the new pesticide, plant pathologist Uwe Conrath and protein engineer Ulrich Schwaneberg of RWTH Aachen University in Germany teamed up. Schwaneberg specializes in the directed evolution of peptides—adding genes to microbes to produce them, for example, and relying on rounds of mutation and selection to develop strains that produce peptides with improved traits. He has created peptides that attach to slick surfaces such as polypropylene. The team found two that also anchor themselves onto soy leaves. 5 nanometers Spore (not to scale)CellLeaf waxAnchorDermaseptin Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sticky proteins could protect crops more safely than chemical pesticides Attaching a fluorescent protein to the anchor peptides showed that about 60% to 70% of the leaf remained covered with them, even after the plant was doused in a rain simulation chamber. These two anchor peptides also clung well to the leaves of barley, corn, blueberry, and other crops. Schwaneberg says they can be engineered to adhere more or less tightly, as desired.The next step was to attach an antimicrobial peptide to the anchor. The team chose dermaseptin, a peptide discovered years ago in the skin of tree frogs. Dermaseptin attacks a broad array of microbes, including bacteria and fungi, somehow rupturing their cell membranes. Conrath notes that pathogens are much less likely to evolve resistance—a problem with chemical pesticides—because it is difficult to change the basic structure of cell membranes.When tested on glass slides, the fused peptide was about as effective against soybean rust spores as chemical fungicides. But in lab tests on plants, the peptide reduced symptoms of rust by only about 30%. “It’s not enough,” says Emilio Montesinos, a plant pathologist and agronomist at the University of Girona in Spain. “If you want to extend these results for crop protection, you need to do much more work.” Conrath thinks a tactic already used by industry for other pesticides could yield more potent peptides: adding chemicals to distribute them evenly across leaves.He acknowledges that the peptides are only at the beginning of the pesticide development process, which can last a decade and cost $200 million on average. RWTH Aachen has patented the concept, and Conrath and Schwaneberg plan to start a company to pursue deals with large pesticide manufacturers. They will need help lowering the cost of making the peptides. One way—engineering microbes to produce the peptides themselves in industrial vats—can be tricky when the desired protein tends to kill the microbes that make it.Another question is safety. Dermaseptin would need to be evaluated for its possible toxicity to humans, as well as the accidental harm it could cause to beneficial insects, fungi, or microbes. “It’s broad-spectrum and it’s persistent, and that creates a regulatory concern,” says Roma Gwynn, who runs Rationale, a pesticide consultancy in Duns, U.K.Studies indicate that dermaseptin does not harm mammalian cells, and any residues could be removed by washing the plant product with enzymes. Microbes would likely break down peptides remaining in the fields, Conrath says.As for target pathogens, the team is already thinking beyond soybean rust. They have showed that dermaseptin-based peptides can help protect maize from the common fungus Colletotrichum graminicola. They also want to try attach ing the anchor peptide to Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a insect-killing microbial toxin widely used by organic farmers and engineered into transgenic crops.Before that, however, Conrath and Schwaneberg plan to outfit their anchors with tiny amounts of copper, commonly used by vineyards and organic farms to fight fungi and other pathogens. This fall, with a €1 million grant from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the team will test the approach in vineyards in southern Germany, which could reduce copper spraying and the runoff that contaminates soil. They’re hoping the idea will stick.last_img read more

After surprise TrumpKim meeting US and North Korea to reopen talks

first_img US mulls increasing merit-based immigration to 57% Related News By Reuters |Panmunjom, Seoul | Published: June 30, 2019 4:56:51 pm More Explained “I was surprised to see you expressed an intent to meet,” Kim told Trump, referring to Trump’s offer for a meeting in a tweet on Saturday. Trump came to South Korea after attending a Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. “This is an expression of his willingness to leave behind the past and work towards a new future,” Kim said.donald trump, us president donald trump, kim jong un, donald trump kim jong un meeting, trump kim meeting, trump-kim meeting, trump-kim meet, north korea, us, world news, Indian Express President Donald Trump walks on the North Korean side of the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Kim said it would be a great honour if Trump visited his capital of Pyongyang. The two agreed to visit each other’s country “at the right time,” Trump said. “To cross that line was a great honour,” Trump said, referring to his brief incursion into the North Korean side of the DMZ. “It’s a great day for the world.” But there has been little sign that North Korea and the United States are any closer to narrowing differences on the nuclear issue.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters shortly before departing South Korea that a fresh round of talks will likely happen “sometime in July” and the North’s negotiators would be foreign ministry diplomats.“Today’s meeting was significant in salvaging faltering working-level talks,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “But the North wouldn’t easily change its stance, even though Trump has effectively responded to the so-called top-down approach cherished by Kim.” 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 US House votes to set aside impeachment resolution against Trump Advertising The meeting, initiated a spur-of-the-moment tweet by Trump that Kim said took him by surprise, once again displayed the rapport between the two. But they are no closer to narrowing the gap between their positions since they walked away from their summit in February in Vietnam.The two men shook hands warmly and expressed hopes for peace when they met for the third time in just over a year on the old Cold War frontier that for decades has symbolised the hostility between their countries, which are technically still at war.Trump, escorted by Kim, briefly crossed a military demarcation line into the North side of the Joint Security Area (JSA), patrolled by soldiers from both Koreas. Moments later, they returned to the southern side and joined South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in for a brief chat, marking an unprecedented three-way gathering. Trump says ‘will take a look’ at accusations over Google, China Best Of Express Read | Trump-Kim meeting: Press Secy Stephanie Grisham roughed up by North Korean GuardsTrump and Kim then held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour. “We just had a very, very good meeting,” Trump said after the talks. “We’ll see what can happen.” He said both sides would set up teams to push forward stalled talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, adding “speed is not the thing.” Pope Francis, making his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square, praised the meeting. “I salute the protagonists, with a prayer that such a significant gesture will be a further step on the road to peace, not only on that peninsula, but for the good of the entire world,” he said. U.S. President Donald Trump walks to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueTrump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But the second summit in Hanoi broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a U.S. demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.Timeline | Ups and downs in Trump-Kim negotiations‘PLENTY OF TIME’Kim looked relaxed and smiled as he chatted with Trump amidst a throng of press photographers, aides and bodyguards. Trump said the two leaders “moved mountains” to arrange the last-minute meeting. White House senior advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner walk at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueTrump said he had “plenty of time” and was in “no rush” to reach a deal. “We want to get it right,” he said.North Korea has pursued nuclear and missile programmes for years in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and easing tensions with North Korea is one of the U.S. president’s top foreign policy priorities. The DMZ was set up after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a truce, leaving North Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. forces still technically at war. Advertising donald trump, us president donald trump, kim jong un, donald trump kim jong un meeting, trump kim meeting, trump-kim meeting, trump-kim meet, north korea, us, world news, Indian Express US President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea (REUTERS)US President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks. Taking stock of monsoon rain Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Post Comment(s)last_img read more

