Thats just another if to dictate the Cardinals

first_imgThat’s just another ‘if’ to dictate the Cardinals’ decision-making regarding their quarterback situation over the next year. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories Until the Arizona Cardinals find a potential replacement for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, these things will continue coming up.Like ESPN did leading into Tony Romo’s eventual departure from the Cowboys a year ago, the network is looking ahead to another big-name quarterback’s next landing spot.This week, the Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins couldn’t come to an agreement upon a long-term contract, making the signal-caller a free agent following the 2017 season. Which teams might be interested in signing Cousins next offseason? The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 25 Comments   Share   center_img ESPN’s Dan Graziano listed the Cardinals among 10 potential landing spots for Cousins.If Carson Palmer retires after the season, Arizona’s 2018 cap space will be in the mid-$40 million range and the team will have a clear need. The landscape here is difficult to predict, because coach Bruce Arians’ future is uncertain as well. But the Cardinals didn’t draft a quarterback and could be in the market.Despite a trio of health scares spanning the preseason through the end of the regular season, Arians, who is currently making the rounds on a book tour, has said he feels great. Nonetheless, his future has been intertwined with Palmer’s since both arrived in 2013.For the quarterback, much has to do with how he performs — and how he physically feels — throughout 2017 after a relative down season in 2016 followed up an MVP-worthy 2015.Should Palmer retire, it’s likely Arizona fills its quarterback hole with a draftee or free agent; unless backups Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert can prove themselves to the coaching staff this season.And if a post-Palmer Arizona team hopes to continue fighting for a playoff spot, the 28-year-old Cousins might be the most high-profile addition available. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)last_img read more

One thing that I did notice was that January open

first_imgOne thing that I did notice, was that January open interest in silver had been sneaking up slowly during the week, with 102 contracts added yesterday.It was a very quiet trading day for both gold and silver yesterday.In gold, the high tick came shortly after 3:00 p.m. Hong Kong time…and from there, the gold price wandered around within five bucks of the $1,640 spot price for the rest of the Wednesday trading day.Gold closed at $1,643.00 spot…up $10.80 on the day. Volume, net of all roll-overs out of the February contact, was around 130,000 contracts…almost the same as Tuesday’s volume.  This is quite big volume considering the lack of price movement.The silver price didn’t do too much either.  It was pretty steady until 2:00 p.m. Hong Kong time…and then rose to its high of the day at 10:00 a.m. in London, before getting sold off to its low of the day about five minutes after Comex trading began in New York.The subsequent price rally ended around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time…and then declined about 30 cents going into the close of Comex trading.  From there it traded pretty flat until the close of electronic trading at 5:15 p.m. Eastern.Silver closed just under the $30 mark for the second day in a row, at $29.97 spot…up 3 whole cents.  Net volume was 35,000 contracts…a few thousand less than Tuesday.As I mentioned in ‘The Wrap’ yesterday, the U.S. dollar index rose and fell about 25 basis points between the New York open on Tuesday evening…and 5:00 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning, which was 10:00 a.m. in London.Then it blasted 50 basis points higher in two hours flat, crawling up to its high of the day around 11:30 a.m. in New York.  From there it declined gently into the close.  The dollar index closed up about 45 points on the day.The approximately ten dollar decline in the gold price [that accompanied the 50 basis point rally in the dollar] between 10 a.m. and noon in London is pretty obvious on the Kitco gold chart above…but it wasn’t much of a decline for such a big dollar move.  And by the time the dollar rally was done around 11:30 a.m. Eastern, the gold price had rallied back to within a few bucks of its starting point at 10:00 a.m. in London…5:00 a.m. Eastern time.  That’s a bullish sign in my books.On the bad news of out of Hecla Mining yesterday, the HUI gapped down at the open.  The low came at 10:30 a.m. Eastern…and then the rest of the gold stocks spent the day crawling higher.  I’m sure that if it hadn’t been for the 21% pounding in Hecla’s stock price, the HUI would have finished in positive territory yesterday.  As it was, the HUI finished well off its low, closing down only 1.02%.With the odd exception, the silver stocks didn’t do overly well…and with Hecla Mining being one of the major components of Nick Laird’s Silver Sentiment Index, it got hit for a 2.77% loss yesterday.  BIG GOLD editor Jeff Clark informed me that Hecla will lose about 3.5 million ounces of silver production because of the closure of the Lucky Friday mine…if it stays closed all year, that is.(Click on image to enlarge)The CME’s Daily Delivery Report was a bit of a surprise.  Only 8 gold contracts were posted for delivery on Friday…but a very chunky [for this time of month] 125 silver contracts were also posted for delivery.  As usual, it was Jefferies on the short/issuer side…and the Bank of Nova Scotia and JPMorgan as the only long/stoppers.  The link to the action is here.There was a very minor withdrawal from the GLD ETF yesterday…13,239 troy ounces…which was probably a fee payment.  There were no reported changes in SLV.There was no sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday, either.The Comex-approved warehouses are still busy places these days.  Tuesday’s report showed that 701,831 troy ounces were shipped in…and 426,528 troy ounces were shipped out. The link to that action is here.Silver analyst Ted Butler posted his mid-week commentary for his paying subscribers yesterday…and here are the usual two free paragraphs…“The main issue with the CME is the inherent conflict between its role as a for-profit corporation…and as a self-regulator. Let’s face it, allowing any for-profit entity to essentially regulate itself, is just asking for trouble. And that is the problem. This conflict is at the heart of the new criticism…yet, curiously, is not mentioned often enough. Instead, observers of the current drama involving the CME and MF Global are misled by sound bites and clutter that fail to mention any inherent conflict of interest on the CME’s part. That’s because the CME is a master at spin-doctoring.”“Because the CME is more interested in profit at any cost, not only has its self-regulatory role been compromised, it has actually enacted and encouraged developments which are downright hostile to the efficient functioning of its markets. You need not look further than the scourge of High Frequency Trading (HFT) for an example of what the CME has done wrong. HFT does nothing to enhance our markets, except generate excessive trading fees for the CME. HFT works against the very purpose for our futures markets of legitimate hedging because HFT is nothing more than day trading gone mad. Legitimate hedgers have no use for frantic day trading. High Frequency Trading also allows for markets to be manipulated easier.”I have a decent number of stories for you today…and most of them are precious metals related. I hope you have the time to spend on them.The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war.  Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin.  But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists. – Ernest HemingwayIt was pretty much a nothing sort of day in both gold and silver on Wednesday, as both metals didn’t do much of anything.  The preliminary open interest numbers were down a couple of thousand contracts in gold…and a few hundred contracts in silver.One thing that I did notice, was that January open interest in silver had been sneaking up slowly during the week, with 102 contracts added yesterday.  That was certainly associated with the fairly large delivery notice in silver [125 contracts] that was reported by the CME last evening…which I mentioned close to the top of this column.Not much happened during the Far East trading session during their Thursday…and not much is going on during the first hour of trading in London, either.  As of 3:40 a.m. Eastern time, gold is up about four bucks…and silver is up about 15 cents.  Volumes in both metals are very light…and the dollar index is flat.About ninety minutes has gone by since I wrote that last paragraph. It’s now 10:10 a.m. in London…5:10 a.m. Eastern time…and both gold and silver are showing some signs of life.  Gold is now up about eight bucks…and silver is up a hair over 40 cents.  Volume has picked up a bit as well…and the dollar index is now down about 20 basis point.  It’s nothing to get excited about, but it’s more price action than there’s been since the New York open at 6:00 p.m. Eastern last night.Tomorrow we get the new Commitment of Traders Report…and based on the price activity of the reporting week that ended on Tuesday, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was deterioration in the Commercial net short positions in both gold and silver, as I’m sure that the technical funds were covering their short positions…and the small commercial traders were selling out to them and taking profits.This is not what either Ted Butler or myself is hoping for, but that’s the most plausible outcome at the moment.  We’ll see how much truth there is to this speculation tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.That’s all I have for today.  I hope your Thursday goes well…and I’ll see you here tomorrow. Sponsor Advertisement Great Panther Silver Limited (TSX: GPR) is one of the fastest growing primary silver producers in Mexico.  The Company’s organic growth strategy will see output from mining operations increase by 30% in 2011 to 3.0 million ounces silver equivalent and again by 27% in 2012 to 3.8 million ounces silver equivalent, providing strong leverage to rising silver prices. The Company has also been growing its resource and reserve base at both 100% owned operations.  A new resource/reserve estimate was released for the Guanajuato Mines in late December 2010 and a new resource/reserve estimate for the Topia Mines is expected during the first quarter is 2011.  The Company is also advancing drilling activities at its new discovery at the San Ignacio property in Guanajuato.  Great Panther continues to replace mined ounces, grow resources and reserves at both operations, and is targeting a 10 year mine live at each.Great Panther is committed to becoming a leading primary silver producer by acquiring, developing and profitably mining precious and base metals in Latin America. For more information, please visit the website or contact Erick J. Bertsch, VP Corporate Development, toll free at 1-888-355-1766 or by email at ebertsch@greatpanther.comlast_img read more

