Pfizer settles kickback case related to copay assistance for 24m

first_img 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. May 24 2018Pfizer will pay the government nearly $24 million as part of a settlement to resolve allegations that it funneled money through a foundation resulting in illegal kickbacks.The company is not admitting wrongdoing or liability as part of its settlement with the Department of Justice.According to the settlement agreement, from 2012 through 2016, Pfizer made donations to the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, a copay assistance nonprofit organization, and then used a specialty pharmacy to steer Medicare patients taking its drugs toward the foundation to cover their copays.”Pfizer knew that the third-party foundation was using Pfizer’s money to cover the copays of patients taking Pfizer drugs, thus generating more revenue for Pfizer and masking the effect of Pfizer’s price increases,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, citing the settlement. “The Anti-Kickback Statute exists to protect Medicare, and the taxpayers who fund it, from schemes like these.”Drugmakers can’t directly offer copay assistance to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries under federal law. The concern is that covering such out-of-pocket costs for expensive drugs still leaves taxpayers with the bill for the remainder of the costs. Congress didn’t want beneficiaries to be shielded from price increases, allowing drugmakers to increase prices without risking that patients will switch to cheaper alternatives.Pfizer spokeswoman Sally Beatty stressed that the company takes compliance “very seriously.” The company continues to donate to charities that offer assistance with copays.”The Company believes all individuals deserve access to medicines prescribed by their physicians,” she said in a statement provided to Kaiser Health News. “Pfizer continues to believe these programs help patients lead healthier lives.”Joel Hay, a health policy and economics professor at the University of Southern California, disagrees. “In essence, it gives the drug companies free rein to jack the price up to whatever they want,” he said. “You totally dilute any effort on the part of the doctor or consumer to think carefully about whether these drugs are worth their cost.”Pfizer gave the PAN Foundation $16.9 million in 2015, according to Kaiser Health News’ Pre$cription for Power database, which covers contributions from drugmakers to patient groups in 2015 but will expand over time. Asked why the settlement was only $7 million more than what Pfizer gave the PAN Foundation in 2015, the Department of Justice said its policy was not to comment on settlement amounts.The chemotherapy drugs at the center of the alleged scheme were Sutent, which treats kidney cancer and other cancerous tumors, and Inlyta, which also treats kidney cancer.Related StoriesUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerAdding immunotherapy after initial treatment improves survival in metastatic NSCLC patientsSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studySutent cost Medicare Part D $183 million in 2016 before rebates, or about $47,000 per patient. Medicare’s spending for each unit of this drug had increased by 80 percent since the illegal conduct allegedly began in 2012. Inlyta cost Medicare about $73 million in 2016, or about $57,000 per patient. Medicare spent 34 percent more on each unit of the drug in 2016 than it did in 2012.Tikosyn, a Pfizer drug to treat an irregular heartbeat, was also part of the alleged scheme, according to the settlement. The drugmaker raised the list price of 40 Tikosyn capsules from $220 to $317 in the final three months of 2015. It cost Medicare $107 million in 2016 before rebates.Planning a price increase, Pfizer worked with the PAN Foundation to “create and finance a fund” for Medicare patients with a specific irregular heartbeat, the settlement says. “For the next nine months, Tikosyn patients accounted for virtually all of the beneficiaries of PAN’s fund.”Hay said the DOJ action is “long overdue.” Pfizer is one of many drug companies engaging in such behavior with various copay assistance nonprofits, he said, and the DOJ should have been aggressive about it “years if not decades earlier.””The basic fact is it’s illegal under the False Claims Act,” he said.PAN Foundation President and CEO Daniel Klein said the foundation learned about the DOJ settlement Thursday.”While PAN has received contributions from Pfizer, we endeavor to operate our patient assistance programs independent of any influence by donors,” he said. “Without the assistance PAN provides, many thousands of underinsured patients would be unable to afford their critical medications.”KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. last_img read more

Scientists discover biomarker for kidney cancer

first_imgThis work is a big step forward; KIM-1 is the only blood biomarker shown prospectively to distinguish between people at high and low risk of kidney cancer. But there’s a lot more work to do before we could envisage this in the clinic.Dr David Muller, Imperial College London There is a pressing need to shift kidney cancer diagnoses towards earlier stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful, and this promising research is progress towards that goal. This work is still in early stages, so prospective studies of larger populations are needed before this approach could be widely adopted.”Professor Charles Swanton, CRUK Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsArtificial intelligence can help accurately predict acute kidney injury in burn patients”The next steps are to look more closely at whether KIM-1 levels can help detect tumours that have a good prognosis, so those at an early stage, and to find out if it could be used as a tool to track whether a patient’s treatment is working.”Kidney cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the UK and cases are on the rise. When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than 8 in 10 people will survive their disease for 5 years or more.More than 4 in 10 cases in England are diagnosed at a late stage, however, and just 1 in 10 people survive kidney cancer when diagnosed at the latest stage.Diagnosing the disease earlier therefore has the potential to boost survival, but the majority of early-stage tumours do not present symptoms and many cases are picked up incidentally during imaging for a range of other health conditions. Source:Cancer Research UK Aug 13 2018Scientists have discovered a new blood biomarker that could help predict the risk of kidney cancer. The research was recently published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.Supported by Cancer Research UK, the IARC and the NIH, the work used samples taken as part of the EPIC study to examine the blood of 190 people who went on to develop kidney cancer, compared to 190 controls who did not.They found that measuring levels of a protein molecule in the blood, called KIM-1, could indicate whether a person was more likely to develop kidney cancer over the following 5 years.The data also showed that the greater the concentration of KIM-1, the higher their risk of developing kidney cancer.In people with kidney cancer, KIM-1 levels were also found to be linked with poor survival, as those with the highest levels in their blood were less likely to survive.In the future, the scientists think that testing for blood KIM-1 levels could be used alongside imaging to confirm suspicions of kidney cancer, or help to rule out the disease.last_img read more

Innovative assistive surgical devices dominate in DEBUT challenge

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Aug 27 2018Projects focused on providing simple, low-cost modifications to surgical techniques that could reduce pain or damage from these procedures dominated this year’s Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge. The DEBUT challenge, a biomedical engineering design prize competition for teams of undergraduate students with prizes worth $65,000, is an annual contest supported by a public-private partnership between the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health, and VentureWell. VentureWell is a not-for-profit organization that supports an emerging generation of science and technology inventors and the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems critical to their success. This is the third year that NIBIB has joined with VentureWell, extending the collective reach and impact of the DEBUT awards.Of the 36 eligible entries received from 25 universities in 15 different states, NIBIB selected three winning teams based on the significance of the problem being addressed; the impact on clinical care; the innovation of the design; and the evidence of a working prototype. VentureWell selected two additional winners based on market potential and patentability. The prizes will be awarded in a ceremony at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference in Atlanta on Oct. 18.”The designs show how fresh eyes can develop simple, low-cost solutions that can improve healthcare and it is clear that students like these are the future of biomedical engineering,” said Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., acting director of NIBIB.NIBIB’s first-place prize of $20,000 went to a team from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, for a minimally invasive brain retractor, Radiex, that provides safer surgical access to the brain for neurological operations. Currently, in about 9 percent of neurosurgical operations, the retractor-;a tool used to help surgeons access the brain-;causes unintentional damage such as brain swelling, hemorrhage, or brain infarction. The Radiex’s rounded design distributes forces around a circular opening, and the small diameter easily accommodates minimally invasive surgeries, limiting damage to the brain.”This team set out clear technical specifications and went through many different prototypes to achieve their target. Their device has the potential to decrease recovery time, reduce major complications that endanger the patient and prevent the need for post-operative care,” said Zeynep Erim, Ph.D., the program director managing the DEBUT challenge at NIBIB. “The detailed testing of the prototype, in collaboration with neurosurgeons, using brain phantoms and cadavers, also impressed our judges.”The second place NIBIB prize of $15,000 was awarded to a team from Clemson University, South Carolina, for developing a device that can assist in the resection of the tibia (one of two bones in the lower leg), helping reduce the amount of vein and ligament damage and other complications during total knee replacement procedures. It also allows for the complete resection of the tibia without any other tools or technicians, making the procedure quicker and easier for surgeons.Related StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaSleep quality and fatigue among women with premature ovarian insufficiencyDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustNIBIB’s third place prize of $10,000 was awarded to a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, for their device called the Neuraline. It was developed to facilitate the placement of epidural anesthesia during labor and delivery. The current method of epidural insertion requires the technician to feel a loss of resistance in order to identify the epidural space in the spine. However, the loss of resistance can be highly variable depending on the individual patient and skill of the technician. One in eight attempts at this procedure results in complications ranging from post-dural puncture headaches to cardiac arrest, and even death. The Neuraline is designed to provide an objective measure of bioimpedance-;the resistance that different tissues have to electricity-;that will alert the technician to the needle’s location and when it has reached the correct epidural space.The Venture Prize of $15,000 was awarded by VentureWell to another team from Clemson University who designed a device to help guide surgeons when they place orthopedic screws to set and repair broken bones. If the screw is misaligned with the hole that was initially drilled, it can lead to unnecessary pain as well as additional surgeries. The Concentracizor 4 is a simple device that uses gyroscopes to record the drilling alignment and guides the surgeon back to the proper angle for screw placement using LED lights. The device is handheld, light, and can accommodate any size surgical drill.VentureWell’s Design Excellence Prize of $5,000 went to a team from the University of California, Riverside, for the Talaria-;a magnetic ankle brace that aims to provide personalized support. Using sensors, it is able to detect when the ankle has rolled past its natural threshold (after being personally calibrated to each user’s range of motion) and employs magnetorheological fluid to instantly support the ankle when needed. This type of personalized brace could help decrease both recovery time as well as the chance of further injury.”The DEBUT Competition draws top design and innovation projects from undergraduates at universities and colleges across the U.S., and this year’s winners once again represent a compelling group of health and healthcare innovations,” said Phil Weilerstein, President of VentureWell. “The DEBUT submissions demonstrated the application of effective design principles to apply emerging science and technologies to create innovative solutions and the attention to regulatory and safety requirements. The winning teams emerged from a rigorous external review by panels of industry and technical experts. We are impressed with the ingenuity of the winners and are excited by the potential of their innovations to improve patient experience and outcomes.”Descriptions and videos of the winning projects can be found here: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/training-careers/undergraduate-graduate/design-biomedical-undergraduate-teams-debut-challenge/2018-debut-challenge-winners Source:https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/assistive-surgical-devices-shine-debut-biomedical-engineering-design-competitionlast_img read more