NHS tackles prescription fraud to save millions

first_imgBy Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDOct 15 2018The NHS has taken measures to stop patients from wrongfully claiming prescriptions for free. Prescription frauds, according to sources, cost the NHS £256 million annually. These measures would help reduce these costs by half.Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a warning to such individuals who commit prescription fraud said, “The message is clear: the NHS is no longer an easy target and if you try to steal from it you will face the consequences.” At present patients are exempted from paying a fee of £8.80 if they state their inability. Whether they are actually eligible for the exemption is checked at random later after the prescriptions have been filled by the NHS Business Authority. Under the new strictures, pharmacists would have to check a digital database if the patient is exempted before filling the prescription.Some of the experts including those from Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association, who are opposing this plan are of the opinion that these measures would adversely affect people with low incomes. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society also added that some individuals who fail to pay for the prescriptions are actually doing so as a genuine mistake. The false claims for exemptions are fined with £100. Many indivudals who have been fined have actually either filed their forms incorrectly or forgotten to renew their exemptions the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said.The Royal Pharmaceutical Society also add that low income groups and those with long term illnesses would be affected by this. Sandra Gidley, chair of the society’s English Pharmacy Board in a statement to the BBC said, “£8.60 might not be a lot to you but if you’re on a very low income…finding £17 is well nigh impossible for some people. It is hoped stricter rules could wipe out more than £100 million in losses to fraud. The whole system is unjust and unfair.” She said, “Sometimes somebody has free prescriptions legitimately, they’ve got a medical exception – they’re something like a diabetic – and they might forget to renew it and the computer says no. You’re not going to stop a diabetic from getting their insulin, for example. So I think this is potentially fraught with problems.”Related StoriesUH College of Pharmacy PREMIER Center aims to tackle prescription drug misuseHow to get a cheaper prescription before leaving the doctor’s officeDrug overdoses among adolescents and young adults on the riseMr Hancock said in a statement, “Those who abuse the NHS and choose to line their own pockets with money that should be spent on patients and frontline care will no longer have anywhere to hide. The new technology and analysis, combined with intel and experience of counter-fraud specialists will form the starting point of this new fight against NHS fraudsters.” This new digitalized system of checking and dispensing would be started as a pilot project next year and costs related to prescription fraud are expected to be halved by April 2020.In 2016 the number of people fined with £100 for false claims almost doubled to around 900,000. England is the only part of United Kingdom that charges for prescriptions at present. This new effort to curb fraud would be headed by Health Minister Steve Barclay.last_img read more

Study finds lower youth violence in countries with complete ban on corporal

first_img Source:https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/youth-violence-lower-countries-complete-ban-corporal-punishment-290645 Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 17 2018One of largest cross-national analyses of youth violence, based on information from over 400,000 adolescents in 88 countries A study published today in the BMJ Open shows that in countries where there is a complete ban on all corporal punishment of children there is less fighting among young people. There was 31% less physical fighting in young men and 42% less physical fighting in young women in countries where corporal punishment was banned in all settings, compared with those where corporal punishment was permitted both at school and at home. In countries where there was a partial ban on corporal punishment (such as in Canada, the US and the UK where corporal punishment not banned in at home), the level of violence in young men was similar to that in countries with no bans, though the level of violence in women was lower (at 56%).Previous studies have shown a clear relationship between childhood spanking and a host of negative outcomes later on ranging from aggression to mental health problems. In this case, however, the researchers caution that they see an association rather than a causal relationship between legal bans on corporal punishment and violence in youth.”All we can say, at this point, is that countries that prohibit the use of corporal punishment are less violent for children to grow up in than countries that do not,” says Frank Elgar, of McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, the lead author on the study. “At this point we are simply taking a stratospheric view of the issue at an international level and note the correlation. To be able to show an effect of bans on youth violence, we will need to go back in 4-8 years after more data has been collected. We will also need to ask children and youth more questions about what’s going on at home, something that researchers have typically been shy to do.”Related StoriesGuidelines to help children develop healthy habits early in lifeDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationTakeawaysFrequent fighting was generally more common in young men (close to 10%) than in young women (about 3%)Fighting varied widely from one country to the next ranging from under 1% in Costa Rican young women to close to 35% in Samoan young menThe researchers found that the associations between corporal punishment and youth violence remained, even after taking potential confounders were taken into account such as per capita income, murder rates and parent education programmes to prevent child maltreatment.How the research was doneThe researchers used data gathered from adolescents in 88 countries around the world by the World Health Organization Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study and the Global School-Based Health Survey (GSHS). The youth responded to survey questions at varying ages about how often they got into fights. The researchers correlated this information with data from each country about the prohibition of corporal punishment. Countries were grouped into: those with a complete ban on the use of corporal punishment at home and in schools (30 countries, the majority of which are in Europe, as well as a smaller number in Latin America, Asia and Africa); those with a ban in schools but not in the home (38 countries, among them China, the US, UK, and Canada), and those with no ban on corporal punishment (20 countries, ranging from Myanmar to the Solomon Islands).last_img read more

