Scientific Research Shows That Children Shouldn’t Be Eating These Hot Dogs

An article published by Reuters pointed to a correlation between certain foods and leukemia risk, but not necessarily to cause and effect.It was in the online journal BMC Cancer where researchers studied 515 Taiwanese children and teenagers with and without acute leukemia. Continue reading “Scientific Research Shows That Children Shouldn’t Be Eating These Hot Dogs”

This Infographic Shows Entrepreneurship Is Becoming More Diverse

Entrepreneurs are definitely not born, but who of you can become the one tomorrow? The answer is any one of you, literally. No matter your gender, age, education, and ethnicity, you have all chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur in the United States. The Presitely’s infographic shows that about 550,000 open up monthly in the U.S.

infographic proves entrepreneurship is becoming more diverse
According to the infographic, almost 60 percent of businesses are launched by men and a little bit more than 40 percent are launched by women. That means that women are becoming successful business owners at much higher rates than a decade ago.

The sad thing is that not all businesses survive their first year, so think twice before ditching your 9 to 5 and launching your own company. Meanwhile, take a look at the infographic to be more aware of the current business situation in the U.S.

This Infographic Shows Entrepreneurship Is Becoming More Diverse

Entrepreneurs are definitely not born, but who of you can become the one tomorrow? The answer is any one of you, literally. No matter your gender, age, education, and ethnicity, you have all chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur in the United States. The Presitely’s infographic shows that about 550,000 open up monthly in the U.S.

infographic proves entrepreneurship is becoming more diverse
According to the infographic, almost 60 percent of businesses are launched by men and a little bit more than 40 percent are launched by women. That means that women are becoming successful business owners at much higher rates than a decade ago.

The sad thing is that not all businesses survive their first year, so think twice before ditching your 9 to 5 and launching your own company. Meanwhile, take a look at the infographic to be more aware of the current business situation in the U.S.

6 TV Shows Featuring Characters With Bipolar Disorder

Compelling storylines for main television characters with bipolar disorder continue to gain popularity on the small screen, helping to reduce stigma and normalize mental illness.

Now going into its 16th season, the Canadian teen drama has tackled a range of social issues such as AIDS, alcoholism, abortion, bullying, gay rights and eating disorders. No surprise, then, that it’s had characters with bipolar disorder: musician Craig Manning (Jake Epstein), a regular from 2002–2006, and Eli Goldsworthy (Munro Chambers), who was introduced in 2010.

#2  General Hospital

Breaking ground in daytime TV, this ABC soap opera revealed in a 2006 plot arc that longtime character “Sonny” Corinthos has bipolar—as does actor Maurice Benard, who plays the mob boss. The diagnosis provided context for Sonny’s dark moods, unpredictable temper, and self-destructive tendencies dating back to the character’s introduction in 1993. Over the years the show has built a surprisingly realistic portrait of someone with bipolar, touching on his treatment, lapses in medication compliance, and symptomatic episodes. A 2013 storyline revolved around an emotional crisis after Sonny went off his meds.

#3  Homeland

Renewed for a sixth season, this award-winning and ground-breaking political thriller on Showtime stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA operations officer in counterterrorism. The character’s bipolar disorder was made clear when the show debuted in 2011. It plays an important role in the plot, both indirectly (as when Carrie uses the heightened focus of hypomania to figure things out) and directly (as when she is hospitalized and discredited in Season 3 as part of a plan to infiltrate an Iranian terrorist organization).

#4  Shameless

The Showtime series features a father (William H. Macy) who is alcoholic while his family of five struggle to get by financially. The comedy-drama also includes an estranged mom and son, Ian (Cameron Monaghan) who both have bipolar. Although the mother is a recurring character, Ian is one of the main characters and his mental illness starts to reveal itself in the fourth season, displaying intense mania, reckless and impulsive behavior, hypersexuality, and devastating depression. The show continues for its seventh season in October of 2016.