Da boyz are after silver in a big way The gold pri

first_imgDa boyz are after silver in a big wayThe gold price rallied a hair in Far East trading on their Monday morning, but that all ended at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time as the HFT boyz and their algorithms took an eight or nine dollar slice off the golden salami.  After that, the price didn’t do much until shortly after 11 a.m. EDT—and the rally that began at that time got dealt with in the usual manner at one minute before noon, before it got too far into positive territory—and it wasn’t allowed to close there.The low and high tick were reported as $1,208.80 and $1,221.00 in the December contract.Gold closed in New York on Monday at $1,214.80 spot, down $1.40 from Friday’s close.  Net volume was 131,000 contracts.Silver opened flat on Monday morning in the Far East but, like gold, the HFT traders and their algorithms showed up at 9 a.m. Hong Kong time as well—and within an hour had silver down over 50 cents.  From there it rallied in fits and starts back to just above unchanged by noon in New York—and at that time met the same fate as the gold price—getting closed down on the day.The low and highs were reported by the CME Group as $17.865 and $17.325 in the December contract.Silver finished the trading session on Monday at $17.73 spot, down 6 cents from Friday’s close.  Net volume was a stunning 74,000 contracts.Platinum and palladium had charts very similar to the gold charts, but mini versions—and both metals, like gold and silver, were closed at a new low for this move down. Platinum was closed down 12 bucks—and palladium was closed down 9 bucks, but was briefly below $800 during the day.  Here are the charts. And as I write this paragraph, the London open is 15 minutes away.  With the exception of silver, the other three precious metals are all up a tiny amount on the day.  Gold volume is a bit over 15,000 contracts, which isn’t overly heavy—but silver’s volume is very brisk at 7,700 contracts.  The dollar index is flat.Today is the cut-off for this Friday’s Commitment of Traders Report—and I would guess that we’ll see new records pretty much across the board in gold and silver—and close to records in platinum and palladium as well.  Of course that depends on today’s price action, so we’ll see how things turn out as the trading day progresses, particularly in New York.And as I fire this out the door to Stowe, Vermont at 5:00 a.m. EDT, I see that the prices of all four precious metals went vertical shortly after 9 a.m. BST in what had all the hallmarks of a ‘no ask’ market—and it remains to be seen how long JPMorgan et al allow these rallies to last.  Judging by the volumes in both gold and silver at the moment, they are hard at work as sellers of last resort.  Right now [4:50 a.m. EDT] net gold volume has exploded to a bit over 35,000 contracts—and silver’s net volume is 14,000 contracts.  So unless a black swan of some type shows up, it’s a pretty good bet that these rallies will meet the same fate as every other rally.Here are the gold and silver charts as of 4:45 a.m. EDT—9:45 a.m. BST in London. The dollar index close late on Friday afternoon in New York at 84.78—and then climbed to its 85.85 ‘high’ tick of the day around 11:20 a.m. EDT.  From there it slid lower—and closed at 84.70, which was down 8 basis points from Friday.The gold stocks gapped down—and then stayed down for the remainder of the day, except for a small rally around noon when gold rallied as well.  Even though gold made it into positive territory for a bit—and only closed down a dollar or so, the HUI closed down another 2.89%.The silver equities headed for the basement the moment that trading began in New York.  The noon rally didn’t last—and the stocks continued lower—and Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down a chunky 3.64%.The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 220 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Wednesday.  The biggest short/issuer was Jefferies by far with 188 contracts.  There were about 10 long/stoppers, none which really stood out—and the link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here if you wish to check it out.The CME Preliminary Report for the Monday trading session showed that there are 16 gold and 387 silver contracts still open in September, from which you can subtract the 220 silver contracts in the prior paragraph.There was 57,698 troy ounces of gold withdrawn from GLD yesterday—but it was totally different over at SLV, as there was another monster deposit.  This time there was 2,397,570 troy ounces were added by an authorized participant.I forgot all about Joshua Gibbons, the “Guru of the SLV Bar List” while was in San Antonio, so I’ll make amends here.  As of the close of trading last Wednesday, this is what he had to say: “Analysis of the 17 September 2014 bar list, and comparison to the previous week’s list—4,844,010.2 troy ounces were added (all to Brinks London). No bars were removed or had a serial number change.The bars added were from: Solar Applied Materials (2.8M oz), Henan Yuguang (1.4M oz), Nordeutsche (0.3M oz), and 4 others.  As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was over-allocated 594.3 oz.  All daily changes are reflected on the bar list, except the 959,072.0 oz deposit last night (17 September 2014).About 2.5M oz of the deposits were bars that had been in SLV before, with another 2.3M oz of fresh bars.”There was a decent sales report from the U.S. Mint.  They sold 3,700 troy ounces of gold eagles—500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes—660,000 silver eagles—and 100 platinum eagles.There wasn’t much activity in gold at the Comex-approved depositories on Friday, as only 3,407 troy ounces were shipped out—and nothing was reported received.The silver activity was off the charts once again, as 2,656,293 troy ounces were reported received, with all the action at Brink’s, Inc.—CNT—and Canada’s Scotiabank.  Only 165,152 troy ounces were shipped out.  The link to that activity is here—and it’s worth a look.Nick Laird sent us this chart on the weekend.  It’s the weekly deliveries from the Shanghai Gold Exchange right up until September 12, 2014—and as you can tell, the chart is doing what it’s supposed to, moving from lower left to upper right.I’ve kept the stories down to as few as possible, but there’s still a lot.  The final edit is yours.Certainly, the signals in silver from everywhere I look are much different than the prices being set on the COMEX. Despite the pronounced price weakness, investment holdings in the big silver ETF, SLV, have grown and not shrunk, both on an absolute basis and relative to the big gold ETF, GLD.  Even though the price of silver has gone down—and has gone down relative to gold’s price, there are no indications of investment selling of physical silver, only indications of buying.  There is no compatibility between price action and the holdings in the two largest public investment vehicles in silver and gold. One would appear to be wrong, either the collective behavior of silver and gold investors when it comes to physical metal holdings or the price-setting mechanism on the COMEX. This is a disconnect that demands an eventual re-connection. The easiest re-connection must involve a radical change in the price of silver and not a change in collective investment behavior. The price of silver is wrong, not public reaction to a price thought too cheap. – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 20 September 2014Another slice out of the salami in all four precious metal yesterday, particularly in silver, as all hit new lows for this move down.  And as you already know, da boyz are after silver in a big way, as it’s the problem child for both JPMorgan and Canada’s Scotia bank.  I would guess that between them, they hold a bit over half of the entire short position of the ‘Big 8′ traders in the Commercial category of the Commitment of Traders Report.Here are the 6-month charts for all four precious metals.  Platinum is most likely at its most oversold position in many years—and that goes for the other three precious metals as well.center_img I’m back home in Edmonton now that the Casey conference is done.  I was amazed at the quality of not only the speakers, but also the calibre of the attendees.  After talking with many—and I’m happy to report that the “can do” spirit is still very much alive in America.  I was delighted to meet so many readers while I was there—and I was humbled by their kind words.  So a profound “thank you” hardly seems adequate.After flying for a good chunk of Monday, I must admit that I’m a pretty tired puppy.I’m off to bed—and after watching the early morning action in London, nothing will surprise me when I power up my computer later this morning.See you tomorrow.last_img read more