Autism biomarker may aid early diagnoses

first_imgWith this panel of alterations in amino acid metabolism, we can detect about 17 percent of kids with ASD…This is the first of hopefully many panels that will identify other subsets of kids with autism.”David G. Amaral, Senior Author Although there is not a single marker that will detect all types of autism, the latest research has shown that it may be possible to generate a panel of biomarkers that will detect a large proportion of people at risk.It is hoped that the identification of these biomarkers with help to accelerate ASD diagnosis so affected children can receive intensive behavioral therapy, which has proven efficacy, at an earlier age.In the longer term, it is hoped that metabolomic assays will be developed to enable detection of all variations of ASD.Amaral explained “…once we’ve been able to analyze all the data from CAMP, we would have a series of panels…Each of these would be able to detect a subset of kids with autism. Ultimately metabolomics may be able to identify most children with autism.” By Kate Bass, B.Sc.Sep 6 2018Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Research published today in the journal Biological Psychiatry describes a group of blood metabolites that could act as a new biomarker to accelerate the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Image Credit: PhotoUG / ShutterstockAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects around 1 in 160 children globally, and the prevalence is on the rise.ASD is a spectrum of related but distinct disorders that affect an individual’s capacity for social interaction and communication.The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another making diagnosis challenging.Although there are some screening tests for ASD available, a diagnosis can only be made after a full evaluation of the altered behaviors, some of which are not apparent until the age of 2‑4 years.In addition, many patients have long waits to have their child properly assessed and diagnosed.In cases where the symptoms are relatively mild, an individual may not be diagnosed with ASD until adolescence or adulthood.ASD can have a negative impact on educational and social attainments, which can limit employment opportunities.It is therefore important for a child with ASD to receive the support they need as soon as possible to maximize the chance of them reaching their full potential.Investigators involved in the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project (CAMP), the largest metabolomic ASD study ever attempted, have identified a group of blood metabolites that could help detect ASD in children. It is hoped that the discovery will provide the basis for developing a rapid test for ASD.The metabolome is the total number of small molecules and metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue.Studying the precise composition of the metabolome enables scientists to discover genetic and environmental factors that can affect the way an organism works.The study analyzed the metabolomes of 1,100 children aged between 18 months and 4 years to investigate factors associated with the development of ASD.Around two-thirds of the children assessed had a diagnosis of ASD.Comparison of the amino acid profiles of children with ASD and children showing typical development revealed that 17% of the children with ASD had unique concentrations of specific amino acids in their blood.center_img Source:University of California press release 6 September 2018.last_img read more

University of Tokyo probe says chromosome team doctored images

first_imgUniversity of Tokyo 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 Dennis NormileAug. 1, 2017 , 12:00 PM University of Tokyo probe says chromosome team doctored images After a nearly year-long investigation into anonymous allegations of data and image falsification in numerous papers, a University of Tokyo committee today announced it had confirmed that one research group falsified images and graphs in five papers. The panel cleared five other research groups of wrongdoing.The panel’s judgment “is very severe,” says Yoshinori Watanabe, leader of a team that studies chromosome dynamics at the university’s Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences. He previously acknowledged having departed from best practice in handling images, but maintains that the problems the panel cited in his group’s publications had no impact on the papers’ conclusions.The committee, headed by Hiroaki Aihara, a physicist and University of Tokyo vice president, recommended holding off on disciplinary measures pending a review of additional published papers. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img Email mizoula/iStockphoto Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) The investigation was launched last September after an entity called “Ordinary_researchers” raised questions about images and data in 22 publications by six prominent research groups at what is arguably Japan’s most prestigious university. In more than 100 pages of documents posted online, Ordinary_researchers detailed charges of image falsification and manipulation in the biomedical papers. In a 49-page report released at a press conference today, the investigative committee, which includes experts from outside institutions, found “minor inconsistencies” among images found in the papers of five research groups, but “no indications of falsification.” All of the exonerated groups are affiliated with the school of medicine.But the panel noted “improper handling” of 16 images and graphs in five papers published by Watanabe’s group. The problems include image alteration and graphs with data apparently not derived from the reported experiments.In June, Watanabe posted online detailed corrections to the figures that the committee later identified as problematic. Watanabe blamed the errors on such things as mix-ups in cell lines, merging data sets into a single graph, and improper processing of western blot assays.Of the five papers the committee flagged as problematic, two appeared in Science, two in Nature, and one in EMBO Reports. They all cover processes affecting chromosomes during cell division. Watanabe says the publishers of EMBO Reports have accepted corrections to the paper. He is awaiting decisions from Science and Nature.In an email to ScienceInsider, Ordinary_researchers praised investigators for their work on the Watanabe papers but said the examination of other publications “was not sufficient to dispel doubts” about questionable data. Ordinary_researchers also criticized the journals for a lax attitude toward suspected fraud that is “undermining the credibility of scientific research.” The group is hoping the incident “will deepen future discussions on the prevention of fraud.”*Update, 2 August, 10:47 a.m.: The status of the Watanabe group’s papers has been corrected and a statement from Ordinary_researchers added.last_img read more

FDA tries to take the reins on regulating cultured meat

first_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 COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND—There may be a turf war on between two U.S. federal agencies over who will regulate the emerging industry of cultured meat, but you wouldn’t know it from the presentations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at a meeting here yesterday.In a daylong discussion of safety considerations, the agency asserted its jurisdiction over products made of chicken, beef, pork, and seafood cells grown in a culture medium, despite recent calls—including a proposal from lawmakers in the House of Representatives—to leave that responsibility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).Cultured meat, also sometimes called clean meat or lab-grown meat, is made by extracting cells from an animal and prompting them to mature into muscle fibers and grow in a bioreactor. No products have yet hit the market, though several companies have suggested that their first generation of cultured meat will be available in the next 5 years. By Kelly ServickJul. 13, 2018 , 11:30 AM Memphis Meats Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrycenter_img FDA tries to take the reins on regulating cultured meat “These are early days, but make no mistake that FDA has been preparing for this for quite some time,” said Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition here. “This is not our first rodeo, so to speak, in this area.”It’s true that FDA has expertise in judging the safety of foods that involve cultured cells. It already has oversight over food products that include extracts of the algae spirulina and a fermented fungus used in a line of meat substitutes known as Quorn. But in the tangle of federal food safety regulations, a few categories of products are regulated by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service: meat, poultry, processed egg products such as cartons of pourable eggs, and catfish. And although cultured meat production facilities may look very different from livestock feedlots and slaughterhouses, some argue that their status as meat producing facilities puts them firmly under USDA’s control.At yesterday’s meeting, experts walked through the basic manufacturing process for cultured meat products—and the steps that will require particular attention to safety. “There are no great mysteries when it comes to cell cultures,” said Paul Mozdziak, an expert in animal cell culture at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “This technology has been around for a very long time.”Though production methods will vary by company, Mozdziak expects many will isolate cells from a tissue biopsy of a living animal to establish cell banks—vials of starting material that can be thawed and multiplied in batches. Bacteria or viruses could sneak into the initial tissue sample, or into the cultured cells as they’re transferred to successively larger quantities of culture medium, or when medium is added to prompt them to grow, he noted. And large-scale bioreactors must also be carefully sanitized. The materials used in cellular scaffolds—structures that support the muscle cells as they grow—must also be evaluated for safety.Some attendees were confident that FDA already has the expertise to oversee that process. “A clean meat facility will be similar to what the FDA sees every day in both biologics and food processing plants. It will not look like a slaughterhouse,” said Peter Licari, chief technology officer at JUST, a San Francisco, California–based company that makes plant-based egg and dairy replacements, and is preparing to launch a lab-grown meat product.But others pointed out that use of the term “meat” comes with a particular set of scientific considerations. “Meat scientists do not have enough information about cultured tissue to determine whether it should be called meat, or how it should be regulated,” said Rhonda Miller, a meat scientist at Texas A&M University in College Station, speaking on behalf of the American Meat Science Association, based in Champaign, Illinois. She pointed to several unanswered questions: Does cultured meat spoil at the same rate as conventional meat? Does it allow the same growth of potentially harmful microbes? Is its shelf life the same? Does it have the same nutritional qualities?Some representatives of the meat industry argued that the new products should be held to the same safety and labeling standards applied to conventional meat—standards enforced by USDA. “If these companies wish their products to be marketed as meat … production of these items should be regulated by the agency Congress chose when it enacted the Federal Meat Inspection Act,” said Tiffany Lee, director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the North American Meat Institute in Washington, D.C.Other groups, such as the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, also based in Washington, D.C., have challenged the cultured meat industry’s claim to using the term “meat” in the first place. “They’re hijacking our branding for benefit of their own marketing,” said association director Maggie Nutter.Some expect that either Congress or the White House Office of Management and Budget will ultimately have to clarify which agency should step back as cultured meat products near the market—or whether the responsibility for different stages of its production could somehow be split between the two agencies. In the meantime, FDA is pressing ahead with its plans to regulate. Mayne said the agency’s science board will hold a meeting on the issue later this year. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Fried “chicken” from cells grown in culture by Memphis Meats.last_img read more

This 5000yearold mass grave hides a family tragedy

first_imgThis 5000-year-old mass grave hides a family tragedy Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 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 By Michael PriceMay. 6, 2019 , 3:00 PMcenter_img The 15 men, women, and children discovered in a 5000-year-old mass grave near the southern Polish village of Koszyce must have suffered brutal deaths: Each was killed by blows to the head. Yet the tidy, systematic nature of their burial suggests they were laid to rest with care. Now, new genetic analyses reveal the dead all belonged to a single extended family, offering an intimate glimpse of a Bronze Age tragedy.To discover their identities, a team of geneticists sequenced the genomes of all 15 skeletons. Once it was clear the individuals were closely related, scientists looked at their burial positions. They found that mothers were buried next to their children, and siblings were placed next to one another. Fathers and other older male relatives were conspicuously missing from the group, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The dead belonged to the central European Globular Amphora culture—named for the bulbous pottery vessels included in graves—and were neighbors to the demographically distinct Corded Ware culture. Little is known about the interactions between those two groups, but some researchers speculate that as the Corded Ware culture expanded throughout Europe, competition for resources often boiled over into violence. One of those deadly outbreaks may have led to the killings of those in the Koszyce mass grave. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) But although the cause of the massacre isn’t known, it appears that the family’s elder men escaped—and therefore, the scientists say, may have been the ones to bury their dearly departed.last_img read more

