Do study participants have the right to know?


Children born after assisted reproduction at greater risk of congenital malformations; doctors should be prepared to inform parents of these risks, scientists say

Gothenburg, Sweden:  Couples considering undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment should be informed about the increased risk of congenital malformation posed by the use of ART, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics will hear today (Monday).  Dr. Géraldine Viot, a clinical geneticist at the Maternité Port Royal hospital, Paris, France, will say that she believed that most doctors working in ART clinics in France only told couples about such risks if they were asked specific questions.

Dr. Viot and colleagues conducted a survey in 33 French centres registered for ART, around one third of the total number of clinics registered to perform ART procedures in France. All ART births from these clinics from 2003 to 2007 were included; 15 162 children in total.   The study was the largest to date on this subject.  Questionnaires were completed both by the parents and the paediatrician and the prevalence of malformations found compared with the data obtained from national registers and in published papers.

“We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24% of the children”, said Dr. Viot, “compared with the 2-3% that we had expected from previous published studies. This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system.   This was much more common in boys. Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumours made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin.   These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than boys.”

However, the scientists say, their results are a long way from the 11% of major malformations that have been reported by some studies.  “Given that our study is the largest to date, we think that our data are more likely to be statistically representative of the true picture”, said Dr. Viot.

The average age of the parents of children born with malformations was not statistically different from the other parents in the ART group.  The origins of the malformations are probably multiple, says Dr. Viot.  “We need more research in order to understand the relationship between embryo culture media, timing of embryo transfer, the effects of ovarian stimulation, the use of ICSI, where sperm is injected directly into the egg, freezing of gametes and embryos and these disorders.

“We estimate that in France some 200 000 children have been born after ART and therefore a malformation rate of this magnitude is a public health issue.   It is important that all doctors and also politicians are informed about this.   We also need to follow up all children born after ART and to put much more effort into trying to understand which of the procedures involved is implicated in this problem.”

Dr. Viot and colleagues intend to follow up their work analysing a further 4000 questionnaires, from children born in 2008, and to look at the motor development of children born in 2003, who are now aged 7.   “By following all these children we hope to understand more about not only what can go wrong after ART, but why it goes wrong”, she said.  “At a time when infertility is increasing and more and more couples need to use ART to conceive, it is vitally important that we find out as much as we can about what is causing malformations in these children, not only so that we can try to counteract the problem but also in order for health services to be able to plan for their future needs.”

The scientists are now trying to find out the origin of parental infertility for each child born after ART who has been affected by major malformation or epigenetic disorders.  “With this knowledge, we can better establish the origin of the malformation and whether it is more likely to be related to parental infertility or the ART procedure itself”, said Dr. Viot.  “We already know that imprinting disorders – where the mechanism in which gene expression depends on parental origin – are clearly more frequent in our cohort than in the general population.”

Imprinting disorders are all acquired because of either a maternal or paternal deletion on a chromosome, through inheritance of both chromosomes of a pair from only one parent, through mutations in some imprinted genes, or because of loss or gain of methylation (a process which is normally removed during zygote formation and re-established through successive cell divisions during development.  “The prevalence of the imprinting disorder Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome in our cohort is six times higher than we would expect in the general population, and for retinoblastoma the prevalence among ART children is 4.5 higher than in the general population”, said Dr. Viot.

“These results could be due to the effect of a number of different mechanisms. They could be due to the infertility itself, the ovarian stimulation for supernumerary oocyte production, the in vitro maturation of oocytes, the use of ICSI (direct injection of sperm), the culture media, the cryopreservation of gametes and embryos – we just don’t know at present.  Finding this out will be a major step towards improving the health of children born after ART.

Source: European Society of Human Genetics – ESHG

Cell Phones May Trigger ADHD and Other Behavior Problems .


If you’re pregnant, there is compelling evidence that you should use extreme caution when using a cell phone, and at least take care to keep it as far away from your developing baby as possible.

The latest animal study suggests that the increasingly prevalent neurobehavioral disorders in children — conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — may be related to exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cell phones while in utero.i

Hyperactivity, Impaired Memory Linked to In Utero Cell Phone Exposure

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine positioned a cell phone above a cage of pregnant mice. The phone was transmitting an uninterrupted active call for the entire 17 days of gestation.

When the offspring were later tested, they showed signs of ADHD, including reduced transmissions in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. As researchers noted:

“The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for executive functions by screening distractions and maintaining attention in goal-oriented behaviors. Impairment of the PFC leads to dysregulated behavior/emotion such as ADHD.”

