Information reaped by campaigns like Operation Soft Cell can be invaluable to a foreign intelligence service, noted Jonathan Tanner, a senior security researcher at Barracuda Networks, based in Campbell, California.”Tracking a target’s daily routines alone can be useful for a number of motivations, ranging from enumerating contacts to asset recruitment, to abduction or assassination,” he told TechNewsWorld.That sort of work traditionally is carried out by surveillance teams, but with technology it’s becoming increasingly easy to gain that information by other means with significantly less manpower, Tanner explained.”The irony with this breach is that many carriers actually sell this data anyway, through third parties such as Zumigo, who then resell it without checking into their buyers backgrounds,” he said.Stolen data from telcoms can be valuable to more than just Chinese intelligence agencies.”This type of attack would greatly help Huawei in their fight to control as much of the 5G space as possible,” said Jonathan Olivera, a threat analyst for Centripetal Networks, a network security company in Herdon, Virginia.”When a country like China relies on surveillance and intellectual property theft to keep its momentum going, it will be hard to stop and prevent expansion,” he told TechNewsWorld. Useful Information Alarming Attack John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Campaigns like Operation Soft Cell are likely to continue without abatement, noted Satya Gupta, CTO of Virsec, an applications security company in San Jose, California.”These attacks will continue for the foreseeable future, as long as there is political tension and unrest in any number of regions,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Infrastructure attacks on all sides are trying to sow uncertainty, which has both political and financial value to the perpetrators.”As for China, it seems content with economic espionage, for the most part, but that could change in the future, too.”As long as we’re involved in trade wars, I’m not as worried as if China starts to feel threatened about its sphere of influence,” said Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT Harvest, an industry analyst firm in Birmingham, Michigan.”If it’s trade wars, China’s target of interest will be the same as it’s always been: economic espionage. If it’s sphere-of-influence stuff, then the targets of interest could escalate dramatically,” he told TechNewsWorld.”We are essentially in a cyber cold war, and many of the same factors still apply regarding escalation of hostilities and the overall desire to avoid an actual war as a result of ongoing activities,” Barracuda’s Tanner added. “Countries will continue to push the boundaries, but a major increase in attacks runs the risk of being seen as an act of war, which no country wants.” Familiar Playbook Cold War in Cyberspace The breadth and persistence of the attacks aren’t the only discouraging characteristics of Operation Soft Cell.”This plays out like every other hack that we’ve heard about in a major organization for years and years and years,” said Chet Wisniewski, principal research scientist at Sophos, a network security and threat management company based in the UK.”It’s clear that these big companies are not taking this stuff seriously enough, especially the ones that have sensitive information about us. The giant role these companies play in our lives demands that they take security more seriously,” he told TechNewsWorld.”The stuff that these guys did was stuff any skilled pen tester would do,” Wisniewski said.”The attacks didn’t have any super secret stuff. There were no new zero-day vulnerabilities here — no new tools that no one had ever heard of before. All the stuff was off the shelf. I could teach a college student to how to use it in a semester,” he said.”We know this playbook,” Wisniewski added, “and big companies should be able to defend against it.” Security researchers on Monday reported that Chinese hackers are the likely perpetrators of a series of cyberattacks against telecommunications companies around the world.The campaign, dubbed “Operation Soft Cell,” has been active since 2012, according to Cybereason, an endpoint security company based in Boston.There is some evidence suggesting even earlier activity against the telecommunications providers, all of whom were outside North America, the researchers said.The attackers attempted to steal all data stored in the active directory servers of the organizations, including all usernames and passwords in the companies, as well as other personally identifiable information, billing data, call detail records, credentials, email servers, geo-location of users, and more, according to the report.Based on the tools used in the attacks, such as PoisonIvy RAT, and the tactics, techniques and procedures deployed by the attackers, the campaign likely was run by APT10, a notorious group of Chinese hackers, the researchers pointed out.The U.S. Justice Department last year indicted two members of APT10 for conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.There is some solid evidence APT10 was behind the attacks, such as the way they customized PoisonIvy and the idiosyncratic bread crumbs they left behind, said Sam Curry, chief security officer at Cybereason.”The way the customization is done, the way they write the scripts, is the sort of thing we’ve seen time and again,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There’s a high probability that it’s a Chinese hacker.” The hackers attacked organizations in waves launched over a period of months, the report notes. During that time, they were able to map the target networks and compromise credentials. That enabled them to compromise critical assets — such as production and database servers, and even domain controllers.”Beyond targeting individual users, this attack is also alarming because of the threat posed by the control of a telecommunications provider,” the report states.”Telecommunications has become critical infrastructure for the majority of world powers. A threat actor with total access to a telecommunications provider, as is the case here, can attack however they want passively and also actively work to sabotage the network.”The attack has widespread implications — not just for individuals, but also for organizations and countries alike, the Cybereason researchers said.”The use of specific tools and the choice to hide ongoing operations for years points to a nation state threat actor, most likely China,” they wrote. “This is another form of cyber warfare being used to establish a foothold and gather information undercover until they are ready to strike.”There are similarities between Operation Soft Cell and another telecom attack, suggested Lavi Lazarovitz, a cyber research group manager at CyberArk Labs, an information security company based in Newton, Massachusetts.”This widespread attack on telecommunications companies has similar characteristics to Operation Socialist,” he told TechNewsWorld.Operation Socialist — a CIA and British GCHQ campaign revealed by Edward Snowden — attempted to take control of the Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom.”It leverages privileged accounts and probably shadow admins to allow persistency and control,” Lazarovitz said.