The Ironic Funny and Bizarre Last Words of Prisoners

first_imgWhat are the thoughts of people waiting to be executed? Do they comfort themselves with beautiful memories or think despondently of their regrets? Or maybe their mind remains empty, thinking only of their final meal. Thoughts aside, the last words of many prisoners have been documented. Besides the many examples of noble or idealistic words, when people defended their beliefs until their last breath, there are a bunch of ironic, funny, and bizarre last words.For example, speaking of bizarre, it’s Marie Antoinette’s last words that come to mind. On October 16, 1793, before being taken to the guillotine, the extravagant Queen of France was driven through Paris in an open carriage wearing a plain white dress and her hair cut short. Thousands of people saluted the Queen on the way to her death.Off with her head.However, the audience wasn’t much entertained by the frightened 38-year-old woman. Marie Antoinette kept her composure, and as the 18-century journalist, Jacques Hebert described, she remained “bold and impudent to the very end.”Before being beheaded, while everyone expected a spectacle of a speech or memorable last words, she simply said “Forgive me, sir, I meant not to do it,” addressing the very man who would then execute her.Marie Antoinette’s cell in the Conciergerie where she was allowed no privacy. Photo by Andre lage Freitas CC BY SA 3.0As for funny or ironic last words, there were a few prisoners in history who got creative on death row.In 1928 in New York City, George Appel was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a police officer. He was immediately sentenced to death by electric chair, to be carried out that same year. His final words? “Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”In 1966, James D. French was the only man executed in the U.S. that year, and the last one executed under Oklahoma’s death penalty law. French was sentenced to life in prison for killing a motorcyclist who gave him a ride while French was hitchhiking across Texas in 1958.Hitchhiking isn’t always safe.While in jail, French started thinking about committing suicide but was too afraid to do so. He decided to kill his cellmate, because, as French said, “He was stupid and refused to shape up.” He was then sentenced to death by electric chair. Sitting on the chair, his last words were: “How’s this for your headline? French Fries”.The very last romantic words spoken.David Matthews broke into his uncle, Otis Earl Short’s home with an intention to rob him. However, the robbery ended up with Matthews killing his uncle. The event took place in 1994, and Matthews was sentenced to death. But he waited until 2011 for the execution to take place in Oklahoma State Penitentiary as his punishment was postponed three times, giving him a chance to prove his innocence.French’s last words were “How’s this for your headline? ‘French Fries”. Lee Honeycutt CC BY-SA 2.0When the government finally put him to a death by lethal injection, Matthews still believed that there would be another postponement. Laying there, receiving the injection, Matthews said that he was enjoying his time with a smile on his face. His final words were: “I think the governor’s phone is broke. He hasn’t called yet.”Read another story from us: Mysterious disappearances in US historyJimmy Glass escaped from jail with his fellow inmate on Christmas evening 1982. He was twenty years old, on the run, and together with his inmate killed a middle-aged couple in their home, which he was subsequently sentenced to death for. Glass was famous for opening a case against the State of Louisiana, petitioning against execution by electrocution.His case was denied, and Glass was put on the electric chair. Moments before the electricity ran through his body, he said: “I’d rather be fishing.” Those were his final words.last_img read more

The Most Ridiculous Duel in History – in a HotAir Balloon

first_imgFeisty and with a definite flair for the dramatic, the French are legendary for using duels to settle disagreements and defend their honor. In fact it is said that Louis XIII granted a whopping 8,000 pardons for “murders associated with duels.” But in 1808, a different kind of face-off took place in the skies above Paris. It involved two Frenchmen: Monsieur de Grandpré and Monsieur de Pique. Both had been secretly bedding Mademoiselle Tirevit, a renowned dancer at the Paris Opera. It transpired that, while she was being kept by de Grandpré, Mlle.Tirevit began seeing de Pique for on the side.It was decided that the winner of the duel would win her dainty, manicured hand — or more eloquently put: Mademoiselle Tirevit would “bestow her smiles on the survivor.”The Code Of Honor – a duel in the Bois De Boulogne, near Paris. Wood engraving by Godefroy Durand, Harper’s Weekly, January 1875.The contest was to take place 2,000 feet in the air, with each man firing a blunderbuss at the other man’s balloon. Yes, you read that right: The men weren’t going to aim at each other — they were trying to shoot down much larger targets: each other’s balloon.The first five ascents of hot air balloons in France.Apparently, the arrogant Frenchmen believed that a traditional showdown would be too, well, commonplace and unimaginative. How much more intriguing, they reasoned, to turn their testosterone-fueled battle into a mid-air dogfight.Modern hot-air balloons.The idea was that the winning shot would hit the balloon, which in turn would cause gas to escape and bring the blimp — and its doomed occupants — down in a crumpled heap of humiliating (not to mention potentially deadly) defeat.Tuileries Garden of Le Nôtre in the 17th century, looking west toward the future Champs Élysées, engraving by Perelle.On the morning of May 3rd in Paris’s Tuileries Gardens, the two men climbed into their identical hot air balloon baskets. Each was allowed a shotgun and a co-pilot to help him operate the balloon. Which means, incredibly, that each man’s respective sidekick fully expected to die if his guy had lousy aim.3 Hot Air Balloon Parties to Attend Before You DieThe cords securing the balloons to the ground were cut and the balloons ascended into the air as a crowd of curious spectators, many of whom simply thought they were watching a friendly balloon race, cheered them on.Photo by Welcome Images CC By 4.0The balloons rose to a half a mile off the ground and were separated by about eighty yards when the signal was given from below. The duel was officially on. De Pique got off the first shot, but inexplicably failed to hit his enormous target. Pretty funny, were it not for the tragic consequences.Hot air balloons flying over a river.Grandpré then returned fire, faring much better. He hit his mark, collapsing de Pique’s balloon which descended earthward with “fearful rapidity,” sending both he and his faithful, yet ill-fated, co-pilot to their untimely deaths. No, it wasn’t pretty: When the balloon hit the ground, they were, as one observer somewhat indelicately described it, “dashed to pieces on a housetop.”Read another story from us: Barbaric Customs of the Ancient WorldGrandpré celebrated his gutsy (though not particularly hard-fought) victory by sending his hot-air balloon soaring even higher into the clouds, before returning to earth with his trusty co-pilot — presumably to claim his prize, the lovely Mademoiselle Tirevit.Barbara Stepko is a New Jersey-based freelance editor and writer who has contributed to AARP magazine and the Wall Street Journal.last_img read more

Kashmir woman crosses over to PoK probe on

first_img Advertising Body sent home, PoK boy’s family thanks people on both sides Sahoora is the last village on the Indian side of the LoC, and is around 20 km from Uri.Sources said Shaheena crossed an Army checkpoint near Sahoora and was allowed to proceed after she informed them that she was going to meet her maternal uncle.Shaheena’s family realised that she was missing after her cousin passed the same Army checkpost, and was told that Shaheena had informed them of her intention to visit Sahoora, a police probe has found.Another officer said, “Through the family members, we have come to know that she has crossed (the LoC) and is presently on the other side… The woman has relatives there (in PoK).” PoK boy’s body found in Kashmir pok, woman cross pok, indian woman cross border, indian woman in pok, indian express news Sources said Shaheena crossed an Army checkpoint near Sahoora and was allowed to proceed after she informed them that she was going to meet her maternal uncle.A woman from North Kashmir’s border town of Uri has managed to cross the highly secured Line of Control (LoC) to reach her relatives in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), police officials have said. Related News 2 Comment(s) Advertising UGC warns against taking admission in PoK institutes Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar | Updated: July 14, 2019 8:17:28 am Police have filed a missing person’s complaint and will take up the matter with the Army, which can subsequently approach the Pakistani Army over the case, a police officer said.A local unit of the Army is also probing how the woman managed to cross the LoC despite strong checks, an Army officer said.The woman, identified as Shaheena Begum (32), went missing on June 25. According to the J&K police, she had a dispute with her husband and told him that she was going to meet her relatives in Sahoora village in Baramulla district.last_img read more

