Newer heart attack test for women

heart attack chest x-ray with ECG

Doctors could spot twice as many heart attacks in women by using a newer, more sensitive blood test, a study claims.

The test looks for minute traces of a protein that signals that the heart muscle may have been damaged.

Standard tests still used by much of the NHS only detect higher levels of this protein, called troponin.

Research from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh shows the standard test misses many cases of heart attack in women with symptoms like chest pain.

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Our findings suggest one reason for this difference in diagnosis rates of men and women is that we, as doctors, may have been using a threshold for troponin testing that is too high in women”

Researcher Dr Anoop Shah

A heart attack is a medical emergency and early diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

Doctors rely on blood tests to help them judge if a patient with chest pain might be having an attack, but a normal result can mean the diagnosis is overlooked.


The British Heart Foundation-funded study, reported in the BMJ, included 1,126 men and women who had been admitted with a suspected heart attack.

Using the standard troponin test, almost twice as many men as women were diagnosed as having a heart attack – 117 versus 55.

Woman having a heart attack

When the researchers used the more sensitive test, the number of women diagnosed with heart attacks doubled to 111 or 22%.

In comparison, the sensitive test only spotted a handful of extra cases among the men.

And the researchers noticed that the extra men and women picked up by the sensitive test were at higher risk of dying or having another heart attack in the following year.

Researcher Dr Anoop Shah said that while similar numbers of men and women attend A&E with chest pains, women are less likely to be diagnosed with a heart attack.

Malaria resistance genetics revealed

Red blood cell with malaria parasite
Malaria parasites – seen tightly packed in this red blood cell – have evolved resistance to artemisinin

The genetics underpinning resistance to a frontline malaria drug, artemisinin, have been revealed, scientists say.

In South East Asia, malaria parasites have developed tolerance to the treatment, and there are fears that this will spread.

Now, in the largest genetic study to date, scientists have identified mutations in the parasite genome that are linked to resistance.

The study is published in Nature Genetics.

The researchers say the findings will help them to identify areas where artemisinin resistance could spread.

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If you don’t have this mutation of kelch13, you don’t have resistance”

Dr Olivo MiottoMORU

Lead author Dr Olivo Miotto from the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Research Unit (MORU), in Thailand, said: “Artemisinin is the best drug we have had for a very long time, and we want to continue this success story.

“And for that its effectiveness has to be protected and sustained.”

When the first malaria drug, chloroquine, was developed, researchers thought that the disease would be eradicated within years.

But the malaria parasite has proved far tougher than they ever imagined. Drug after drug has been rendered useless as the parasite has evolved to evade treatment.

Mysteriously, each time resistance has emerged, it has started in the same place – on the Cambodia-Thai border – before spreading across Asia and into Africa.

Now this appears to be happening again with artemisinin, a drug that has transformed malaria treatment.

Cases have been confirmed in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, also known as Burma.

 Anopheles mosquito The malaria parasite is spread by the Anopheles mosquito

Now an international team of scientists have identified several mutations on genes in the malaria parasite that are linked to resistance.

After analysing 1,612 samples from 15 locations in Asia and Africa, scientists confirmed that mutations on a gene called kelch13 are strongly associated with malaria resistance.

“If you don’t have this mutation of kelch13, you don’t have resistance,” Dr Miotto told the BBC.

The researchers also found four other mutations that appear to work in concert with the kelch13 mutation.

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Being able to map out where resistance exists and where it is likely to develop is incredibly useful in helping you focus your resources in eliminating malaria”

Professor Dominic KwiatkowskiWellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski, head of the malaria programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and professor of genomics and global health at Oxford University, said: “We found these other points that do seem to be variants that are particularly concentrated in South East Asia.

“And within South East Asia, the risk of a parasite developing a mutation in kelch13 is greatly enhanced if the parasite has these other variants.”

The researchers said that they did not yet fully understand the mechanism behind this, or exactly why these mutations are linked to one area of Asia.

But tracking down parasites that have these genetic changes could help them to identify the areas where resistance may spread.