They further explained:

“Mice exposed [to cell phone radiation] during pregnancy had impaired memory, were hyperactive, and had decreased anxiety, indicating that in-utero exposure to radiofrequency is a potential cause of neurobehavioral disorders. …The exposure to cellular telephones in pregnancy may have a comparable effect on the fetus and similar implications for society as do exposures to other common neurodevelopmental toxicants.”

It’s widely known that children, due to their thinner skulls, smaller brains, softer brain tissue and far more rapidly dividing cells, are even more susceptible to damage from cell phone use than adults, which suggests that babies in the womb, who are perhaps the most vulnerable population of all, may be at similar or greater at risk. The researchers expand:

“During critical windows in neurogenesis the brain is susceptible to numerous environmental insults; common medically relevant exposures include ionizing radiation, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and stress. The effects of these agents are dependent on dose and timing of exposure. Even small exposures during periods of neurogenesis have a more profound effect than exposure as an adult …environmental exposures occurring in fetal life can lead to persistent neurological deficits.”

Cell Phones May Cause “Certain Harm” to Fetal Rat Brains

This was the conclusion of a study in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine,ii which sought to evaluate the intensity of oxidative stress and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brains of fetal rats chronically exposed to radiation from cell phones.

Four groups of pregnant rats were exposed to different intensities of cell phone microwave radiation — one group that was left unexposed, and three groups that were irradiated three times daily for either 10, 30, or 60 minutes at a time. After three weeks, the fetal rats were examined for changes in their brains. Studies on humans have corroborated these findings. All of the irradiated groups exhibited significant neurological differences, with researchers noting:

“Through this study, we concluded that receiving a certain period of microwave radiation from cellular phones during pregnancy has certain harm on fetal rat brains.”

Studies Involving Human Children Show Increased Behavioral Problems With In Utero Cell Phone Exposure

In 2008, researchers analyzed data from nearly 13,000 children and found that exposure to cell phones while in the womb, and also as children, was linked to more behavioral difficulties.iii Pregnant women using handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age — and the risk became even greater if the children also used the phones themselves before age 7.

The 2008 study revealed that mothers who used mobile phones were 54 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. When the children also later used the phones themselves by age 7, they were:

  • 80 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behavior
  • 25 percent more at risk from emotional problems
  • 34 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers
  • 35 percent more likely to be hyperactive
  • 49 percent more prone to problems with conduct

Then, in 2010, the researchers looked at a larger group of children — nearly 29,000 — and also considered additional variables that could be swaying the results, and the association was found once again.iv In that study, children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant were 40 percent more likely to have behavioral problems and this rose to 50 percent when the children also used cell phones themselves. The researchers even accounted for family history of behavioral problems, inattention of the mother, breastfeeding and time spent with the child — and the association still remained.

If You’re Pregnant, Is Cell Phone Use Safe?

That’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself after considering the evidence, such as the studies noted above. I do believe there is more than enough evidence to warrant everyone limiting their cell phone use and taking precautions, and I have long recommended that, barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. A fetus is even more vulnerable than a child, so take that into consideration as well. As a parent you have a responsibility to protect this young life.

Many government agencies across the globe are taking these risks very seriously. The European Parliament has called for schools to be wireless free, in addition to hospitals, day care and retirement living facilities.v And in a report published by Mobilewise, a UK charity, medical experts and Mobilewise call on government and industry to provide warnings and advice on ways to reduce the risk of health damage when using mobile phones, especially in order to protect children.

The report “Mobile Phone Health Risks: the case for action to protect children” warns that children’s health is being put at risk by the failure of government and phone companies to respond to the growing body of evidence linking mobile phone use with health hazards.vi It includes a chart of more than 200 peer-reviewed studies from numerous research institutions that link mobiles to serious health problems.

These include brain tumors and impacts on fertility, genes, the blood-brain barrier and melatonin production, as well as other biological effects thought to have a role in the development of cancer.

The telecommunication industry is much larger than the medical industrial complex, and they have far more influence than the drug companies. They’re also mirroring many of the same tactics as the tobacco industry to pedal their wares. There is already robust scientific evidence that cell phones and other wireless devices pose significant health risks to all of us, and especially to children and pregnant women. So while these findings are not being widely publicized in mainstream media, it makes sense to take action now to protect yourself and your children.