Starship Technologies’ Personal Delivery Devices, or PDDs. The six-wheeled robots, which resemble coolers, are designed to deliver parcels, groceries and food within a two-mile radius in 15-30 minutes.The PDDs weigh about 40 pounds and can carry a workload of up to 20 pounds. They travel at 4 mph.They must obey all traffic and pedestrian control devices and signs. They must display a plate or marker identifying their owner’s name and contact information, as well as a unique identifier number. Transport of hazardous materials, substances or waste is not permitted under the new law.The PDDs, which run on rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, must have brakes. They can’t weigh more than 50 pounds, or travel faster than 10 mph.While the PDDs can travel autonomously, Virginia requires that a human operator actively control or monitor their navigation and operation. Starship’s PDDs are controlled remotely through a fleet management app.Virginia’s law is the first in the United States to govern autonomous delivery robots.”Most states have laws prohibiting moving vehicles on sidewalks, but they didn’t take into account slow-moving autonomous mobile robots when they were written,” noted Philip Solis, a research director at ABI Research.”Therefore, new laws are required,” he told TechNewsWorld.Bills along similar lines reportedly have been proposed in Florida and Idaho. Autonomous delivery robots will be able to travel on sidewalks, crosswalks and shared-use paths throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia this summer.Gov. Terry McAullife recently signed a law permitting the use of
Litigation/Insurance Self-Driving Cars Wrapping Up There recently have been reports that the used car market is beginning to collapse, which is having an adverse impact on car lease and car payment rates because residuals on cars appear to be dropping rapidly.The cause is thought to be Uber (though part of it could be a hot stock market which may be pushing some typical used car buyers to new cars). Uber plans to massively increase its service coverage once it can use autonomous cars.This massive increase should reduce the demand for cars massively, on top of the massive reduction in demand for cars that can’t do self-driving (which are expected to be banned in a few years on many roads).That means not only that there will be an increasing inability to resell cars that don’t have self-driving capabilities, but also that large numbers of people will feel they don’t need cars at all. Automated On-Site Car Repair Replacement Parts for Humans Car Repair/Paint Shops Given that many of these cars will be operating 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, the likelihood of an on-road failure will go up, needing a service that can repair the autonomous car where it failed.Much like support for other technology products is outsourced to firms specializing in that service, this too could lend itself to service companies that can span service providers, allowing higher economies of scale, better coverage and lower costs.The easiest system would be an automated service that retrieved the car and delivered it to a regionalized repair depot. You wouldn’t be abandoned — a replacement car likely would pick you up long before the repair vehicle arrived. In fact, given an early warning, it likely would be dispatched before you were stuck. New Cars Media Consumption I also attended the Microsoft education event last week, and while I did fall in love with the Surface Laptop the company launched, the product that just set me back on my heels was from Fluidity Software’s webFluidMath.Like many guys, I’m pretty good with math, but this offering targeting K-12 students provided one of the most fun and capable methods for teaching kids math I’ve ever seen.Using touch and a low-level AI, the result is a whiteboard space where you can draw figures like triangles and have the system immediately not only render them accurately but also generate the angles and tables that define them.You even can draw cars and the calculations that define the old “if a train traveling at, etc.” problems, and not only see how the result was generated but also create animated simulations of the trip — both individually and across models. In short, you easily can create train drag races and see the math. This is perhaps the least obvious change, but with 35K deaths attributed to them each year in the U.S., car accidents have been a huge source of organs for those who need them. Self-driving cars will massively reduce those deaths to near zero, and that could result in a huge imbalance between those who need organs and the available supply. It could lead to a sharp price increase for organs and likely a huge increase in illegal harvesting, particularly in regions where this is already a problem.Efforts to create a cloned alternative in the U.S. have been hampered by the religious right. That could result in a distinct and massive spike in illegal organ harvesting in the U.S., and a huge push for people who need them to go to countries that don’t have these restrictions in order to save their lives. This is big enough that it could have a massive impact on which party is in power. Autonomous cars represent a massive game change for the car industry. The biggest driver is that this technology could save nearly one and a half million lives worldwide each year. Basically, the long-term plan is to change cars from what they are today into four-wheeled elevators.On the positive side, this will save a massive number of lives and free time up for folks to be more productive or enjoy media. However, it also will lead to massive reductions in industries that make their living off the older model.Self-driving cars are just one aspect of what many are calling “the second industrial revolution,” and likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes robotics and artificial intelligence are likely to bring. Many industry players are treating self-driving cars much like you would a feature such as cruise control: a nice-to-have option that will make driving much easier and safer.There are a lot of industries that will be impacted by this, though, both positively and negatively — not the least of which is the car industry itself, which could find the majority of car companies either vastly changed or out of the market entirely. Used Cars With the combination of cars with massive numbers of sensors (including cameras), centralized tracking, and near constant oversight, traffic cops should become redundant. Both on-car and in- street tracking systems will report folks who are misbehaving in real time, and folks who are behaving badly and overriding or not using self-driving will receive tickets in the mail or have law enforcement waiting for them at their next stop or home.The need to put police on the roads should evaporate, except for extreme measures like catching terrorists or robbers. This need likely could be met with weaponized drones designed to eliminate the related threat from the air, and that could respond quickly from centralized depots. webFluidMath SoftwareA younger me would have played this like a video game and likely ended up far more capable with algebra and geometry in a relatively short time. Making math fun is a critical part of improving STEM skills, and webFluidMath does that.Granted, it requires a touchscreen computer to work, but it really is the first product I’ve seen that combines artistic skills, math and a touchscreen into something that truly moves the math skill ball forward.It also would be a useful tool for adults who struggle with math. Making math fun is critical to our future, I think, and thus webFluidMath is my product of the week. I attended last week’s opening of Intel’s big new Autonomous Driving Lab in Silicon Valley, and it is an impressive effort. One of the most interesting parts is that the garage in the lab was built for a past CEO of the firm Intel acquired in order to challenge for technology leadership in this space. The chief clearly didn’t want his four-wheeled baby left out it the sun.However, car residual prices are collapsing, based on an alert that crossed my desk last week, and it struck me that we haven’t considered much the secondary impacts of having self-driving cars, and the changes that will result from turning automobiles into four-wheeled elevators.I’ll address that this week and close with my product of the week: an amazingly fun Windows 10 math teaching application that I wish I’d had when I was a kid. Autonomous cars are basically rolling appliances. With the Uber model, they are also electric. They don’t get into accidents, and increasingly, you won’t own the vehicle, so why would you need to fix the engine or repaint the body?Granted, there likely will be road damage and repair needs, but they likely will be done by large shops designed to handle Uber-level volumes, or an automated centralized service that probably could do both kinds of repairs in-house.To keep cost down, low-cost replicable body panels and Gorilla Glass likely would reduce dramatically both the need for and cost of repairs. If you think about it, fully self-driving cars are like rolling elevators, and in areas covered by services like Uber the cost will be very low and the availability very high. They come without insurance, without parking or fuel charges, and without the need to garage or pay for parking.The cost reduction for going to a service like Uber, which may provide subscription services — a monthly fee for all you can ride — should be massive. What that suggests is that the market for new cars should collapse in favor of Cars as a Service. Only the very rich will own cars, as a sign of status.I am surprised that the car companies aren’t all joining Toyota in an IBM-like strategy to create cars that use an autonomous car approach called “Guardian Angel,” which enhances the driver’s capabilities but does not completely eliminate the driver like the Uber and Google approaches do. It’s one possible way to preserve their market. Media consumption should increase dramatically, because folks who currently are driving to work and unable to consume visual media or read books during their commute will be able to do so.Many will choose to work either coming or going, but most likely will use at least some of the time to watch movies, play video games, or read books and magazines. The massive reduction in accidents should eliminate much of the need for litigation, both civil and criminal. That change also will impact insurance. I’ve seen models that suggest car insurance revenues will decrease in the 90 percent range, largely because much of the risk will be mitigated.The need to have car insurance — outside of firms like Uber, which either will buy in volume or self-insure — should evaporate. If most folks don’t own cars, they won’t need to insure them. Law Enforcement 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.
Don’t Expect Perfection The potential for AI to enhance people’s lives and change society are endless, but the areas where we’ll see the greatest short-term impact are healthcare and transportation. Consider the possibility of having genetically engineered prescriptions for each person, or the ability to find cures for an infectious disease in days, or even hours, because of the abilities of AI systems.Also think about autonomous trucks and cars being able to ferry people and goods around the world with no need for stop lights. This is all possible, and it’s coming sooner than you think.AI already is used in a wide variety of scientific, financial, Web applications, user interfaces, manufacturing, and more. This is one of the most enabling advances in technology ever — and like other major advances, it will change the world dramatically. However, it won’t be perfect.With autonomous vehicles, for example, the only way to eliminate any possibility of a human death is to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic completely. That might happen, but it will require significant infrastructure changes that could take from decades to a century.As a result, there will be more accidents that may result in more deaths from cars and other autonomous machines enabled by AI. However, the number of deaths and injuries will be drastically lower compared to human-operated machines. Just as airline accidents have become uncommon, so too will auto and other accidents, due to the use of AI. The rarity of such accidents, however, will result in spectacular headlines when they do occur.AI also will be used in defense applications, another case in which it should improve systems to reduce or prevent virtual and physical attacks, as well as loss of human life.So, what should we expect from AI? We should expect a safer world with significant advances enabled through intelligent systems. How should we think about AI? We should consider it a breakthrough technology that already is changing the world around us for the better. Fear mongering about killer robots and the recent deaths connected with Uber and Tesla autonomous vehicles have rekindled concerns about artificial intelligence in the machines around us. We are well beyond answering Alan Turing’s question, “can machines think?” There is now good reason to ask how we should think of AI, and what we should expect from it.There have been phenomenal advances in AI in just the past few years. They are due in part to advances in processor technology that have increased exponentially the compute performance for artificial neural networks, the development of deep learning software frameworks, and the massive amounts of data mined directly from the Internet and the world around us.We now can train artificial neural networks in the time it would take to make a cup of coffee. Should that scare people? Not really. A Safer World Jim McGregor has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2017. He is the founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research with more than 30 years of high-tech industry experience. His expertise spans a broad range of product development and corporate strategy functions, such as semiconductor manufacturing, systems engineering, product marketing, marketing communications, brand management, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, and sales. McGregor worked for Intel, Motorola, ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and General Dynamics Space Systems prior to becoming an industry analyst and In-Stat’s chief technology strategist. Email Jim. You have to remember that these solutions are being trained for a specific function. They do not think out of the box, do not ponder the meaning of life, and do not have feelings. In most cases, especially today, both the initial training and continued training are limited to large server systems in cloud data centers.As a result, public interaction with AI is limited to cloud-related services like Web browsers or trained models that then are passed down to what we call “edge devices” (referring to the edge of the network) such as smart speakers, smartphones or even cars.Eventually, continued training or even initial training may be done at the edge, but that may take a revolutionary change in processor technology — such as neuromorphic computing, which is only in the research stages.”AI” is exactly as the name implies — the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills — meaning that it learns over time and, more importantly, learns with additional data. The more data a system utilizes for training in the form of files or even live sensors, the more accurate it will be in performing a specific task.However, as a form of intelligence, it never will be perfect. Just as humans learn through new information and interactions, so do machines. New teenage drivers may be caught by surprise the first time they drive on ice, but they learn from the experience and get better with time. So too will AI-based systems, but there always will be uncertainty with new data or circumstances.