“As a tool for mapping. if we know we have markers of resistance then that is good – and the kelch mutation is very helpful,” said Professor Dominic Kwiatkowski.

“It is quite an efficient way of mapping out where resistance is and isn’t.”

He added: “The other markers we have developed don’t tell us explicitly where resistance is, but they do tell us where resistance might be likely to develop in the future.

“In any attempts to eliminate malaria – you do have finite resources, and you have to work out where to spend those resources. And being able to map out where resistance exists and where it is likely to develop is incredibly useful in helping you focus your resources in eliminating malaria.”

Scientists fear that drug resistance could eventually spread to sub Saharan Africa, unless it is stopped.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that measures to prevent and treat malaria there have halved the number of deaths from the disease there since 2000, but drug tolerance could be a major setback.

Russia-US nuclear material security cooperation discontinued .

Moscow and Washington have officially ceased 20 years of co-operation over securing storage of nuclear material in Russia, US media reports. Russia’s Rosatom warned that no new contracts with the US were expected in 2015.

The declaration on stopping co-operation in the nuclear material protection sphere was signed on December 16, The Boston Globe reported on Monday. The newspaper obtained a three-page document that draws a line under 21 years of fruitful cooperation between the two nations’ nuclear agencies.

The decisive talks took place in Moscow over a month ago, but the outcome remained secret until early this week.

The meeting was attended by reportedly well over 40 experts from both sides, representing various industries dealing with the use of fission material. According to the Globe, the American delegation consisted of officials from the US State Department, Department of Energy, the Pentagon and its nuclear weapons labs. The Russian host party was made up of officials representing dismantling entities that varied from arms control to outgoing nuclear submarines’ disposal.

Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US assisted Russia in securing its huge stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, as well as financing dismantling nuclear weapons.

Over the two decades of the Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, the US reportedly spent $2 billion, with $100 million allocated for 2015 and plans to continue the programs until at least 2018. The money was spent on creating a computerized record keeping system, personnel training, inventory of fission materials, and withdrawal of fission materials from former Soviet republics.

Starting from January 1, joint security operations at Russia’s 18 civilian facilities with weapons-grade nuclear material have been discontinued, as well as further security upgrades in 7 ‘closed nuclear cities’ hosting military and civilian nuclear laboratories, institutes and nuclear research centers.

Russian authorities scotched America’s plans to install radiation sensors in the country’s airports, seaports and border crossings that would monitor Russia’s fission material circulation to “catch potential nuclear smugglers,” according to the official version.

Russia also stopped work on diluting its weapons-grade plutonium and uranium stock into a “less dangerous” form, previously conducted at two facilities.

Installation of high-tech surveillance systems at 13 nuclear material storage buildings in Russia has also been called off.

An employee looks at equipment in a new facility at a nuclear waste disposal plant in the town of Fokino in Russia's far-eastern Primorsky region (Reuters / Yuri Maltsev)

An employee looks at equipment in a new facility at a nuclear waste disposal plant in the town of Fokino in Russia’s far-eastern Primorsky region .

“They need continuous attention and international cooperation,” said Siegfried S. Hecker, a former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has traveled to Russia more than 40 times since 1992. “You cannot afford to isolate your country, your own nuclear complex, from the rest of the world,” Hecker stressed, as cited by BG.

Former Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who has fostered and monitored Russia-US fission material control programs over the years, questioned Russia’s expertise in keeping track of its vast reserves of nuclear material.

“The housekeeping by the Russians has not been comprehensive,” Lugar said in an interview. “There had been work done [with the US] hunting down nuclear materials. This is now terminated.”

At the same time, David Huizenga, nonproliferation expert at the National Nuclear Security Administration, who led the US delegation to Moscow in December, said: “We are encouraged that they stated multiple times that they (Russians) intend to finish this work.”

The crisis in Russia–US relations over developments in Ukraine has been deepening throughout 2014, and has finally affected the business of international control over radioactive materials.

The first signs of discord were visible months ago, in August, when BG headlined: ‘US-Russia work on nuclear materials in jeopardy’.

