86 research outputs found

    User needs elicitation via analytic hierarchy process (AHP). A case study on a Computed Tomography (CT) scanner

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    Background: The rigorous elicitation of user needs is a crucial step for both medical device design and purchasing. However, user needs elicitation is often based on qualitative methods whose findings can be difficult to integrate into medical decision-making. This paper describes the application of AHP to elicit user needs for a new CT scanner for use in a public hospital. Methods: AHP was used to design a hierarchy of 12 needs for a new CT scanner, grouped into 4 homogenous categories, and to prepare a paper questionnaire to investigate the relative priorities of these. The questionnaire was completed by 5 senior clinicians working in a variety of clinical specialisations and departments in the same Italian public hospital. Results: Although safety and performance were considered the most important issues, user needs changed according to clinical scenario. For elective surgery, the five most important needs were: spatial resolution, processing software, radiation dose, patient monitoring, and contrast medium. For emergency, the top five most important needs were: patient monitoring, radiation dose, contrast medium control, speed run, spatial resolution. Conclusions: AHP effectively supported user need elicitation, helping to develop an analytic and intelligible framework of decision-making. User needs varied according to working scenario (elective versus emergency medicine) more than clinical specialization. This method should be considered by practitioners involved in decisions about new medical technology, whether that be during device design or before deciding whether to allocate budgets for new medical devices according to clinical functions or according to hospital department

    Soil warming accelerates decomposition of fine woody debris

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    © The Author(s), 2012. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Plant and Soil 356 (2012): 405-417, doi:10.1007/s11104-012-1130-x.Soil warming from global climate change could increase decomposition of fine woody debris (FWD), but debris size and quality may mitigate this effect. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of soil warming on decomposition of fine woody debris of differing size and quality. We placed FWD of two size classes (2 × 20 cm and 4 × 40 cm) and four species (Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Quercus rubra and Tsuga canadensis) in a soil warming and ambient area at Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts. We collected the debris from each area over two years and measured mass loss and lignin concentration. Warming increased mass loss for all species and size classes (by as much as 30%), but larger debris and debris with higher initial lignin content decomposed slower than smaller debris and debris with lower initial lignin content. Lignin degradation did not follow the same trends as mass loss. Lignin loss from the most lignin-rich species, T. canadensis, was the highest despite the fact that it lost mass the slowest. Our results suggest that soil warming will increase decomposition of FWD in temperate forests. It is imperative that future models and policy efforts account for this potential shift in the carbon storage pool

    Inhibition of mTOR pathway by everolimus cooperates with EGFR inhibitors in human tumours sensitive and resistant to anti-EGFR drugs

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    Inhibition of a single transduction pathway is often inefficient due to activation of alternative signalling. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a key intracellular kinase integrating proliferation, survival and angiogenic pathways and has been implicated in the resistance to EGFR inhibitors. Thus, mTOR blockade is pursued to interfere at multiple levels with tumour growth. We used everolimus (RAD001) to inhibit mTOR, alone or in combination with anti-EGFR drugs gefitinib or cetuximab, on human cancer cell lines sensitive and resistant to EGFR inhibitors, both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated that everolimus is active against EGFR-resistant cancer cell lines and partially restores the ability of EGFR inhibitors to inhibit growth and survival. Everolimus reduces the expression of EGFR-related signalling effectors and VEGF production, inhibiting proliferation and capillary tube formation of endothelial cells, both alone and in combination with gefitinib. Finally, combination of everolimus and gefitinib inhibits growth of GEO and GEO-GR (gefitinib resistant) colon cancer xenografts, activation of signalling proteins and VEGF secretion. Targeting mTOR pathway with everolimus overcomes resistance to EGFR inhibitors and produces a cooperative effect with EGFR inhibitors, providing a valid therapeutic strategy to be tested in a clinical setting

    Extracellular Superoxide Dismutase Protects Histoplasma Yeast Cells from Host-Derived Oxidative Stress