Understand the media has significant conflicts of interest, given the millions of dollars in advertising dollars they receive from the wireless industry. ElectromagneticHealth.org has estimated telecom ad revenues might total as much as $6-60 million annually at U.S. newspapers and business magazines, based on a sampling of ad space in major papers and magazines. The average percentage of telecom ad space during the sample period was applied to the published print ad revenues of the publications, as a gauge of the magnitude of potential telecom revenues to these publications.

Camilla Rees of ElectromagneticHealth.org says:

“Not only are several large media organizations sitting on the fence on this subject, shirking their responsibility to the public (though many are following the subject closely), but some of them, it appears, may intentionally be supporting the interests of the telecom industry, as is also the case with some universities. In both cases it appears protecting important sources of revenue is what is most important to them. “

Rees co-led a detailed analysis of an Economist article last Fall that was endorsed by over 30 leading international scientists, portraying the Economist article in question as riddled with “technical errors and misleading statements.”

The Economist critique stated:vii

“With this unsigned opinion piece (which appeared to be a news article) containing so many technical errors and misleading statements, The Economist has undermined its reputation for independent and probing analysis. The Economist owes its readers a better accounting of the science on this important public health issue.”

So, until the damn of denial is broken regarding media coverage of the hazards of microwave radiation, look to the independent science, and independent reporting sources, that have not been influenced by commercial interests.

Top Steps for Safer Cell Phone Use

You can help to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices by heeding the following advice:

  • Children Should Always Avoid Using Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children’s brains are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.
  • Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call. If you’re pregnant, avoiding or reducing your cell phone use is especially important.
  • Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness. SKYPE offers a portable number via your computer that can plug into any Ethernet port while traveling.
  • Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them as often as you do. And most importantly, do not even consider having any electronic or wireless devices in the bedroom, as the electric, magnetic and microwave fields can significantly interfere with the quality of your sleep.

If you must use a portable home phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are not safer during calls, but at least many of them do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made. There is a new Siemens Eco DECT phone on the market, where if only one handset is activated, it can be set to only radiate during a call as opposed to 24/7. However, since many people have multiple portable phone handsets this is not, as of yet, a practical solution. And, unless one knows to deactivate the radiation through putting the phone into Eco Mode Plus mode, it will still be continually emitting microwaves.

Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters won’t help much). As many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, we recommend you look for RF meters that go up to 8 Gigahertz, the highest range now available in a meter suitable for consumers.

Alternatively you can be very careful with the base station placement as that causes the bulk of the problem since it transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren’t talking. So if you can keep the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, they may not be as damaging to your health. Another option is to just simply turn the portable phone off, only using it when you specifically need the convenience of moving about while on a call.

Ideally it would be helpful to turn off your base station every night before you go to bed. You can find RF meters as well as remediation supplies at www.emfsafetystore.com. But you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology, unless you are using the new Siemens Eco DECT phone, with only one handset active, and the phone set to only radiate during conversations through the Eco Mode Plus feature.

  • Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.
  • Also Seek to Avoid Carrying Your Phone on Your Body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag. Placing a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the heart is asking for trouble, as is placing it in a man’s pocket if he seeks to preserve his fertility and sexual function.
  • Don’t Assume One Cell Phone is Safer Than Another: There’s no such thing as a “safe” cell phone.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area. Most people are surprised that cell phone manuals themselves specifically state to not place the phone against your body!
  • Respect Others Who are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others’ cell phones in the same room, even when it is on but not being used. If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor’s office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the ‘second hand radiation’ effects. This would especially apply to places where reflections would be high, such as in a metal elevator, train car or automobile. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.

If you are using the Pong case, which redirects the cell phone radiation away from the head and successfully lowers the SAR effect, realize that in redirecting the radiation away from your head this may be intensifying the radiation in another direction, perhaps toward the person next to you, or, if in your pocket, increasing radiation intensity toward your body. Caution is always advised in dealing with any radiation-emitting device. We recommend cell phones be kept ‘Off’ except for emergencies.

  • Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded — and most of them are not — the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain.

Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded. The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

Source: Dr. Mercola

 

 

Genome test slammed for assessing ‘racial purity’.


Hungarian far-right politician certified as ‘free of Jewish and Roma’ genes.

Officials in Hungary united this week to condemn ongoing ethnic violence and anti-Semitic attacks, including an assault on the former Chief Rabbi on 5 June. But a cause for further soul-searching has emerged: a scientific scandal recalling discredited notions of racial purity.

Hungary’s Medical Research Council (ETT), which advises the government on health policy, has asked public prosecutors to investigate a genetic-diagnostic company that certified that a member of parliament did not have Roma or Jewish heritage.