The head of Russia’s state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, warned in November that no new contracts with the US are planned for 2015. A month later, Kirienko reported that international sanctions on Russia had failed to disrupt any Rosatom contracts planned as far ahead as 2040.

“None of our partners abandoned the realization of signed contract and deals,” Kirienko said, stressing that all decisions made in the nuclear energy sphere are long-term and lie outside politics and political cycles.

4 Things You Need to Know About Antibiotics .

Cold weather brings a rise in upper respiratory infections — sneezing, coughing and stuffy heads. These symptoms and others bring a common request from patients: Can I get antibiotics?

The answer is not always “yes.”

Being sick is unpleasant to say the least, so it’s no wonder people seek fast relief in pill form. But when it comes to antibiotics, overuse is a major issue. Below are some facts you should consider the next time you visit your doctor.

“If you take the wrong medication, it won’t be effective. On top of that, it may have unpleasant and unwanted side effects.”

Kathryn Teng

Kathryn Teng, MD

Center for Personalized Healthcare

1. Antibiotics don’t work for everything

Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, but they won’t work against viral infections. That means they are not effective against the flu or the common cold.

If that sounds like common sense, consider this: In a 2012 survey, one in three surveyed Americans believed that antibiotics work effectively against colds.

When you visit your doctor, be as specific as possible about all of your symptoms so he or she can narrow down the cause. Figuring out whether it’s likely bacterial or viral is step one.

For example, symptoms such as a consistently high fever (above 101.5 degrees), nasal discharge and severe facial pain may indicate a bacterial sinus infection. Most sinus infections are viral, but if these symptoms linger for many days without improvement, the cause may indeed be bacterial. Likewise, that same high fever combined with ongoing ear pain may be signs of a bacterial ear infection. In both cases, antibiotics would be appropriate.

But not all infections are bacterial. A stuffy head and low-grade fever might be signs of a virus, for instance. It’s critical to work with your doctor to get as clear a diagnosis as possible — then proceed with the proper treatment.

That treatment is not always antibiotics. Sometimes easing your symptoms while letting your body fight off a virus is the proper course of action.

2. Taking unnecessary antibiotics may do more harm than good

Here’s the biggest problem with overusing antibiotics: Bacteria adapts.

Bacteria become resistant to drugs over time, making it harder to treat them. In rare cases, this leads todeadly drug-resistant bacterial infections.

For individuals, drug-resistant bacteria make it harder to find drug options that work when you do face a severe infection. On the broader group level, this resistance can be dangerous, making it easier for an infection to spread.

3. Antibiotics are not one-size-fits-all

The antibiotics that work for a urinary tract infection aren’t the same as the ones that will fight your strep throat. The “broad-spectrum” antibiotics used to fight infections in hospitals aren’t the same as the very specific antibiotics your doctor may prescribe to treat a bacterial ear infection.

Here’s why that’s matters: If you take the wrong medication, it won’t be effective.

On top of that, it may have unpleasant and unwanted side effects. In most cases, side effects of antibiotics are pretty benign. But, for example, taking those broad-spectrum antibiotics for an extended period of time can put you at risk for C. diff, a severe and hard-to-treat infection.

4. You should not save old antibiotics “just in case”

I often hear this from patients: “I had some antibiotics left over from the last time I was sick, so I started taking them.”

That’s a bad idea. For one thing, as mentioned above, different antibiotics treat different types of bacterial infections. You can’t just assume that your leftover medication will work. And, again, taking the wrong medicine when it won’t help means you risk side effects and future drug resistance.

I’ve also had patients tell me, “Last time I had a cold, I took them, and I got better.” But if it was truly a cold, time was what helped them get better — not antibiotics.

None of this information should scare you away from taking antibiotics as prescribed when you truly need them. But doctors should prescribe them with caution — and patients should know that they are not a risk-free cure-all.

A contractile gel that stores light energy .