Chip Makers Beware Fusée Gelée is the result of a coding mistake in the bootROM found in most Tegra devices. The flaw can be patched before a device leaves the factory, but not after.”This immutability is actually a good thing in terms of security,” Temkin wrote.”If it were possible to apply patches to the bootROM after a unit had been shipped, anyone with a sufficiently powerful exploit would be able to make their own patches, bypassing boot security,” she explained.”The bootROM is the keeper of the Jewels, and now it can be bypassed,” noted Kevin Curran, a professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University in Northern Ireland and a senior member of the IEEE.”Hackers will be able to run code of their choosing,” he told TechNewsWorld.Fusée Gelée likely will be more worrisome to Nintendo than to the users of its Switch consoles, maintained Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, Riverside.”The attack requires physical access to the console so basically the owners would be able to attack their own consoles to run arbitrary code and to potentially circumvent DRM protections or to cheat in games,” he said.”Its the equivalent of jailbreaking your iPhone for this console,” Abu-Ghazaleh told TechNewsWorld. It’s not unusual for gamers to search for vulnerabilities like Fusée Gelée so they can modify their systems, said Jean-Philippe Taggart, a senior security researcher at Malwarebytes.”This is something that occurs to all gaming platforms,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Some enthusiasts argue that it is to enable the use of home brew games, but a significant amount of this research is usually leveraged to enable piracy.”Owners who exploit Fusée Gelée risk not only damaging their consoles, Taggart added, but also being banned from online gaming, if Nintendo should detect a console has been modified with the vulnerability.”Bypassing the protection mechanisms that manufacturers put in place is a neverending arms race,” he observed. “No protection implementation is perfect.” Prelude to Piracy Unfixable Flaw Devices built on Nvidia’s Tegra X-1 mobile processor are at risk of attack from a flaw security researchers revealed Monday.The exploit chain discovered by Katherine Temkin and a team at ReSwitched affects any device running the chip, including the Nintendo Switch gaming console and some Chromebooks.Called “Fusée Gelée,” the vulnerability allows anyone to run code on the chip by overloading a critical buffer when a system boots.”Fusée Gelée isn’t a perfect ‘Holy Grail’ exploit — though in some cases it can be pretty damned close,” Temkin wrote.What makes the defect particularly nettlesome is that there is no easy way to patch it on devices that are in the hands of consumers. What can chip makers learn from this latest quality control failure?”They need to see this as a warning as to the practice of shipping devices with unmodifiable bootROM loaders,” Ulster University’s Curran suggested.”Of course, there is a defense to some degree in unmodifiability, but that always presupposes that no flaws exist,” he continued,” and as we see in this attack, there are a number of smart hacker types in the community determined to find vulnerabilities.”Fusée Gelée should alert chip makers to the need for better communication between the hardware and software sides of their business, observed Willy Leichter, vice president of marketing for Virsec.”The silos between chip designers and software developers continue to leave big potential openings for increasingly resourceful hackers,” he told TechNewsWorld.Chip makers also should be aware that they’re attracting more attention from hackers.”We are seeing a lot more focus on hardware level exploits,” said Chris Goettl, director of product management for security at Ivanti.”Most of what we are seeing is proof of concept,” he told TechNewsWorld, “but it is only a matter of time before someone figures out how to take a PoC and weaponize it for delivery in a successful attack.” John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John.
Source:https://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2018/10/053.html? Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 25 2018Researchers from the Research Institute Germans Trias i Pujol (IGTP), the Biomedical Research Networking Center on Cardiovascular Diseases (CIBERCV), the University of Barcelona and the the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya have created a new field probe to detect in a non-invasive and non-ionizing way the presence of metallic stents as well as their potential structural failures through microwave spectrometry (MWS). Results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the main cause of death in developed countries. It is usually caused by atherosclerosis, characterized by accumulation of cholesterol and other fatty substances in artery walls that can create coagula such as angina or heart attack. Treatment for CAD comprises changes in the lifestyle to modify coronary risk factors and several drugs, but when coronary obstructions are important, it is necessary to carry out a revascularization treatment through percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary surgery.PCI is a minimally invasive procedure which involves balloon dilatation in the obstructed area, and the introduction of a small stent. In some cases, and over time, the coronary stent can fail due a restenosis process, that is, proliferation of cells in the vascular wall that ends up blocking the vessel, or due a thrombosis process, when a stent obstruction occurs due the formation of a thrombus. Several phenomena have been related to a higher risk of these failures: a fracture process of the stent metallic structure can happen; in other cases there can be a lack of contact between the artery wall and the stent (incomplete stent apposition); and in other cases an incomplete expansion of the stent can occur, reducing its thickness.There isn’t any available technology to detect in a non-invasive way such phenomena like fracture, incomplete stent apposition or incomplete expansion, even the presence of restenosis. “Invasive techniques like coronary angiography, intravascular echography and optical coherence tomography are expensive and cannot be used on all patients with coronary stents”, states Carolina Gálvez Montón, first author of the article and member of the IGTP and CIBERCV. In addition, these techniques are complex and require specific equipment which is not available in all hospitals.”The MWS probe consists on a small device that produces electromagnetic waves similar to the ones in a mobile phone and which detects modifications that occur in that wave due to the stent” says Ferran Macià, UB researcher from the Magnetism Group of the Department of Condensed Matter Physics of the UB.Related StoriesStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggestsResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairEmpa researchers aim to fight unwanted biofilmsIn order to test this new probe, researchers “carried out the stent subcutaneous implantation in a murine model where we detected the presence of devices as well as restenosis-derived changes and fracture through variation of resonance frequency, common in microwave absorption spectra, which reflect the occurrence of changes in the length and the diameter of the stent”, says Gálvez-Montón. In particular, the study included five control animals, with a subcutaneous stent implantation simulation, and ten experimental animals in which a metallic stent was introduced in the interscapular region. Basal measurements were carried out before and after the stent implantation on the days 0, 2, 4, 7, 14, 21 and 29 of its monitoring. In addition, five animals from the experimental group were analyzed through MicroCT in the same study time periods. After 29 days, three animals were subject to a stent fracture.As a result, since the stents colonized with fibrotic tissue as a natural response to its subcutaneous implantation, the new probe detected significant differences of its content from its basal implementation to its 30 days of monitoring (restenosis). Finally, researchers could differentiate through microwave spectrometry those stents that were fractured to the ones that were still complete.In short, according to Antoni Bayés Genís, researcher from the IGTP and CIBERCV, “we need more studies to verify these results and we think it is necessary to move these experiments to a pre-clinical model in animal models that are similar to humans, and if corroborated, this technology should be validated in a small cohort of patients”.”We are working on the technological aspects that will allow us to conduct pre-clinical experiments and their implications in a future clinical application”, says Joan O’Callagan, researcher in CommSensLab (UPC), “this involves, among other things, the development of devices with the ability to detect stents at increased depths and detection techniques that tolerate the movement of stents in coronary arteries”.