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    In order to establish infections within the mammalian host, pathogens must protect themselves against toxic reactive oxygen species produced by phagocytes of the immune system. The fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum infects both neutrophils and macrophages but the mechanisms enabling Histoplasma yeasts to survive in these phagocytes have not been fully elucidated. We show that Histoplasma yeasts produce a superoxide dismutase (Sod3) and direct it to the extracellular environment via N-terminal and C-terminal signals which promote its secretion and association with the yeast cell surface. This localization permits Sod3 to protect yeasts specifically from exogenous superoxide whereas amelioration of endogenous reactive oxygen depends on intracellular dismutases such as Sod1. While infection of resting macrophages by Histoplasma does not stimulate the phagocyte oxidative burst, interaction with polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) and cytokine-activated macrophages triggers production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Histoplasma yeasts producing Sod3 survive co-incubation with these phagocytes but yeasts lacking Sod3 are rapidly eliminated through oxidative killing similar to the effect of phagocytes on Candida albicans yeasts. The protection provided by Sod3 against host-derived ROS extends in vivo. Without Sod3, Histoplasma yeasts are attenuated in their ability to establish respiratory infections and are rapidly cleared with the onset of adaptive immunity. The virulence of Sod3-deficient yeasts is restored in murine hosts unable to produce superoxide due to loss of the NADPH-oxidase function. These results demonstrate that phagocyte-produced ROS contributes to the immune response to Histoplasma and that Sod3 facilitates Histoplasma pathogenesis by detoxifying host-derived reactive oxygen thereby enabling Histoplasma survival

    Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes in a Peat Profile Are Influenced by Early Stage Diagenesis and Changes in Atmospheric CO2 and N Deposition

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    In this study, we test whether the δ13C and δ15N in a peat profile are, respectively, linked to the recent dilution of atmospheric δ13CO2 caused by increased fossil fuel combustion and changes in atmospheric δ15N deposition. We analysed bulk peat and Sphagnum fuscum branch C and N concentrations and bulk peat, S. fuscum branch and Andromeda polifolia leaf δ13C and δ15N from a 30-cm hummock-like peat profile from an Aapa mire in northern Finland. Statistically significant correlations were found between the dilution of atmospheric δ13CO2 and bulk peat δ13C, as well as between historically increasing wet N deposition and bulk peat δ15N. However, these correlations may be affected by early stage kinetic fractionation during decomposition and possibly other processes. We conclude that bulk peat stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios may reflect the dilution of atmospheric δ13CO2 and the changes in δ15N deposition, but probably also reflect the effects of early stage kinetic fractionation during diagenesis. This needs to be taken into account when interpreting palaeodata. There is a need for further studies of δ15N profiles in sufficiently old dated cores from sites with different rates of decomposition: These would facilitate more reliable separation of depositional δ15N from patterns caused by other processes

    Diagnostic tools in Rhinology EAACI position paper

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    This EAACI Task Force document aims at providing the readers with a comprehensive and complete overview of the currently available tools for diagnosis of nasal and sino-nasal disease. We have tried to logically order the different important issues related to history taking, clinical examination and additional investigative tools for evaluation of the severity of sinonasal disease into a consensus document. A panel of European experts in the field of Rhinology has contributed to this consensus document on Diagnostic Tools in Rhinology

    Host-Adaptation of Francisella tularensis Alters the Bacterium's Surface-Carbohydrates to Hinder Effectors of Innate and Adaptive Immunity

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    The gram-negative bacterium Francisella tularensis survives in arthropods, fresh water amoeba, and mammals with both intracellular and extracellular phases and could reasonably be expected to express distinct phenotypes in these environments. The presence of a capsule on this bacterium has been controversial with some groups finding such a structure while other groups report that no capsule could be identified. Previously we reported in vitro culture conditions for this bacterium which, in contrast to typical methods, yielded a bacterial phenotype that mimics that of the bacterium's mammalian, extracellular phase.SDS-PAGE and carbohydrate analysis of differentially-cultivated F. tularensis LVS revealed that bacteria displaying the host-adapted phenotype produce both longer polymers of LPS O-antigen (OAg) and additional HMW carbohydrates/glycoproteins that are reduced/absent in non-host-adapted bacteria. Analysis of wildtype and OAg-mutant bacteria indicated that the induced changes in surface carbohydrates involved both OAg and non-OAg species. To assess the impact of these HMW carbohydrates on the access of outer membrane constituents to antibody we used differentially-cultivated bacteria in vitro to immunoprecipitate antibodies directed against outer membrane moieties. We observed that the surface-carbohydrates induced during host-adaptation shield many outer membrane antigens from binding by antibody. Similar assays with normal mouse serum indicate that the induced HMW carbohydrates also impede complement deposition. Using an in vitro macrophage infection assay, we find that the bacterial HMW carbohydrate impedes TLR2-dependent, pro-inflammatory cytokine production by macrophages. Lastly we show that upon host-adaptation, the human-virulent strain, F. tularensis SchuS4 also induces capsule production with the effect of reducing macrophage-activation and accelerating tularemia pathogenesis in mice.F. tularensis undergoes host-adaptation which includes production of multiple capsular materials. These capsules impede recognition of bacterial outer membrane constituents by antibody, complement, and Toll-Like Receptor 2. These changes in the host-pathogen interface have profound implications for pathogenesis and vaccine development