Living systems have the ability to produce collective molecular motions that have an effect at the macroscale, such as a muscle that contracts via the concerted action of protein motors. In order to reproduce this phenomenon, scientists have made a polymer gel that is able to contract through the action of artificial molecular motors. When activated by light, these nanoscale motors twist the polymer chains in the gel, which as a result contracts by several centimeters. Another advantage is that the new material is able to store the light energy absorbed.

Schematic representation of a polymer gel whose chains are cross-linked using rotating molecular motors (the red and blue parts of the motor can turn relative to each other when provided with energy). Right: When exposed to light, the motors start to rotate, twisting the polymer chains and contracting the gel by as much as 80% of its initial volume: in this way, part of the light energy is stored as mechanical energy.

Living systems have the ability to produce collective molecular motions that have an effect at the macroscale, such as a muscle that contracts via the concerted action of protein motors. In order to reproduce this phenomenon, a team at CNRS’s Institut Charles Sadron led by Nicolas Giuseppone, professor at the Université de Strasbourg, has made a polymer gel that is able to contract through the action of artificial molecular motors. When activated by light, these nanoscale motors twist the polymer chains in the gel, which as a result contracts by several centimeters. Another advantage is that the new material is able to store the light energy absorbed.

In biology, molecular motors are highly complex protein assemblies that can produce work by consuming energy: they take part in fundamental biological functions such as copying DNA and protein synthesis, and underlie all motion processes. Individually, these motors only operate over distances in the region of a nanometer. However, when millions of them join up they can work in a completely coordinated way, and their action can have an effect at the macroscale.

Chemists have sought for many decades to produce this type of motion using artificial motors. To achieve this, the researchers at Institut Charles Sadron replaced a gel’s reticulation points, which cross-link the polymer chains to each other, by rotating molecular motors made up of two parts that can turn relative to each other when provided with energy. For the first time, they succeeded in getting the motors to work in a coordinated and continuous manner, right up to the macroscale: as soon as the motors are activated by light they twist the polymer chains in the gel, which makes it contract.

Just as in living systems, the motors consume energy in order to produce continuous motion. However, this light energy is not totally dissipated: it is turned into mechanical energy through the twisting of the polymer chains, and stored in the gel. If the material is exposed to light for a long time, the amount of energy contained in the contraction of the polymer chains becomes very high, and can even trigger a sudden rupture of the gel. The researchers at Institut Charles Sadron are therefore now attempting to take advantage of this new way of storing light energy, and reuse it in a controlled manner.

This work received funding from ERC and ANR.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Quan Li, Gad Fuks, Emilie Moulin, Mounir Maaloum, Michel Rawiso, Igor Kulic, Justin T. Foy, Nicolas Giuseppone. Macroscopic contraction of a gel induced by the integrated motion of light-driven molecular motors. Nature Nanotechnology, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2014.315

Mystery ‘alien’ radio signal picked up in space – Telegraph

A mysterious radio signal which may have come from a black hole, a neutron star or even an alien civilisation, has been picked up by astronomers.

Fast radio bursts, which last only milliseconds, are quick, bright flashes of radio waves from unknown sources in the universe, which emit as much energy as the Sun does in an entire day.

The first one was discovered in 2007 by sifting through old data, and only seven more have been spotted since then.

Now, for the first time, the mysterious phenomenon has been observed happening live.

Exactly what may be causing the signal is hotly debated by scientists. Possibilities range from evaporating black holes to alien communication and merging neutron stars.

“These events are one of the biggest mysteries in the universe,” said Carnegie Observatories’ acting director John Mulchaey.

“Until now, astronomers were not able to catch one of these events in the act.”

Scientists had been looking for the bursts using twelve telescopes in Australia, California, the Canary Islands, Chile, Germany, Hawaii, and India.

Because the radio waves were ‘caught in the act’ scientists were able to check for other wavelengths such as infrared light, or x-rays to try and work out their source. However they found nothing.

“The fact that we did not see light in other wavelengths eliminates a number of astronomical phenomena that are associated with violent events such as gamma-ray bursts from exploding stars and supernovae, which were otherwise candidates for the burst,” said Daniele Malesani.