Related StoriesBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyFor those patients who do detect mouth cancer early, technological and medical innovation means that treatment can now be offered in a much less invasive manner, by using the Sentinel Node Biopsy technique (SNB). SNB is an alternative, and significantly less invasive treatment for dealing with head and neck cancers. The fluorescent camera and technology locates the nodes in the neck that will contain migrating cancer cells, so that these can be targeted and removed – this saves over 70% of patients with early disease a neck dissection. It spares vital glands and helps patients get back to a normal life more quickly, compared to traditional neck dissection techniques.SNB has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is fully adopted in Denmark and the Netherlands, and is growing in deployment across Europe and the US. This practice – pioneered by Professor Mark McGurk, HNCF’s founder – is the result of 15 years’ development and is based on the findings of nearly 500 cases.HNCF works to educate and train both surgeons and nurses around the UK on this treatment and state-of-the-art technology, to bring a better outcome and time-saving treatment to oral cancer patients. As a nation we are regrettably unaware that our dentists can play a huge role in oral cancer detection and be routinely screening for signs of mouth cancer during check ups. Dentists are taught to do this as part of their standard oral check-up process. If people were screened they would know – as the tongue is held to either side of the mouth and the dentist is likely to follow the gums for signs of abnormal growth. We are asking everyone to ask their dentist for a routine screen the next time they visit – it’s really that simple.We’ve introduced our Get Mouthy About Cancer campaign this November, because we all hear so often, and know how, to check our boobs or balls – but I bet the majority of people are unaware of what they’re looking for in their mouth! 31 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancers each day in the UK – so it’s time to get talking about what to look for. We brush our teeth daily – just an extra 30-60 seconds to check oral health could save your life!” To find out how please watch HNCF’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-GeHCIL7-A . Once you’ve seen this video you will know whether your dentist is checking your mouth, or not, and how to check yourself at home.Professor Mark McGurk, world-renowned surgeon and founder of HNCF added: We want everyone to be having a conversation about mouth cancers. By bringing routine mouth checks front-of-mind and putting it on the agenda – we will raise awareness, raise the number of early detections and reduce the number of people facing stage two and three mouth cancers.” Nov 2 2018Sixty Seconds Could Save Your Life!HNCF calls for Brits to ‘Get Mouthy About Cancer’The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) is calling all Brits to ask their dentists to conduct mouth cancer screens at their next appointment. This should be routinely included within the price of a dental check-up and should take no more than one minute.Consumer research conducted by HNCF in partnership with YouGov – as part of its Get Mouthy About Cancer campaign during Mouth Cancer Action Month this November – shows that we could all be doing more to specifically drive early diagnosis of mouth cancers. Early detection is paramount to improving patient outcomes – as these types of cancers can be extremely aggressive, disfiguring and life limiting.HNCF’s research asked people how often they have routine dental check-ups and if they are receiving mouth cancer screening.Only a third of Brits have a dental check-up every two years, or more. With 13% stating that they NEVER go to the dentist.A quarter of us do go to the dentist on an annual basis, 38% go every six months, and 3% even go on a monthly basis. These statistics present a huge opportunity for early diagnosis and improved survival rates.However, when looking at overall awareness of mouth cancer screening – nearly three quarters of all Brits stated their dentist does not do a regular mouth cancer screen, or they are unaware of it being done during their last check up. Which means the vast majority of us are missing out on this simple routine and potentially life-saving screen.Michelle Vickers, CEO at The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation commented on the findings: Source:http://www.hncf.org.uk/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 22 2018A new study published in the journal Social Theory & Health has called into question how patients interact and respond to psychiatry when they present to mental health services.The research focuses on how the public view mental disorders and treatments, ranging from anxiety and depression through to schizophrenia, in order to consider how care might better be deployed and managed.By analyzing published research on the topic and examining the wider context which has seen mental health services rise in prominence among policy-makers, the study advocates that service provision must adapt in line with patients’ views on mental health.Since the 1960s there has been an ongoing debate about whether psychiatry is helpful or is harmful to those who use it. Many of these criticisms have focussed on whether psychiatry has a valid evidence base.Several ways of thinking about ‘mental disorder’ have been proposed since the 1970s with some focussing on the biology of the brain; others focussing on psychological factors such as a person’s upbringing and others focussing on social factors – such as a person’s living environment. Whilst these arguments have gone on for some time, psychiatry still lacks a unifying theory which is widely accepted.Reflecting this mixed picture, the new study finds that members of the public increasingly accept the view that mental health problems are genetic and can require medical treatment. But it also highlights an ambivalence towards psychiatry and a widespread belief that the public see mental illness as being highly influenced by social factors.In addition, the public tends to prefer treatments that are not favored by psychiatry, often giving preference to talking treatments over drug treatments. Against this backdrop, argue the researchers behind the study, mental health professionals need to acknowledge the beliefs that exist and adapt practice accordingly. Specifically they suggest that psychiatrists, nurses and social workers need ‘to be transparent about the limits and uncertainties of psychiatric knowledge and to acknowledge that sharp lines cannot yet be drawn between sanity and insanity.They advocate that mental health professionals should spend more time understanding how individual patients understand mental health problems and should adjust treatment options accordingly. They argue that attention should be given to whether a patient has mental capacity, which can be understood as the ability to make an informed decision about their care.Related StoriesHospitals’ decision to transfer kids with mental health emergencies is based on insurance typeBiden calling ACA ‘breakthrough’ for mental health parity highlights gapsEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsWhere this is the case, treatment should be planned around patient preferences. Where patients are in favor of medical understandings of mental health problems, then advice about psychiatric treatment can be given. However, where patients reject biological explanations of mental health problems, other options such as talking therapies or greater social support should be explored and mental health professionals should be willing to help patients reduce or stop medications.Lead researcher, Dr Jeremy Dixon from the University of Bath’s Department of Social & Policy Sciences, explained: “No other medical field has faced so much controversy when it comes to thinking about illness and diagnoses than psychiatry.Much of this debate has focussed on the polar positions for and against the psychiatric profession. Our paper takes a new approach through reviewing evidence about what the general public thinks about mental disorder and about psychiatric treatment. This shows that the public has a greater range of views about the different ways of understanding mental health problems than is commonly acknowledged either by supporters of psychiatry or its opponents.We argue that mental health professionals have a tendency to make assumptions about what users of mental health services want. In order to improve care, mental health professionals need to question these assumptions and speak to users of services to understand what their position is.Co-author, Dr Dirk Richter from the University Bern Psychiatric Services, added: “By acknowledging the different ways that people understand mental illness, mental health professionals help to reduce the risk of conflicts between professionals and patients, and this will contribute to safer and more humane care settings.” The research team acknowledge the dilemmas that exist for practitioners in shifting how they operate, but they suggest that adapting practice could significantly help to improve patient outcomes.Source: https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/study-calls-for-shake-up-in-mental-health-provision-to-improve-patient-outcomes/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 6 2019Single and multiple hip, vertebral, and rib fractures strongly affect the quality of life of older adults over a prolonged period of time, according to a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.For the study, which involved 10-year follow-up data, researchers determined the long-term impact of fragility fractures on health-related quality of life in more than 7,500 participants aged 50 years and older in the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study.Of note, hip and spine fractures were associated with negative impact on mobility, self-care, and ambulation. Women with hip fractures never recovered to their pre-fracture levels, while women with spine fractures took five years to regain their pre-fracture health-related quality of life.Source: https://newsroom.wiley.com/press-release/journal-bone-and-mineral-research/fractures-have-long-term-impacts-quality-life-older-
