3,329 research outputs found

    Respiratory Infections Precede Adult-Onset Asthma

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    BACKGROUND: Respiratory infections in early life are associated with an increased risk of developing asthma but there is little evidence on the role of infections for onset of asthma in adults. The objective of this study was to assess the relation of the occurrence of respiratory infections in the past 12 months to adult-onset asthma in a population-based incident case-control study of adults 21-63 years of age. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We recruited all new clinically diagnosed cases of asthma (n = 521) during a 2.5-year study period and randomly selected controls (n = 932) in a geographically defined area in South Finland. Information on respiratory infections was collected by a self-administered questionnaire. The diagnosis of asthma was based on symptoms and reversible airflow obstruction in lung function measurements. The risk of asthma onset was strongly increased in subjects who had experienced in the preceding 12 months lower respiratory tract infections (including acute bronchitis and pneumonia) with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) 7.18 (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.16-9.99), or upper respiratory tract infections (including common cold, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and otitis media) with an adjusted OR 2.26 (95% CI 1.72-2.97). Individuals with personal atopy and/or parental atopy were more susceptible to the effects of respiratory infections on asthma onset than non-atopic persons. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study provides new evidence that recently experienced respiratory infections are a strong determinant for adult-onset asthma. Reducing such infections might prevent onset of asthma in adulthood, especially in individuals with atopy or hereditary propensity to it

    Greenbury Report (UK)

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    The Greenbury Report on Directors Remuneration (1995) (hereafter called the Greenbury Report) was one of the first comprehensive governance codes directly addressing executive and director remuneration. The Greenbury Report was commissioned by the Confederation of British Industry in response to public concerns over recently privatized public utilities and the salaries and bonuses earned by executives, while they implemented job cuts, and service price increases. The Greenbury Report recommended an independent remuneration committee, linking executive pay to corporate financial and operational performance measures, and increased the requirements for disclosure and transparency on directors’ remuneration. However, the credibility of the Greenbury Report was challenged due to the composition of the group; it was not deemed to be independent of the sector it was to investigate, and it was argued that its recommendations did not go far enough. The financial crisis of 2008 highlighted the failure of the Greenbury Report’s recommendations for limiting excessive executive pay. In particular, the Walker Review of the Banking Sector found that performance-based bonus schemes in banking corporations that are supposed to align executive objectives with shareholder objectives increased corporate risk in the period leading up to the financial crisis. In addition, during the crisis, executive pay in large publicly listed corporations (PLCs) continued to increase, while workers’ wages stagnated. Therefore, despite Greenbury’s recommendations, executive pay continued, and still continues, to be a concern for the public and policymakers alike. Nonetheless, improved transparency on remuneration and a greater linking of pay to performance followed from the Greenbury Report and most corporations now include operational measures linked to performance and sustainability

    Stem cell differentiation increases membrane-actin adhesion regulating cell blebability, migration and mechanics

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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder in order to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/K. S. is funded by an EPSRC PhD studentship. S.T. is funded by an EU Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship (GENOMICDIFF)

    Measurement of 222Rn dissolved in water at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

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    The technique used at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) to measure the concentration of 222Rn in water is described. Water from the SNO detector is passed through a vacuum degasser (in the light water system) or a membrane contact degasser (in the heavy water system) where dissolved gases, including radon, are liberated. The degasser is connected to a vacuum system which collects the radon on a cold trap and removes most other gases, such as water vapor and nitrogen. After roughly 0.5 tonnes of H2O or 6 tonnes of D2O have been sampled, the accumulated radon is transferred to a Lucas cell. The cell is mounted on a photomultiplier tube which detects the alpha particles from the decay of 222Rn and its daughters. The overall degassing and concentration efficiency is about 38% and the single-alpha counting efficiency is approximately 75%. The sensitivity of the radon assay system for D2O is equivalent to ~3 E(-15) g U/g water. The radon concentration in both the H2O and D2O is sufficiently low that the rate of background events from U-chain elements is a small fraction of the interaction rate of solar neutrinos by the neutral current reaction.Comment: 14 pages, 6 figures; v2 has very minor change