#5  Empire

Andre (Trai Byers), the eldest son of the Lyon family has bipolar disorder. Educated and intelligent, he is the CFO of the family business Empire Entertainment, and was portrayed as high functioning by taking his medication to manage his brain-based disorder. However, out of anger toward his father, Andre flushes his medication and spirals into a breakdown. In the first season, Andre’s mother learns of her son’s previous bipolar diagnosis.

#6  Lady Dynamite

The Netflix comedy launched in 2016, starring stand-up comedian/actress Maria Bamford as herself, portraying her misadventures in Los Angeles after spending six months in recovery and attempts to rebuild her life while having consistent flashbacks on Maria’s backstory and her relationships with her family and friends.

Investigation shows Australian supermarkets are selling dangerous or banned foods

AN alarming number of heavy metals, carcinogenic insecticides and arsenic chemicals has been found in foods being imported into Australia, and stocked on the shelves of various ethnic grocery stores.
SBS Radio’s Punjabi program exclusively investigated 18 common food products found in small grocery stores across Melbourne, including well known brands of basmati rice, Indian spices and even Ghee (rendered fat used in cooking).

After receiving tip offs from listeners and social media posts, the radio program — lead by Walkley-nominated Executive Producer and Presenter Manpreet Kaur Singh— sent a selection of surveillance food products to a lab at the National Association of Testing Authorities.

There, the 18 products from the thousands imported into Australia were tested for various chemicals — and the results were concerning.

Some products found in Asian and Indian specialty supermarkets include insecticides, pesticides and unsafe levels of heavy metals.Source:istock

“Of the few products we were able to test, which is an expensive process, the experts we interviewed said two in particular should not be sold in Australia,” Ms Singh told news.com.au.

“As we understand it, the Department of Agriculture receives the imports, then the Food Standards Australia & NZ write the code where the product must comply with relevant standards and requirements, but it’s up to the local and State Government to ensure that what’s in the store are compliant, and that’s where the issue is happening.”

Some of the products tested that came back with alarming results, and that shouldn’t be stocked on Australian shelves include;

— Kohinoor brand basmati rice found to contain Buprofezin, an insecticide banned in Australia.

— Indian spice brand MDH found to contain pesticides above the accepted Australian limit.

— Banned substance Betel Nut readily available for sale in Australia

In addition to products that failed to meet FSANZ standards, at least three other products could be considered unsafe due to the levels of copper and lead:

Complan — a powdered milk drink for growing children manufactured by Heinz in India

Indus basmati — a rice from Pakistan

Verka Ghee — a clarified butter widely used by South Asians in their daily cooking.

One brand of basmati rice had alarming levels of Buprofezin, an insecticide banned in Australia. Picture: SBS.Source:SBS

Ms Singh said that the Kohinoor brand of basmati rice and the Indian MDH spice were the two products that completely failed Australian food safety standards.

“The rice and spice we tested outright failed the testing,” she said.

“The chemicals we found in the rice are not allowed to be in that product in Australia. This is not a cheap brand of basmati rice, and is very common especially in specialty food stores.”

One of the biggest issues Ms Singh found from the investigation was the amount of product that were being sold as parallel imports, meaning the particular product is only supposed to be sold in the country of origin.

“We find a lot of people selling these parallel imports, which are products that have been made to the standard to the home country,” Ms Singh said.

“For example, these products are usually marked as having to be sold in a certain country, and only to be consumed in say, India. Usually the sale price is in rupees, so it’s obvious when it’s not an authorised product.”

Only five per cent of packaged food imports to Australia are being tested, and this is because packaged foods are not deemed high risk by Australian authorities.

Hundreds of people have expressed concern over small ethnic food shops tampering with use-by dates on certain products.Source:istock

SBS found that drug Betel Nut, a substance banned from sale in Australia, was found to be readily available at South Asian grocery stores in Melbourne.

Another incident that was common across the small Asian and Indian grocery stores in Melbourne was the tampering with use-by dates on packaging.

“Changing the dates on packaging is easily done with spirit and a cotton ball, to erase an existing date and changing it to a time in the future,” Ms Singh said.

“We’ve had hundreds of listeners complain about this happening, and I wonder if it’s happening because of the amount of time it takes to ship product to Australia.

Ms Singh said that while people can usually tell when a product has gone bad, her investigation was to showcase the “poisons we can’t see”.