Source:https://www.tugraz.at/en/tu-graz/services/news-stories/media-service/singleview/article/uebertriebene-hygiene-foerdert-antibiotikaresistenz0/ Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 12 2019The number of people who become ill and die from antibiotic-resistant germs is increasing worldwide. The World Health Organization WHO sees understanding the spread of antibiotic resistance and developing countermeasures as one of the most important global challenges. Against this background Gabriele Berg, who heads the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), has initiated an interdisciplinary cooperation project in her research project Plant-associated microbial communities in indoor environment which is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The research group investigated microbial control – the degree of cleaning and hygiene measures – and how it influences the development of resistances. Research was carried out together with national partners of the Medical University of Graz in the framework of the BioTechMed-Graz inter-university cooperation and international partners. The results of the research have just been published in Nature Communications.Related StoriesLiving in a warzone linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke, finds studyHuman contact responsible for spread of hospital infectionsHigh prevalence of multiresistant intestinal bacteria in Vietnamese hospitalsA comparison of environments of strong microbial control with those of weak microbial controlThe researchers compared the microbiome and the resistome – i.e. all existing microorganisms and antibiotic resistances – at the intensive care unit of the Department of Internal Medicine at University Hospital Graz with clean rooms subject to strong microbial control in the aerospace industry and with public and private buildings which have hardly any microbial controls. The analyses show that microbial diversity decreases in areas with high levels of hygiene but that the diversity of resistances increases. ‘In environments with strong microbial control in the intensive care unit and industrially used clean rooms, there are increasing antibiotic resistances which show a high potential for combining with pathogens,’ explains Dr Alexander Mahnert, director of studies at the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology of TU Graz, who is currently conducting research at the Medical University of Graz.Results provide initial measures for the prevention of resistancesThe results indicate that a stable microbial diversity in clinical areas counteracts the spread of resistances. ‘The microbial control of pathogens is already being successfully used in cultivated plants and also in humans in the framework of stool transplantation. Our study provides an initial foundation to pursue such ideas in indoor areas in the future,’ says Berg. Regular airing, houseplants, the deliberate use of useful microorganisms and the reduction of antibacterial cleaning agents could be the first strategies in maintaining or improving microbial diversity.In a subsequent step, the research team at Graz University of Technology would like to develop and implement biotechnological solutions for a tailor-made microbial diversity.
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Apr 18 2019Gene therapy offers the promise of a cure for beta-thalassemia and a new study has shown that it is associated with fewer complications and hospital admissions over 2 years than treatment by allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The study, which analyzes and compares the effectiveness and cost of gene therapy versus (HSCT) in patients with major beta-thalassemia is published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article free on the Human Gene Therapy website through May 18, 2019.Related StoriesSartorius launches new ambr 250 modular bioreactor vessel for cell and gene therapy applicationsResearch opens possibility of developing single-dose gene therapy for inherited arrhythmiasGene modulation goes wireless hacking the “boss gene”Séverine Coquerelle, URC Eco-Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Université Paris Diderot (Sorbonne Paris Cité), and CRESS, INSERM UMR (Paris), France led a team of French researchers in publishing the article entitled “Innovative Curative Treatment of Beta Thalassemia: Cost-Efficacy Analysis of Gene Therapy Versus Allogenic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation.” Patients treated with HSCT had 3 times more frequent infectious complications. Gene therapy was shown to be about 2.8 times more costly, with nearly half the cost of gene therapy accounted for by preparation of the delivery vector.”There has been much discussion and controversy about the high cost of gene therapy, but what has been lacking is a direct comparison to alternative therapies, which themselves are also often very costly and may produce suboptimal outcomes,” says Editor-in-Chief Terence R. Flotte, MD, Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education and Dean, Provost, and Executive Deputy Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA. “This study does a critical comparison of both cost and outcomes for patients with beta-thalassemia, whose primary alternative to gene therapy would be hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. These data may enable a more rational debate of the overall value of gene therapy for this relatively common genetic disease.” Source:https://home.liebertpub.com/news/estimating-the-efficacy-and-cost-of-curative-gene-therapy-for-beta-thalassemia/3542
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)May 7 2019In a breakthrough that could lead to a simple and inexpensive test for Ebola virus disease, researchers have generated two antibodies to the deadly virus.The antibodies, which are inexpensive to produce, potentially could be used in a simple filter paper test to detect Ebola virus and the related Marburg virus. (If the filter paper turns color, the virus is present.)Corresponding author Ravi Durvasula, MD, and colleagues report their findings in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. Dr. Durvasula, a world leader in global infectious diseases research, is a professor and chair of the department of medicine of Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. First author Adinarayana Kunamneni, PhD, is a research assistant professor in Loyola’s department of medicine.Related StoriesRIT faculty-researcher develops microfluidic device for early detection of Ebola virusVirus killing protein could be the real antiviral hero finds studyResearchers compare American, Pacific and Southeast Asian subtypes of Zika virusEbola and Marburg viruses can cause severe bleeding and organ failure, with fatality rates reaching 90 percent in some outbreaks. The diseases spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, monkey, gorilla, chimpanzee or bat.Ebola and Marburg belong to a class of viruses native to Africa called filoviruses. There are four known types of Ebola virus and two known types of Marburg virus. They are textbook examples of emerging diseases that appear quickly, often in remote areas with little or no public health infrastructure. There were major Ebola outbreaks in West Africa from 2013 to 2016. There is no effective vaccine or drug to treat the diseases.Early symptoms of Ebola and Marburg, such as fever, headache and diarrhea, mimic more common diseases, so there’s a critical need for a rapid diagnostic test. Such a test could help in efforts to limit outbreaks by quickly quarantining infected persons. But existing diagnostic tests either are inaccurate or are expensive and require extensive training to administer.Antibodies could be key to diagnosing Ebola and Marburg viruses. An antibody is a Y-shaped protein made by the immune system. When a virus or other pathogen invades the body, antibodies mark it for the immune system to destroy.Using a technology called cell-free ribosome display, researchers generated two synthetic antibodies that bind to all six Ebola and Marburg viruses. (The research involved the use of non-hazardous proteins that sit on the surface of Ebola and Marburg viruses. Because the actual viruses were not used in the study, there was no risk of infection to researchers or the public.)It will take further research to validate the antibodies’ potential for diagnosing Ebola and Marburg viruses, Drs. Durvasula and Kunamneni said. Source:Loyola University Health System.
