1,428 research outputs found

    The socio-technology of engineering sustainability

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    Despite the social goals of sustainable development, including the alleviation of poverty, sustainable engineering approaches have been largely limited to technical measures, promoting engineers as purely technical experts. By under-emphasising social factors, this limits opportunities for engineers to address the full spectrum of challenges posed by the sustainable development model. We explain this in terms of the dominant policy response to environmental problems, known as ecological modernisation, which conscripts engineers into reinforcing false boundaries between technology and society. In contrast to the technical focus of engineering under a framework of ecological modernisation, we suggest that engineering can, in fact, be usefully seen as a hybrid socio-technical profession that breaks these boundaries. This point is underlined by the case-study of indirect potable water reuse, demonstrating that the acknowledgement of hybridity can be used to improve engineers' relationships with the societies they serve, and enhance the contribution of the profession to sustainable development

    Association between Lactobacillus species and bacterial vaginosis-related bacteria, and bacterial vaginosis scores in pregnant Japanese women

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>Bacterial vaginosis (BV), the etiology of which is still uncertain, increases the risk of preterm birth. Recent PCR-based studies suggested that BV is associated with complex vaginal bacterial communities, including many newly recognized bacterial species in non-pregnant women.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>To examine whether these bacteria are also involved in BV in pregnant Japanese women, vaginal fluid samples were taken from 132 women, classified as normal (n = 98), intermediate (n = 21), or BV (n = 13) using the Nugent gram stain criteria, and studied. DNA extracted from these samples was analyzed for bacterial sequences of any <it>Lactobacillus</it>, four <it>Lactobacillus </it>species, and four BV-related bacteria by PCR with primers for 16S ribosomal DNA including a universal <it>Lactobacillus </it>primer, <it>Lactobacillus </it>species-specific primers for <it>L. crispatus</it>, <it>L. jensenii</it>, <it>L. gasseri</it>, and <it>L. iners</it>, and BV-related bacterium-specific primers for BVAB2, <it>Megasphaera</it>, <it>Leptotrichia</it>, and <it>Eggerthella</it>-like bacterium.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>The prevalences of <it>L. crispatus</it>, <it>L. jensenii</it>, and <it>L. gasseri </it>were significantly higher, while those of BVAB2, <it>Megasphaera</it>, <it>Leptotrichia</it>, and <it>Eggerthella</it>-like bacterium were significantly lower in the normal group than in the BV group. Unlike other <it>Lactobacillus </it>species, the prevalence of <it>L. iners </it>did not differ between the three groups and women with <it>L. iners </it>were significantly more likely to have BVAB2, <it>Megasphaera, Leptotrichia</it>, and <it>Eggerthella</it>-like bacterium. Linear regression analysis revealed associations of BVAB2 and <it>Megasphaera </it>with Nugent score, and multivariate regression analyses suggested a close relationship between <it>Eggerthella</it>-like bacterium and BV.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>The BV-related bacteria, including BVAB2, <it>Megasphaera</it>, <it>Leptotrichia</it>, and <it>Eggerthella</it>-like bacterium, are common in the vagina of pregnant Japanese women with BV. The presence of <it>L. iners </it>may be correlated with vaginal colonization by these BV-related bacteria.</p

    Diagnosing gestational diabetes

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    The newly proposed criteria for diagnosing gestational diabetes will result in a gestational diabetes prevalence of 17.8%, doubling the numbers of pregnant women currently diagnosed. These new diagnostic criteria are based primarily on the levels of glucose associated with a 1.75-fold increased risk of giving birth to large-for-gestational age infants (LGA) in the Hyperglycemia Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) study; they use a single OGTT. Thus, of 23,316 pregnancies, gestational diabetes would be diagnosed in 4,150 women rather than in 2,448 women if a twofold increased risk of LGA were used. It should be recognised that the majority of women with LGA have normal glucose levels during pregnancy by these proposed criteria and that maternal obesity is a stronger predictor of LGA. The expected benefit of a diagnosis of gestational diabetes in these 1,702 additional women would be the prevention of 140 cases of LGA, 21 cases of shoulder dystocia and 16 cases of birth injury. The reproducibility of an OGTT for diagnosing mild hyperglycaemia is poor. Given that (1) glucose is a weak predictor of LGA, (2) treating these extra numbers has a modest outcome benefit and (3) the diagnosis may be based on a single raised OGTT value, further debate should occur before resources are allocated to implementing this change

    Efficacy, Stability, and Biosafety of Sifuvirtide Gel as a Microbicide Candidate against HIV-1

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    Sifuvirtide is a proven effective HIV-1 entry inhibitor and its safety profile has been established for systemic administration. The present study evaluated the potential of sifuvirtide formulated in a universal gel for topical use as a microbicide candidate for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. Our data showed that sifuvirtide formulated in HEC gel is effective against HIV-1 B, C subtypes, CRF07_BC and CRF01_AE, the latter two recombinants represents the most prevalent strains in China. In addition, we demonstrated that sifuvirtide in gel is stable for at least 8 weeks even at 40°C, and did not cause the disruption of integrity of mucosal epithelial surface, or the up-regulation of inflammatory cytokines both in vitro or in vivo. These results suggest that sifuvirtide gel is an effective, safe and stable product, and should be further tested as a vaginal or rectal microbicide in pre-clinical model or clinical trial for preventing HIV sexual transmission

