SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

199

Insect pheromones offer potential for managing pests of crop plants. Volatility and instability are problems for deployment in agriculture but could be solved by expressing genes for the biosynthesis of pheromones in the crop plants. This has now been achieved by genetically engineering a hexaploid variety of wheat to release (E)-β-farnesene (Eβf), the alarm pheromone for many pest aphids, using a synthetic gene based on a sequence from peppermint with a plastid targeting amino acid sequence, with or without a gene for biosynthesis of the precursor farnesyl diphosphate. Pure Eβf was produced in stably transformed wheat lines with no other detectable phenotype but requiring targeting of the gene produced to the plastid. In laboratory behavioural assays, three species of cereal aphids were repelled and foraging was increased for a parasitic natural enemy. Although these studies show considerable potential for aphid control, field trials employing the single and double constructs showed no reduction in aphids or increase in parasitism. Insect numbers were low and climatic conditions erratic suggesting the need for further trials or a closer imitation, in the plant, of alarm pheromone release.

191

Since the first ADA working group report on the recommendations for management of diabetes during Ramadan in 2005 and our update in 2010, we received many inquiries asking for regular updates on information regarding education, nutritional habits and new oral and injectable agents that may be useful for the management of patients with diabetes during Ramadan. Patients can be stratified into their risk of hypoglycemia and/or complications prior to the start of the fasting period of Ramadan. Those at high risk of hypoglycemia and with multiple diabetic complications should be advised against prolonged fasting. Even in the lower hypoglycemia risk group, adverse effects may still occur. In order to minimize adverse side effects during fasting in patients with diabetes and improve or maintain glucose control, education and discussion of glucose monitoring and treatment regimens should occur several weeks prior to Ramadan. Agents such as metformin, thiazolidinediones and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors appear to be safe and do not need dose adjustment. Most sulfonylureas may not be used safely during Ramadan except with extreme caution; besides, older agents, such as chlorpropamide or glyburide, should not be used. Reduction of the dosage of sulfonylurea is needed depending on the degree of control prior to fasting. Misconceptions and local habits should be addressed and dealt with in any educational intervention and therapeutic planning with patients with diabetes. In this regard, efforts are still needed for controlled prospective studies in the field of efficacy and safety of the different interventions during the Ramadan Fast.

187

Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease of unknown etiology. We previously reported a pilot case series followed by a small, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II study, suggesting that B-cell depletion using the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab can yield clinical benefit in ME/CFS.

163

Humans' and apes' convergent (front-facing) orbits allow a large overlap of monocular visual fields but are considered to limit the lateral visual field extent. However, humans can greatly expand their lateral visual fields using eye motion. This study aimed to assess whether the human orbital morphology was unique compared with that of apes in avoiding lateral visual field obstruction. The orbits of 100 human skulls and 120 ape skulls (30 gibbons; 30 orangutans; 30 gorillas; 30 chimpanzees and bonobos) were analyzed. The orbital width/height ratio was calculated. Two orbital angles representing orbital convergence and rearward position of the orbital margin respectively were recorded using a protractor and laser levels. Humans have the largest orbital width/height ratio (1.19; p < 0.001). Humans and gibbons have orbits which are significantly less convergent than those of chimpanzees / bonobos, gorillas and orangutans (p < 0.001). These elements suggest a morphology favoring lateral vision in humans. More specifically, the human orbit has a uniquely rearward temporal orbital margin (107.1°; p < 0.001), suitable for avoiding visual obstruction and promoting lateral visual field expansion through eye motion. Such an orbital morphology may have evolved mainly as an adaptation to open-country habitat and bipedal locomotion.

157

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) offers a multilayered view of genomics and epigenomics data of many human cancer types. However, the retrieval of expression and methylation data from TCGA is a cumbersome and time-consuming task.

157

The impact case studies submitted by UK Higher Education Institutions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 provide a rich resource of text describing impact beyond academia and across all disciplines. Using text mining techniques and qualitative assessment, the 6,679 non-redacted case studies submitted were analysed and the impact described was found to be multidisciplinary, multi-impactful, and multinational. By digging deeper into the data, the health gains from health research in terms of Quality Adjusted Life Years was also estimated. Similar analyses are possible using these case studies, but will require the data to be ’re-purposed' from the original intention (i.e., for assessment purposes) for robust analysis.

156

Expression quantitative trait locus analysis has emerged as an important component of efforts to understand how genetic polymorphisms influence disease risk and is poised to make contributions to translational medicine. Here we review how expression quantitative trait locus analysis is aiding the identification of which gene(s) within regions of association are causal for a disease or phenotypic trait; the narrowing down of the cell types or regulators involved in the etiology of disease; the characterization of drivers and modifiers of cancer; and our understanding of how different environments and cellular contexts can modify gene expression. We also introduce the concept of transcriptional risk scores as a means of refining estimates of individual liability to disease based on targeted profiling of the transcripts that are regulated by polymorphisms jointly associated with disease and gene expression.

155

Gene set analysis methods, which consider predefined groups of genes in the analysis of genomic data, have been successfully applied for analyzing gene expression data in cross-sectional studies. The time-course gene set analysis (TcGSA) introduced here is an extension of gene set analysis to longitudinal data. The proposed method relies on random effects modeling with maximum likelihood estimates. It allows to use all available repeated measurements while dealing with unbalanced data due to missing at random (MAR) measurements. TcGSA is a hypothesis driven method that identifies a priori defined gene sets with significant expression variations over time, taking into account the potential heterogeneity of expression within gene sets. When biological conditions are compared, the method indicates if the time patterns of gene sets significantly differ according to these conditions. The interest of the method is illustrated by its application to two real life datasets: an HIV therapeutic vaccine trial (DALIA-1 trial), and data from a recent study on influenza and pneumococcal vaccines. In the DALIA-1 trial TcGSA revealed a significant change in gene expression over time within 69 gene sets during vaccination, while a standard univariate individual gene analysis corrected for multiple testing as well as a standard a Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) for time series both failed to detect any significant pattern change over time. When applied to the second illustrative data set, TcGSA allowed the identification of 4 gene sets finally found to be linked with the influenza vaccine too although they were found to be associated to the pneumococcal vaccine only in previous analyses. In our simulation study TcGSA exhibits good statistical properties, and an increased power compared to other approaches for analyzing time-course expression patterns of gene sets. The method is made available for the community through an R package.

58

Despite growing recognition of neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful treatment of women during childbirth in health facilities, there is no consensus at a global level on how these occurrences are defined and measured. This mixed-methods systematic review aims to synthesize qualitative and quantitative evidence on the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities to inform the development of an evidence-based typology of the phenomenon.

57

The ability to generate new meaning by rearranging combinations of meaningless sounds is a fundamental component of language. Although animal vocalizations often comprise combinations of meaningless acoustic elements, evidence that rearranging such combinations generates functionally distinct meaning is lacking. Here, we provide evidence for this basic ability in calls of the chestnut-crowned babbler (Pomatostomus ruficeps), a highly cooperative bird of the Australian arid zone. Using acoustic analyses, natural observations, and a series of controlled playback experiments, we demonstrate that this species uses the same acoustic elements (A and B) in different arrangements (AB or BAB) to create two functionally distinct vocalizations. Specifically, the addition or omission of a contextually meaningless acoustic element at a single position generates a phoneme-like contrast that is sufficient to distinguish the meaning between the two calls. Our results indicate that the capacity to rearrange meaningless sounds in order to create new signals occurs outside of humans. We suggest that phonemic contrasts represent a rudimentary form of phoneme structure and a potential early step towards the generative phonemic system of human language.