As Biden looms Trump is still running against Obama

first_imgBy New York Times |Washington | Published: July 6, 2019 7:49:36 am Advertising US House votes to set aside impeachment resolution against Trump In part, that reflects Trump’s long-standing fixation with the former president. But it may also stem from the fact that Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, remains the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 election.“If you look at what we’ve done, and if you look at what we’ve straightened out, the — I call it the ‘Obama-Biden mess,’” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving Washington for a weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “We’re straightening it out.”The president’s focus on Obama after about 2 1/2 years in office was even more intense during a trip to Japan and South Korea last weekend, when Trump repeatedly raised the subject of his predecessor without being asked, assailing him on a variety of domestic and foreign policy fronts.“When in a corner, Trump falls back on the only organizing principle he has, which is attacking Obama — and usually lying about it,” said Benjamin Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser to Obama. “I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.” US mulls increasing merit-based immigration to 57% Advertising More Explained Since 2011, when he explored running for president against Obama, Trump has had a singular obsession with the 44th president.He repeatedly questioned Obama’s citizenship as part of the false “birther” conspiracy. As president, Obama struck back at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2011, when he roasted the reality television star as a lightweight while Trump sat grim-faced.Since then, Trump has been determined to minimize or unravel Obama’s accomplishments and lately has even suggested that his predecessor was behind a deep-state conspiracy with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to thwart his 2016 candidacy.While other presidents have blamed their predecessors for various national ills — including Obama, who in his first term regularly pointed to former President George W. Bush — Trump takes it further than most. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield As Biden looms, Trump is still running against Obama The criticisms, often distorted, are familiar, but Trump has turned increasingly to Obama in recent days as a political foil. (File)Written by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman It took all of 1 minute, 9 seconds for President Donald Trump to go after his predecessor Friday — just 1 minute, 9 seconds to reengage in a debate that has consumed much of his own time in office over who was the better president.It was former President Barack Obama who started the policy of separating children from their parents at the border, Trump claimed falsely, and it was Obama who had such a terrible relationship with North Korea that he was about to go to war. Obama had it easy on the economy, Trump added, but let America’s allies walk all over him.The criticisms, often distorted, are familiar, but Trump has turned increasingly to Obama in recent days as a political foil. Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Advertising After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Trump’s administration announced a “zero tolerance policy” in April 2018 that resulted in nearly 3,000 children being forcibly separated from parents. After an outcry, Trump signed an executive order two months later directing officials to end the practice of family separation. It is less common for presidents to take on predecessors who are more popular than they are; Obama was viewed favorably by 63% of those surveyed by Gallup last year, while Trump’s job approval rating is 41%.But Trump recognizes that his political base wanted, and still wants, someone who would be seen as fighting against Obama. Especially as Biden stumps the country on his record in the Obama administration, Trump sees a political advantage in taking down his predecessor and trying to lift himself as an outsider taking on a system he has led for over two years.“Tell Biden that NATO has taken total advantage of him and President Obama,” Trump said Friday. “Biden didn’t know what the hell he was doing, and neither did President Obama. NATO was taking advantage of — now they’re paying.”“President Obama and Vice President Biden,” he added, “they didn’t have a clue. They got taken advantage of by China, by NATO, by every country they did business with.”By Trump’s indictment, Obama was too soft on China’s trade abuses and too easy on NATO allies who were not spending enough on their own defense, two issues that the current president has pressed much more vigorously. Trump in recent days has also blamed Obama for a dispute with Turkey, a NATO ally, over its purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia.In leveling his criticisms at Obama, however, Trump routinely stretches the facts. As he has repeatedly, Trump insisted Friday that had Obama remained in office, he would have gone to war with North Korea, a claim dismissed as ludicrous by the former president’s advisers.In recent days, Trump has added a new claim — that Obama tried to meet with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, only to be rebuffed, an assertion for which he offered no evidence.“He called Kim Jong Un on numerous occasions to meet. President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong Un. And Kim Jong Un said no,” Trump said Friday. “Numerous occasions he called. And right now we have a very nice relationship.”After Trump floated this while in Asia last weekend, Obama’s final national security adviser, Susan Rice, used an expletive to deny it. “At the risk of stating the obvious, this is horse-sh*t,” she wrote on Twitter, asterisk and all.Rhodes, her deputy, repeated the denial Friday. “There is zero truth to the claim about wanting to meet Kim,” he said. “It’s completely made up and totally incoherent with his previous claim that Obama wanted to go to war with North Korea.”Other former Obama-era officials have publicly disputed the notion as well, including James Clapper, who was director of national intelligence; Wendy Sherman, who was undersecretary of state; Daniel Russel, who was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs; and Jeremy Bash, who was chief of staff at the CIA and later the Pentagon.Trump has also sought to rewrite the history of his own family separation policy at the border, telling audiences that it was Obama who started it and the current president who stopped it.“President Obama built those cells. They were in 2014,” Trump said last weekend at a news conference in Osaka, Japan. He added, “I just say this: They had a separation policy. Right? I ended it.”He was correct that the Obama administration built some of the detention facilities that have been at the center of the latest furor over the treatment of migrants detained at the border, but they were never meant for the long-term detention of children.Moreover, while the Obama administration did break up families, it was relatively rare and typically in cases of doubt about the relationship between a child and an accompanying adult. Taking stock of monsoon rain Best Of Express Trump says ‘will take a look’ at accusations over Google, China Related News Post Comment(s)last_img read more

For the first time you can see what a black hole looks

first_imgIn the team’s images, the bottom of the ring appears bright because the gases there are being Doppler-boosted, whipped toward Earth. The black hole bends light around it, creating a circular shadow. General relativity predicts that the shadow ought to be round to within 10%, says Avery Broderick, an EHT member and astrophysicist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, whereas alternative theories of gravity predict distorted, noncircular shapes. The observed shadow is essentially circular, Broderick says. Data from the South Pole Telescope, one of the radio dishes used in the Event Horizon Telescope, overwintered in Antarctica before being combined with other data. Size of the heliopause, the edge of the solar system For the first time, you can see what a black hole looks like The EHT team, from 13 institutions around the world, made its observations of M87* and the black hole at the center of our Milky Way, known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), over 5 nights in April 2017 using eight radio telescopes that are sensitive to wavelengths of about a millimeter. At that specific radio frequency, radiation can penetrate the haze of dust and gas that surrounds the centers of galaxies.But zooming in on the black holes was still a challenge. Black holes pack an immense amount of mass into a surprisingly small space. The black hole at the center of M87, 55 million light-years away, has swallowed the mass of 6.5 billion suns. Yet its event horizon is only 40 billion kilometers across—about four times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit.No existing telescope has the resolution to see such a distant, tiny object. So, the EHT team coopted most of the millimeter-wave telescopes worldwide and combined their data to produce a virtual telescope the size of Earth through a process called very-long-baseline interferometry. The telescopes they used stretched from Hawaii to Arizona, Mexico to Spain, and Chile to the South Pole. “You can think of them as silvered spots on a global mirror,” says Shep Doeleman, the EHT’s project leader at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Then the Earth turns so we can fill in the image.”The collaboration had made earlier observations with fewer telescopes, but 2017 was the first time they had a globe-spanning array that included the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile with its 64 dishes. Millimeter waves are affected by clouds, so getting good weather was important. In April 2017, the weather gods smiled. “It was one of the smoothest parts of the project,” says team member Feryal Özel of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Some crews worked 16- or 18-hour shifts, but the whole thing was lucky,” she says, adding: “Analyzing the data was much harder.”That process has taken the whole of the time since. The volume of data was so great that it could not be transmitted to large computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Haystack Observatory in Westford and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. Instead, it had to be recorded on disk and shipped, which posed a problem for the South Pole Telescope. It was in lockdown for the austral winter so researchers didn’t get their hands on its data until almost the end of 2017. A total of 4 petabytes were recorded, each reading time-stamped using an atomic clock. If those data were music recorded as MP3s, they would take 8000 years to play. Approaching jet Here’s what scientists think a black hole looks like “It feels like looking at the gates of hell,” says Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, one of the leaders of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which announced the result in a global set of coordinated press conferences. “This is the end of space and time.” Falcke says the 2-year process of crunching the data and generating the images “was the most emotionally difficult period of my life.”Although few doubted the existence of black holes, seeing them—or at least their shadow—was an immense challenge. Black holes have gravitational fields so strong that even light cannot escape, so they are defined by the shell of a black, featureless sphere called an event horizon. But the holes can nevertheless be seen. As they consume matter that strays too close, they squeeze it into a superheated disk of glowing gas. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team took 2 years to produce an image of the black hole at the center of nearby galaxy Messier 87 (M87), which feeds on a swirling disk of bright matter. Its gravity is so strong that photons orbit it, creating a bright ring. Gravitational lensing magni­fies the black hole’s event horizon into a larger dark shadow, which may be partially ­filled by material in front of the hole. Junhan Kim/University of Arizona 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 Photon ring Shadow edge Event horizon Simulations (bottom) helped connect the EHT’s fuzzy image (middle) to a physical model of M87’s black hole (top), and suggest that the accretion disk spins clockwise. Connecting the dots Strange beast Receding jet Jet rotation By Daniel CleryApr. 10, 2019 , 9:15 AM Material rotating toward Earth is Doppler boosted and brighter. At last, we can see it: a black hole in the flesh. Astronomers today revealed a picture of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of the nearby galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The result—a ring of fire surrounding the blackest of shadows—is a powerful confirmation of Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity, which was used to predict black holes 80 years ago. It is also a feat for the team of more than 200 scientists who toiled for years to produce the image by combining signals from eight separate radio observatories spanning the globe. (GRAPHIC) C. BICKEL/SCIENCE; (IMAGES) EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION ET AL., ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS, VOL. 875, 3, 2019 Related content Accretion disk Supermassive black hole Disk rotation “It was a pretty gruesome process to crunch all the data,” Falcke says. Powerful processors called correlators compare readings between pairs of telescopes at different distances and orientations to the black holes. Özel compares it to building up a 3D image of the body with a computerized tomography scan, but in this case they do not have all the orientations they need. “We had to make sure we were not filling in the data in a way that could influence interpretation,” she says. Monika Mościbrodzka, the EHT working group coordinator at Radboud University, says four independent teams duplicated the data processing to eliminate biases. She says the result was convincing because, over 4 days of observations of M87*, the shape and size of the shadow was consistent, and the contrast between the bright ring and dark shadow was as large as theory predicted.The team did not report results for our galaxy’s giant, Sgr A*. Although it is much closer than M87*, it is about 1000 times less massive, with a smaller event horizon. Moreover, it moves more quickly across the sky, complicating observations. Doeleman says the team will turn to Sgr A* next. “We’re not promising anything,” he says. “But we hope to get to it soon.”Einstein disliked the idea of black holes. Months after he published his theory of general relativity in 1915, German physicist Karl Schwarzschild came up with a solution for Einstein’s equations that suggested that within a certain distance of an infinitesimal point of mass, gravity should be so strong it would stop anything from escaping, even light.However, for decades, most physicists and astronomers thought such an idea was just a mathematical curiosity. It wasn’t until 1939 that U.S. physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and colleagues predicted that a massive star could actually collapse to a point. This image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. The black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al. Email The idea got a shot in the arm with Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s 1967 discovery of pulsars—dense, spinning neutron stars—which proved the existence of extremely dense, compact objects. Since then, astronomers have accumulated plenty of indirect evidence for the existence of black holes, from the effects of their gravity. Astronomers have found binary systems, such as Cygnus X-1, where a star orbits an unseen, denser object that appears to be gorging itself on material from its stellar partner.More evidence came from studies of Sgr A*. Over the past couple of decades, observations of a handful of stars in tight, fast orbits leave little room for anything other than a supermassive black hole at the galactic center, one with a mass of about 4 million times that of our sun.The most compelling evidence came in 2015, with the detection by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory of ripples in space-time emitted by the cataclysmic merger of two black holes. With today’s announcement, however, astronomers finally have visual evidence. “I’ve always wanted to see that damned thing,” Falcke says.Future EHT observations could shed additional light on the nature of black holes. The team hopes to measure the spin and magnetic polarization of the black holes. At M87*, a more voracious and active black hole than Sgr A*, the team could learn about the mechanism that accelerates jets of material out from the poles of the black hole, like beams from a light house. Sera Markoff, an EHT team member and theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, notes that M87* is also an “active galactic nucleus” whose luminosity waxes and wanes as it slurps up matter. “We just got lucky,” she says. “If it had been flaring we might have seen something very different and it may have blocked the shadow.”The team’s campaign in 2018 was mostly a washout because of bad weather. This year, observations were abandoned because several telescopes were not operating. But next year’s observations should include new telescopes, and they will also begin to observe at shorter wavelengths, which should offer sharper images, Doeleman says. “We’ll be able to extend that image of that shadow out to where it connects to that jet.”Astronomers outside the EHT team will be eager for unexpected discoveries that could point to theoretical breakthroughs. When asked about the team’s results, Avi Loeb, director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, says he is most surprised by the lack of surprises. A decade ago, he helped simulate M87*, and he says his images looked much like the EHT’s today. Even so, he says, the team’s result is an important milestone. “An image is worth a thousand words, and seeing is believing,” he says. “Now, we’ve nailed the map of a black hole.”With additional reporting by Adrian Cho and Dennis Normile.last_img read more