“The heavy metals and pesticides and insecticides are what we are concerned about,” she said. “Are we checking enough? Are we at world standards? Maybe something needs to be put into place that testing is more stringent and across the board.”

Massive simulation shows HIV capsid interacting with its environment

The genetic material of the HIV virus is encased in multiple structures that hide it from the host immune system. The capsid, in blue, protects the virus after it enters a cell and shuttles it to the nucleus, where it completes the process of infection.

It took two years on a supercomputer to simulate 1.2 microseconds in the life of the HIV capsid, a protein cage that shuttles the HIV virus to the nucleus of a human cell. The 64-million-atom simulation offers new insights into how the virus senses its environment and completes its infective cycle.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Communications.

“We are learning the details of the HIV capsid system, not just the structure but also how it changes its environment and responds to its environment,” said University of Illinois research scientist Juan R. Perilla, who led the study with U. of I. physics professor Klaus Schulten. Such details could help scientists find new ways to defeat the virus, Perilla said.

Schulten, who died in October 2016, pioneered the application of molecular dynamics simulations to study large biological systems. He called the method “computational microscopy.”

The capsid simulation was performed on the Department of Energy’s Titan supercomputer. Analyzing the data required a second supercomputer, Blue Waters, at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the U. of I.

The HIV capsid is made up of hundreds of identical proteins arrayed in a network of six-sided and five-sided structures, each with a tiny pore at its center. The capsid contains the virus’s genetic material, hiding it from host cell defenses. It also transports the virus to the cell nucleus, which it must infiltrate to complete infection.

The new study revealed several properties that likely enhance the capsid’s ability to sense its environment and find its way to the nucleus, Perilla said. It showed, for example, that different parts of the capsid oscillate at different frequencies. These oscillations likely transmit information from one part of the capsid to another, he said.

The study also revealed that ions flow into and out of the capsid pores. Negative ions accumulate on the positively charged surface inside the capsid, while positive ions adhere to the outside, which carries a negative charge.

“If you can break this electrostatic balance that the capsid is trying to keep together, you may be able to force it to burst prematurely,” Perilla said.

The positively charged interior also could help facilitate the influx of DNA building blocks. The virus needs these molecules from the host to convert its own RNA into DNA, Perilla said. These DNA building blocks, called nucleotides, carry a negative charge and are small enough to pass through the capsid’s pores, he said.

The researchers also found that stress propagates through the capsid in patterns. The stresses align in regions that experiments have shown are most susceptible to bursting.

These data reveal potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited to develop new drugs to defeat the HIV virus by targeting its capsid, Perilla said.

Fight Frailty With Intense Bursts Of Exercise, Research Shows

Growing older may not have to mean growing frail. A preclinical study has revealed that brief periods of intense physical activity can be safely administered at advanced age, and that this kind of activity has the potential to reverse frailty.

Published in the Journal of Gerontology A in June by University at Buffalo researchers, the study is the first to investigate whether a novel, short-session regimen of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be safe and effective in older populations.

The study was conducted on two groups of a dozen mice, each 24 months old, which correlates roughly to 65 years old in human terms. All the mice had been sedentary up until that age. While cautioning that the study was done in mice, the authors state that the results could have significant application to humans.

“We know that being frail or being at risk for becoming frail puts people at increased risk of dying and comorbidity,” said Bruce R. Troen, MD, senior author on the study with Kenneth L. Seldeen, PhD, who is first author.

Troen is professor and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, a geriatrician with UBMD Internal Medicine, and a physician-investigator with the Veterans Affairs Western New York Health Care System. Seldeen is research assistant professor of medicine at UB.

“These results show that it’s possible that high-intensity interval training can help enhance quality of life and capacity to be healthy,” Troen said.

The results were striking with mice exhibiting “dramatic” improvements in numerous measurements, including strength and physical performance.

No longer frail

One of the most significant findings was that by the end of the study, five of six mice found to be frail or pre-frail at baseline improved, and four were no longer frail.