The MP in question is a member of the far-right Jobbik party, which won 17% of the votes in the general election of April 2010. He apparently requested the certificate from the firm Nagy Gén Diagnostic and Research, which rents office space at the prestigious Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. The company produced the document in September 2010, a few weeks before local elections.

The certificate — with the MP’s name blacked out — emerged on the web last month and was seized on by the Hungarian media. One of Nagy Gén’s financial partners, Tibor Benedek — a three-time Olympic water-polo gold medallist and a member of a prominent Jewish family — immediately pulled out of the company.

The ETT’s secretary, József Mandl, chair of medical chemistry at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, says that the certificate is “professionally wrong, ethically unacceptable — and illegal”. The council discussed the issue on 7 June and concluded that the genetic test violates the 2008 Law on Genetics, which allows such testing only for health purposes.

“The council’s stand is important,” says Lydia Gall, an Eastern Europe and Balkans researcher at civil-rights group Human Rights Watch, who is based in Amsterdam. In Hungary, “there have been many violent crimes against Roma and acts of anti-Semitism in the past few years”, she says. Politicians who try to use genetic tests to prove they are ‘pure’ Hungarian fan the flames of racial hatred, she adds.

Nagy Gén scanned 18 positions in the MP’s genome for variants that it says are characteristic of Roma and Jewish ethnic groups; its report concludes that Roma and Jewish ancestry can be ruled out. The certificate adds: “For an interpretation of the test result and for genetic consultation relating to the family-tree research, please contact us as soon as convenient.”

Nagy Gén did not respond to e-mail and telephone requests from Nature for comment. But a statement on its website claims that newspapers had reported the story “incompletely” and points to the certificate’s recommendation for further consultation. It argues that the company “rejects all forms of discrimination, so it has no right to judge the purpose for which an individual will use his or her test result, and so for ethical reasons it could not have refused to carry out the test”.

The certificate first appeared on a right-wing website, which described the intention behind the gene test as “noble”, although it questioned the science. After the news blog Petőfi utca republished the certificate on 14 May, the Hungarian Society of Human Genetics issued a statement condemning the test. István Raskó, director of the Institute of Genetics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Szeged, and the society’s vice-president, says that it is impossible to deduce origins from genetic variations at a few places in the genome. “This test is complete nonsense and the affair is very harmful to the profession of clinical genetics,” he says.

Nagy Gén’s rental contract with Eötvös Loránd University ended this month, says György Fábri, a university spokesman. “The university is not commenting publicly on the affair because it is not our business — our researchers had no contact with the company.” In a written statement he added that the university “fully rejects” the abuse of scientific results to promote discrimination or hatred.

Source: Nature.

 

New advances in lipid genetics lead to better detection and prevention of major diseases.


Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Studying the genetic make-up of different varieties of lipids (fatty molecules) in the blood plasma of an individual can lead to a better and earlier prediction of diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease, two researchers will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today (Monday 30 May).    In the first study, Dr. Joanne Curran from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, USA, will tell the conference that lipidomic profiling will become a more reliable early indicator of individuals likely to develop diabetes than the more commonly used predictors such as blood glucose and insulin levels.

Dr. Curran and colleagues from the US and Australia measured 356 different lipid varieties from about 1100 Mexican American members of large extended families who were part of the San Antonio Family Heart Study.   The Mexican American population is at high risk of diabetes with about 25% of this population ultimately becoming diabetic. At the start of the research, 861 of the individuals studied did not have diabetes.   However, over the 10 year follow-up examined in the study, 110 individuals did develop the disease.

The scientists were able to isolate 128 different varieties of lipids that predicted the progression to diabetes by measuring the the lipidomic profiles of each individual at multiple timepoints during the follow-up period.   “The single best predictor we found was a novel component called dihydroceramide (dhCer).  This was substantially increased in people with diabetes.   It is also heritable, and appears to be an independent risk factor unconnected to blood sugar and insulin levels,” says Dr. Curran.

After uncovering the link between dhCer and diabetes, the team searched the genome to find locations that harboured genes that influence dhCer levels.   They identified a region on chromosome 3 that appeared to contain a gene with substantial importance for the production of dhCer.  “Through whole genome sequencing, we are now attempting to identify this causal gene in the hope that it will be informative in the understanding of the pathogenesis of diabetes, and also suggest new avenues for treatment,” Dr. Curran says.