I will feel actual rage Unusual responses to kind touches could help

first_img Read more… By George Musser, SpectrumMay. 29, 2019 , 12:10 PM ‘I will feel actual rage.’ Unusual responses to kind touches could help explain autism traits Originally published on SpectrumEven the slightest touch can consume Kirsten Lindsmith’s attention. When someone shakes her hand or her cat snuggles up against her, for example, it becomes hard for her to think about anything else. “I’m taken out of the moment for however long the sensation lasts,” she says. Some everyday sensations, such as getting her hands wet, can feel like torture: “I usually compare it to the visceral, repulsive feeling you’d get plunging your hand into a pile of rotting garbage,” says the 27-year-old autistic writer.Stephanie Dehennin, an autistic illustrator who lives in Belgium, detests gentle touches but doesn’t mind firm hugs. “I will feel actual rage if someone strokes me or touches me very lightly,” she says. Dehennin seeks out deep pressure to relieve her stress. “I’ll sit between my bed and my nightstand, for example — squeezed between furniture.” A sixth senseDespite the many anecdotes about an altered sense of touch in autistic people, quantifying the differences has proved difficult. In some experiments, autistic people notice a light pressure on their skin that their typical peers are oblivious to. But others show less sensitivity than or no real difference from controls. “There’s all this clinical evidence around, but the actual empirical studies are confused,” says Carissa Cascio, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.One reason for this confusion is that not every study or clinical report distinguishes between affective and discriminative touch. Discriminative touch conveys signals about pressure, vibration and stretching of the skin. These signals shoot along thick ‘type A’ nerve fibers, or ‘afferents,’ at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour to the brain’s sensory regions. Affective touch signals, meanwhile, travel slowly via thinner ‘type C’ afferents and communicate pain, itch and temperature; the variety of type C nerve fibers that communicate touch — called C-tactile fibers — register in emotion centers in the brain.C-tactile fibers respond only to specific kinds of touch. Researchers use a specialized technique called ‘microneurography’ to find the fibers and measure their activity. The method involves sticking an acupuncture-like needle deep into the skin, typically near the elbow, and then feeding in electrical pulses. As the needle gets closer to a nerve, less current is needed to evoke a tingling sensation. Once the needle is within the nerve, it can begin measuring the nerve’s electrical activity. The system is set up to have nerves produce clicks or light drumrolls on a loudspeaker whenever they fire. The C-tactile fibers crackle loudest when a participant is stroked lightly, no faster than a few inches per second, and at 32 degrees Celsius — the same temperature as human skin. Because the signals propagate slowly, the sound is delayed by about a half a second.At first glance, these fibers seems pointless. They don’t help you hold a pencil or feel a vibrating phone. They are found only in skin that has hair — the face and the forearm, for instance — and not in fingertips, palms, soles or genitals, body parts we typically associate with touch. Yet studies show that they give physical contact its emotional timbre; they relay the warm feelings that can come with a friend’s caress, for example, or the icy shivers that can follow a brush with a stranger.In this way, the fibers serve as a mode of communication between people, a channel not of physical information but of intimacy. “These fibers are signaling something that isn’t really touch; it’s something we don’t have a name for,” says Håkan Olausson, professor of clinical neuroscience at Linköping University in Sweden, who co-discovered the fibers in people in the 1980s. (For lack of a better word, he still calls it touch.)Olausson and others owe much of what they have learned about affective touch to a woman known in the medical literature as ‘Patient G.L.’ In April 1979, this woman checked into a hospital in Montreal with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks muscle and sensory neurons. In her case, it had destroyed her type A nerve fibers but spared her type C’s. She was left with the tactile equivalent of ‘blindsight’: Although she no longer felt contact, motion or pressure against her skin, she could still have an emotional reaction to being touched. It was an early clue that these nerve fibers carry emotional freight. Cinyee Chiu and Edwin Tse/Spectrum Read more from SpectrumMutations between genes, long overlooked, may be key in autismAutistic people with intellectual disability often excluded in studiesWhat the ‘broad spectrum’ can teach us about autismThe predictive coding theory of autism, explained Cinyee Chiu and Edwin Tse/Spectrum Strong reactions to touch are remarkably widespread among people who have autism, despite the condition’s famed heterogeneity. “The touch thing is as close to universal as they come,” says Gavin Bollard, an autistic blogger who lives in Australia and writes about his and his autistic sons’ experiences. These responses are often described as a general hypersensitivity, but they are more complex than that: Sometimes autistic people crave touch; sometimes they cringe from it. For many people on the spectrum, these sensations are so intense that they take measures to shape their ‘touchscape.’ Some pile on heavy blankets at night for the extra weight; others cut off their clothing tags.  The common thread may be an altered perception of ‘affective touch,’ a sense discovered in people only a few decades ago. ‘Discriminative touch’ tells us when something impinges on our skin, with what force and where; affective touch, by contrast, conveys nuanced social and emotional information. The kinds of touch that autistic people may find loathsome, such as a soft caress, are associated with this latter system.Research on affective touch is still nascent, but the idea that it is linked to autism is tantalizing, experts say. A growing number of studies indicate that affective touch is at least partly responsible for our ability to develop a concept of self, something long thought to differ in people with autism. Even newer is the idea that an atypical sense of affective touch may be one of autism’s underlying causes.“Maybe this is actually getting at a biological marker that gets us a better understanding of the causes of autism and, at the very least, a very early detection of autism,” says Kevin Pelphrey, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. To confirm the idea, Olausson and his colleagues turned to brain imaging. In 2002, they scanned G.L. as they touched her skin. Their actions evoked no response in her somatosensory cortex, which ordinarily receives input from type A fibers, but her emotion-processing posterior insula did react. She reported feeling a faint, hard-to-place, pleasant sensation. In recent years, her brain seems to have compensated for her lost sense of discriminative touch by repurposing her affective-touch system. “When we last met about a year ago, she said that she has started to feel touch sensations in daily life — for example, when she puts on her stockings,” Olausson says.His team has collected additional evidence linking type C nerve fibers to emotional communication by studying about 20 members of a community in remote northern Sweden. These individuals all share a congenital loss of these fibers — in a sense, the inverse of G.L.’s condition. In a study of five of the people, they showed no activity in the insula in response to skin stroking and rated the sensation as less pleasant than controls did. In some ways, their experience of touch might resemble that of autistic people, although there is no evidence that autism is particularly prevalent in this community.Even when both touch systems are intact, social context can dampen or amplify our perception of affective touch. In a study published in February, researchers scanned the brains of 27 neurotypical adults. When a lab assistant stroked the participants’ forearms, social areas of their brains, such as the superior temporal gyrus, lit up with activity. When the participants stroked their own arms, those regions showed no change in activity — which is to be expected because the task is not social. What was unexpected was that the participants’ basic sensory-processing areas also stayed silent. In stroking their own arms, they had desensitized that part of their body to touch in general.In a companion study, the team also tested people’s touch sensitivity by poking their forearms with von Frey fibers — plastic hairs that deliver a calibrated force — while a lab assistant stroked their arms or the participants stroked a pillow or themselves. The pillow had no effect on the participants’ sensitivity to touch: They felt the von Frey fibers just as they would if they weren’t being stroked at all. By contrast, when a lab assistant stroked the participant — a social gesture — the researchers had to poke the participant’s arm harder with the von Frey fibers for the touch to be felt. They had to apply an even stronger force when the participants stroked their own arms. “Touching your own arm numbs this area,” says lead investigator Rebecca Boehme, a researcher also at Linköping. Together, these results suggest that the affective touch system is tuned to recognize human contact and to differentiate self from other. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Several imaging studies also suggest that autistic people have an altered sense of affective touch. In 2012, for example, Cascio led a series of experiments in which a lab assistant stroked autistic and typical adults’ forearms with a soft cosmetics brush, bumpy burlap or scratchy plastic mesh. Both groups described each texture much in the same way, but brain imaging revealed that they processed the sensations differently: The autistic group showed more activity than controls in brain regions associated with discriminative touch and less in those associated with affective touch.Most interesting, Cascio says, was that burlap in particular lit up social brain regions in the controls, even though burlap has no obvious social significance. She interprets this activity as subconscious deliberation — that is, the burlap touch could be considered positive or negative depending on social cues. “We’re seeing processing in those regions that would make us think that they’re trying to figure out how pleasant or unpleasant it feels,” she says. The social brain areas of autistic participants, however, don’t seem to show this internal deliberation. Or if they do, as Cascio’s newer work suggests, they do so after a delay.In another experiment, autistic people and controls both said they liked the sensation of being stroked rhythmically on the arm or hand with a watercolor paintbrush. “A lot of the field would be like, ‘Well, that’s kind of a dead end; maybe touch isn’t affected in autism,’” says Pelphrey, one of the researchers. But brain scans again showed clear distinctions between the groups. Stroking the forearm, rich in type C afferents, lit up social brain areas in the controls, but stroking the palm, which contains predominantly type A nerve fibers, had no such effect. In autistic participants, location didn’t matter; their social brain activity remained at a constant level in between the extremes shown by the typical participants. “Individuals with autism showed the middle response for everything,” Pelphrey says.Autistic people also appear to process pain differently, reflecting possible differences in their type C nerve fibers. In 2017, Cascio’s lab affixed a small heating pad, about 1 inch in diameter, to the calves of autistic and neurotypical volunteers. They then brought the temperature to an agonizing 49 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds. (The pad was not hot enough to burn the skin.) Both groups rated the pain 7 out of 10. But once again brain imaging offered a nuanced picture. In brain areas that respond to pain, such as the anterior cingulate cortex, insula and thalamus, the reaction in the neurotypical people lasted 30 seconds, lingering after the heat was removed. In autistic people, it abated after only 10 seconds, even though heat was still being applied. “It really looks like, when you look at the data, that something’s turning the pain response off,” Cascio says.Connecting the dotsWhat all this experimental evidence means is still unclear, apart from generally confirming that, in autistic people, something unusual goes on in type C nerve fiber activity and touch perception. Whatever differences exist appear to be present from early in life. Parents often recall that their autistic children, as babies, recoiled from contact and avoided being picked up. “Human beings respond to the act of being picked up either by fighting back or by becoming rigid in ways that actually help you to pick them up,” Pelphrey says. But babies who go on to be diagnosed with autism often do neither, which can make them feel curiously heavier than they are, he says.His team is investigating whether unusual touch sensitivity in infants can predict a later autism diagnosis. They are testing ‘baby siblings’ of children with autism, who are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with the condition. The researchers plan to record the babies’ response — at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age — to touch on their palms and forearms, looking for differences in their senses of discriminative and affective touch, respectively. “We can hopefully develop something that will serve as a screener,” Pelphrey says.Other researchers are working on more sophisticated approaches to study touch in older children and adults with autism. They have their work cut out for them. The emotional quality of touch is difficult to measure, in part because it depends on more than just physical stimulus. Type C nerves are not yet fully understood. And simply asking people how they feel can mask important features of touch perception.Researchers will also need to consider how differences in affective touch fit into the broader experience of being autistic. Layered on top of the raw sensations are cultural norms about touch, which vary and can make social situations fraught for people with the condition. A flinch can be read as a rebuff, a declined handshake as disinterest. Many autistic people say they learned as children to suppress their feelings about touch in order to conform to typical expectations — something that leaves them vulnerable to abuse. “‘No’ was trained out of us,” says Ashley Smith-Taylor, an autistic self-advocate and mother of four neurodiverse children.Also hanging over the field is an old theory known as the ‘refrigerator mother’ hypothesis. From the 1940s into the 1960s, psychologists attributed autism to parents who made no effort to connect with their children emotionally, including cuddling them. “There was this tendency to blame parents, and particularly mothers,” Cascio says. She and others stress that if autism does originate in the sense of touch, it arises from deep in the nervous system and is entirely unrelated to nurture. It may also begin in the womb. During the first and second trimester, the fetus is covered by ‘lanugo hair’ that may stimulate the type C nerve fibers in utero; at this stage of development, these fibers provide our first sensory input. “That input, according to my theory, is basically the process which is beginning to let that developing brain know it’s got a body,” says Francis McGlone, professor of neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom.McGlone admits that there is no solid evidence that connects autism to a dearth of affective touch early in life, but he isn’t waiting for it, either. He is developing a device that could be placed into incubators to stimulate type C nerve fibers in preterm infants. “The C-tactile afferent is the Higgs boson of the social brain. It’s the missing particle that socializes the developing brain. It brings everything else together,” he says. His invention could be useful for many children — even if it turns out that affective touch has little to do with autism’s origins.This article was reprinted with permission from Spectrum, the home of autism research news and analysis. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Touch is one of the dominant modes of perception and social interaction in the earliest weeks and months of a baby’s life. “A whole lot of your world is coming to you through caregiver touch — there’s a whole lot of cuddling, cradling, rocking,” Cascio says. If babies’ perceptions of these touches are altered in some way, it could transform how they situate themselves in the world and learn to interact with others. Those changes, in turn, could account for autism’s hallmark social challenges.Most researchers interviewed for this article subscribe to some version of this idea but admit it is still tentative. “We really don’t have strong evidence for it yet,” Cascio says. What evidence they do have falls somewhere along a three-link chain of logic.The first link is the observation that affective touch seems crucial for delineating our sense of ‘self.’ To explore that idea, some researchers have turned to the ‘rubber-hand illusion,’ in which an experimenter strokes a participant’s hand and a stuffed rubber glove at the same time until the participant mistakes the fake hand for her own. In typical people, the illusion is strongest when the stroking speed and textures involved elicit the peak response of C-tactile fibers. “You make an almost unconscious-to-the-individual change, and that makes a big change in their perception,” says Aikaterini Fotopoulou, a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London.Yet another hint that affective touch is important to self-definition comes from people who have had a stroke and feel one of their arms is not their own. In a study of seven people who lost the ability to recognize their left arm, Fotopoulou and her colleagues stroked that arm to activate the participants’ C-tactile fibers. The participants then reported reconnecting with their ‘lost’ limbs. “They start saying things like, ‘Well, after you touched it, I said to my arm: Come, I welcome you back,’” Fotopoulou says.The second link is more theoretical: If affective touch can redraw a person’s boundaries such that they mistake a fake hand for their own, perhaps it is responsible for drawing those boundaries to begin with. This link in the chain holds that our entire sense of body ownership may be one grand rubber-hand illusion imparted from all that cuddling we got as babies. “I put my leg there, or my fingers there, and then there is a response. I say, ‘Oh, that’s me,’” says Anna Ciaunica, a philosopher of mind at University College London who works with Fotopoulou.The third link connects these two ideas to autism. Cascio and others have found that autistic people are less susceptible to the rubber-hand illusion than neurotypical people are, suggesting their sense of self is somehow less flexible. That rigidity might explain the strong response many of them have to touch. “If you have a very clear border of your own body, then of course everything else that touches you will bother you,” Boehme says. Many autistic people also say they relate their feelings about touch directly to their sense of self. Kirsten Lindsmith has written about this in her blog: “When I shake a person’s hand, I feel as though a tiny part of myself — my awareness, my consciousness, my identity — is commandeered by their touch, and I no longer feel fully autonomous.” Dehennin also says she experiences that sensation: “I often feel like I’m not ‘in’ my body; deep pressure helps that.” Cinyee Chiu and Edwin Tse/Spectrum Emaillast_img read more