But the way that the waves were polarised suggested that it had been near to an object with a large magnetic field.

“The theories are now that the radio wave burst might be linked to a very compact type of object — such as neutron stars or black holes and the bursts could be connected to collisions or ‘star quakes.’

“Now we know more about what we should be looking for,” says Daniele Malesani, of the University of Copenhagan.

Previous signals indicated that the bursts originated from outside of our Milky Way galaxy.

The team’s data indicates that the burst originated up to 5.5 billion light-years away.

Emily Petroff, a PhD candidate from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, added: “These bursts were generally discovered weeks or months or even more than a decade after they happened.

“We’re the first to catch one in real time.”

Their work is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Weak In The Knees: Wearing High Heels May Cause Premature Osteoarthritis Of The Knee

Woman in red high heels outside
High heels of a certain height can prematurely age the knee joints and increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoarthritis. 

Slipping into a pair of stilettos is not just painful for the moment, it could mean you’re in for a lifetime of pain. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, wearing 3.5-inch heels or higher could lead to prematurely aged knee joints and increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.

High heels have been known to cause aches and pains, including lower back problems and muscle spasms. Extended wear of high heels leads to the continual bending of the toes into an unnatural position that can cause complications, from ingrown toenails to irreversible damage to leg tendons. This is particularly frightening news for the one in 10 women who wear high heels at least three days a week, according to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), with a third of these women falling while wearing them.

A team of researchers from Stanford University Medical Center sought to examine the effects of high heel wear and increased weight on the knee during walking with 14 healthy female volunteers. To compare gait parameters between the shoes, added weight, and walking style of speed, the women wore different pairs of shoes: flats, 1.5-inch heels, and 3.5-inch heels. Heavy vests that increased their body weight by 20 percent were also tested on the women while they wore the assigned shoes.

The findings revealed there were some significant walking patterns associated with the two heels heights tested and the 20 percent extra weight. Women tended to bend their knees more during specific phases of their walk. They walked slower in heels, but the extra weight did not affect walking speed.

In other words, the higher the heel, the more likely the knee would bend when the foot hit the ground. This puts a lot of strain on the knee joint, especially for women who are overweight.

“Many of the changes observed with increasing heel height and weight were similar to those seen with ageing and OA [osteoarthritis] progression,” the researchers said, adding that, “this suggests that high heel use, especially in combination with additional weight, may contribute to increased OA risk in women.”

There are other factors that could influence the association between footwear and joint problems that the study did not observe. For example, frequency of high heel wear, what height, at what age they start and stop wearing them could be crucial to establishing a link between the two. However, the small study does give more insight on the gait changes that occur when a woman wears heels, or when she carries added weight.

This finding is extremely crucial, since it takes, on average, just over an hour for a woman’s feet to hurt when she slips on a pair of heels, according to a survey for The College of Podiatry. Women were also found to be three times as likely as men to cram their feet into uncomfortable shoes, which has led nine out of 10 to suffer problems like bunions, corns, sprains, and strains. The lack of public awareness of common foot complaints has contributed to the rise in these incidences.

Prolonged wearing of high heels can trigger stress fractures and trapped nerves. The AOA says wearing heels can actually shorten the muscles in your calves and in your back, leading to pain and muscle spasms. Therefore, any time you wear shoes that restrict the natural shape of the foot, you are prone to experiencing pain. Dr. Natalie A. Nevins, an osteopathic physician from Hollywood, Calif., told the AOA: “Many women who wear high heels often suffer a shortening of the Achilles tendon because once the heel is pointed upwards, it tightens up. Stretching it again or switching to flats can be very painful; it can even lead to plantar fasciitis.”

A rule of thumb er—toe should be if the shoe fits comfortably, wear it.

Source: Asay JL, Favre J, Titchenal MR, et al. Effects of high heel wear and increased weight on the knee during walking. Journal of Orthopaedic Research. 2014.

Organ Transplant From Newborn, UK’s Youngest Donor Ever: What This Means For Future Of The Organ Transplant List

One death blooms life for another in this remarkable case. 