A simple question at the pharmacy could unlock sav

first_imgA simple question at the pharmacy could unlock savings for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.Under a little-known Medicare rule, they can pay a lower cash price for prescriptions instead of using their insurance and doling out the amount the policy requires. But only if they ask.That is because pharmacists say their contracts with drug plans often contain “gag orders” forbidding them from volunteering this information.As part of President Trump’s blueprint to bring down prescription drug costs, Medicare officials warned in a May 17 letter that gag orders are “unacceptable and contrary” to the government’s effort to promote price transparency.But the agency stopped short of requiring insurers to lift such restrictions on pharmacists.That doesn’t mean people with Medicare drug coverage are destined to overpay for prescriptions. They can get the lower price, when it’s available, simply by asking, says Julie Carter, federal policy associate at the Medicare Rights Center, a patient advocacy group.”If they bring it up, then we can inform them of those prices,” says Nick Newman, a pharmacist and the manager at Essentra Pharmacy in rural Marengo, Ohio. “It’s a moral dilemma for the pharmacist, knowing what would be best for the patient but not being able to help them and hoping they will ask you about the comparison.”For consumers inclined to price-shop, details may be hard to find: Medicare’s website and annual handbook don’t mention it.”If you don’t know that there are a bunch of different prices that could be available at any given pharmacy, you don’t know what you don’t know,” says Leigh Purvis, the AARP Public Policy Institute’s director of health services research.Researchers analyzing 9.5 million Part D prescription claims reported in a research letter to Journal of the American Medical Association in March that a patient’s copayment was higher than the cash price for nearly one in four drugs purchased in 2013. For 12 of the 20 most commonly prescribed drugs, patients overpaid by more than 33 percent.Although the study found that the average overpayment for a single prescription was relatively small, Newman says he has seen consumers pay as much as $30 more than the cash price.And many beneficiaries may not know that if they pay a lower cash price for a covered drug at a pharmacy that participates in their insurance plan and then submit the proper documentation, insurers must count it toward their out-of-pocket expenses. The total of those expenses can trigger the drug coverage gap, commonly called the doughnut hole. (This year, the gap begins after the plan and beneficiary spend $3,750 and ends once the beneficiary has spent a total of $5,000.)Daniel Nam, executive director of federal programs at America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, agrees that “patients should have access to the lowest price possible at the pharmacy.” But, he says, Medicare’s warning takes aim at an increasingly rare occurrence. Gag order clauses are “not something they are incorporating into their contracts,” he says.UnitedHealthcare, whose popular prescription drug plans dominate the market, does not include such clauses in any of its Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance contracts, says Matt Burns, a company spokesman.Pharmacy benefit managers also say gag orders are not typical. “If it is happening, it is very much an outlier,” says Mark Merritt, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.Some pharmacists disagree. Kala Shankle, policy and regulatory affairs director for the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents 22,000 independent pharmacies, says insurers have punished pharmacists who violate gag orders by dropping them from the plan’s network.In Ohio, one of several states that have banned gag orders in insurance contracts, including some Medicare drug plans, officials responded to complaints about the problem.”The Department has received inquiries related to entities withholding cost-saving information from consumers, which sometimes results in an insured paying more for pharmacy benefits than the actual cost of such pharmacy benefits,” the Ohio Department of Insurance wrote last month.Illinois and Ohio state legislators are considering bills making these restrictions illegal, and similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.”If we didn’t have these gag clauses, there would not be a need for the legislation and policy changes movement that’s going on in the country,” says Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association.Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service and editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You’ll find Susan Jaffe on Twitter: @SusanJaffe Copyright 2018 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