“Those four mice who had exhibited the kinds of deficits that correlate to frailty in humans improved to a completely robust level,” said Troen. “The HIIT actually reversed frailty in them.”

Troen and Seldeen developed mouse equivalents for measures that assess human frailty, including ways to evaluate grip strength, endurance and gait speed, so that they could establish baseline levels and then compare those with results once the study was complete.

“Because the performance measures for the mice are directly relevant to clinical parameters, we think this program of exercise is quite applicable to humans,” said Troen. “We’re laying a foundation so we can do this in people and so we can understand how to tailor it to individuals so they can successfully implement this.”

Similar to the way that an athletic trainer might individualize a fitness program for a client, Troen and Seldeen tailored intensity levels to each mouse.

“While the mice are genetically identical, they aren’t phenotypically identical,” Seldeen explained, “so we customized the exercise program to each mouse, first finding out what each one was capable of at baseline, and then increasing or decreasing the intensity depending on the performance of the mouse during the study.”

HIIT was well-tolerated

The 10-minute exercise program involved a three-minute warm-up, three intervals of one minute of high intensity and one minute at lower intensity, and a final minute of higher intensity on an inclined treadmill. The exercises were done three times a week over 16 weeks. All exercises were well-tolerated by the mice.

There were dramatic improvements in grip strength, treadmill endurance and gait speed. The mice showed greater muscle mass and an increase in total mitochondria, the energy factories of cells.

“Increased mitochondrial biomass allows you to utilize oxygen more efficiency,” Troen explained. “With HIIT, we saw both mitochondrial increase and an improvement in muscle quality and fiber size in these mice.”

As to why HIIT results in such significant benefits to those who engage in it, Troen said that it has to do with the stress to which it subjects the body.

“Exercise stresses the system and the body can respond beneficially,” he explained. “We believe that the intensity of individualized HIIT provides a more significant but manageable stress so the body responds more robustly to these short, vigorous periods of exercise.

“In other words, you get more bang for your buck.”

Troen and Seldeen cautioned that anyone considering HIIT should check with their physician first.

Co-authors on the paper are: Merced Leiker, research technician; Ramkumar Thiyagarajan, research assistant; and Yonas Redae, research support specialist, all in the UB Department of Medicine.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and by the Indian Trail Charitable Foundation, a private foundation that has funded several of Troen’s projects on aging.

Skin Patch To Treat Peanut Allergy Shows Benefit In Children

A wearable patch that delivers small amounts of peanut protein through the skin shows promise for treating children and young adults with peanut allergy, with greater benefits for younger children, according to one-year results from an ongoing clinical trial. The treatment, called epicutaneous immunotherapy or EPIT, was safe and well-tolerated, and nearly all participants used the skin patch daily as directed.

The ongoing trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the NIAID-funded Consortium of Food Allergy Research (link is external) (CoFAR), which is led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Stacie Jones, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, chairs the study. One-year outcomes are published online on October 26 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“To avoid potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, people with peanut allergy must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter, which can be very stressful,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “One goal of experimental approaches such as epicutaneous immunotherapy is to reduce this burden by training the immune system to tolerate enough peanut to protect against accidental ingestion or exposure.”

CoFAR researchers at five study sites randomly assigned 74 peanut-allergic volunteers aged 4 to 25 years to treatment with either a high-dose (250 micrograms peanut protein), low-dose (100 micrograms peanut protein), or placebo patch. The investigators assessed peanut allergy at the beginning of the study with a supervised, oral food challenge with peanut-containing food. The patches were developed and provided by the biopharmaceutical company DBV Technologies under the trade name Viaskin. Each day, study participants applied a new patch to their arm or between their shoulder blades.

After one year, researchers assessed each participant’s ability to consume at least 10 times more peanut protein than he or she was able to consume before starting EPIT. The low-dose and high-dose regimens offered similar benefits, with 46 percent of the low-dose group and 48 percent of the high-dose group achieving treatment success, compared with 12 percent of the placebo group. In addition, the peanut patches induced immune responses similar to those seen with other investigational forms of immunotherapy for food allergy. Investigators observed greater treatment effects among children aged 4 to 11 years, with significantly less effect in participants aged 12 years and older.