    Quantitative assessment of microbicide-induced injury in the ovine vaginal epithelium using confocal microendoscopy

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The development of safe topical microbicides that can preserve the integrity of cervicovaginal tract epithelial barrier is of great interest as this may minimize the potential for increased susceptibility to STI infections. High resolution imaging to assess epithelial integrity in a noninvasive manner could be a valuable tool for preclinical testing of candidate topical agents.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>A quantitative approach using confocal fluorescence microendoscopy (CFM) for assessment of microbicide-induced injury to the vaginal epithelium was developed. Sheep were treated intravaginally with one of five agents in solution (PBS; 0.02% benzalkonium chloride (BZK); 0.2% BZK) or gel formulation (hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC); Gynol II nonoxynol-9 gel (N-9)). After 24 hours the vaginal tract was removed, labeled with propidium iodide (PI), imaged, then fixed for histology. An automated image scoring algorithm was developed for quantitative assessment of injury and applied to the data set. Image-based findings were validated with histological visual gradings that describe degree of injury and measurement of epithelial thickness.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Distinct differences in PI staining were detected following BZK and N-9 treatment. Images from controls had uniformly distributed nuclei with defined borders, while those after BZK or N-9 showed heavily stained and disrupted nuclei, which increased in proportion to injury detected on histology. The confocal scoring system revealed statistically significant scores for each agent versus PBS controls with the exception of HEC and were consistent with histology scores of injury.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Confocal microendoscopy provides a sensitive, objective, and quantitative approach for non-invasive assessment of vaginal epithelial integrity and could serve as a tool for real-time safety evaluation of emerging intravaginal topical agents.</p

    Microbial Prevalence, Diversity and Abundance in Amniotic Fluid During Preterm Labor: A Molecular and Culture-Based Investigation

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    BACKGROUND: Preterm delivery causes substantial neonatal mortality and morbidity. Unrecognized intra-amniotic infections caused by cultivation-resistant microbes may play a role. Molecular methods can detect, characterize and quantify microbes independently of traditional culture techniques. However, molecular studies that define the diversity and abundance of microbes invading the amniotic cavity, and evaluate their clinical significance within a causal framework, are lacking. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In parallel with culture, we used broad-range end-point and real-time PCR assays to amplify, identify and quantify ribosomal DNA (rDNA) of bacteria, fungi and archaea from amniotic fluid of 166 women in preterm labor with intact membranes. We sequenced up to 24 rRNA clones per positive specimen and assigned taxonomic designations to approximately the species level. Microbial prevalence, diversity and abundance were correlated with host inflammation and with gestational and neonatal outcomes. Study subjects who delivered at term served as controls. The combined use of molecular and culture methods revealed a greater prevalence (15% of subjects) and diversity (18 taxa) of microbes in amniotic fluid than did culture alone (9.6% of subjects; 11 taxa). The taxa detected only by PCR included a related group of fastidious bacteria, comprised of Sneathia sanguinegens, Leptotrichia amnionii and an unassigned, uncultivated, and previously-uncharacterized bacterium; one or more members of this group were detected in 25% of positive specimens. A positive PCR was associated with histologic chorioamnionitis (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 20; 95% CI, 2.4 to 172), and funisitis (adjusted OR 18; 95% CI, 3.1 to 99). The positive predictive value of PCR for preterm delivery was 100 percent. A temporal association between a positive PCR and delivery was supported by a shortened amniocentesis-to-delivery interval (adjusted hazard ratio 4.6; 95% CI, 2.2 to 9.5). A dose-response association was demonstrated between bacterial rDNA abundance and gestational age at delivery (r(2) = 0.42; P<0.002). CONCLUSIONS: The amniotic cavity of women in preterm labor harbors DNA from a greater diversity of microbes than previously suspected, including as-yet uncultivated, previously-uncharacterized taxa. The strength, temporality and gradient with which these microbial sequence types are associated with preterm delivery support a causal relationship

    Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia disease progression is associated with increased vaginal microbiome diversity