US hails talks with Taliban denies troop withdrawal window

first_img Post Comment(s) The Taliban promise to protect women. Here’s why women don’t believe them A Taliban attack on children causes outrage, everywhere but at peace talks Advertising China acknowledges hosting Taliban’s chief peace negotiator for talks By AP |Kabul | Published: July 6, 2019 4:19:17 pm Related News A member of the American negotiating team in Qatar’s capital, Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office and talks are being held, told The Associated Press Friday that the U.S. “definitely did not offer” an 18-month withdrawal as part of a peace deal.Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the talks, the U.S. negotiator was responding to a timeframe Taliban officials told the AP months earlier.Also on Saturday, prominent Afghan figures were headed to Qatar ahead of much-anticipated all-Afghan talks to begin on Sunday. The seventh and latest round of peace talks between the US and Taliban is critical. (AP)A US official says the latest round of talks with the Taliban, now in their second week, has been “very productive,” while strenuously denying Washington sought a fixed deadline for the withdrawal of its estimated 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.last_img read more

The MaxQ The Coolest Thing Out of Computex

first_imgRemember the scene in Jerry Maguire when he goes back to his wife to make up with her and offers a lengthy explanation about why he is an assh*le in an effort to get her back? She responds with “You had me at hello.”Well before I knew anything more than it was coming, I planned to order this phone, because of the huge effort Apple went to in order to try to make sure it never shipped.I’ve only ever seen Apple this worried twice before and both were during the days of the iPod and Steve Jobs. First, it was because Apple found out about an MP3 player from HP. The second time was when it learned of one coming from Dell. Apple aggressively worked to kill both products before they even launched — and succeeded. I never even saw the HP product.Given that very little actually seems to scare Apple, short of a U.S. president, I had to have the phone that did.The Essential Phone was designed from the ground up to be an iPhone killer by Andy Rubin, the guy who was at the heart of Android’s success. The Historic Gaming Laptop Problem EssentialPhone Here is the deal — I love to play games both at home and when I travel, and I tend to lock in on one game and play it to death. I’d rather do that than watch TV — yes, I’m a tad addicted.Currently my game of choice is Ashes of the Singularity, which has as a core plot element the birth of a true artificial intelligence that identifies as female. We try and fail to kill her — which, as you might expect, pisses her off and results in some epic battles.You get to play both sides, and the combination of story and gameplay creates what is an interesting combination of energetic place, strategic thinking and story ideas. (I’m trying to write my first science fiction book.)The problem is, this game needs a decent graphics processing unit, and that means it won’t work on most lightweight laptops using Intel’s graphics solution. The game won’t even load. However, gaming laptops tend to have two problems: They are heavier, and you pay a huge penalty in battery life. The latter is the bigger problem, because I’m expected to work when I travel, and it is damned hard to work with a dead battery.Recently I’ve started using the Microsoft Surface Book with the second-generation base, which has both a GPU and decent battery life (10-plus hours), but it is a middleweight, and it barely has enough power to run the game.What I wanted seemed impossible: something that was very light, had decent battery life, and enough power to really enjoy a game like Ashes of the Singularity. Enter the Max-Q. One thing we don’t know about yet is battery life, and that likely won’t be something I can chat about until the manufacturers start sharing what they are building. Lenovo is one of them, and it typically places battery life very high on its list of requirements. If anyone produces a perfect laptop with all of this and 10-plus hours of battery life, my early bet is that it is likely to be Lenovo.Keep your eyes on Alienware, though, as the most powerful gaming computer company in the segment. It’s also on the list of firms building Max-Q solutions. I’ll touch on this once I’m released from related NDAs or at product launch in a few weeks. (Actual products launch on June 27, which, coincidently, is exactly a month to the day before my birthday. Hint, hint…) Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has undergrad degrees in merchandising and manpower management, and an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob. Wrapping Up Battery Life While I’m sure I’ll still want the performance of a desktop computer when I’m at home, being able to play games while on the road and having a laptop that is light and easy to carry used to seem as impossible as having a car that could drive itself. Apparently, we are in an age when doing the impossible is becoming an almost everyday occurrence.I mean, self-driving cars, flying cars, people-carrying drones, hoverboards that actually hover, and now a gaming notebook that is also ultra-light. Now we just need antigravity — oh wait… I didn’t attend Computex this year, and that was sad for everything but my budget, because there was a ton of cool stuff announced at the show. Dell, HP and Lenovo showed off new designs that were both attractive and compelling. Mixed-reality headsets hit; based on Intel and Microsoft technology, they were far more affordable than the strong virtual reality stuff already in market (and some aren’t bad looking). New core wars broke out, as AMD’s 16 Core Threadripper was challenged by Intel’s 18 core i9.It seems that gaming was huge at Computex this year. The product — or the concept really — that stood out most to me was Nvidia’s Max-Q gaming laptop concept, which promises a gaming laptop with dimensions that would rival a MacBook Air.I’ll focus on that this week and close with my product of the week: the new smartphone that Apple is working furiously to kill before it can be launched (which is why I immediately ordered one). I really didn’t see this coming, but Nvidia announced its prototype Max-Q, a design for a gaming laptop that is as thin as a MacBook Air, in the ultra-light class of notebooks. It sports 1080-level graphics, which is the baseline for gaming that’s more typical on a desktop computer.If you are like me, you likely are wondering about how this thing will be cooled — largely because if you combine a thin laptop with lots of performance, the little fans that have to keep the thing cool start sounding like jet engine. That doesn’t bode well for meetings or using in the same room with your spouse.Nvidia’s WisperMode technology keeps that fan noise down to a minimum, unless you are really stressing the system. Overall, there has been a ton of effort on fan acoustics for both laptops and desktop computers. While not totally eliminating the sound, these advances certainly have reduced it to far more acceptable levels (and you really shouldn’t be gaming in meetings, or with your spouse in the room anyway). If you go down a list of things that seem to target the iPhone directly, the first is the Qualcomm 835 chipset, the most advanced currently in market. This gives the Essential Phone unmatched connectivity at a time when Apple is being accused of crippling its own phone’s connectivity solution.iPhones use aluminum and glass, making the glass the most rigid part of the phone and resulting in lots of breakage. The Essential Phone uses titanium, ceramic and glass, making it far harder to break the phone’s screen.Instead of a plug-in connector that lets water into the phone and creates a hazard if you trip over the wire, the Essential Phone uses magnetic connectors reminiscent of what Apple used to use in it portable PC products. These connectors allow the phone to be upgraded with accessories. Yes, Motorola did this first, but Apple didn’t do it at all.Oh, and the fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, where it always should have been, along with a camera that is designed — hold your breath — to work well in low light!In the end, the Essential Phone is very much what you’d get if you went down a list of things you didn’t like about the iPhone and created the anti-iPhone. That alone is enough to make it my product of the week. You can pre-order it unlocked for US$699. Don’t let Apple tell you what you can and can’t buy. Nvidia’s Max-Qlast_img read more