    Controlling spin relaxation with a cavity

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    Spontaneous emission of radiation is one of the fundamental mechanisms by which an excited quantum system returns to equilibrium. For spins, however, spontaneous emission is generally negligible compared to other non-radiative relaxation processes because of the weak coupling between the magnetic dipole and the electromagnetic field. In 1946, Purcell realized that the spontaneous emission rate can be strongly enhanced by placing the quantum system in a resonant cavity -an effect which has since been used extensively to control the lifetime of atoms and semiconducting heterostructures coupled to microwave or optical cavities, underpinning single-photon sources. Here we report the first application of these ideas to spins in solids. By coupling donor spins in silicon to a superconducting microwave cavity of high quality factor and small mode volume, we reach for the first time the regime where spontaneous emission constitutes the dominant spin relaxation mechanism. The relaxation rate is increased by three orders of magnitude when the spins are tuned to the cavity resonance, showing that energy relaxation can be engineered and controlled on-demand. Our results provide a novel and general way to initialise spin systems into their ground state, with applications in magnetic resonance and quantum information processing. They also demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, the coupling between the magnetic dipole of a spin and the electromagnetic field can be enhanced up to the point where quantum fluctuations have a dramatic effect on the spin dynamics; as such our work represents an important step towards the coherent magnetic coupling of individual spins to microwave photons.Comment: 8 pages, 6 figures, 1 tabl

    Living biointerfaces based on non-pathogenic bacteria to direct cell differentiation

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    Genetically modified Lactococcus lactis, non-pathogenic bacteria expressing the FNIII7-10 fibronectin fragment as a protein membrane have been used to create a living biointerface between synthetic materials and mammalian cells. This FNIII7-10 fragment comprises the RGD and PHSRN sequences of fibronectin to bind α5β1 integrins and triggers signalling for cell adhesion, spreading and differentiation. We used L. lactis strain to colonize material surfaces and produce stable biofilms presenting the FNIII7-10 fragment readily available to cells. Biofilm density is easily tunable and remains stable for several days. Murine C2C12 myoblasts seeded over mature biofilms undergo bipolar alignment and form differentiated myotubes, a process triggered by the FNIII7-10 fragment. This biointerface based on living bacteria can be further modified to express any desired biochemical signal, establishing a new paradigm in biomaterial surface functionalisation for biomedical applications

    Impaired performance of alpha7 nicotinic receptor knockout mice in the five-choice serial reaction time task

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    RATIONALE: Nicotinic receptors have been implicated in attentional performance. Nicotine can improve attention in animals and humans, but knowledge about relevant receptor subtypes is very limited. OBJECTIVES: The aim was to examine the role of α7 receptors in attentional performance of mice and in effects of nicotine. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Mice with targeted deletion of the gene coding for the α7 subunit of nicotinic receptors and wild-type controls were trained on a five-choice serial reaction time task with food reinforcers presented under varying parametric conditions. Nicotine was administered in a range of doses (0.001–1.0 mg/kg sc), including those reported to enhance attentional performance. RESULTS: Initially the α7(−/−) (knockout) mice responded less accurately and made more anticipatory responses. After task parameters were altered so that the time allowed for responding was reduced and anticipatory (impulsive) responses were punished by a time-out, the pattern of performance deficits changed; there were increased omission errors in α7(−/−) mice but normal levels of accuracy and anticipatory responding. Nicotine did not improve any measure of performance, either with the original training parameters or after retraining; the largest dose used (1.0 mg/kg) produced a general impairment of responding in α7(−/−) and wild-type mice. CONCLUSIONS: α7 nicotinic receptor knockout mice are impaired in performance of the 5-CSRTT, suggesting a possible role for α7 receptors in attentional processing. However, identification of a protocol for assessing attention-enhancing effects of nicotine in mice may require further modifications of test procedures or the use of different strains of animal

    Dealing with substantial heterogeneity in Cochrane reviews. Cross-sectional study