Source:Asociación RUVID Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 25 2019Giving human milk to premature babies is recommended by the WHO for at least six months in order to provide, as well as nutrients, key antimicrobial substances for these babies, who are born with low weight or can be immunosuppressed.In premature babies, it is administered through a nasogastric tube. These newborns are a group at risk of being infected by pathogens such as Cronobacter sakazakii. Researchers of the CEU Cardenal Herrera University have studied the optimum conditions to administer human milk through nasogastric tubes to premature babies in newborn nurseries in order to decrease the risk of infection by this bacterium, recommending that it is not administered for more than three and a half hours. Their work has been recognized by the Association for the Promotion and scientific and cultural Research on Breastfeeding (APILAM), as the best of 173 pieces of research submitted to the tenth edition of the Spanish Breastfeeding Congress held in Santiago de Compostela.Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairSchwann cells capable of generating protective myelin over nerves finds researchSwimming pools could be breeding grounds for diarrhea-causing germsThe study has been carried out by the directors of the Resarch Group of Human Nutrition and Food Safety of the CEU UCH, Dolores Silvestre Castelló and Mari Carmen López Mendoza, as well as research professor Sandra Fernández Pastor, who presented the study at the Congress. As the latter explains, “the Cronobacter sakazakii bacterium is a pathogen linked to outbreaks of infection caused by consuming powdered formulas for infants which causes meningitis, sepsis and necrotizing enteritis. Mortality rates of 40 to 80% have been registered, and the survivors typically suffer from severe neurological effects. The contamination of human milk by this same bacterium has recently been documented, which is why we decided to analyze for the first time the optimum conditions for administering this donated milk to premature infants in neonatology units, in order to decrease the risk of infection.”To do so, the research team of the UCH CEU inoculated this microorganism into samples of human milk kept in nasogastric tube administration conditions: 22ºC of temperature and for 4 hours. The samples were then placed on APC agar plates every 30 minutes, and then all the plates were incubated in order to finally recount and observe the behavior of the microorganism during these 4 hours in 30-minute intervals. We observed that at the 4-hour mark, pathogen cells had doubled compared to the beginning, making the differences significant. Therefore, as well as taking greater hygiene precautions to prevent contamination by the microorganism, we also recommend decreasing the administration time in newborn nurseries to 3.5 hours, before the bacteria starts increasing its proliferation.”Professor Sandra Fernández
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 21 2019Hearing aids, dental crowns, and limb prosthetics are some of the medical devices that can now be digitally designed and customized for individual patients, thanks to 3-D printing. However, these devices are typically designed to replace or support bones and other rigid parts of the body, and are often printed from solid, relatively inflexible material.Now MIT engineers have designed pliable, 3-D-printed mesh materials whose flexibility and toughness they can tune to emulate and support softer tissues such as muscles and tendons. They can tailor the intricate structures in each mesh, and they envision the tough yet stretchy fabric-like material being used as personalized, wearable supports, including ankle or knee braces, and even implantable devices, such as hernia meshes, that better match to a person’s body.As a demonstration, the team printed a flexible mesh for use in an ankle brace. They tailored the mesh’s structure to prevent the ankle from turning inward — a common cause of injury — while allowing the joint to move freely in other directions. The researchers also fabricated a knee brace design that could conform to the knee even as it bends. And, they produced a glove with a 3-D-printed mesh sewn into its top surface, which conforms to a wearer’s knuckles, providing resistance against involuntary clenching that can occur following a stroke. This work is new in that it focuses on the mechanical properties and geometries required to support soft tissues.”Sebastian Pattinson, who conducted the research as a postdoc at MIT Pattinson, now on the faculty at Cambridge University, is the lead author of a study published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. His MIT co-authors include Meghan Huber, Sanha Kim, Jongwoo Lee, Sarah Grunsfeld, Ricardo Roberts, Gregory Dreifus, Christoph Meier, and Lei Liu, as well as Sun Jae Professor in Mechanical Engineering Neville Hogan and associate professor of mechanical engineering A. John Hart.Riding collagen’s waveThe team’s flexible meshes were inspired by the pliable, conformable nature of fabrics.”3-D-printed clothing and devices tend to be very bulky,” Pattinson says. “We were trying to think of how we can make 3-D-printed constructs more flexible and comfortable, like textiles and fabrics.”Pattinson found further inspiration in collagen, the structural protein that makes up much of the body’s soft tissues and is found in ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Under a microscope, collagen can resemble curvy, intertwined strands, similar to loosely braided elastic ribbons. When stretched, this collagen initially does so easily, as the kinks in its structure straighten out. But once taut, the strands are harder to extend.Inspired by collagen’s molecular structure, Pattinson designed wavy patterns, which he 3-D-printed using thermoplastic polyurethane as the printing material. He then fabricated a mesh configuration to resemble stretchy yet tough, pliable fabric. The taller he designed the waves, the more the mesh could be stretched at low strain before becoming more stiff — a design principle that can help to tailor a mesh’s degree of flexibility and helped it to mimic soft tissue.The researchers printed a long strip of the mesh and tested its support on the ankles of several healthy volunteers. For each volunteer, the team adhered a strip along the length of the outside of the ankle, in an orientation that they predicted would support the ankle if it turned inward. They then put each volunteer’s ankle into an ankle stiffness measurement robot — named, logically, Anklebot — that was developed in Hogan’s lab. The Anklebot moved their ankle in 12 different directions, and then measured the force the ankle exerted with each movement, with the mesh and without it, to understand how the mesh affected the ankle’s stiffness in different directions.Related StoriesUGR scientists design new hydrogel that aids in cartilage regenerationLow-income patients at increased risk of catastrophic amputation after knee joint replacementBioventus and MTF Biologics collaborate to develop placental tissue product for knee osteoarthritisIn general, they found the mesh increased the ankle’s stiffness during inversion, while leaving it relatively unaffected as it moved in other directions.”The beauty of this technique lies in its simplicity and versatility. Mesh can be made on a basic desktop 3-D printer, and the mechanics can be tailored to precisely match those of soft tissue,” Hart says.Stiffer, cooler drapesThe team’s ankle brace was made using relatively stretchy material. But for other applications, such as implantable hernia meshes, it might be useful to include a stiffer material, that is at the same time just as conformable. To this end, the team developed a way to incorporate stronger and stiffer fibers and threads into a pliable mesh, by printing stainless steel fibers over regions of an elastic mesh where stiffer properties would be needed, then printing a third elastic layer over the steel to sandwich the stiffer thread into the mesh.The combination of stiff and elastic materials can give a mesh the ability to stretch easily up to a point, after which it starts to stiffen, providing stronger support to prevent, for instance, a muscle from overstraining.The team also developed two other techniques to give the printed mesh an almost fabric-like quality, enabling it to conform easily to the body, even while in motion.”One of the reasons textiles are so flexible is that the fibers are able to move relative to each other easily,” Pattinson says. “We also wanted to mimic that capability in the 3-D-printed parts.”In traditional 3-D printing, a material is printed through a heated nozzle, layer by layer. When heated polymer is extruded it bonds with the layer underneath it. Pattinson found that, once he printed a first layer, if he raised the print nozzle slightly, the material coming out of the nozzle would take a bit longer to land on the layer below, giving the material time to cool. As a result, it would be less sticky. By printing a mesh pattern in this way, Pattinson was able to create a layers that, rather than being fully bonded, were free to move relative to each other, and he demonstrated this in a multilayer mesh that draped over and conformed to the shape of a golf ball.Finally, the team designed meshes that incorporated auxetic structures — patterns that become wider when you pull on them. For instance, they were able to print meshes, the middle of which consisted of structures that, when stretched, became wider rather than contracting as a normal mesh would. This property is useful for supporting highly curved surfaces of the body. To that end, the researchers fashioned an auxetic mesh into a potential knee brace design and found that it conformed to the joint.”There’s potential to make all sorts of devices that interface with the human body,” Pattinson says. Surgical meshes, orthoses, even cardiovascular devices like stents — you can imagine all potentially benefiting from the kinds of structures we show.” Source:Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We believe most prior studies of anal HSIL prevalence in women living with HIV under-represented the true percentage because only individuals with abnormal anal cytology underwent high resolution anoscopy in past studies, compared to all the participants in this new study.”Dr. Elizabeth Chiao, the co-author and principal investigator of the study Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 12 2019The prevalence of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), which precede anal cancer, is much higher in women living with HIV than previously reported, a multi-site, national study involving hundreds of patients has found. Conducted by researchers from the AIDS Malignancy Consortium, a National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials group, the results call for new strategies to be developed for wider screening of women living with HIV, who have disproportionally higher rates of anal cancer compared to the general population of women. The study appears in Clinical Infectious Diseases.To determine the true prevalence of anal HSIL in women living with HIV in the United States, the researchers, for the first time, conducted a full anal evaluation including a high resolution anoscopy (an examination of the anus under magnification) with directed biopsy on all 256 female study participants, not just on those who had an abnormal screening test or triage. The prevalence of anal HSIL was 27 percent, substantially higher than previous study estimates, which ranged between four to nine percent. Related StoriesHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerHIV DNA persists in spinal fluid despite treatment, linked to cognitive impairmentDr. Chiao is a professor of medicine in the section of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine and with the Houston VA Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety.The study was conducted at 12 academic medical centers across the United States, with the participants recruited between 2014 and 2016. The mean age of participants was 49.4 years, 64 percent were non-Hispanic black, and 67 percent were former or current smokers.”The high prevalence of anal cancer precursors and invasive anal cancer among women living with HIV calls for greater screening in this population,” said lead author Elizabeth Stier, MD, of Boston Medical Center, who is also an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine. “Because optimal screening strategies are still not yet known, prevention of anal cancer among this population should focus on identifying cost-effective strategies for the detection and management of anal cancer precursors.”Screening women living with HIV for anal cancer has been recommended by national organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Source:Boston Medical CenterJournal reference:Stier, E.A. et al. (2019) Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Anal High-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions in Women Living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Clinical Infectious Diseases. doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz408.