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    Persistent infection with oncogenic Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is necessary for cervical carcinogenesis. Although evidence suggests that the vaginal microbiome plays a functional role in the persistence or regression of HPV infections, this has yet to be described in women with cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN). We hypothesised that increasing microbiome diversity is associated with increasing CIN severity. llumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons was used to characterise the vaginal microbiota of women with low-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesions (LSIL; n = 52), high-grade (HSIL; n = 92), invasive cervical cancer (ICC; n = 5) and healthy controls (n = 20). Hierarchical clustering analysis revealed an increased prevalence of microbiomes characterised by high-diversity and low levels of Lactobacillus spp. (community state type-CST IV) with increasing disease severity, irrespective of HPV status (Normal = 2/20,10%; LSIL = 11/52,21%; HSIL = 25/92,27%; ICC = 2/5,40%). Increasing disease severity was associated with decreasing relative abundance of Lactobacillus spp. The vaginal microbiome in HSIL was characterised by higher levels of Sneathia sanguinegens (P < 0.01), Anaerococcus tetradius (P < 0.05) and Peptostreptococcus anaerobius (P < 0.05) and lower levels of Lactobacillus jensenii (P < 0.01) compared to LSIL. Our results suggest advancing CIN disease severity is associated with increasing vaginal microbiota diversity and may be involved in regulating viral persistence and disease progression

    The management of an endodontically abscessed tooth: patient health state utility, decision-tree and economic analysis

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>A frequent encounter in clinical practice is the middle-aged adult patient complaining of a toothache caused by the spread of a carious infection into the tooth's endodontic complex. Decisions about the range of treatment options (conventional crown with a post and core technique (CC), a single tooth implant (STI), a conventional dental bridge (CDB), and a partial removable denture (RPD)) have to balance the prognosis, utility and cost. Little is know about the utility patients attach to the different treatment options for an endontically abscessed mandibular molar and maxillary incisor. We measured patients' dental-health-state utilities and ranking preferences of the treatment options for these dental problems.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>Forty school teachers ranked their preferences for conventional crown with a post and core technique, a single tooth implant, a conventional dental bridge, and a partial removable denture using a standard gamble and willingness to pay. Data previously reported on treatment prognosis and direct "out-of-pocket" costs were used in a decision-tree and economic analysis</p> <p>Results</p> <p>The Standard Gamble utilities for the restoration of a mandibular 1st molar with either the conventional crown (CC), single-tooth-implant (STI), conventional dental bridge (CDB) or removable-partial-denture (RPD) were 74.47 [± 6.91], 78.60 [± 5.19], 76.22 [± 5.78], 64.80 [± 8.1] respectively (p < 0.05). Their respective Willingness-to-Pay (CDN)were1,782.05[±361.42],1,871.79[±349.44],1,605.13[±348.10],1,351.28[±368.62](p<0.05).</p><p>ThestandardgambleutilitiesfortherestorationofamaxillarycentralincisorwithaCC,STI,CDBandRPDwere88.50[±6.12],90.68[±3.41],89.78[±3.81]and91.10[±3.57]respectively(p>0.05).Theirrespectivewillingnesstopay(CDN) were 1,782.05 [± 361.42], 1,871.79 [± 349.44], 1,605.13 [± 348.10], 1,351.28 [± 368.62] (p < 0.05).</p> <p>The standard gamble utilities for the restoration of a maxillary central incisor with a CC, STI, CDB and RPD were 88.50 [± 6.12], 90.68 [± 3.41], 89.78 [± 3.81] and 91.10 [± 3.57] respectively (p > 0.05). Their respective willingness-to-pay (CDN) were: 1,782.05 [± 361.42], 1,871.79 [± 349.44], 1,605.13 [± 348.10] and 1,351.28 [± 368.62]. A statistical difference was found between the utility of treating a maxillary central incisor and mandibular 1st-molar (p < 0.05).</p> <p>The expected-utility-value for a 5-year prosthetic survival was highest for the CDB and the STI treatment of an abscessed mandibular molar (74.75 and 71.47 respectively) and maxillary incisor (86.24 and 84.91 respectively). This held up to a sensitivity analysis when the success of root canal therapy and the risk of damage to the adjacent tooth were varied. The RPD for both the molar and incisor was the favored treatment based on a cost-utility (3.85 and 2.74 CNDperyearoftoothsavedrespectively)andcostbenefitanalysis(0.92to0.60CND per year of tooth saved respectively) and cost-benefit analysis (0.92 to 0.60 CND of cost per $ of benefit, respectively) for a prosthetic clinical survival of 5-years.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>The position of the abscessed tooth and the amount of insurance coverage influences the utility and rank assigned by patients to the different treatment options. STI and CDB have optimal EUVs for a 5-year survival outcome, and RPD has significantly lower cost providing the better cost:benefit ratio.</p

    CNV-seq, a new method to detect copy number variation using high-throughput sequencing

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>DNA copy number variation (CNV) has been recognized as an important source of genetic variation. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) is commonly used for CNV detection, but the microarray platform has a number of inherent limitations.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Here, we describe a method to detect copy number variation using shotgun sequencing, CNV-seq. The method is based on a robust statistical model that describes the complete analysis procedure and allows the computation of essential confidence values for detection of CNV. Our results show that the number of reads, not the length of the reads is the key factor determining the resolution of detection. This favors the next-generation sequencing methods that rapidly produce large amount of short reads.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>Simulation of various sequencing methods with coverage between 0.1× to 8× show overall specificity between 91.7 – 99.9%, and sensitivity between 72.2 – 96.5%. We also show the results for assessment of CNV between two individual human genomes.</p
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