Editors note This story was originally published

first_imgEditor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.People do the darnedest things in hopes of avoiding mosquito bites. They burn cow dung, coconut shells or coffee. They drink gin and tonic. They eat bananas. They spray themselves with mouthwash or slather themselves in clove/alcohol solution. And they rub themselves with Bounce. “You know, those heavily perfumed sheets you put in your dryer,” says Dr. Immo Hansen, professor at the Institute of Applied Biosciences at New Mexico State University.None of those techniques have been tested to see if they actually keep mosquitoes away. But that doesn’t stop people from trying them, according to a study that will be published this summer by Hansen and colleague, Stacey Rodriguez, lab manager at the Hansen Lab at NMSU, which studies ways to prevent mosquito-borne diseases. They and colleagues asked 5,000 people what they did to protect themselves against mosquitoes. Most used conventional mosquito repellents.Then researchers asked about their traditional home remedies. That’s when the cow dung and dryer sheets came out. In interviews, Hansen and Rodriguez shared some of the responses they received. Their paper will be published this summer in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.Beyond folklore and traditional remedies, there are proven ways to protect against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. NPR talked with researchers, many of whom spend lots of time in mosquito-infested jungles, marshes and tropical areas.Which repellents work best to stop mosquitoes from biting?Products containing DEET have been shown both safe and effective. DEET is shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents. A 2015 article in the Journal of Insect Science examined the effectiveness of various commercial insect sprays, and products containing DEET proved effective and relatively long lasting. Rodriguez and Hansen were authors of the 2015 study, and replicated the results in a 2017 article in the same journal.DEET appeared on store shelves in 1957. There was some early concern about its safety — speculation that it was linked to neurological problems. But recent reviews, for example a study published in June 2014 in the journal Parasites and Vectors, says, “Animal testing, observational studies and intervention trials have found no evidence of severe adverse events associated with recommended DEET use.”DEET isn’t the only weapon. Products containing the active ingredients picaridin and IR 3535 are as effective, says Dr. Dan Strickman, with the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is a funder of NPR) and author of Prevention of Bug Bites, Stings, and Disease.Repellents with any of those active ingredients are recommended as safe and effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are widely available around the world.Actually, Strickman gives the edge to picardin.”Picaridin is a little more effective than DEET and seems to keep mosquitoes at a greater distance,” he says. When people use DEET, mosquitoes may land on them but not bite. When they use a product containing picaridin, mosquitoes are less likely to even land. Repellents with IR 3535 are slightly less effective, Strickman says, but they don’t have the strong smell of other products.Then there is oil of lemon eucalyptus, or PMD, a natural oil extracted from the leaves and twigs of the lemon-scented gum eucalyptus plant, also recommended by the CDC. PMD is the ingredient in the oil that makes it repellent to insects. NMSU researchers found that a product containing oil of lemon eucalyptus was about as effective and as long lasting as products containing DEET. “For some people, there’s a stigma to using chemicals on their skin. They prefer a more natural product,” says Rodriguez.One surprising finding in 2015 was that a perfume, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, was a pretty good repellent. Hansen and Rodriguez said they added it to the products they tested as a positive control, believing its floral scent would attract mosquitoes. It turned out bugs hated the smell.Their more recent 2017 study also held a surprise. A product called Off Clip-On attaches to clothing and contains a cartridge containing the area repellent, metofluthrin, also recommended by the CDC. The wearable device is designed for someone sitting in one place, like a parent watching a softball game. The person switches on a small battery-operated fan that blows a small fog of repellent into the air immediately surrounding the clip-on wearer. “It actually worked like a charm,” says Hansen. It was about as effective as DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus at keeping the bugs away, he says.Are there products that just don’t work?Not all products deliver what they promise. The 2015 study found vitamin B1 skin patches to be ineffective at repelling mosquitoes. The 2017 study added citronella candles to the list of products that don’t keep mosquitoes away.So-called bug-repellent wristbands and bracelets fail to repel mosquitoes, according to the recent study. These products contain a variety of oils including citronella and lemongrass.”I’ve had mosquitoes land right on the bracelet that I was testing,” says Rodriguez. “They market [the wristbands and bracelets] as protecting you against Zika [a virus spread by mosquitoes that, in pregnant women, can result in serious birth defects], but they’re completely ineffective.”Ultrasonic devices, using tones people can’t hear but marketers claim mosquitoes hate, don’t work, either. “The sonic device we tested had no effect,” says Hansen. “We’ve tested others before, too. None of them work. There’s no scientific evidence that mosquitoes are repelled by sound.How often should you reapply a repellent?Generally, it’s a good bet to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, experts said. People who will be outside for an hour or two should be protected with, say, a product that contains a lower concentration of DEET (about 10 percent — identified on the label). Those who will be out in the woods, or jungle or marshland, should use a higher concentration of 20 to 25 percent, and refresh every four hours or so, says Dr. Jorge Rey, interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach. “The higher the concentration, the longer it lasts,” says Rey.And again, follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount used. “A lot of people think that if a little is good, a lot is better,” says Dr. William Reisen, professor emeritus at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. “You don’t have to take a bath in the stuff.”What kind of clothing helps protect against bites?When Rey goes on research trips to highly infested areas, like the Florida Everglades, he suits up. “We wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts,” he says. “If it’s particularly bad, we use hats with nets coming down over the face. And we depend on repellent on exposed areas.” That could mean hands, neck and face. But don’t spray the face, experts say. To avoid irritating the eyes, put the repellent on hands and rub it on the face.And don’t forget the feet. Mosquitoes have quirky olfactory preferences. Many of them, especially the Aedes variety that transmits the Zika virus, love the smell of feet.”Wearing sandals isn’t a good idea,” says Rodriguez. Shoes and socks are called for, and tucking pants into socks or shoes helps keep mosquitoes from getting inside clothing. She wears long pants when outdoors in mosquito territory — and definitely not yoga pants. “Spandex is very mosquito friendly. They bite through it. I wear baggier pants and long sleeved shirts, doused in DEET.”What else can reduce the risk of mosquito bites?Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, but the Aedes aegypti species that transmits Zika prefers midmorning and early evening, says Strickman. If possible, stay indoors in screened-in or air-conditioned buildings during those times.Since these particular mosquitoes breed in standing water in containers like plant pots, old tires, buckets and trash cans, people should rid their immediate area of things that can collect water. “Swimming pools, unless they’re abandoned, are OK,” says Rey. The chemicals used to keep pools safe for swimming also keep mosquitoes away. It takes some close looking to find every possible breeding ground for mosquitoes. “I’ve seen some developing in a film of water next to a sink, or in the bottom of a glass people use to brush their teeth,” says Strickman. Cleaning up areas of standing water can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes.The more people do that kind of basic cleanup, the fewer mosquitoes there will be. “It may not be perfect, but you’ll lower the number of mosquitoes tremendously,” says Strickman.What’s on the horizon to help people avoid mosquito bites and the diseases they bring?Hansen says his lab is working on a technique in which male mosquitoes are sterilized with radiation, then released into the environment. They mate with females who lay eggs, but the eggs never hatch. The technique would target specific species, like the Aedes aegypti that transmit Zika, dengue fever and other diseases.And a team of scientists in Massachusetts is working on a mosquito repellent that will stay on the skin and remain effective for hours or even days, says Dr. Abraar Karan, physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is one of the creators of Hour72+, which he says cannot penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream — and only wears off through natural skin shedding.Hour72+ won the Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize in this year’s annual Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition. Karan plans to further test the prototype, which is not on the market, to see how long it remains effective. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day o