    Macrophage Replication Screen Identifies a Novel Francisella Hydroperoxide Resistance Protein Involved in Virulence

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    Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogen and the causative agent of tularemia. Recently, genome-wide screens have identified Francisella genes required for virulence in mice. However, the mechanisms by which most of the corresponding proteins contribute to pathogenesis are still largely unknown. To further elucidate the roles of these virulence determinants in Francisella pathogenesis, we tested whether each gene was required for replication of the model pathogen F. novicida within macrophages, an important virulence trait. Fifty-three of the 224 genes tested were involved in intracellular replication, including many of those within the Francisella pathogenicity island (FPI), validating our results. Interestingly, over one third of the genes identified are annotated as hypothetical, indicating that F. novicida likely utilizes novel virulence factors for intracellular replication. To further characterize these virulence determinants, we selected two hypothetical genes to study in more detail. As predicted by our screen, deletion mutants of FTN_0096 and FTN_1133 were attenuated for replication in macrophages. The mutants displayed differing levels of attenuation in vivo, with the FTN_1133 mutant being the most attenuated. FTN_1133 has sequence similarity to the organic hydroperoxide resistance protein Ohr, an enzyme involved in the bacterial response to oxidative stress. We show that FTN_1133 is required for F. novicida resistance to, and degradation of, organic hydroperoxides as well as resistance to the action of the NADPH oxidase both in macrophages and mice. Furthermore, we demonstrate that F. holarctica LVS, a strain derived from a highly virulent human pathogenic species of Francisella, also requires this protein for organic hydroperoxide resistance as well as replication in macrophages and mice. This study expands our knowledge of Francisella's largely uncharacterized intracellular lifecycle and demonstrates that FTN_1133 is an important novel mediator of oxidative stress resistance

    Northern Eurasia Future Initiative (NEFI): facing the challenges and pathways of global change in the 21st century

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    During the past several decades, the Earth system has changed significantly, especially across Northern Eurasia. Changes in the socio-economic conditions of the larger countries in the region have also resulted in a variety of regional environmental changes that can have global consequences. The Northern Eurasia Future Initiative (NEFI) has been designed as an essential continuation of the Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI), which was launched in 2004. NEESPI sought to elucidate all aspects of ongoing environmental change, to inform societies and, thus, to better prepare societies for future developments. A key principle of NEFI is that these developments must now be secured through science-based strategies co-designed with regional decision makers to lead their societies to prosperity in the face of environmental and institutional challenges. NEESPI scientific research, data, and models have created a solid knowledge base to support the NEFI program. This paper presents the NEFI research vision consensus based on that knowledge. It provides the reader with samples of recent accomplishments in regional studies and formulates new NEFI science questions. To address these questions, nine research foci are identified and their selections are briefly justified. These foci include: warming of the Arctic; changing frequency, pattern, and intensity of extreme and inclement environmental conditions; retreat of the cryosphere; changes in terrestrial water cycles; changes in the biosphere; pressures on land-use; changes in infrastructure; societal actions in response to environmental change; and quantification of Northern Eurasia's role in the global Earth system. Powerful feedbacks between the Earth and human systems in Northern Eurasia (e.g., mega-fires, droughts, depletion of the cryosphere essential for water supply, retreat of sea ice) result from past and current human activities (e.g., large scale water withdrawals, land use and governance change) and potentially restrict or provide new opportunities for future human activities. Therefore, we propose that Integrated Assessment Models are needed as the final stage of global change assessment. The overarching goal of this NEFI modeling effort will enable evaluation of economic decisions in response to changing environmental conditions and justification of mitigation and adaptation efforts
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