A DNA test to identify roo species.


University of Adelaide researchers have developed a simple and cost-effective DNA test to identify kangaroo species from their droppings which will boost the ability to manage and conserve kangaroo populations.

The researchers developed the test using hundreds of collected droppings across north-eastern Australia and extracting DNA from the samples, published in the conservation journalWildlife Research.

A unique pattern of DNA fragmentation was established for each species, eliminating the need for gene sequencing which is costly, much more time-consuming and requires sophisticated laboratory equipment.

The test has already identified a number of species of kangaroo occurring well outside their known range which has important implications for population management and conservation.

“The more information on the distribution of species, the better management decisions can be made, particularly in gauging potential land-use and climate change impacts on biodiversity,” says PhD student and lead author Jessica Wadley.

“Despite their large size, kangaroos and wallabies are surprisingly difficult to see and count reliably. Collecting droppings, or scats, provides a relatively simple and easy way to estimate the presence or absence of a species. But in this area of Queensland, where there were eight possible kangaroos and wallaby species with overlapping ranges, it’s difficult to correctly identify which species is leaving which scat.”

This project, by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) and Environment Institute, is part of a broader ecological study.

They found five species outside of their known range with one – the Eastern Grey Kangaroo – 400km outside of its range.

Co-author Dr Damien Fordham, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Environment Institute, says: “The test also allowed us to identify samples from the antilopine wallaroo, a species that is threatened by climate change. We’re carrying out more detailed genetic studies relating to the factors that influence its distribution.”

Co-author Associate Professor Jeremy Austin, Deputy Director of ACAD, says: “The test could also be used to rapidly and cheaply identify the source of kangaroo meat and products to detect illegal hunting of protected species.”


Source: Science Alert

Bone-Marrow or Cord-Blood Transplantation for Hemoglobinopathies?

Overall survival is similar with both approaches, but cord-blood transplantation offers advantages.


There is currently considerable interest in attempting to cure sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia major (TM) by transplantation of healthy hematopoietic cells derived from either the bone marrow or cord blood. To determine which of these sources is optimal, international investigators conducted a retrospective, registry-based study that compared outcomes between 389 patients receiving bone-marrow transplantation (BMT; 130 with SCD and 259 with TM) and 96 patients receiving cord-blood transplantation (CBT; 30 with SCD and 66 with TM) from human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-identical siblings.

BMT recipients were older than CBT recipients (8.1 years vs. 5.9 years; P=0.02), heavier (23 kg vs. 19 kg; P=0.01), and treated less recently (1999 vs. 2001; P<0.01). BMT recipients were also more likely to have received antithymocyte globulin or antilymphocyte globulin (ATG/ALG; 67% vs. 54%; P<0.01) and methotrexate prophylaxis for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD; 76% vs. 30%; P<0.01). Thiotepa was used more often in patients receiving CBT (22% vs. 7%; P<0.01).

During a median follow-up of 70 months, 6-year overall survival was similar with BMT and CBT (95% and 97%), as was graft failure (7.4% and 10.4%). In successfully engrafted patients, neutrophil recovery was slower with CBT than BMT (23 days vs. 19 days;P=0.002), as was platelet recovery (38 days vs. 25 days; P=0.004); rates of infection and bleeding were similar with CBT and BMT. Treatment failures were more common in TM patients than SCD patients.

Long-term sustained mixed chimerism occurred more often with CBT (37% vs. 22%;P=0.01). Acute GVHD was more frequent with BMT than CBT (21% vs. 10%; P=0.04) and accounted for 8 deaths in the BMT group; no instances of grade IV GVHD or deaths occurred in CBT recipients. Chronic GVHD was also more common with BMT than CBT (11.8% vs. 7.1%); 12 BMT and no CBT recipients had extensive chronic GVHD. Disease-free survival was adversely affected by the use of methotrexate to prevent GVHD (P<0.001).

Comment: Although both bone-marrow transplantation and cord-blood transplantation are associated with high percentages of satisfactory outcomes, CBT has a number of advantages. These include significantly less graft-versus-host disease (and less need for methotrexate), directed-donor family banking, and ease of procurement. However, the scarcity of expert transplant centers, high cost, and need for a human leukocyte antigen–identical sibling are limitations of both CBT and BMT as curative therapy for hemoglobinopathies.


Source Journal Watch Oncology and Hematology



Is Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering Beneficial in Acute Intracerebral Hemorrhage?

Equivocal outcomes from the INTERACT 2 trial


The INTERACT 1 trial (JW Neurol Aug 14 2012) gave preliminary evidence that early, intensive blood pressure lowering might improve intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) outcomes. Now, researchers report the findings of INTERACT 2. They enrolled patients with acute, spontaneous ICH whose blood pressure could be treated within 6 hours of symptom onset and lacked an overt structural cause, who were not in deep coma and not scheduled for immediate surgery. Patients were randomized to an intensive systolic blood pressure (SBP) target of <140 mm Hg within 1 hour of randomization, maintained for 7 days, or a conventional, guideline-determined SBP target of <180 mm Hg. The primary outcome was death or major disability at 90 days. A secondary analysis assessed improvement across the range of functional outcomes on the modified Rankin scale (ordinal analysis).

Among 2794 patients with 90-day outcome data (mean age, 63.5; 63% male; average blood pressure at enrollment, 179/101 mm Hg; 83.5% with deep ICH; 28.4% with intraventricular extension), the mean SBP at 6 hours after randomization was 139 mm Hg with intensive therapy versus 153 mm Hg with conventional treatment. The primary outcome was not significantly different between treatments (52.0% with intensive therapy, 55.6% with conventional therapy; odds ratio, 0.87; P=0.06). In the ordinal analysis, the odds of disability were a significant 13% lower with intensive than with conventional treatment. Death or major disability at 7 days and 28 days did not differ between groups. In a subgroup of patients with repeat imaging at 24 hours, hematoma growth did not differ between the two treatments.

Comment: In this large-scale trial, the primary outcome missed statistical significance, but there was a trend for improved outcomes, and functional outcomes showed a benefit with intensive blood pressure lowering. The authors achieved their blood pressure target of a 13 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, but the absolute difference in death and major disability was only 3.6%, not 7.0% as hypothesized, raising questions about whether the patients had too many preexisiting comorbidities or whether the earlier, pilot data were overly optimistic. The greater rate of care withdrawal with intensive versus conventional therapy (5.4% vs. 3.3%) and unreported differences in posthospitalization rehabilitation may have slightly diminished a potential treatment effect. For now, intensive lowering of blood pressure in acute intracerebral hemorrhage appears to be unharmful and may lead to a clinical benefit.


Source: Journal Watch Neurology

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