first_imgMany American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time. In Seattle, school and city officials recently made the shift. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the district moved the official start times for middle and high schools nearly an hour later, from 7:50 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. This was no easy feat; it meant rescheduling extracurricular activities and bus routes. But the bottom line goal was met: Teenagers used the extra time to sleep in. Researchers at the University of Washington studied the high school students both before and after the start-time change. Their findings appear in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. They found students got 34 minutes more sleep on average with the later school start time. This boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes. “This study shows a significant improvement in the sleep duration of students, all by delaying school start times so they’re more in line with the natural wake-up times of adolescents,” says senior author Horacio de la Iglesia, a University of Washington researcher and professor of biology. The study also found an improvement in grades and a reduction in tardiness and absences.Seattle’s switch to later start times is still unusual for school districts around the country, where school typically starts around 8 a.m. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement calling on school districts to move start times to 8:30 a.m. or later for middle and high schools so that students can get at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. But according to the National Center For Education Statistics, only 17 percent of public middle and high schools, including some school districts in Minnesota and Kentucky, start at 8:30 a.m. or later. Getting a little extra sleep in the morning can be vital for teens, explains de la Iglesia. Once children reach puberty, their biological clock changes. “They fall asleep later than older adults and young kids,” he says. Teens’ biological bedtime is more like midnight, he says, and if parents expect them to go to sleep at 10 p.m., it often doesn’t work. “They’ll just lay in bed and not fall asleep,” he says. Of course, this means teens need to sleep later in the morning. “To ask a teen to be up and alert at 7:30 a.m. is like asking an adult to be active and alert at 5:30 a.m.,” says de la Iglesia.In the study, researchers compared two separate groups of sophomores enrolled in biology classes at two Seattle high schools, Franklin High School and Roosevelt High School. The first group of 92 students, drawn from both schools, wore wrist monitors to track their sleep for two-week periods in the spring of 2016, when school still started at 7:50 a.m. The wrist monitors collected information about light and activity levels every 15 seconds so researchers could determine when students were awake and when they were asleep. In 2017, after schools changed start times to nearly one hour later, researchers looked at a group of 88 students taking the same biology classes. They also wore wrist activity monitors and kept a sleep diary. You might think that when school starts later, teens will just stay up later. But that’s not what researchers found. Bedtimes stayed relatively constant and kids caught some extra sleep in the mornings. “We’ve put them in between a rock and a hard place where their biology to go to bed later fights with societal expectations,” says lead researcher Gideon Dunster, a graduate student studying sleep at the University of Washington. “Thirty-four minutes of extra sleep each night is a huge impact to see from a single intervention,” says de la Iglesia. The study also shows a link between getting more sleep and better academic performance. Students who took the biology class after the later start time got final grades that were 4.5 percent higher than students who took the class when it started earlier. That could be the difference between an A and a B, says de la Iglesia. He says sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to learn and to retain new information. Even though researchers can’t be sure that more sleep gave students an academic edge, the school’s biology teachers say the difference was striking. “When we started at 7:50 a.m. there would always be stragglers who were having a hard time getting here,” says Cindy Jatul, who teaches biology at Roosevelt High School. Students were groggy and noticeably different from students who took her class later in the day. “For example, if I gave them a project in the lab, they would be the most likely class to mess up,” she says. Franklin High School science teacher A.J. Katzaroff says “there was lots of yawning” when school started at 7:50 a.m. Students had a hard time engaging in the work or in brief discussions, which is extremely unfortunate. “Some of the best practices in science education have students talk, discuss and investigate together and those are all very hard when the brain is not fully powered,” Katzaroff says. After the time switch, many more kids were able to engage in deeper thought and scientific discourse. Katzaroff says. The number of students who were tardy or absent also decreased significantly, putting Franklin High School — which is in a low-income neighborhood — on par with students from a higher-income neighborhood. The later school start time gave them a better opportunity to make it to school on time. “We need to give every bit of equity we can for kids in lower socio-economic families,” says Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Breuner was not involved in the study.Breuner calls the findings “exciting” and says that while an extra 34 minutes of sleep might not sound like a lot to the average person, when it comes to sleep “every minute counts.” Breuner says that while only a handful of school districts nationwide have switched to later start times, that is changing “as counties and cities like Seattle make changes and see positive benefit.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