New vaccine candidate for Zika virus proves to be effective in mice

first_img Source:http://jabsom.hawaii.edu/zika-vaccine-candidate-safe-and-effective-in-preclinical-trials-may-be-promising-for-use-in-expecting-moms/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 5 2018Researchers at the University of Hawaii medical school have successfully developed a vaccine candidate for the Zika virus, showing that it is effective in protecting both mice and monkeys from the infection.Demonstrating the effectiveness of their vaccine candidate in monkeys (non-human primates) is an important milestone because it typically predicts the vaccine will work in humans, enabling further clinical development.A strong global initiative to battle Zika has produced more than 30 vaccine candidates since outbreaks in 2015-2016 in Brazil linked the infection in some pregnant women to severe birth defects in their newborns. Zika is spread by the bite of infected mosquitos and through sex.There is no treatment or cure for Zika virus infection nor is any vaccine currently approved for public use.The proposed vaccine reported by scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) in the journals Frontiers in Immunology and mSphere, via the open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, is a recombinant subunit vaccine that uses only a small part (protein) of the Zika virus, produced in insect cells.”We believe our vaccine candidate shows much promise particularly as it showed to require only two immunizations given three weeks apart and is a potentially safer alternative to other candidates already in clinical trials,” said Dr. Axel Lehrer, JABSOM Assistant Professor of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease. Lehrer thinks the vaccine his team proposes might be safer that other candidate vaccines, especially keeping in mind that pregnant women constitute a significant part of the target population for a Zika vaccine.The research team at JABSOM included two senior graduate students who served as lead authors of the scientific research papers. Liana Medina, whose early training was directly supported by a National Institutes of Health Diversity in Health-Related Research grant, and Honolulu native Albert To are the graduate student lead authors.Honolulu-based Hawaii Biotech is a key partner in the vaccine development project with UH.Two of their scientists, Dr. Jaime Horton and David Clements, contributed to the most recent publication demonstrating vaccine efficacy in monkeys, along with collaborators from Bioqual Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, and the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Biosecurity Research Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, at Kansas State University.Related StoriesNew shingles vaccine reduces outbreaks of painful rash among stem cell transplant patientsUM scientists receive $3.3 million NIH contract to develop opioid addiction vaccineResearchers develop improved vaccine for meningitis and bloodstream infections”The intense search for a Zika remedy since early 2016 has required us to be agile, and we believe our vaccine candidate research demonstrates that such quick-turnaround results can be achieved in academic and scientific partnerships here in Hawaii,” said Dr. Lehrer. “It is incredibly gratifying that two of the scientists we are training to be the future of biomedical science played key roles in gathering, analyzing and reporting their conclusions. We hope Hawaii’s citizens find that as inspiring as we do.”Graduate student scientist and research co-author Liana Medina said there were chances to develop new skills at every step along the way. “Having the opportunity to see the vaccine’s development from its very first stages as Zika E protein being produced by Dr. Kenji Obadia, at the time also a student in our department, to a vaccine that is efficacious and safe in animal models was a unique learning experience. Being a part of the process allowed me grow as a student in this field,” said Medina.Fellow graduate student and co-author Albert To said the team’s results “put us on the world-stage and highlight the talent we have here in Hawaii.” He said, “Being involved with this project has given me a glimpse of the type of research and results needed to progress an idea to a potential preventative therapy used by thousands of people worldwide.”JABSOM scientists continue to work to understand the immune responses to the vaccine. They are collaborating with the UH Kapiolani Community College in an effort to create antibodies that can be used as treatments or for improved diagnostic tests for Zika virus. Other Zika-related research at JABSOM also focuses on understanding how Zika can hide undetected in the sex organs of men for an extended period.last_img read more

Experts provide detailed review of antiplatelet therapy considerations in women

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 1 2019In the current issue of Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications (Special Issue on Women’s Cardiovascular Health, Volume 3, Number 4, 2019, Guest Editor Gladys P. Velarde) pp. 363-373(11); DOI: https://doi.org/10.15212/CVIA.2017.0079 Khadeeja Esmail and Dominick J. Angiolillo from the University of Florida Medical School, Gainesville, FL, USA review antiplatelet therapy considerations in women.The authors provide a detailed review of the available evidence on antiplatelet therapy for IHD, chronic-stable and unstable, and how female sex platelet biology has important implications on outcomes. Some important sex considerations in therapy emerge from this article which emphasizes that despite biological differences and a high bleeding risk, women do receive benefit from current and novel antiplatelet agents and how these are still underutilized in women. A summary of the impact of gender on outcomes in pivotal recent trials is provided. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, but because of several factors, one of which is antiplatelet therapy, the mortality rates have steadily declined. However, women continue to experience higher CAD mortality rates than men. This may be explained by differences in comorbidities, increased time to presentation, higher bleeding rates, and differences in management. There are numerous landmark trials in the field of antiplatelet therapy; however, women are consistently underrepresented in these trials. The results of these trials reveal that women experience the same benefit as men from antiplatelet therapy but experience higher bleeding rates; therefore bleeding-reduction strategies are imperative in this patient population. This article provides an overview of the available evidence on CAD in women and its implications for antiplatelet medications.This article forms part of a special issue on Women’s Cardiovascular Health, guest edited by Gladys P. Velarde. Recent decades have witnessed great progress in the treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Due to improved therapies, preventive strategies and increased public awareness, CVD (stroke, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and congenital heart disease) mortality has been on the decline over this span of time for both genders. Unfortunately, the decline has been less prominent for women, especially women of color. Once viewed as a man’s disease, CVD remains the leading cause of mortality for women in the United States and is responsible for a third of all deaths of women worldwide and half of all deaths of women over 50 years of age in developing countries. In the United States, CVD far outpaces all other causes of death, including all forms of cancer combined. The statistics are sobering with about one female death in the United States every 80 seconds from CVD. That represents close to 400,000 deaths per year according to the more recent statistics. Of these, more than one quarter of a million women will die this year from ischemic heart disease (IHD) which includes obstructive and non-obstructive coronary disease, and about 64% of women who die suddenly of IHD have no prior symptoms. Despite a significant number of females with known CVD and increased awareness among women of heart disease as their major health threat, a substantial proportion of women (46% as per the most recent American Heart Association survey) remain unaware of their cardiovascular risk and continue to fail to recognize its significance.Related StoriesIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studySubclinical cardiovascular disease linked to higher risk of falling in older adultsCutting around 300 calories a day protects the heart even in svelte adultsThis lack of awareness is more profound (over 60% unaware) among women in higher-risk groups, racial and ethnic minorities, and has changed little in decades.Poorly understood sex/gender differences in pathobiologic mechanisms, clinical presentation, management and application of diagnostic and therapeutic and preventive strategies have contributed to this gap. A critically important factor has been the underrepresentation of women in CVD research to date. In fact, only one-third of CVD clinical trials report sex-specific results despite The Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring sex stratification data, as well as the National Institute of Health recommendations of increased inclusion of women in clinical trials. This makes it difficult for researchers and clinicians to draw accurate conclusions about sex differences in mechanisms of disease, accuracy of specific diagnostic modalities and risks or benefits of a particular drug or device for the treatment of women with CVD. Furthermore, physicians and other healthcare providers continue to underestimate women’s cardiovascular risk, in part because of utilization of traditional approaches which can lead to over-testing or inappropriate risk assessment without accurate differentiating who is truly at risk and inadequate use of preventive therapies for women.The goal of this special edition Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications is to shed some light on specific topics that dominate the spectrum of CVD in women. Source:http://cvia-journal.org/last_img read more