In the future, the researchers say, measurement of dhCer levels could become routine in the prediction of individuals likely to become diabetic.   One of the difficulties of the current predictive methods is that they do not function until a patient is near to developing the disease.  Being able to identify those at risk at the earliest stage would mean that individuals have plenty of time to make the lifestyle changes that could help them avoid the disease – through a change in diet, or increasing physical activity, for example.

“Currently one in ten US adults suffers from diabetes and recently the Centers for Disease Control has predicted that this will increase to one in three by 2050”, says Dr. Curran.   “We are optimistic that our discovery will lead to new treatments, but in the short-term the importance of finding out at an early stage whether any individual is likely to develop it cannot be overstated.  A test based on dhCer levels will help to avoid the serious health effects that diabetes has in its own right, such as kidney failure, amputations, and blindness.  It is, of course, also a risk for cardiovascular disease, so the health burden of this condition is enormous”, she concludes.

In the second study, Dr. Sara Willems, from the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will describe to the conference research carried out on the influence of common genetic lipid variants on atherosclerosis and related heart disease. “A recent genome-wide meta-analysis of more than 100,000 individuals identified a large number of genetic variants associated with levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. These molecules are, at increased levels of LDL and triglycerides and decreased levels of HDL, important risk factors for cardiovascular disease”, says Dr. Willems.

The researchers used risk scores from these genetic variants to test the hypothesis that their cumulative effects were associated with cardiovascular disease. For this purpose they used genetic data from more than 8000 individuals from the population-based Rotterdam Study and more than 2000 individuals participating in the Dutch family-based Erasmus Rucphen Family study.
They found an association between the LDL risk score and arterial wall thickness, and a strong association of this risk score with carotid plaque. These conditions can cause arterial blockage which leads to stroke.  The same risk score was also associated with coronary heart disease.

“Our findings show that an accumulation of common genetic variants with small effects on lipid levels can have a significant effect on clinical and sub-clinical outcomes”, says Dr. Aaron Isaacs, who led the project. “In the future, as our knowledge of genetic variation increases, effective pre-clinical genetic screening tools may be able to enhance the prediction and prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

New genetic variants influencing lipid levels are being identified all the time, the researchers say.  “As new variants are discovered, we would like to be able to continue to test them, both singly and combined, for association with cardiovascular disease.  The cost of these diseases to individuals, families, society and healthcare systems is immense”, says Dr. Willems.

“Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in Europe, killing over 4 million people per year. It also represents 23% of the total disease burden (illness and death) across the continent. Managing cholesterol levels is important for prevention. This can be done early in life by effective treatment. We hope that our study, showing that common genetic variants play an important role in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, marks a starting point for early prediction and prevention and may thus reduce the burden of disease,” she concludes.
(ends)

Source: European Society of Human Genetics – ESHG

 

Dual-gated bilayer graphene hot-electron bolometer.


Graphene is an attractive material for use in optical detectors because it absorbs light from mid-infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths with nearly equal strength. Graphene is particularly well suited for bolometers—devices that detect temperature-induced changes in electrical conductivity caused by the absorption of light—because its small electron heat capacity and weak electron–phonon coupling lead to large light-induced changes in electron temperature. Here, we demonstrate a hot-electron bolometer made of bilayer graphene that is dual-gated to create a tunable bandgap and electron-temperature-dependent conductivity. The bolometer exhibits a noise-equivalent power (33 fW Hz–1/2 at 5 K) that is several times lower, and intrinsic speed (>1 GHz at 10 K) three to five orders of magnitude higher than commercial silicon bolometers and superconducting transition-edge sensors at similar temperatures.

Source: Nature Nanotechnology

 

 

Emissive ZnO–graphene quantum dots for white-light-emitting diodes.


Hybrid nanostructures combining inorganic materials and graphene are being developed for applications such as fuel cells, batteries, photovoltaics and sensors. However, the absence of a bandgap in graphene has restricted the electrical and optical characteristics of these hybrids, particularly their emissive properties. Here, we use a simple solution method to prepare emissive hybrid quantum dots consisting of a ZnO core wrapped in a shell of single-layer graphene. We then use these quantum dots to make a white-light-emitting diode with a brightness of 798 cd m−2. The strain introduced by curvature opens an electronic bandgap of 250 meV in the graphene, and two additional blue emission peaks are observed in the luminescent spectrum of the quantum dot. Density functional theory calculations reveal that these additional peaks result from a splitting of the lowest unoccupied orbitals of the graphene into three orbitals with distinct energy levels. White emission is achieved by combining the quantum dots with other emissive materials in a multilayer light-emitting diode.