A food delivery man in India has been fired after

first_imgA food delivery man in India has been fired after a video that showed him eating a customer’s order went viral. The video shows a balding man dressed in a red T-shirt with a red delivery bag on his motorbike. The T-shirt reads “Zomato,” a popular online food delivery company in India.The man is parked at the side of a road. He uses a spoon to skim a few bites from a container of food he’s opened, puts the lid back on, then picks another container and does the same thing. He puts the containers back in a plastic bag and reseals the bag with tape. This happened in the southern Indian city of Madurai.The incident prompted outrage and jokes on social media. People lambasted the company for having poor standards and shared the video as a cautionary tale against using online food delivery services. But after news broke that Zomato had sacked the delivery man, the online discussion turned sympathetic. It sparked a debate about exploitation of workers by India’s burgeoning online food delivery industry. Rajyasree Sen, who writes columns on food, pop culture and politics for several Indian newspapers and online publications, says the incident highlights a larger problem in Indian society: socioeconomic disparity.For folks who “have more food than we know what to do with,” she says, it’s easy to ask: Why on earth would a delivery man do something like this?To answer that question, you need to take a look at the life of India’s delivery personnel.Companies call them delivery “executives” but their wages and working conditions tell a different story.According to popular job search sites, food delivery companies say they’ll pay an employee around $250 a month. That may put them in the top 20 percent earners in the country but it’s barely enough to live in cities (where most food delivery apps operate) as the cost of living is also higher. In media interviews, delivery persons have described how they have to work long hours, since they are typically paid per delivery — roughly $1 per order.And if they need to take a break, they lose out on potential income. There are plenty of other delivery persons to step in. Zomato has a fleet of more than 150,000 drivers. Swiggy, an app-based food delivery service, has 100,000 active delivery people.Swiggy delivery “executives” went on strike in December to protest a proposed drop in the per-delivery fee they earn.What’s more, customers don’t always appear to appreciate the delivery person. “It is a horrible job because of the way people treat you,” says op-ed columnist Sen. Even in the height of summer, she says, a lot of customers would not even offer a glass of water to a delivery man. As to the video: In an official blog post, Zomato called the occurrence “highly unusual and a rare case.” “We take this very seriously and will soon introduce tamper-proof tapes and other precautionary measures to ensure we add an extra layer of safeguard against such behaviour,” the company said in its statement.Companies need to understand that delivery people often ferry food that they themselves may not be able to afford, says Sen. “[Companies] either need to give food coupons or need to give [delivery agents] one meal a day,” she says.Commentators noted that the outrage against the video exposes a lack of empathy among India’s elite. “Instead of insisting that Zomato, Swiggy and the other delivery services protect our precious parcels from ravenous riders, perhaps we should take to Twitter and ask them to give their employees better working conditions and quality of life,” wrote Dushyant Shekhawat, who comments on political and social issues, in an op-ed piece.Online food delivery companies like Swiggy and Zomato are fairly new — they launched within the last 5 years — but have transformed how Indians eat. Zomato boasts 21 million orders a month and is available in 38 cities across India as of September. The value of the company Swiggy crossed the $1 billion mark this year. It caters to customers in 57 towns and cities.Online food delivery in India is a $7 billion industry. Sushmita Pathak is NPR’s producer in Mumbai. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

Business Travelers Dont Be Lured by the Siren Song of Free WiFi

first_img Carolyn Sun Weekly Tips Roundup Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Looking to work stronger, smarter and faster? Our Tips Roundups from around the web can give you the boost you need.Zipcar is getting a makeover — finally. To stay competitive in the sharing economy, Zipcar has announced that certain cars will be allotted with more flexible rules, such as allowing one-way trips, indefinite reservation extensions and changes to the final destination in the midst of traveling, says The Verge.  Travel hacks for saving money. Changing your country setting when booking online and booking a roundtrip ticket on two different airlines are just a few hacks for saving when booking airline tickets, according to Tech Insider.Do you know where your wi-fi is coming from? Cybersecurity company Avast Software tested how eager travellers at the Barcelona airport would be for free wi-fi during the Mobile World Congress. Turns out they’ll trust most networks leaving some data vulnerable as some providers aren’t what they seem. The lessons Avast learned can benefit any entrepreneur on the go, as Refinery29 reports. Business Travelers: Don’t Be Lured by the Siren Song of Free Wi-Fi –shares Image credit: Luis Llerena | StockSnap.io Add to Queue Next Article 1 min read February 26, 2016 Enroll Now for $5last_img read more

How to Get Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine

first_img October 25, 2016 This story appears in the November 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Most people haven’t heard of a scrappy little ski company called Renoun, but we gave it a lot of space in this issue — a story about founder Cyrus Schenck. I bet you’re wondering: How did Schenck pull that off?I’m going to tell you.Why? I owe it to you. Magazines like Entrepreneur are designed to help readers navigate their world, and we do that in journalistic ways — talking to experts, interviewing successful entrepreneurs and so on. But we forget that to people in business, we are also a mystery in need of solving. How do editors think? How are decisions made? And so, each month, I’m going to explain our process on this page — the space where, in most magazines, the boss pens an advertisement for the issue you’ve already purchased. (Here’s a trade secret: Many editors hate writing those letters. Some even outsource it to underlings.)Related: 5 Ways to Amplify Your Media CoverageI hope my column can be more useful. So let’s get back to Renoun. What is it doing in this issue?The explanation begins with the word package. That’s magazine-speak for a series of related stories, which run together across any number of pages. Magazines use packages to explore broad themes — “Let’s do a package on…” is a common sentence in edit meetings — and they create openings for different stories. This can be good for companies seeking coverage: If I hear about something that doesn’t work as a stand-alone profile (like a tiny ski company), it might fit into a package some months later. But this can also cause confusion. A publicist just emailed me, citing a story we did earlier this year about a company similar to her client’s. Might that mean we’re interested in her client’s business, too? Sorry, no: That old story made sense for us only in the context of the package it ran in. The moment had passed.We usually run one package an issue. Back in July — that’s how far out monthly mags are planned — we decided that our November package would be about how founders rebounded from their first big mistake. Contributing editor Stephanie Schomer oversees these, and she emailed a lot of writers asking for ideas.One of those writers was Clint Carter. He’d just gone to a Snowsports Industries of America event, scouting stories for Men’s Journal. While there, he saw a guy cover his hand in pink goo, then lay it flat on a table and slam it with a mallet. The goo was a fast-­hardening polymer, which protected his hand. Ta-da! And this seemingly crazy person, of course, was Cyrus Schenck. Intrigued, Clint introduced himself. The two later exchanged emails. Nothing came of it for Men’s Journal, but when Clint got Stephanie’s email, he wondered if Cyrus might have a compelling tale about his mistakes. So Clint met Cyrus for a beer, then relayed what he learned to Stephanie, who relayed it to me. I said yes because Cyrus was willing to be so open and vulnerable — and because his tale is worth learning from.Related: 10 Ways for Startups to Score Media CoverageNot every entrepreneur can do this. One founder promised he would, so I assigned a story about him for this month’s package. But during the interview, he kept steering the conversation toward his successes and away from his screwups. I understand the impulse — it takes guts to admit your failures. But we couldn’t use his story. It isn’t in this issue.When entrepreneurs ask me for media advice, I tell them to embrace their full saga. Reporters don’t just want to hear success stories; they want to hear problem-solving stories. The reason isn’t because we thirst for drama; it’s because “Here’s how I did this” is way more interesting than “Here’s why I’m awesome.” Think about it: Which would you rather read? No matter the issue, that’s the story you should tell. Next Article Editor’s Note 4 min read Jason Feifer Apply Now » The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Jason Feifer, Editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazinecenter_img Editor-in-Chief –shares How to Get Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine What we want is simple. Image credit: David Rinella 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Add to Queue Magazine Contributorlast_img read more