It is said that the loss of a child is an indescribable pain, but what if there was a way to turn this grief into something good? In a first for British medicine, a couple did just this, seeing through their pain and using their newborn’s death as a way to give others a chance at life. A 6-day-old infant has become Britain’s youngest organ donor, a feat which could potentially change the organ donor list and save the lives of countless children and adults.

Britain’s youngest organ donor was a baby girl born last year at Hammersmith Hospital in London, The Telegraph reported. Having been deprived of oxygen inside her mother’s womb, the 7-pound infant was born unable to move or respond to stimuli. In six short days, her body gave into its disabilities and her tiny heart ceased to beat. The child’s life, though short, has led to perhaps one of the most significant cases in newborn organ donation. Her organs have saved two lives, with her kidneys transplanted into a patient with renal failure, and her liver cells were transfused into a second patient.

Donating the organs of such a young child is always a highly sensitive issue, and this is the first time that doctors have offered the opportunity for a child so young. Still, according to the doctors working with the families, the girl’s parents were able to see beyond their grief and agree to the transplant without hesitation.

“When we explained to the parents of the baby girl it could be possible to save some lives with their help, they were only too keen. They came back wanting to speak to me again within a couple of hours,” said Dr. Gaurav Atreja, a neonatologist at Hammersmith Hospital in an interview with BBC radio 4. According to the doctors, donating the organs of their young daughter helped to ease the parents’ grief by presenting them with “the potential to transform another life.”

The recipients of the infant’s organs have not been disclosed, but doctors agree that they could potentially be used to help patients of any age. While adult organs are far too large to be transplanted into children, in past cases the organs of children have been successfully transplanted into adults.

In the United States alone, it’s estimated that nearly 19,000 babies die each year during their first month of life. Although the death of a child is truly heart-breaking, the precedent set by this case may mean that their death could result in the life of others and increase the total pool of much needed available organs for both children and adults.

Once Weekly Combination Regimen Effective For Childhood Tuberculosis. Interview with:
Dr. Stefan Goldberg MD
Medical Officer in CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
Clinical Research Branch

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Goldberg: A shorter, simpler treatment regimen for children with latent TB infection can help prevent TB disease and reduce future transmission. The results from our study, a multinational, clinical trial, found that a once-weekly regimen of the anti-TB drugs rifapentine and isoniazid taken as directly observed therapy over a period of three months was safe and as effective for children (age 2-17) in preventing TB disease as the standard self-administered nine-month daily regimen of isoniazid alone. The study also showed that children are more likely to complete the shorter course of treatment, which is important given that treatment completion can be difficult. Specifically, we found that 88 percent of the trial participants on the combination regimen completed therapy while 81 percent completed the standard regimen.

The CDC’s Tuberculosis Trials Consortium (TBTC), which conducted this study, works to include children in research when their inclusion is scientifically supportable and when children also might benefit from important new tools, such as alternative treatment regimens. This study is an extension of a large, international trial among persons age 12 and older, published by TBTC in 2011, which showed the shorter, simpler regimen to be as safe and effective as standard treatment.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Goldberg: It is important to know that latent TB infection can be particularly dangerous for younger age groups. In comparison to adults, children are at increased risk for developing life-threatening forms of the disease (e.g., disseminated TB, TB meningitis). Young children with latent TB infection are, by definition, more likely to have been infected recently, and therefore are among the groups most likely to develop Tuberculosis disease. However, these same risks make treatment of latent infection all the more beneficial for this age group, especially when considering children are more tolerant of the treatments than adults.

While the shorter treatment regimen is already recommended for use in otherwise healthy adults who are at high risk for developing TB disease, until now, limited data were available for children. Currently, CDC recommends the standard nine months of daily isoniazid be used to treat children aged 2-11. However, the three-month regimen can also be considered for those in this age group. One situation where shorter treatment may help would be where completion of the nine-month regimen is unlikely and the likelihood of TBdisease is great.