Using spatial technologies to monitor obesity risk

first_img Source:https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2019/2/179094/monitoring-obesity-risk-from-space Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 7 2019In health research, like obesity studies, spatial technologies can add very valuable information. Combining remote sensing, geo-information and GPS will enable us to identify typical ‘obesogenic’ environments. Until now, only part of this type of information is used, while the combination – also called ‘3S’ technology – has a large potential, according to researcher Peng Jia of the University of Twente, Faculty of Geoinformation Sciences and Earth Observation (ITC). He publishes about current and future applications of 3S-technologies in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.Obesity is a growing health problem we read about every day. We should exercise more, eat and drink healthy. Governments already plan ‘lifestyle improvement programmes’. But what about the influence our daily environment has on obesity risk? Is it an inviting environment for doing exercises or going to work by bike? How about the availability of healthy food versus unhealthy food? And where do climate and temperature fit in? Obesity research is often done using questionnaires combined with activity tracking, sometimes adding aspects like income position and the social environment. But there is a lot more of information available from satellite images and geo-information systems, enabling us to identify regions with more or less obesity risk, according to Peng Jia. He is also director of a global research network ‘International Initiative on Spatial Lifecourse Epidemiology’.Mixed environmentsRelated StoriesResearchers propose new avenue in the search for anti-obesity drugsLSU Health researchers to investigate link between breast cancer and obesity in real timeSupervised fun, exercise both improve psychosocial health of children with obesityRemote sensing, using satellites, provides many details about natural and built environments, including climate data. Geo-information systems add a lot of details to this, like the location of shops, restaurants, parks, and sports facilities. Is healthy food within reach, or is it tempting to go for a fast-food chain? What about the affordability? This may give rise to complicated questions: in the US, for example, a big supermarket offering a great choice of food, including healthy food, is often situated on a location that is typically made for going by car, with the fast-food chains present very nearby. This environment has obesogenic aspects, but also ‘ingredients’ for a more healthy lifestyle. Adding data coming from individuals, using GPS tracking for example, enables researchers to zoom in and find out which effects are predominant.Local interventionUsing detailed knowledge of environment-related risk of obesity, interventions will be possible as well. Even on a city level, neighborhoods can be compared to see what works in obesity prevention. Spatial technologies have become increasingly accessible and affordable, according to Peng Jia, so it can be of great added value to health research. UT’s ITC faculty has a lot of experience in collecting and interpreting these spatial data – and recently started a new Master’s programme Spatial Engineering. The approach Peng Jia describes in his paper, is not limited to obesity: for certain diseases, information on the environment will add a lot of values as well.last_img read more

Clinical study provides clear answer to debate on glucose management after stroke

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 8 2019Hyperglycemia, or increased glucose, is common in patients with acute ischemic stroke and is associated with worse outcomes compared to normal glucose levels. Doctors all over the world have debated whether intensive glucose management, which requires the use of IV insulin to bring blood sugar levels down to 80-130 mg/dL, or standard glucose control using insulin shots, which aims to get glucose below 180 mg/dL, lead to better outcomes after stroke. Primary results from the Stroke Hyperglycemia Insulin Network Effort (SHINE) study, a large, multisite clinical study provide a clear answer to that question.The primary results show that intensive glucose management did not improve functional outcomes at 90 days after stroke compared to standard glucose therapy. In addition, intense glucose therapy increased the risk of very low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and required a higher level of care such as increased supervision from nursing staff, compared to standard treatment. The findings will be presented at a plenary session at the International Stroke Conference in Honolulu on February 6, 2019 at 11:23 am HT/4:23 pm ET. Source:https://www.ninds.nih.gov/News-Events/News-and-Press-Releases/Press-Releases/NIH-study-provides-answer-long-held-debate-bloodlast_img read more