Researchers identify neurons essential for normal sleep

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 8 2018Two decades ago, Clifford B. Saper, MD/PhD, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and colleagues discovered a set of nerve cells they thought might be the switch that turns the brain off, allowing it to sleep. In a new study published in Nature Communications today, Saper and colleagues demonstrate in mice that that these cells – located in a region of the hypothalamus called the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) – are in fact essential to normal sleep.”Our paper is the first test of what happens when you activate the VLPO neurons,” said Saper, who is also James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. “The findings support our original observation that the VLPO cells are essential to normal sleep.”Related StoriesNovel bed system with VR brainwave-control for sleep blissSleep quality and fatigue among women with premature ovarian insufficiencyMercy Medical Center adds O-arm imaging system to improve spinal surgery resultsWorking with genetically engineered mice, Saper’s team artificially activated the VLPO neurons using several different tools. In one set of experiments, the scientists activated the neuron cells using a laser light beam to make them fire, a process called optogentics. In another test, the team used a chemical to selectively activate the VLPO neurons. In both cases, activating these cells profoundly drove sleep.The results confirmed Saper and colleagues’ earlier findings that these neurons are active during sleep and that damage to them causes insomnia – as seen in Saper’s subsequent work with laboratory animals and, in 2014, in older people who have lost cells of the VLPO as part of the natural aging process.Based on that previous body of work, it came as a surprise when another team of researchers reported just the opposite. In a 2017 publication, experiments stimulating the VLPO neurons woke laboratory animals up. In their current paper, Saper’s team cleared up the seeming contradiction.”We found that when the VLPO cells are stimulated one to four times per second, they fire each time they are stimulated, resulting in sleep,” Saper said. “But if you stimulate them faster than that, they begin to fail to fire and eventually stop firing altogether. We learned our colleagues in the other lab were stimulating the cells 10 times per second, which was actually shutting them off.”Additionally, Saper’s team also found that activating the VLPO cells caused a fall in body temperature. Scientists already knew that warm temperatures activate VLPO cells, and that body temperature dips slightly during sleep, when the VLPO neurons are firing.”We thought that this is why people need to curl up under a warm blanket to get to sleep,” Saper added.However, with continued activation, body temperature in the mice fell by as much as five or six degrees Celsius. Saper’s team proposed that excessive firing of these same neurons may be responsible for the prolonged sleep and decline in body temperature in animals that hibernate. In follow up, Saper’s team is already looking at the relationship between sleep and body temperature in ongoing studies. Source:https://www.bidmc.org/last_img read more

Researchers identify molecule to fight myotubular myopathy

first_img Source:https://www.unige.ch/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 19 2018Myotubular myopathy is a severe genetic disease that leads to muscle paralysis from birth and results in death before two years of age. Although no treatment currently exists, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, – working in collaboration with the University of Strasbourg, France, – have identified a molecule that not only greatly reduces the progression of the disease but also boosts life expectancy in animal models by a factor of seven. Since the molecule – known as tamoxifen – is already used for breast cancer, the researchers hope to soon set up a clinical trial so that patients can be given the medication. You can read all about the results in the journal Nature Communications.Myotubular myopathy is a severe genetic disease that weakens all the skeletal muscles from birth. Ninety percent of affected babies do not live to two years of age. “The disease affects the X chromosome in one in 50,000 male infants,” begins Leonardo Scapozza, full professor at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNIGE’s Faculty of Science. Only boys are struck by myotubular myopathy, since the second X chromosome in girls generally compensates for the possible mutation of the first.Although there is no existing treatment for this genetic defect, valuable research in gene therapy is currently underway. “But it will take years before we can come to a conclusion about how effective the clinical trials are,” points out Olivier Dorchies, a researcher in the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “That’s why we turned to a molecule that is already authorized for other treatments in humans, in the hope of finding a quicker way to counter this life-threatening disease.”Tamoxifen: a multi-purpose moleculeThe researchers focused on tamoxifen, which has been used for many years to treat breast cancer, because the molecule has several interesting properties for protecting muscle fibers: it is antioxidant, anti-fibrotic and protects the mitochondria. “In a previous study, we used tamoxifen against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is also an inherited muscular disease that affects one in 3,500 boys, where the life expectancy is 30 years,” explains Elinam Gayi, a PhD student in UNIGE’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “The results have been excellent, and a clinical trial is also in progress.” This is why the scientists have been looking at the molecule in an attempt to combat myotubular myopathy, which – although it also leads to muscular paralysis – does not have the same mechanisms of action as in its cousin Duchenne.”Myotubular myopathy is caused by a lack of myotubularin, an enzyme that transforms the lipidic messengers. Without it, the protein known as dynamin 2 accumulates and brings on muscle atrophy,” continues Elinam. In the search for a cure, one of the avenues explored by several groups – including UNIGE’s colleagues in Strasbourg – is to target dynamin 2, which is modulated by tamoxifen.Oral treatment that increases life expectancy sevenfoldRelated StoriesNovel imaging molecule reveals brain changes linked to progressive MSAntioxidant precursor molecule could improve dopamine levels in Parkinson’s patientsResearchers develop new molecule that halts progression of heart failureThe scientists administered tamoxifen orally on a daily basis to sick mice with the same symptoms as affected babies, mixing it with their food. Three doses were tested: 0.03 milligrams per kilogram, 0.3 milligrams per kilogram and 3 milligrams per kilogram. The highest dose matches that used for treating breast cancer in women if we consider the metabolic differences between mouse and human. The results obtained by the research team left no room for argument.An untreated sick mouse lived for 45 days on average. With the lowest dose, the average life expectancy was 80 days, rising to 120 days with the intermediate dose. “But with the biggest dose, life expectancy went up to 290 days on average – seven times higher than for an untreated mouse. Some even survived for over 400 days!” says Professor Scapozza. In addition, the progress of the paralysis was slowed down enormously or even completely stopped. Muscular strength was tripled, and it was possible to recover 60% of the muscular deficit between a healthy mouse and a sick mouse.The scientists began the treatment when the mice developed the first symptoms, namely paralysis of the hindlegs at about three weeks. However, they have not ruled out that administering the drug earlier might be more efficacious against muscle weakness. “In parallel to our study, a team from the Children’s Hospital of Toronto tested the drug on even younger mice, and the disease did not develop,” says Olivier. “The problem is that in humans, myotubular myopathy starts during fetal development, so it’s hard to know whether the total absence of paralysis might be achieved if this molecule is given after birth.”Is a clinical trial on the horizon?Elinam adds: “Since tamoxifen is already authorized for use in humans, and a clinical trial is underway for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, we’re hopeful that a clinical trial will come on line within a couple of years.” It is now up to clinicians to make the most of our research and put it into practice.The UNIGE researchers will continue to explore the multiple uses of tamoxifen for treating genetic muscle diseases. They will try to combine it with other authorized molecules or in the final phase of clinical development. The goal will be to find treatments that can be put on the market quickly.last_img read more