Modeled installed system costs of PV at time of roof replacement and new construction as compared to NREL’s 2017 Q1 benchmark. Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory The NREL analysis presents a potential roadmap for achieving the 2030 residential target of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by identifying and quantifying a plausible range of cost reduction opportunities and mapping how these opportunities could influence system costs in key market segments.”Our findings suggest that between now and 2030 homeowners could see a considerable cost savings when installing PV and a new roof at the same time,” said Kristen Ardani, lead author of the report and a solar technology markets and policy analyst at NREL. “We also found that PV installed on new construction offers opportunities for even greater cost reduction. However, it will require considerable business model and permitting process innovation to realize the cost savings potential identified in each of these market segments.”The analysis and findings are detailed in the Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential Solar Photovoltaics (PV), 2017-2030. The report identifies and defines four key cost-reduction opportunities that could have a significant impact on the installed cost of residential PV through 2030: market maturity, business model integration, product innovation, and economies of scale. To assess the potential impact of these specific cost-reduction opportunities, NREL researchers compared modeled residential PV system costs in 2030 to NREL’s U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2017. Since 2010, NREL has benchmarked current PV system prices for the residential, commercial, and utility-scale sectors. These benchmarks are generated using a bottom-up accounting framework for all component and project-development costs incurred when installing PV systems. The residential benchmark models the cash purchase price for systems excluding the federal investment tax credit. NREL used the same cost-accounting framework to model residential PV system costs in 2030 for the roof replacement and new construction markets. Consistent with previous benchmarking efforts, NREL derived modeling inputs and validated draft results via interviews with industry and other subject-matter experts. Provided by National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL releases new roadmap to reducing solar PV ‘soft costs’ by 2020 Leveraging cost-reduction opportunities in the roof replacement or new construction markets for residential photovoltaic (PV) installations could help the United States meet the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) residential solar photovoltaic cost target by 2030, according to new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Citation: Cost-reduction roadmap outlines two pathways to meet DOE residential solar cost target for 2030 (2018, February 13) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-cost-reduction-roadmap-outlines-pathways-doe.html The analysis also examines two key market segments that demonstrate significant opportunities for cost savings and market growth: installing PV at the time of roof replacement, and installing PV as part of the new home construction process. NREL estimates that between 2017 and 2030, an average of 3.3 million homes per year are likely to be built or require a roof replacement. This translates into a technical market potential of roughly 30 gigawatts (GW) each year from 2017 to 2030. Enabling and/or capturing even a relatively small fraction of this technical potential could have a significant impact on the evolution of the electricity system in the United States.For each market segment, the analysis models two pathways: a less aggressive pathway representing an incremental shift from current market practices, and a visionary pathway representing a more dramatic shift. The modeling results suggest that installing PV on new housing developments could enable residential PV installation savings of 61 percent relative to the Q1 2017 benchmark system price. In existing homes, installing PV at the time of roof replacement could lead to 55 percent in savings relative to the Q1 2017 benchmark system price. The greatest savings opportunities for these pathways include supply chain, sales and marketing, overhead, permitting, inspection, and interconnection, and installation labor.This exercise demonstrates that savings associated with non-hardware balance of system or “soft” costs account for about 65 percent of the savings. In comparison, “hard” costs, including hardware cost, module-related improvement, and inverter-related improvement, represent about 22 percent of the modeled savings. Additionally, pathways that realize reliability improvement and financing changes, a mix of hard and soft costs, represent 13 percent in savings.These findings illustrate that reducing soft costs could help industry to achieve the 2030 target, and that capturing these cost reductions will likely require considerable innovation in both technology and business models employed by industry.
Scientists and engineers have worked decades to find solutions, particularly for chemical and radioactive waste in underground storage tanks at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state. While the origins of the waste have been well documented, tank-to-tank transfers, mixing, and previous remediation attempts have complicated the chemistry and physics of the material. A thorough understanding of underlying scientific issues provides a stronger foundation for engineering solutions, giving decision makers more confidence to move forward with fewer delays.Scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, cleanup contractor Washington River Protection Solutions, and Washington State University scoured scientific literature to identify research that has informed current understanding of tank waste. Much has been accomplished, including beginning the construction of a vitrification plant to solidify this waste for safe storage. Perhaps the greatest remaining challenge is to develop the scientific underpinnings of the complex particle interactions that will occur when waste is removed from the tanks and pumped through pipes for further treatment and vitrification. Previous work at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility, helped develop an empirical model of the materials inside the tanks, but more work is needed to predict how the waste will behave during processing. Recent advances in aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy, in situ microscopy, and theoretical modeling across scales show promise. Information from such studies, coupled with the ability to transport radioactive materials to EMSL and use its atom probe tomography, could allow scientists to build robust predictive physics-based models to inform and guide cleanup efforts. One of the nation’s enduring scientific challenges has been to find effective ways of remediating millions of gallons of chemical and radioactive waste remaining from Cold War activities. Now a team of experts has combed through more than 100 studies to determine what is known of the complex chemical and rheological aspects of the waste and identify scientific issues that must be resolved to finally reach the end goal of cleanup. Journal information: Environmental Science & Technology Nuke waste debate: Turn it into glass or encase in cement? Provided by Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory More information: Reid A. Peterson et al. Review of the Scientific Understanding of Radioactive Waste at the U.S. DOE Hanford Site, Environmental Science & Technology (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b04077 Understanding scientific complexities of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks at the Hanford Site could guide cleanup efforts. Credit: Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory Explore further Citation: Scientific challenges and opportunities for remediating radioactive waste (2018, April 10) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-scientific-opportunities-remediating-radioactive.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Explore further Expert urges government to consider ‘fuel-poor’ households Citation: Research reveals the benefits of investment in energy efficiency (2018, August 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-reveals-benefits-investment-energy-efficiency.html The recently-completed COMBI project (‘Calculating and Operationalising the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency in Europe’, funded by Horizon 2020) has shown that energy efficiency improvements in homes in the EU could avoid up to 27500 premature deaths from indoor cold between now and 2030. The economic value of these changes could be up to €2.5 billion due to premature mortality from indoor cold, and up to €2.9 billion due to asthma morbidity from indoor dampness.The complementary EVALUATE project (‘Energy Vulnerability and Urban Transitions in Europe’, funded by the European Research Council) found that energy efficiency is a key factor in determining levels of thermal comfort. The project identified warm weather space cooling as a significant challenge across the Global North, in light of climate change pressures. The project recommended the establishment of a minimum standard for housing across Europe, and the banning of disconnections for consumers—such measures are clear win-win solutions in the case of fuel poverty. Given the major social and geographical differences in the incidence of fuel poverty across Europe, the project argued that many policies are best delivered at the regional level.The