Bacteria from seawater provide new leads to treat malignant melanoma

first_img Source:https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2019/acs-presspac-march-6-2019/seawater-bacteria-provides-leads-to-fight-melanoma.html Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 7 2019Malignant melanoma can be a particularly dangerous form of cancer, and more therapeutic options are needed. Now, researchers report in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters that a bacteria from seawater has inspired promising leads for an entirely new way to treat the disease.In melanoma, cancer cells form in melanocytes, the cells that color the skin. While new cases of most types of cancer are declining, those of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — continue to climb, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If melanoma metastasizes, or migrates to other locations in the body, prognosis is poor and treatment options are limited. New chemotherapy agents were recently approved that target melanomas with so-called “BRAF” mutations, but some of these tumors are already showing resistance to these therapies. William Fenical, James J. La Clair, Leticia Costa-Lotufo and colleagues decided the best solution would be to take aim at a completely different biochemical pathway in melanoma.In 2014, the researchers discovered that seriniquinone, a natural product isolated from a rare marine bacteria, showed potent and selective activity against melanoma cells in a test tube. Even better, it was the first small molecule ever shown to target a particular protein involved in cancer proliferation. In their new work, the team identified the structural components of the natural product that were key to its activity, and then modified other parts of the molecule to make it more water soluble nd easier to purify. Both these steps are necessary to make it more suitable as a drug. The researchers are now further refining these seriniquinone derivatives to optimize activity against melanoma.​last_img read more

Researchers explore rate of billed ACP conversations with hospitalized older patients

first_img Rates were highest among cases in which physicians responded no to the surprise question (they wouldn’t be surprised if the patient died within the next year) – 8.3% compared with 4.1% of cases when they answered yes they would be surprised, and 3.5% of cases when the physicians weren’t prompted with the surprise question. Those with billed ACP were older (80 vs.78); more likely to be diagnosed with dementia, congestive heart failure, and cancer. At the hospital level, ACP rates varied from 0% to 35% (mean 5.2%) of all admissions. The majority of all ACP discussions were attributable to one-quarter of physicians; one-third of physicians never billed for ACP. Source:https://tdi.dartmouth.edu/news-events/how-common-are-advance-care-planning-conversations-when-patient-hospitalized-older-and-high-risk-dying The researchers note that their findings reflect the uptake of ACP billing only one year after the codes were introduced and that ACP billing rates have likely increased since the first quarter of 2017. They also state that despite the nationwide sample of physicians in the study, their findings might not be generalizable to those who have not received training and/or financial incentives for ACP.”The fact that we are seeing such a low rate of billed ACP conversations, even among physicians who have received training in how to have these conversations, underscores the need for more interventions aimed at increasing ACP in hospitals,” Barnato says. “Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that patients receive treatment that is in accordance with their needs and goals.”center_img Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 2 2019As the U.S. population ages, hospitals and health systems around the country have been grappling with how to integrate advance care planning (ACP) into routine practice. In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began paying physicians for ACP by introducing two new billing codes which allowed them to bill for up to 60 minutes of advance care planning conversations with their patients. At the time, some lawmakers expressed concern that the ACP billing codes could be overused and become a burden to the Medicare program. A team of researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice investigated the early uptake of the ACP billing codes by analyzing billing for seriously ill, hospitalized adults over 65 who were treated by a large national physician practice. They found that despite the fact that physicians employed by the practice received ACP training and small financial incentives for ACP documentation, the rate of billed ACP conversations was very low and that there was wide variation among physicians and practice sites.”Advance care planning conversations are difficult. They require a lot of emotional muscle,” says lead author and Dartmouth Institute Professor Amber Barnato, MD, MPH, MS. “It’s not just the words that you say as a physician, but how you deal with the emotion that comes up when talking about prognosis – yours as well as the patient’s! But these conversations are also incredibly rewarding because they allow you to talk to the patient about what matters most to them.”Barnato and her colleagues analyzed ACP billing codes between January 1, 2017, to March 31, 2017, in a practice that employs approximately 2,500 hospital-based physicians in 250 community hospitals in 38 states. The hospital-based physicians received mandatory training in ACP billing and documentation, as well as, a small financial incentive ($20) for reach properly documented ACP conversation that meets CMS billing criteria. They also receive web-based training in serious illness communication skills during the first two years of employment.Beginning in 2017, the physicians were also required to answer a surprise question–‘Would you be surprised if the patient died within the next year?’–for all admitted patients over 65. The researchers say the surprise question is useful because it is intuitive and not burdensome for physicians to answer. It is also predictive of mortality. In the first quarter of 2017, hospital physicians in the practice admitted 113,612 patients age 65 and over and were prompted to answer the surprise question for 73,731 patients (65%). (*When physicians weren’t prompted to answer the surprise question, it was primarily due to delayed implementation at a site or the patient being managed on observation status and not admitted to the hospital.)Related StoriesBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgery’Traffic light’ food labels associated with reduction in calories purchased by hospital employeesHome-based support network helps stroke patients adjust after hospital dischargeIn their analysis, recently reported in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the researchers found:last_img read more