Source: Nature Nanotechnology

 

Gel combo showed promise as male contraceptive.


When combined and applied to the skin, testosterone and a synthetic progestin provided a successful method for suppressing sperm concentration, with minimal adverse effects.

In the past, combinations of testosterone and progestin injections with pills; implants with injections; or two different injections or implants enhanced the suppression of sperm production as a method of contraception. Injections and implants require a provider to administer the hormones.

“Our purpose was to develop a user friendly male contraceptive,” Christina Wang, MD, researcher and professor at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said during a presentation. “We showed the [synthetic progestin] gel was very effective in suppressing spermatogenesis in combination with testosterone gel.”

Wang and colleagues at LA BioMed and the University of Washington aimed to determine the effectiveness of testosterone gel alone or combined with Nestorone (NES) — a non-androgenic and non-estrogenic progestin in gel form being developed by the Population Council — through a randomized, double blind, comparator clinical trial completed at two academic medical centers.

“Nestorone was chosen because it’s a pure progestin,” Wang said.

The patient population was composed of 99 healthy men who were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups applying daily transdermal gels: testosterone 10 g plus placebo (n=32); testosterone 10 g plus NES 8 mg (n=33); testosterone 10 g plus NES 12 mg (n=34).

Researchers analyzed 56 patients who completed at least 20 weeks of treatment. The percentage of men with sperm concentration of less than 1 million/mL was significantly higher for testosterone plus NES 8 mg (89%, P<.0001) and testosterone plus NES 12 mg (88%, P<.0002) vs. the testosterone plus placebo group (23%).

Additionally, data conveyed that significantly more patients became azoospermic in the testosterone plus NES 8 mg (78%, P<.001) and testosterone plus NES 12 mg (69%, P<.008) groups vs. testosterone plus placebo (23%).

All participants recovered to a sperm concentration of more than 15 million/mL during the recovery period. Adverse effects were minimal in all groups, with acne being the most common (21%).

“We can achieve effective suppression of sperm concentration, and after we test the combination of testosterone and Nestorone formulated into one gel and show efficacy, we will proceed to a phase 3 contraceptive efficacy study supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,” Wang said.

Source: Endocrine Today.

 

Men with COPD, hypogonadism at greater risk for mortality.


Low testosterone levels predicted an increased risk for mortality, particularly in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, based on evidence from the observational ECLIPSE study.

Richard V. Clark, PhD, MD, director of Discovery Medicine in the Metabolic Therapeutic area of GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development in Durham, N.C., said previous studies have shown that hypogonadism is associated with an increased risk for mortality during a presentation at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting & Expo.

“This survey of looking at a large, well-characterized population of men with a chronic illness — in this case [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] — was able to show a few correlations with testosterone, but nothing extensive,” Clark said.

Researchers examined the link between total testosterone levels in 1,296 men with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to outcomes and phenotypes from the Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints (ECLIPSE) study. Patients were studied in 46 centers within 12 countries and categorized in stages II through IV of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) criteria. They were followed for 3 years.

Testosterone was measured by turbulent flow liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) and free testosterone was measured by equilibrium dialysis from samples taken at month 6.

“Testosterone was an independent predictor of mortality,” Clark said.

The median testosterone level was 439 ng/dL, and low testosterone was not found to be correlated with the percentage of predicted forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1); however, it was strongly correlated with higher BMI (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient=–0.47) and lower percentage of predicted total lung capacity (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient=0.21; each P<.001).

According to data, low testosterone was also found to be statistically significant as it related to higher age, shorter 6-minute walk distance and lower emphysema score on a CT scan (P<.05).

When Clark and colleagues performed a univariate analysis, they found that death was more likely to occur in patients with low testosterone levels (OR=0.51; P<.054). Similarly, lower testosterone levels significantly predicted death in patients with stage II COPD (OR=0.24; P<.003).

Multivariate linear regression analysis took into account: age, percentage of predicted FEV1, BMI, smoking status and testosterone level. COPD hospitalization and patient death were predicted by age and percentage FEV1. Yet, testosterone levels were not predictive of COPD hospitalization. Rather, it was only predictive of higher patient death in those with GOLD stage II COPD (OR=0.25; P<.007).

Data showed that median free testosterone levels of 206 pmol/L confirmed the total testosterone findings and did not contribute to the analyses.

Source: Endocrine Today.