CDC is currently working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Thoracic Society, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America to update full public health guidelines for treating latent TB infection in the United States, and findings from this study will be considered for inclusion as a part of this process.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Goldberg: Addressing latent TB infection is key to eliminating TB in the United States. Overall, approximately four percent of the population (or more than 11 million people) have latent TB infection, and 5-10 percent of those will develop TB disease if not treated. If infected, it is critical that those at high risk of progressing to TB disease both begin and complete treatment.

Further research is already underway for this shorter treatment regimen in other specific populations (e.g., people living with HIV) and in TB control program settings. Cost effectiveness analyses have been performed and require further consideration.

Unsupervised treatment, which might improve cost effectiveness, also needs to be evaluated for safety and for whether it can achieve sufficient completion rates. Programmatic interventions such as culturally designed case management and additional forms of direct observation (e.g., remote video monitoring of dose ingestion) also require rigorous evaluation.

Warming climate likely will change the composition of northern forests, study shows — ScienceDaily

Visitors to northern forests in coming decades probably will see a very different set of trees as the climate warms, a new study shows. The study used a unique long-term outdoor experiment to examine the effects of climate change on trees in the boreal forest along the U.S.-Canadian border.

The University of Minnesota’s B4WarmEd project used heat lamps and warming coils to simulate climate change in plots 10 feet in diameter.

Visitors to northern forests in coming decades probably will see a very different set of trees as the climate warms, a new University of Minnesota study shows.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, used a unique long-term outdoor experiment to examine the effects of climate change on trees in the boreal forest along the U.S.-Canadian border. Some species in the boreal forest are at the far northern range of their growing area, while others are at the far southern edge of their range. Species like spruce and fir that thrive in cooler areas to the north in Canada suffered poorer growth and survival when warmed by a few degrees, while trees like oaks and maples that prefer a more temperate climate performed better when warmed. Other species like aspen, birch, and pine, had a more neutral response. While all of these species may continue to co-exist, at least for a time, in a warmer climate, the study found that the balance of power, competitively speaking, shifted from the boreal species to the oaks and maples. In addition to being directly affected by warming, spruce and fir might also struggle to compete for sunlight and water with neighboring trees and plants as climate changes.

The scientists, led by Peter Reich of the forest resources department at the university, simulated the effects of a warmer climate on 10 native and 1 non-native species over three growing seasons at the University’s research sites near Cloquet and Ely, Minn, and did so in both recent clearings and in shady understories. The project, known informally as “B4WarmED,” used infrared heating lamps and soil heating cables to simulate the effects of just a few degrees of climate warming on 72 plots containing about 4,100 young trees of local Minnesota origin. For this paper, researchers monitored growth rates of the trees as well as how efficiently they converted sunlight into energy, the process known as photosynthesis.

The project did not examine how warmer winters might affect trees and other plants, but the researchers note that winter conditions could amplify the effects being seen in this study.

The results also indicated that a warmer climate is likely to accelerate the northward invasion of non-native species like buckthorn. Buckthorn has slowly increased in abundance in northern Minnesota in recent decades, perhaps slowed by cool summers, but it thrived in warmer experimental conditions. This is bad news, as it suggests that buckthorn and other invasive species might take advantage of climate change and more aggressively move up north.

“In the best case scenario,” Reich says, “oaks and maples will become more dominant as boreal species decline, and we will have a different, but still functional forest. In the worst-case scenario, oaks and maples will not replace the declining species fast enough, and our forests will be patchy and perhaps filled with invading buckthorn. The change in the forest will influence everything from the supply of timber to habitat for wildlife to its allure for recreational use and tourism. Will people flock to the northern lake country if the woods are full of buckthorn and scattered oaks and maples?”

A number of University of Minnesota colleagues, including Rebecca Montgomery from the forest resources department, collaborated on the project with Reich.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Peter B. Reich, Kerrie M. Sendall, Karen Rice, Roy L. Rich, Artur Stefanski, Sarah E. Hobbie, Rebecca A. Montgomery. Geographic range predicts photosynthetic and growth response to warming in co-occurring tree species. Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2497
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