NIHs All Of Us Research Program to host special symposium on May

first_imgWhen: Monday, May 6, 2019; 10-11:30 a.m. EDTWhere: Masur Auditorium, NIH Clinical Center (Building 10), NIH Campus, Bethesda, MarylandPlease see NIH Visitor Information for a map and details about campus access.The event also will be streamed via NIH Videocast and Facebook Live.Contact: Members of the press interested in attending should contact Katie Rush or Veronica Anderson at AllofUsPress@mail.nih.gov with any questions or to discuss interview, filming and photography opportunities. Source:https://allofus.nih.gov/news-events-and-media/announcements/nih-all-us-symposium-highlight-progress-toward-building-largest-most-diverse-health-research-program-its-kind Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health Eric Dishman, Director, All of Us Research Program Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse Elizabeth Cohn, Ph.D., R.N., Rudin Professor of Nursing, Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, City University of New York David Glazer, Engineering Director, Verily Deven McGraw, J.D., General Counsel and Chief Regulatory Officer, Ciitizen Ana Pavón, Program Coordinator, PASOs-Midlands Robert A. Winn, M.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Based Practice; Director, University of Illinois Cancer Center; and Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicagocenter_img with Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 30 2019What: The All of Us Research Program at the National Institutes of Health is hosting a special symposium, “From Data to Discoveries: Creating a Research Program for All of Us.” Marking one year from the program’s national launch, speakers will identify the building blocks of a meaningful research program, including an engaged and diverse participant community, and forecast the program’s scientific possibilities. Also at the event, the program will introduce the beta version of the All of Us Data Browser, an interactive tool available to the public that provides summary statistics from the program’s growing database, with information from participants’ surveys, physical measurements and electronic health records.Related StoriesSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustryWho: Speakers include:last_img read more

Maggot sausages may soon be a reality

first_imgProfessor of Meat Science at the University of Queensland, Dr Louwrens Hoffman…”An overpopulated world is going to struggle to find enough protein unless people are willing to open their minds (and stomachs) to a much broader notion of food” By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMay 1 2019When it comes to food – especially meat, where do you draw the line? Researchers from University of Queensland seem to find nothing inedible! They are researching on use of maggots and locusts to make a range of food items that could address the food shortages around the world.University of Queensland Meat Science Professor Dr Louwrens Hoffman explains that the current status of livestock around the world would soon fail to meet the demands for meat across the world leading to shortages and deficient protein diets. It is imperative that alternate sources of proteins are researched for human consumption. He said, “An overpopulated world is going to struggle to find enough protein unless people are willing to open their minds, and stomachs, to a much broader notion of food.” He added, “Would you eat a commercial sausage made from maggots? What about other insect larvae and even whole insects like locusts?” “The biggest potential for sustainable protein production lies with insects and new plant sources,” he said. According to their research they note that Western consumers would generally refrain from having insect based foods unless they were processed and unrecognizable. He explained, “In other words, insect protein needs to be incorporated into existing food products as an ingredient. For example, one of my students has created a very tasty insect ice-cream.”Kangaroo meat too has been hailed as an alternative source for meat globally, he said. Hoffman and his team’s research called the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) used larvae (maggots) from the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) as an alternate source of meat or poultry. Hoffman explained, “Poultry is a massive industry worldwide and the industry is under pressure to find alternative proteins that are more sustainable, ethical and green than the grain crops currently being used.” At present broiler chickens fed on larvae diet of up to 15 percent do not affect the final end product he explained. He said, “It’s all pretty logical if you think about it. Chickens in the wild don’t eat feed preparations. They eat insects and larvae.”Insects for part of diet in many parts of the world say the researchers, especially in the east. Professor Hoffman said insect larvae or maggots would be easy to produce from the “upcycled waste” like sewage. He said, “There needs to be a better understanding of the difference between animal feed and human food, and a global reappraisal of what can constitute healthy, nutritional and safe food for all.”In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations had published a report in which the experts had urged people to eat more insects rather than conventional meats. The report had said that producing insect meat was cheaper and more sustainable. This had encouraged some of the US based companies to come up with insect based food products such as chips and protein bars made up of insects.Related StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerCancer killing capability of lesser-known immune cells identifiedFood study looking at patterns of food consumptionIn a recent related study K. Papier and colleagues from Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford worked on a research looking at the patterns of diet in a large cohort of participants. Their study titled, “Comparison of Major Protein-Source Foods and Other Food Groups in Meat-Eaters and Non-Meat-Eaters in the EPIC-Oxford Cohort,” was published last month (11th of April) in the journal Nutrients.The team was exploring the health effects of different diets – inclusive of meat and barring meat. Their study using the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford cohort of 30,239 participants looked at food groups. They divided the study groups into six based on their food consumption. Participants were either, “regular meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans” consuming, “a third, quarter and a fifth of their total energy intake from high protein-source foods” respectively. They noted that those who were low and non-meat-eaters were more frequently consuming meat alternatives such as “soy, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds” as well as other plant-based foods such as “whole grains, vegetables, fruits.”Plant based meat and clean meat consumption and NeophobiasAs food alternatives go there are plant based meats and clean meat. Clean meat refers to cultured meat that is grown from meat cells in the labs. Plant based meats are popular with vegans wherein plant products are made to appear like meat.Another recent study was conducted by Christopher Byrant from Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom and colleagues including Keri Szejda, Nishant Parekh and Varun Desphande from The Good Food Institute, Washington, DC and Brian Tse from the Center for Long Term Priorities, Hong Kong. The team looked at consumer perceptions regarding clean meat and plant based meats as alternatives to regular meat in USA, China and India. Their study titled, “A Survey of Consumer Perceptions of Plant-Based and Clean Meat in the USA, India, and China,” was published in Frontiers In Sustainable Food Systems in February 2019.They write that conventional meat production and consumption has taken a setback in the recent years. There have been concerns regarding “taste, price, safety, and naturalness,” of these products and increasingly populations are shifting towards alternatives.For this study the team recruited 3,030 participants to understand their perception regarding clean meat and plant based meat. The participants were from China, India, and the USA. The team also looked at levels of neophobia among the participants. Neophobia refers to fear of trying anything new.The results showed that in India and China compared to the USA there was a higher acceptance of clean and plant-based meat. In India, predictability food related neophobia was higher than in China and USA. Women in China for example were more likely than men to buy clean meat as well as plant based meat. Meat eaters there were also more likely to buy more clean meat. The team found attitude predictors among the buyers related to perception of “healthiness, appeal, excitement, nutrition, necessity, and goodness”. Similar findings were seen in India.last_img read more