Researchers synthesize artificial cells to detect histamine

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 3 2019Baking a cake from scratch is a task deemed difficult for many. Constructing an artificial cell-like system from scratch, well that’s another story.”Synthesizing cells from scratch is of fundamental importance to understand what life is,” said Prof. Yohei Yokobayashi, leader of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) Nucleic Acid Chemistry and Engineering Unit.Scientists around the world are beginning to create simple artificial cells that conduct some basic biological functions and that contain small strands of DNA or RNA. However, getting these snippets of genetic material to express their encoded proteins in response to precise signals has been a challenge.Now, Yokobayashi and other researchers from OIST and Osaka University have found a way to make artificial cells interact with a wide range of chemicals. They developed a riboswitch – a gene switch that senses chemical signals – that can respond to histamine, a chemical compound that is naturally produced in the body. In the presence of this chemical, the riboswitch turns on a gene inside the artificial cells. Such a system, could one day be used as a new way of administering medicine, said Yokobayashi, a corresponding author on a recent study in Journal of the American Chemical Society, which describes the approach.”We want the cells to release drugs based on their detection of histamine,” Yokobayashi said. “The ultimate goal is to have cells in your gut use histamine as a signal to release the appropriate amount of drug to treat a condition.”Signal selectionThe scientists chose histamine as the chemical signal for their artificial cells because it is an important biological compound in the immune system. If you feel an itch, histamine is the likely culprit. It is also released by the body during allergic reactions and helps defend against foreign pathogens by spurring inflammation.To detect histamine, they created a molecule called an RNA aptamer. RNA aptamers are small segments of RNA building blocks that can be engineered to act as binding agents to specific target molecules. It took Yokobayashi and his colleagues, former OIST postdocs Dr. Mohammed Dwidar and Dr. Shungo Kobori and OIST PhD student Charles Whitaker, two years to create an aptamer that targeted histamine.Related StoriesNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerHow cell-free DNA can be targeted to prevent spread of tumorsRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degenerationNext, the team developed a so-called riboswitch that would turn this signal detection into action – specifically, translating a gene to produce a protein. Normally, cells produce proteins when templates made of messenger RNA (mRNA) bind to cellular structures called ribosomes. Here, the scientists used the histamine aptamer to design a riboswitch that alters the shape of the mRNA upon binding histamine. In the absence of histamine, the shape of the mRNA prevents the ribosome from binding, and no protein is produced. Histamine-bound mRNA, however, allows ribosome to bind and synthesize proteins.”We demonstrated that riboswitches can be used to make artificial cells respond to desired chemical compounds and signals,” Yokobayashi said.The next step resulted from a collaboration with senior author Prof. Tomoaki Matsuura and graduate student Yusuke Seike of the Department of Biotechnology at Osaka University. Matsuura and Seike put the cell-free riboswitch created by Yokobayashi’s team into lipid vesicles to create artificial cells. The Osaka team attached the riboswitch to a gene expressing a fluorescent protein, so that when the riboswitch was activated by histamine, the system glowed. Then, they controlled another protein by the riboswitch – one that makes nanometer-scale pores on the cell membrane. When the aptamer sensed histamine, a fluorescent compound encapsulated in the vesicles was released out of the cells through the pores, modeling how the system would release a drug.The scientists also created a ‘kill switch’, which instructs the cell to self-destruct – creating a control for the technology.The technology is in the early stages of development. The next step is to make the artificial cells more sensitive to a smaller amount of histamine. Medical use may be in the distant future, but the potential exists, the scientists say. Source:Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate UniversityJournal reference:Dwidar, M. et al. (2019) Programmable Artificial Cells Using Histamine-Responsive Synthetic Riboswitch. Journal of the American Chemical Society. doi.org/10.1021/jacs.9b03300 .last_img read more

How origami might reshape the future of everything

first_img New technique uses templates to guide self-folding 3-D structures Citation: How origami might reshape the future of everything (2018, August 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-origami-reshape-future.html Kamrava assembles the final structure using metal hinges to mimic origami paper folds. Applying a small amount of pressure changes the structure’s shape. Since the hinges absorb the stress, the change can be made again and again.His research focuses on the smart structure’s deployability, which is the ability to expand strategically without creating defects in the actual structure. Kamrava calculates the functional application of structures based on their agility. Explore further At least, that’s how Northeastern researcher Soroush Kamrava sees it.The third-year doctoral student in mechanical engineering uses 3-D printers in the Machine Shop on campus to create smart structures—objects that can collapse, absorb energy, and spring back into place using the geometric principles of origami.”Origami is a branch of art that only uses geometry, which is the same base for mechanical structures,” said Kamrava.Traditional origami uses paper. However, most engineering applications require materials with definitive thickness and enough strength and stiffness to properly perform. That’s where metamaterials come in. Substances that aren’t found in nature, such as plastic, metal and rubber, metamaterials form the basis of Kamrava’s work. An origami expert can turn a few basic folds into a complex design. The challenge for engineers is to create a system of folds that is structurally sound and can be reproduced.Kamrava uses metamaterials to replicate patterns and shapes he encounters everyday. “Our work is a combination of science and art,” he said. “So sometimes inspiration comes from a museum, old architecture, or just floor tiles.”Kamrava produces a paper version of the design with an origami printer. He then plays with the sample, folding it and unfolding it, to ensure it can be replicated using stronger materials.Once that’s confirmed, 3-D printers fabricate geometric-shaped pieces in the desired metamaterial, usually plastic, which can sometimes take hours depending on each piece’s size. Kamrava created this 3D printed object. Credit: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University “For example, if you want to send a large structure to space, it’s going to be expensive,” he said. “So scientists can design a deployable structure that folds into a smaller volume for the journey, but can expand back into its original shape when it arrives.”Smart structures are not robots, which use electronics. Smart structures simply change their shape based on a response to a change in the environment.From inception to assembly, it takes about a year to make a single smart structure. Kamrava works with a team of graduate and undergraduate students and his adviser Ashkan Viziri, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.Viziri, who studies high performance materials, acknowledged Kamrava’s work ethic and innovative approach to creating origami-inspired metamaterials.”Soroush has done an excellent job making sure that he is independent,” Viziri said. “He’s always thinking about the next idea and how he can expand what he has already done, which I think is a critical part of anyone’s education at the Ph.D. level.”One day, Kamrava hopes to use origami-inspired meta-materials to create smart structures that could be used to harvest renewable energy. But for now, he’s still experimenting.”Smart materials is an ongoing field of research,” he said. “In my view, coming up with the idea is the best part.” Credit: Northeastern University Provided by Northeastern University The next generation of solar panels and air bags will be shaped by the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more