Study identifies risk factors for cardiotoxicity with relapsed multiple myeloma therapy

first_imgRelated StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaRNA-binding protein SRSF3 appears to be key factor for proper heart contraction, survivalImplanted device uses microcurrent to exercise heart muscle in cardiomyopathy patientsThe study looked at two proteasome inhibitor therapies, carfilzomib and bortezomib. While prior studies have demonstrated a modest increase in cardiovascular adverse events (CVAEs) with carfilzomib, this study monitored patients for predictors of CVAEs and found a greater incidence, with 51% of patients experiencing CVAEs, including heart failure, hypertension, arrhythmia, acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary hypertension and venous thromboembolism. The incidence of CVAEs with bortezomib therapy was substantially lower, accounting for 17% of patients. However, bortezomib is no longer a first-line therapy for relapsed multiple myeloma. The study enrolled 95 patients, 65 of whom received carfilzomib and 30 receiving bortezomibThe majority of CVAEs, 86%, occurred within the first three months of therapy. In most cases, the cardiac issues were manageable, so patients were able to resume treatment. The majority of CVAEs cases were temporary, with natriuretic peptides returning to near-baseline levels just over three weeks after reaching peak levels. More investigation is needed to determine why this occurs, Cornell said. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 14 2019More than half of patients with relapsed multiple myeloma treated with carfilzomib experienced cardiac issues during treatment, according to a multi-institutional study published June 12 in Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study recommends that patients undergo a detailed cardiovascular history before being prescribed carfilzomib and then be monitored with natriuretic peptide testing, an indicator for heart failure. This study was an important research endeavor between hematology and cardiology to study the predictive risk factors for cardiotoxicity with carfilzomib. This drug is an important and effective treatment option for patients with myeloma. Importantly, we recommend patients have routine monitoring with BNP or NTproBNP during treatment as elevations with these were highly predictive of cardiac events.”Study’s lead author, Robert Frank Cornell, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and clinical director of Plasma Cell Disorders at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centercenter_img Source:Vanderbilt University Medical Centerlast_img read more

Researchers study cannabis dosage to reduce seizures in children with severe epilepsy

first_imgWhat makes these results really exciting is it opens up as a treatment option for kids who have failed to respond to traditional medications.”Dr. Richard Huntsman (M.D), a pediatric neurologist who led the study Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 8 2019Medicinal cannabis oil containing both cannabidiol (CBD) and a small amount of THC can reduce or end seizures in children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy, a study by the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Canada has found.Children with severe epilepsy also experienced improvements in their quality of life after taking low doses of the medicinal cannabis oil, according to research published in Frontiers in Neurology.The study tested the effects of medicinal cannabis oil with 95 per cent CBD, a chemical which does not create a high, and 5 percent THC, a substance which can be intoxicating in large enough doses.Studying an evidence-based scientifically guided dosage regimen, the research team found no evidence of THC intoxication when using CBD-enriched whole plant extracts. Three of the seven children in the USask study–mainly funded by Saskatchewan’s Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation–stopped having seizures altogether.”Some of the improvements in quality of life were really dramatic with some of the children having huge improvements in their ability to communicate with their families. Some of these children started to talk or crawl for the first time. They became more interactive with their families and loved ones,” said Dr. Huntsman.Several studies have shown that cannabis products containing CBD can be effective in helping to control seizures in children with epileptic encephalopathy, a severe form of epilepsy which begins in childhood. Despite this, many children cannot access these products because there is very little guidance for physicians on which doses to use and some health-care providers are concerned about possible intoxication from THC.This research found that most of the children had a reduction in seizures with a twice daily dose of CBD totaling 5-6 milligrams of cannabis extract per kilogram of weight (mg/kg) per day. By the time a CBD dose of 10-12 mg/kg per day was achieved, all children experienced a reduction in their seizures, most by more than 50 per cent.Related StoriesUCR biomedical professor to investigate how body’s cannabis-like molecules influence obesityResearch reveals genetic cause of deadly digestive disease in childrenCannabis-based medication helps tackle dependency on cannabis”What is really important is that we have been able to dispel in a scientific manner some of the concerns about how to dose these products and the possibility of them causing a ‘high’ in these children. We did this by slowly increasing the dose of cannabis extract in a very tightly regulated manner. We watched the children very closely for side effects and measured blood levels of CBD and THC,” said Dr. Huntsman,The children had drug-resistant epilepsy, failing to respond to at least two forms of anti-convulsant medication. They had been prescribed several anti-convulsant medications yet continued to have seizures, with one child experiencing 1,223 in the month leading up to the study.”We are very proud to support this important pediatric research, which is making such a difference in the lives of children who have severe epilepsy,” said Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “This groundbreaking study is giving hope and improved health outcomes. It is heartening to have donors that see the value of such important work.”Allyssa Sanderson’s eight-year-old son Ben from Prince Albert, Sask. was one of the participants in the study. Ben was born without complications, but later developed infantile spasms. When Ben was two, he was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.Despite trying multiple medications and treatments, Ben’s seizures were unpredictable. He was seizure-free on some days, but on others had 150 seizures a day.”Ben was very lethargic and would just lay there and have seizures all day. He wasn’t active and didn’t even want to eat. His eyes looked dull, and he didn’t focus on anything. He really looked lifeless,” Allyssa explained. “I knew this trial was a last resort for my son.”Once Ben started taking CBD, he began showing improvements in his seizure frequency and then became seizure-free during the study.”I was seeing the change in Ben every single day. I was thankful as I watched his little personality come out. He was back to his silly self that I hadn’t seen in years. He was stronger. I believe this research is one of the greatest things to happen for kids with epilepsy,” Allyssa said. Source:University of SaskatchewanJournal reference:Huntsman, R.J. et al. (2019) Dosage Related Efficacy and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in Children With Treatment-Resistant Epileptic Encephalopathy: Preliminary Results of the CARE-E Study. Frontiers in Neurology. doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00716.last_img read more

Does genetic testing affect psychosocial health

first_imgImage Credit: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock With many new and powerful genetic testing tools being released to meet the growing demand for genomic information, this question is becoming increasingly relevant. From babies whose prenatal ultrasound show unexpected findings, to cancer patients who are candidates for gene-based therapy, routine genomic screening is well on the way to being perceived as an inevitable part of health care in the not-so-distant future. In fact, many scientists want to think of genetic testing as just one of many medical tests, without the need for an informed consent beforehand.The question is therefore, how does genetic testing affect people mentally, emotionally and socially? The simple reply is, we don’t yet know enough to provide a readymade answer.The current report considers how much genetic testing has widened since its early days, and evidence-based outcomes of making this information available to patients. It also explores some factors that affect the impact of this type of knowledge.The report comes from a 2018 conference at Columbia University, named “Looking for the Psychosocial Impacts of Genetic Information,” and looks at three aspects of genetic testing: its historical background, evidence for lack of harm to psychosocial health from genetic testing, and evidence that supports the need for more research into such harms.The first section describes how humans deal with the knowledge of their genetic makeup. One such mindset is described as genetic essentialism – believing that we are the result of deep, hidden, internal genetic interactions, rather than active agents in our own destinies. This promotes discrimination, and reduces the understanding of the even greater importance of other factors in human behavior. Strategic essentialism is another way humans deal with such information, twisting genetic data to suit one’s preformed agenda.In the second section, author Scott Roberts discusses findings from a study on ApoE gene testing, a risk marker for Alzheimer’s disease. He points out that people who knew they had tested positive for the gene did not show elevated signs of depression or anxiety, and any harm was transient and mild. However, he says, the testing involved only one gene whose effects were well known, and this group was carefully prepared by pretest counseling and education. This means that the observation is not a generalizable conclusion to other populations. We still don’t know how other groups would handle this knowledge, especially those who don’t seek such information, and if the consequences of the ‘abnormal’ gene are not clearly known.Related StoriesSome people treated for type 1 diabetes may have monogenic diabetes, study findsStudy: Causes of anorexia are likely metabolic and psychologicalResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeMoreover, Roberts notes that people who knew they tested positive for the ApoE gene did more poorly on memory tests. This is a negative impact on quality of life and functioning, though not as obvious as anxiety or depression. The point the author makes is that straightforward objective testing and statistical analysis are not enough to investigate the real, more subtle and subjective effects of genetic testing in a varied population.The third section considers evidence of negative impacts of genetic testing in some groups. For instance, a pregnant woman may be told that the baby has some genetic variations but their significance is unknown as of now. In this situation, many mothers developed anxiety about the child which continued even after birth, and even when the child showed no signs of illness. This affects the parenting styles and the life outcomes of the child, and forces overuse of medical care facilities and school resources.Some factors that influence the effect of the genetic testing data on the recipient include: the type and objective of the test; to diagnose a symptomatic illness, predict risk of future illness, help prevent or treat disease, or for early abortions of ‘defective’ children. the number of conditions tested for and the type of illnesses or traits, whether fatal or mild the reliability of prediction based on the test results ethical factors such as the testing of fetuses or children who cannot consent on their own behalf, and public screening vs selective family or individual screening the type of impact measured, whether overt or more subtle, objective or subjective, and immediate or long-term measures, and the measurement techniques By Dr. Liji Thomas, MDJul 9 2019Ever since the Human Genome Project, 25 years ago, scientists have argued whether making genetic information available to patients does them good or harm. A recent report from the Hastings Center brings out evidence for the first time that knowing about one’s increased genetic risk for diseases such as obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s can actually alter one’s functioning negatively.This is a significant piece of learning about the social and ethical implications of genetic testing information. While earlier researchers in this field have suggested it increases anxiety, puts social pressure on the patient, strains social relationships, and induces depression, others deny these associations. The ethical, legal and social implications of such testing are thus a matter of continuing debate, consuming much time and energy. Overall, the report says, single gene testing seems not to have produced significantly poor outcomes on the psychosocial health of individuals who wanted to know this information. On the other hand, the authors caution, this is not necessarily true about people who come to know about more general genetic test results, or who have not requested such testing. The negative impacts in this group could be much higher. As author, Matthew Lebowitz, puts it, “Pronouncements about the supposed failure to find negative psychosocial effects of personalized genetic health information seem premature.”The authors sum it up: “It is surely not the case that, because we see few negative psychosocial impacts in people who choose testing for informational purposes, we should expect to see equally few negative impacts among all people.’ The bottom line is that, as Parens and Appelbaum say, “we have an extraordinary amount more to learn about the psychosocial implications of sharing genetic information.” Journal references: Parens E. et al. (2019). Looking for the psychosocial impacts of genomic information. The Hastings Center Report. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/1552146x/2019/49/S1 Parens E. et al. (2019). On what we have learned and still need to learn about the psychosocial impacts of genetic testing. The Hastings Center Report. https://doi.org/10.1002/hast.1011last_img read more