Study finds link between maternal diet rich in nuts and childs neurodevelopment

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 7 2019Nuts are known to help reduce the risk of hypertension, oxidative stress and diabetes and they may exercise a protective effect against cognitive decline in older age. To this list of beneficial health effects, we can now add new evidence from a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institute supported by “la Caixa”. The study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, found links between a maternal diet rich in nuts during the first trimester of pregnancy and improved neurodevelopment in the child.The study was carried out in Spain and included over 2,200 mother and child pairs enrolled in cohorts belonging to the INMA Project located in Asturias, Guipuzcoa, Sabadell and Valencia. Information on maternal nut intake was obtained from questionnaires on eating habits, which the mothers completed during the first and last trimester of their pregnancy. The children’s neuropsychological development was assessed using several internationally validated standard tests 18 months, 5 years, and 8 years after birth.Analysis of the results showed that the group of children whose mothers ate more nuts during the first trimester of pregnancy obtained the best results in all the tests measuring cognitive function, attention capacity and working memory.”This is the first study to explore the possible benefits of eating nuts during pregnancy for the child’s neurodevelopment in the long term. The brain undergoes a series of complex processes during gestation and this means that maternal nutrition is a determining factor in fetal brain development and can have long-term effects, explains Florence Gignac, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study. “The nuts we took into account in this study were walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts. We think that the beneficial effects observed might be due to the fact that the nuts provided high levels of folic acid and, in particular, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. These components tend to accumulate in neural tissue, particularly in the frontal areas of the brain, which influence memory and executive functions.”Related StoriesPuzzling paralysis affecting healthy children warns CDCResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifidaWhy Mattresses Could be a Health Threat to Sleeping ChildrenThe benefits described in this study were observed in the group of mothers who reported the highest consumption of nuts–a weekly average of just under three 30g servings. This is slightly lower than the average weekly consumption recommended in the healthy eating guide published by the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition (SENC: Guía de la alimentación saludable), which is between three and seven servings per week. “This makes us think that if the mothers consumed the recommended weekly average the benefits could be much greater,” Gignac explains. Estimated nut consumption in Spain is more than double the European average (4.8 g vs. 2.2 g).The study also analysed the mothers’ nut consumption during the third trimester of their pregnancy, but in this case either no associations were observed with the neuropsychological outcomes or the associations found were weaker. “This is not the first time we have observed more marked effects when an exposure occurs at a specific stage of the pregnancy. While our study does not explain the causes of the difference between the first and third trimesters, the scientific literature speculates that the rhythm of fetal development varies throughout the pregnancy and that there are periods when development is particularly sensitive to maternal diet” explains Jordi Júlvez, ISGlobal researcher and last author of the study.”In any case”, adds Júlvez, “as this is the first study to explore this effect, we must treat the findings with caution and work on reproducing them in the future with more cohort studies as well as randomised controlled trials”. Source:http://www.isglobal.org/en/last_img read more