researchers are now embarking on several new projects in the area. One of these is STEP-IN (‘Using Living Labs to roll out Sustainable Strategies for Energy Poor Individuals’, also supported by Horizon 2020), where The University of Manchester will work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to improve the circumstances of vulnerable households in several areas. These results will inform the design of information technology solutions to address pressing social challenges in the energy domain. Another new initiative is ENGAGER (‘European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation’), a research network funded via the European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) scheme. This brings together over 100 experts from more than 30 countries to find innovative ways of connecting energy efficiency delivery with urban planning, among other things.”Through this array of activities, we are showing that investing in the energy efficiency of residential dwellings can address the pressing challenge of climate change in many unexpected ways, beyond reducing energy demand and CO2 emissions,” said Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the Manchester Urban Institute. “We have also identified the policy channels through which energy efficiency measures can reach vulnerable households – many of these involve working with local authorities and transnational bodies at the same time.” Credit: CC0 Public Domain Several new research projects at The University of Manchester’s Urban Institute have shown how improvements in the efficiency of household energy use can result in benefits for human health and well-being, economic productivity, environmental quality and urban development. Provided by University of Manchester This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Citation: Ryanair recognises cabin crew union in Ireland (2018, August 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-ryanair-recognises-cabin-crew-union.html © 2018 AFP The no-frills airline said it had signed a deal with the union Forsa, which follows agreements with cabin crew unions in Italy, Germany and the UK.”We are pleased to sign this cabin crew recognition agreement with Forsa in Ireland,” Ryanair’s human resources chief Eddie Wilson said in a statement.”This is a further sign of the progress Ryanair is making with trade unions since our December 2017 decision to recognise unions, with over 65 percent of our cabin crew now covered by recognition agreements.”Wilson added that Ryanair hoped “to sign more agreements in the coming weeks”.Ryanair is also beginning to recognise unions representing pilots, including in Italy where this week a deal was struck on improved working conditions.It followed a coordinated 24-hour strike by Ryanair pilots earlier this month that caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights, affecting thousands of passengers. Ryanair said Thursday it has agreed to recognise Ireland-based cabin crew who have union membership, stepping up a drawn-out process to improve workers’ conditions and avert strikes. Ryanair recognises cabin crew union in UK (Update) Explore further Irish low-coast airline Ryanair has agreed to recognise a cabin crew union in Ireland, following agreements with such unions in Germany, Italy and the UK This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
5 Myths About Women’s Bodies Menstrual cups have been heralded as a sustainable alternative to pads and tampons, and have been growing in popularity in recent years. But few studies have compared menstrual cups with these other feminine hygiene products in terms of their safety and effectiveness. Now, a new review study has some good news for menstrual cup fans: The flexible cups that collect menses blood appear to be a safe option for managing periods, and they may be as effective as pads and tampons for preventing leakage. The review authors also found that menstrual cup use didn’t increase the risk of developing certain bacterial infections compared with use of other feminine hygiene products; and menstrual cups weren’t detrimental to women’s natural vaginal flora, another measure of safety. [7 Facts Women (And Men) Should Know About the Vagina]Headbutting Tiny Worms Are Really, Really LoudThis rapid strike produces a loud ‘pop’ comparable to those made by snapping shrimps, one of the most intense biological sounds measured at sea.Your Recommended PlaylistVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9接下来播放Why Is It ‘Snowing’ Salt in the Dead Sea?01:53 facebook twitter 发邮件 reddit 链接https://www.livescience.com/65952-menstrual-cups-safety.html?jwsource=cl已复制直播00:0000:3500:35 Still, the review, published today (July 16) in the journal The Lancet Public Health, highlighted some aspects of menstrual cup safety that need more research. For example, the study authors could not determine whether menstrual cups were safer than tampons with regard to the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) — a rare but life-threatening condition that’s been linked with tampon use. Indeed, the authors identified several cases of TSS tied to menstrual cups, although the risk seems low, they said. Overall, the results are reassuring about the safety of menstrual cups, said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who wasn’t involved with the review. But there is a need for more data on the rate of toxic shock syndrome among menstrual cup users, and how it can be prevented, she said. For now, doctors generally recommend that menstrual cup users treat the product in a way that’s similar to how they would use a tampon — removing and cleaning it every 8 hours or so. “They do need to take it out regularly and wash it,” Wu told Live Science. “This is not something you want to leave in for a day and a half.” There is also a question of whether women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control may face an increased risk of IUD displacement when they use menstrual cups. More studies are needed to investigate whether this is a safe combination, the authors said. Alternative product Menstrual cups are typically bell-shaped and collect menses blood rather than absorb it, as tampons and pads do. The cups are often reusable, made from silicone, rubber or latex; and they can last up to 10 years. Although menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s, their popularity has spiked during the last decade, according to the BBC. The new study is one of the first rigorous scientific reviews of menstrual cup use, the authors said. The researchers analyzed information from 43 previous studies on menstrual cup use involving more than 3,300 people from low-, middle- and high-income countries. Four of the studies, involving about 300 people, directly compared leakage of menstrual blood during use of a menstrual cup, tampon or pad. In three of these studies, the amount of blood that leaked was similar among users of all three products; and in one study, menstrual cup users had less leakage than the others. Among studies conducted in Europe, North America and Africa, there was no increased risk of infections of the reproductive tract, such as yeast infections, tied to menstrual cup use, compared with use of other menstrual products. However, the researchers did identify five cases of toxic shock syndrome tied to menstrual cup use. The condition can occur when certain bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus aureus, grow rapidly in the vaginal tract and produce harmful toxins. But because it’s unclear how many women use menstrual cups overall, the researchers were not able to compare the rate of TSS among menstrual cup users to that of tampon users. The rate of TSS among menstruating women is about 1 in 100,000 women, Live Science previously reported. The authors also identified 13 cases of women with IUDs that were dislodged when they used menstrual cups. This level of occurrence seems “pretty high,” Wu said, but more studies are needed to examine this risk. Wu said she would advise women with IUDs to be “very careful” when using menstrual cups, and to check with their health care provider before using them. Still, Wu noted, some women who use IUDs don’t get their period, meaning they wouldn’t have a need for menstrual cups or other products for menstruation. Cost effective The review also found that a lot of women aren’t aware of menstrual cups, with just 11% to 33% of women surveyed in high-income countries saying they knew about the products. There also seems to be a “learning curve” of several months for women to become familiar with how to use them. But once women were familiar with the products, 70% said they wanted to continue to use the products to manage their period, according to the review. What’s more, the menstrual cups appeared to offer large cost savings and environmental benefits compared with pads and tampons. Evidence from the review suggested that, over a 10-year period, a single menstrual cup could cost about 5% to 7% of the cost of using pads or tampons. (For example, assuming that pads cost about 31 cents each, a woman who uses 12 pads per cycle would end up spending more than $480 over 10 years, while the average cost of a menstrual cup was about $23.) The authors also estimated that, over a 10-year period, a single menstrual cup would create only 0.4% of the plastic waste generated by pad use and 6% of the plastic waste generated by tampon use. The review “highlights the cost-effectiveness and lack of waste of the menstrual cup,” Wu said. She noted that there are different sizes and types of menstrual cups, and women may want to speak with their doctor about which type is best for their body. 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