773 research outputs found

    Analysing Pensions: Modelling and Policy Issues. ESRI RESEARCH SERIES NUMBER 29 November 2012

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    Pension systems in OECD countries face challenges arising from increases in life expectancy and from downward pressures on public expenditure. Changes to public and private pension systems have effects that are both complex and longlived. Careful analysis is needed to tease out the implications of different reform options. Recognising this, the EU Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion set up a call for research which specifically included models for the analysis of pensions. The first two papers in this volume flow directly from that work, while the third tackles a complementary topic in the pension area

    Deflating the shale gas potential of South Africa’s Main Karoo basin

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    The Main Karoo basin has been identified as a potential source of shale gas (i.e. natural gas that can be extracted via the process of hydraulic stimulation or ‘fracking’). Current resource estimates of 0.4–11x109 m3 (13–390 Tcf) are speculatively based on carbonaceous shale thickness, area, depth, thermal maturity and, most of all, the total organic carbon content of specifically the Ecca Group’s Whitehill Formation with a thickness of more than 30 m. These estimates were made without any measurements on the actual available gas content of the shale. Such measurements were recently conducted on samples from two boreholes and are reported here. These measurements indicate that there is little to no desorbed and residual gas, despite high total organic carbon values. In addition, vitrinite reflectance and illite crystallinity of unweathered shale material reveal the Ecca Group to be metamorphosed and overmature. Organic carbon in the shale is largely unbound to hydrogen, and little hydrocarbon generation potential remains. These findings led to the conclusion that the lowest of the existing resource estimates, namely 0.4x109 m3 (13 Tcf), may be the most realistic. However, such low estimates still represent a large resource with developmental potential for the South African petroleum industry. To be economically viable, the resource would be required to be confined to a small, well-delineated ‘sweet spot’ area in the vast southern area of the basin. It is acknowledged that the drill cores we investigated fall outside of currently identified sweet spots and these areas should be targets for further scientific drilling projects

    A New Reinforced Fibrin Collagen Glycosaminoglycan Material to Resist Tissue Contraction in Heart Valves

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    A crosslinked, multicomponent scaffold of collagen, GAG and fibrin has been characterised for heart valve applications. Fibrin gels reinforced with a 0.75% collagen, 0.044% GAG scaffolds can resist VSMC induced contraction significantly more than fibrin-only gels, while allowing cell proliferation and maintaining excellent cell viability. This improvement in structural integrity may facilitate the use of fibrin based materials for heart valve tissue engineering

    Atypical chemokine receptor ACKR2 controls branching morphogenesis in the developing mammary gland

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    Macrophages are important regulators of branching morphogenesis during development and postnatally in the mammary gland. Regulation of macrophage dynamics during these processes can therefore have a profound impact on development. We demonstrate here that the developing mammary gland expresses high levels of inflammatory CC-chemokines, which are essential in vivo regulators of macrophage migration. We further demonstrate that the atypical chemokine receptor ACKR2, which scavenges inflammatory CC-chemokines, is differentially expressed during mammary gland development. We have previously shown that ACKR2 regulates macrophage dynamics during lymphatic vessel development. Here, we extend these observations to reveal a novel role for ACKR2 in regulating the postnatal development of the mammary gland. Specifically, we show that Ackr2−/− mice display precocious mammary gland development. This is associated with increased macrophage recruitment to the developing gland and increased density of the ductal epithelial network. These data demonstrate that ACKR2 is an important regulator of branching morphogenesis in diverse biological contexts and provide the first evidence of a role for chemokines and their receptors in postnatal development processes

    Approaching the Dirac point in high mobility multi-layer epitaxial graphene

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    Multi-layer epitaxial graphene (MEG) is investigated using far infrared (FIR) transmission experiments in the different limits of low magnetic fields and high temperatures. The cyclotron-resonance like absorption is observed at low temperature in magnetic fields below 50 mT, allowing thus to probe the nearest vicinity of the Dirac point and to estimate the conductivity in nearly undoped graphene. The carrier mobility is found to exceed 250,000 cm2^2/(V.s). In the limit of high temperatures, the well-defined Landau level (LL) quantization is observed up to room temperature at magnetic fields below 1 T, a phenomenon unique in solid state systems. A negligible increase in the width of the cyclotron resonance lines with increasing temperature indicates that no important scattering mechanism is thermally activated, supporting recent expectations of high room-temperature mobilities in graphene.Comment: 5 pages, 3 figure

    Data protection in the clouds

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    The atypical chemokine receptor Ackr2 constrains NK cell migratory activity and promotes metastasis

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    Chemokines have been shown to be essential players in a range of cancer contexts. In this study, we demonstrate that mice deficient in the atypical chemokine receptor Ackr2 display impaired development of metastasis in vivo in both cell line and spontaneous models. Further analysis reveals that this relates to increased expression of the chemokine receptor CCR2, specifically by KLRG1+ NK cells from the Ackr2−/− mice. This leads to increased recruitment of KLRG1+ NK cells to CCL2-expressing tumors and enhanced tumor killing. Together, these data indicate that Ackr2 limits the expression of CCR2 on NK cells and restricts their tumoricidal activity. Our data have important implications for our understanding of the roles for chemokines in the metastatic process and highlight Ackr2 and CCR2 as potentially manipulable therapeutic targets in metastasis
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