Robin Hood to rescue of rural hospitals New math promised on Medicare

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 3 2019As rural hospital closures roil the country, some states are banking on a Trump administration proposal to change the way hospital payments are calculated to rescue them.The goal of the proposal, unveiled by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma last month, is to bump up Medicare’s reimbursements to rural hospitals, some of which receive the lowest rates in the nation.For example, Alabama’s hospitals — most of which are rural — stand to gain an additional $43 million from Medicare next year if the federal agency makes this adjustment.”We’re hopeful,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association. “It’s as much about the rural hospitals as rural communities being able to survive.”The proposed tweak, as wonky as it is, comes with considerable controversy.By law, any proposed changes in the calculation of Medicare payments must be budget-neutral; in other words, the federal government can’t spend more money than previously allocated. That would mean any change would have a Robin Hood-like effect: increasing payments to some hospitals and decreasing them to others.”There is a real political tension,” said Mark Holmes, director of the University of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Changing the factors in Medicare’s calculations that help hospitals in rural communities generally would mean that urban hospitals get less money.The federal proposal targets a long-standing and contentious regulation known in Washington simply as the “wage index.” The index, created in the 1980s as a way to ensure federal Medicare reimbursements were equitable for hospitals nationwide, attempts to adjust for local market prices, said Allen Dobson, president of the consulting firm Dobson, DaVanzo & Associates.That means under the current index a rural community hospital could receive a Medicare payment of about $4,000 to treat someone with pneumonia compared with an urban hospital receiving nearly $6,000 for the same case, according to CMS.”The idea was to give urban a bit more and rural areas a bit less because their labor costs are a bit less,” said Dobson, who was the research director for Medicare in the 1980s when the index was created. “There’s probably no exact true way to do it. I think everybody agrees if you are in a high-wage area you ought to get paid more for your higher wages.”For decades, hospitals have questioned the fairness of that adjustment.Rural hospitals nationwide have a median wage index that is consistently lower than that of urban hospitals, according to a recent brief by the Sheps Center. The gap is most acute in the South, where 14 of the 20 states account for the lowest median wage indices.Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found that the index may not accurately reflect local labor prices and, therefore, Medicare payments to some hospitals “may not be appropriately” adjusted for local labor prices. More plainly, in some cases, the payments are too low.In an emailed statement to KHN, Verma said the current wage index system “has partly contributed to disparities in reimbursement across the country.”CMS’ current proposal would increase Medicare payments to the mostly rural hospitals in the lowest 25th percentile and decrease the payments to those in the highest 75th percentile. The agency is also proposing a 5% cap on any hospital’s decrease in the final wage index in 2020 compared with 2019. This would effectively limit the loss in payments some would experience.Related StoriesMedicare recipients may pay more for generics than their brand-name counterparts, study findsDelaney’s debate claim that ‘Medicare for All’ will shutter hospitals goes overboardSocial Security error jeopardizes Medicare coverage for 250,000 seniorsDobson, a former Medicare research director, said he expects “enormous resistance.” (The CMS proposal is open for public comment until June 24.)HHS Secretary Alex Azar, foreshadowing how difficult a change could be, said during a May 10 Senate budget hearing that the wage index is “one of the more vexing issues in Medicare.” It’s problematic, agreed Tom Nickels, an AHA executive vice president, noting in an emailed statement that there are other ways “to provide needed relief to low-wage areas without penalizing high-wage areas.”It’s this split that appears to be dictating the range of reactions.The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association’s Michael Sroczynski, who oversees its government lobbying, questioned in an emailed statement whether the wage index is the correct mechanism for providing relief to struggling hospitals. The state’s hospitals have historically been at the higher end of the wage index.In contrast, Tennessee Hospital Association CEO Craig Becker applauded the proposed change and said the Trump administration is recognizing the “longstanding unfairness” of the index. Tennessee has been among the hardest hit with hospital closures, counting 10 since 2012.In Alabama, where four rural hospitals have closed since 2012, Howard said that without the change she “could see a dozen or more of our hospitals not being able to survive the next year.” Indeed, Howard said, hospitals in more than 20 states could gain Medicare dollars if the proposal passes and “only a small number actually get hurt.”Kaiser Health News asked the Missouri Hospital Association, in a state where most hospitals do not stand to gain or lose significantly from the rule change, to calculate the exact differences in hospital payments under the current wage index formula. Under the complex formula, a hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif., an area at the top end of the range, received a Medicare payment rate of $10,951.30 — or 70% more — for treating a concussion with major complications in 2010, compared with a rural Alabama hospital, at the bottom end, which received $6,441.76 to provide the same care.Even more, MHA’s data analysis showed that the lower payments to Alabama hospitals have compounded over time. In 2019, Medicare increased its pay to the hospitals in the Santa Cruz-Watsonville area for the same concussion care. It now stands at $13,503.37 — a nearly 23% increase above the 2010 payment. In contrast, rural Alabama hospitals recorded a 3% payment increase,  to $6,646.80, for the same care.For Alabama, addressing the calculation disparity could be “the lifeline that we’ve been praying for,” Howard said. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

Facebook to train 65000 in French job schemes

© 2018 AFP Facebook said Monday that it will train 65,000 French people in digital skills in free schemes to help women set up businesses and the long-term unemployed get back to work. Citation: Facebook to train 65,000 in French job schemes (2018, January 22) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-facebook-french-job-schemes.html The internet giant also announced that it will pour an additional 10 million euros ($12.2 million) into artificial intelligence in France by 2022, without saying how much it will invest in the training schemes.The US social network will work with 50,000 jobseekers in a partnership with the national unemployment agency, helping them with their computer skills, until late 2019, a company statement said.At the same time it will work with 15,000 French women hoping to start their own companies, in an expansion of the She Means Business campaign already present in several countries.That scheme will give 3,500 women intensive free computer training across various French cities, with another 11,500 women given access to an online course.”These initiatives are part of a pan-European programme, with Facebook hoping to train a million people and business founders by 2020,” the internet giant said.Its artificial intelligence investment will meanwhile allow Facebook to double the number of researchers at its AI hub in Paris—one of four worldwide—to 60.”Facebook wants to play a key role in France’s ambition to become the international champion of AI,” the social network said. France fines Facebook for data protection breaches Facebook announced that it will pour an additional 10 million euros (8.9 million euros) into artificial intelligence in France by 2022 Explore further 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. read more