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>Dealing with heterogeneity in meta-analyses is often tricky, and there is only limited advice for authors on what to do. We investigated how authors addressed different degrees of heterogeneity, in particular whether they used a fixed effect model, which assumes that all the included studies are estimating the same true effect, or a random effects model where this is not assumed.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>We sampled randomly 60 Cochrane reviews from 2008, which presented a result in its first meta-analysis with substantial heterogeneity (I<sup>2 </sup>greater than 50%, i.e. more than 50% of the variation is due to heterogeneity rather than chance). We extracted information on choice of statistical model, how the authors had handled the heterogeneity, and assessed the methodological quality of the reviews in relation to this.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>The distribution of heterogeneity was rather uniform in the whole I<sup>2 </sup>interval, 50-100%. A fixed effect model was used in 33 reviews (55%), but there was no correlation between I<sup>2 </sup>and choice of model (P = 0.79). We considered that 20 reviews (33%), 16 of which had used a fixed effect model, had major problems. The most common problems were: use of a fixed effect model and lack of rationale for choice of that model, lack of comment on even severe heterogeneity and of reservations and explanations of its likely causes. The problematic reviews had significantly fewer included trials than other reviews (4.3 vs. 8.0, P = 0.024). The problems became less pronounced with time, as those reviews that were most recently updated more often used a random effects model.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>One-third of Cochrane reviews with substantial heterogeneity had major problems in relation to their handling of heterogeneity. More attention is needed to this issue, as the problems we identified can be essential for the conclusions of the reviews.</p

    Oral rehydration versus intravenous therapy for treating dehydration due to gastroenteritis in children: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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    BACKGROUND: Despite treatment recommendations from various organizations, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) continues to be underused, particularly by physicians in high-income countries. We conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to compare ORT and intravenous therapy (IVT) for the treatment of dehydration secondary to acute gastroenteritis in children. METHODS: RCTs were identified through MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, authors and references of included trials, pharmaceutical companies, and relevant organizations. Screening and inclusion were performed independently by two reviewers in order to identify randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing ORT and IVT in children with acute diarrhea and dehydration. Two reviewers independently assessed study quality using the Jadad scale and allocation concealment. Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second. The primary outcome measure was failure of rehydration. We analyzed data using standard meta-analytic techniques. RESULTS: The quality of the 14 included trials ranged from 0 to 3 (Jadad score); allocation concealment was unclear in all but one study. Using a random effects model, there was no significant difference in treatment failures (risk difference [RD] 3%; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0, 6). The Mantel-Haenzsel fixed effects model gave a significant difference between treatment groups (RD 4%; 95% CI: 2, 5) favoring IVT. Based on the four studies that reported deaths, there were six in the IVT groups and two in ORT. There were no significant differences in total fluid intake at six and 24 hours, weight gain, duration of diarrhea, or hypo/hypernatremia. Length of stay was significantly shorter for the ORT group (weighted mean difference [WMD] -1.2 days; 95% CI: -2.4,-0.02). Phlebitis occurred significantly more often with IVT (number needed to treat [NNT] 33; 95% CI: 25,100); paralytic ileus occurred more often with ORT (NNT 33; 95% CI: 20,100). These results may not be generalizable to children with persistent vomiting. CONCLUSION: There were no clinically important differences between ORT and IVT in terms of efficacy and safety. For every 25 children (95% CI: 20, 50) treated with ORT, one would fail and require IVT. The results support existing practice guidelines recommending ORT as the first course of treatment in appropriate children with dehydration secondary to gastroenteritis

    Rampant Adaptive Evolution in Regions of Proteins with Unknown Function in Drosophila simulans

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    Adaptive protein evolution is pervasive in Drosophila. Genomic studies, thus far, have analyzed each protein as a single entity. However, the targets of adaptive events may be localized to particular parts of proteins, such as protein domains or regions involved in protein folding. We compared the population genetic mechanisms driving sequence polymorphism and divergence in defined protein domains and non-domain regions. Interestingly, we find that non-domain regions of proteins are more frequent targets of directional selection. Protein domains are also evolving under directional selection, but appear to be under stronger purifying selection than non-domain regions. Non-domain regions of proteins clearly play a major role in adaptive protein evolution on a genomic scale and merit future investigations of their functional properties
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