General Motors reports 52 bn loss on charge for US tax reform

General Motors sees another solid year of sales this year, despite posting a loss last year largely due to the US tax reform, as it launches the revamped Chevrolet Silverado Citation: General Motors reports $5.2 bn loss on charge for US tax reform (2018, February 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-motors-bn-loss-tax-reform.html GM reported a net loss of $5.2 billion in the fourth quarter due to a $7.3 billion non-cash charge from the remeasurement of deferred tax assets because of US tax reform—a change other major companies also have had to contend with. Revenues in the final quarter fell to $37.7 billion, down 5.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.The tax impact also led to an annual loss of $3.9 billion, after solid profits in 2016.But GM pointed to strong sales in the US, China and South America that helped it achieve higher operating earnings compared with the fourth quarter of the prior year.The automaker reported a dip in North American car sales overall, where the US market in 2017 retreated from the record-setting performance of 2016 but remained at a high level. Car sales rose significantly in China and South America, offsetting the near complete absence of sales in Europe after the company sold its the Opel/Vauxhall brands in Europe to the PSA Group.US tax reform has led to a number of losses among large corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Caterpillar in the fourth quarter. Still, there is broad consensus among US companies, including GM, that tax cuts will benefit the economy long-term.Solid year expectedExcluding those items, GM’s earnings translated into $1.65 a share, better than analyst forecasts.GM said last month that it expects another solid year in car sales in 2018 when it will launch revamps of best-selling vehicles such as the Chevrolet Silverado. Pickups and other large vehicles, which have big profit margins, have become the backbone of US car sales amid a period of relatively low gasoline prices.GM also has scored points with Wall Street for making strides in its autonomous driving program. It is targeting 2019 for deployment of autonomous vehicles commercially, though it has not said when its overall spending on autonomous technology will be profitable.The automaker plans to invest $1 billion in 2018 on autonomous car technology, an increase from the $600 million last year. “We believe this is a huge opportunity if you’re first at scale,” GM chief financial officer Chuck Stevens told CNBC Tuesday morning.GM shares rose 2.4 percent to $40.50 after the results were announced. A huge one-time charge for US tax reform pushed General Motors quarterly earnings into the red, but the automaker said Tuesday that earnings were better-than-expected when the tax hit is excluded. 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. GM takes $7 bn charge due to US tax reform, sees solid 2018 © 2018 AFP Explore further read more

Streaming platform Hulu could be wild card in FoxDisney megadeal

Walt Disney Co.’s deal for much of the film and television assets of 21st Century Fox could help remake the streaming platform Hulu a legitimate rival to Netflix. Will Disney’s streaming service roar – or squeak? “While the Netflix machine remains the clear leader and poised to increase its market share both domestically as well as internationally we believe Disney will invest a billion-plus in Hulu over the next three years with its live programming being a potential difference maker.” The Emmy-winning show “The Handmaid’s Tale” starring actress Elisabeth Moss has helped raise the profile of streaming television service Hulu The proposed $52 billion deal has drawn attention for potentially turning over to Disney another major Hollywood studio and key television operations in the US and overseas.But if streaming video represents the future, Hulu could be the key.Created in 2008, Hulu has garnered comparatively little attention as the number three streaming platform in the US market, behind Netflix and Amazon.Hulu was created by the major broadcast operators to counter the growing influence of Netflix. But Hulu’s structure has been a handicap. Disney Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal each own 30 percent, with Time Warner holding the remaining 10 percent.The deal announced in December would give Disney a 60 percent stake and, according to analysts, greater ability to build a winning platform.”Hulu never made sense to begin with,” said analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research.”The concept that the networks needed to come together to form this consortium probably held it back more than anything else. They’re probably better not working in a consortium-like model.” 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. Walt Disney Co. would strengthen its streaming television offerings by gaining control of the Hulu platform as part of a $52 billion deal for film and television assets of 21st Century Fox Disney’s firm control of Hulu would probably lead to the exit of Comcast’s NBCUniversal to establish its own platform, according to Wieser.Hulu has an estimated 17 million subscribers—up from 12 million a year earlier—compared with over 100 million for Netflix.New directionsBut Hulu has made gains in the past year as it ramps up original content, including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a winner of eight Emmy awards. Hulu has also indicated it may start expanding to international markets to step up its challenge to Netflix.Daniel Ives of the research firm GBH Insights said allowing Disney to take a controlling share in Hulu “significantly changes the strategic direction” for the platform.Ives noted that Hulu could complement the streaming services which Disney expects to launch in the coming years—one for general content and another for sports.”From a content perspective having the Disney machine and (chief executive Bob) Iger behind Hulu makes it a much more competitive platform over the coming years as this will be a two-head monster with Disney’s streaming service slated for 2019 and Hulu as a standalone,” Ives said. Explore further Triple threatIger said in December that he wants to launch a streaming service which is a “destination” for children’s programming which will come from Disney itself as well as its ABC television unit and the Fox television entities.During Disney’s earnings call this week, Iger said the regulatory review for the Fox deal was underway in various jurisdictions and said the tie up would offer a boost to the media-entertainment group.Adding the Fox assets, Iger said, will deliver more content and the production capabilities and talent to produce even more. It will enhance our direct-to-consumer initiatives with platforms, technologies, brands and existing customer relationships to build on.”Hulu would complement that with programming for a more general audience and with its ESPN sports service, Disney could offer a “triple threat” to rivals.Wieser said it remains unclear if Disney’s strategy of streaming services targeted at specific audiences will work. It will also face competition from streaming services offered by broadcast group CBS and Time Warner’s premium video channel HBO.”Maybe customers ultimately prefer services that are tailored somewhat rather than broad,” Wieser said. “And by taking so many kicks at the can they’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t.”Hulu is also promoting its “Live TV” option which offers a bundle of channels as slimmed down option for viewers not seeking a large cable or satellite package.”This is going to be a heavyweight fight over the coming years with Hulu playing a central role in Disney’s ability to gain market and mind share versus the iron fortress and empire of streaming, Netflix,” Ives said. © 2018 AFP Disney CEO chief Bob Iger—shown here with Mickey Mouse preparing to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in November 2017—has said he wants to launch a streaming service which is a “destination” for children’s programming Citation: Streaming platform Hulu could be wild card in Fox-Disney megadeal (2018, February 7) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-streaming-platform-hulu-wild-card.html read more