“The clinical benefit seen in younger children highlights the promise of this innovative approach to treating peanut allergy,” said Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation (DAIT). “Epicutaneous immunotherapy aims to engage the immune system in the skin to train the body to tolerate small amounts of allergen, whereas other recent advances have relied on an oral route that appears difficult for approximately 10 to 15 percent of children and adults to tolerate.”

Nearly all of the study participants followed the EPIT regimen as directed. None reported serious reactions to the patch, although most experienced mild skin reactions, such as itching or rash, at the site of patch application.

“The high adherence to the daily peanut patch regimen suggests that the patch is easy-to-use, convenient and safe,” said Marshall Plaut, chief of DAIT’s Food Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis and Allergic Mechanisms Section. “The results of this study support further investigation of epicutaneous immunotherapy as a novel approach for peanut allergy treatment.”

Additional studies in larger groups of children are needed before the therapy could be approved for wider use. The CoFAR study continues to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of peanut EPIT. After the first year, all participants began receiving high-dose daily patches, and they will continue in the study for a total of two and a half years of EPIT.

Comprehensive sequencing program shows promise of precision medicine for advanced cancer

The average metastatic cancer has more genetic mutations than are seen in early stage tumors, a new study finds.

What that means: To make precision medicine a reality in cancer care, you need a real-time, comprehensive approach that looks at the metastatic tumors and sequences to a level of detail beyond most commercial tests.

In one of the largest and most comprehensive efforts to examine the genetic and molecular landscape of advanced cancer, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center sequenced the DNA and RNA of 500 patients with metastatic cancer. The results are published in Nature.

Three things make this analysis unique:

Researchers obtained fresh biopsies for most patients, extracting samples from the metastatic tumors, rather than the primary tumor.
They sequenced both DNA and RNA.
They compared the cancerous tissue to the patient’s normal DNA.
“This is a more comprehensive approach than most commercially available clinical sequencing programs. Our results suggest value on several levels to this more detailed approach,” says senior study author Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.

The data reflects the first 500 patients with solid tumors to enroll in the Michigan Oncology Sequencing Program, a research protocol that began in 2010, sequencing the DNA and RNA of metastatic cancers and normal tissue to identify alterations that could help drive treatment. The program includes a precision medicine tumor board in which experts discuss each case. Mi-ONCOSEQ was among the first comprehensive clinical sequencing programs offered for cancer patients.

The patients represented in the Nature paper spanned more than 30 types of cancer, with metastases in 22 different organs. It includes only adults with solid tumors, although Mi-ONCOSEQ is available to patients with blood cancers and to children.

Biopsy the metastasis, not archived tumor

Researchers found a significant increase in the number and type of mutations between patients’ metastatic cancer and primary cancer. Nearly every case of metastatic cancer had more mutations, they found. This likely reflects that metastatic cancers are more aggressive: they’ve had more time to develop additional mutations, and treatments designed to kill the cancer have caused more mutations.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of getting a fresh biopsy of the metastatic tumor,” Chinnaiyan says. “Tumors are evolving as part of metastasis and under therapy. We need to biopsy the metastatic tumors and then suggest therapies, rather than using archival tissue from the primary tumor.”

RNA sequencing reveals more targets

The other key component is sequencing the RNA as well as the DNA. This more extensive approach revealed a host of molecular factors that play a role in the tumor microenvironment, fostering and allowing the cancer to continue to grow, spread or evade treatment.

Generally, most clinical sequencing efforts focus on DNA sequencing only. While DNA sequencing reveals genetic alterations involved in metastatic cancer, researchers found RNA sequencing shed light on the underlying mechanisms that either turn on cancer-causing genes or turn off the genes meant to stop cancer. Their findings could help identify potential targets for treatment.

In addition, by looking at RNA, researchers could examine the immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, which offered clues to why immunotherapy might work for some patients but not for others.

“Understanding the immune microenvironment — the types of cells infiltrating the tumor and what they are expressing — is important. It gives us a picture of the immuno-phenotype. Our hypothesis is that we could use this to help determine who is likely to respond to immunotherapy,” Chinnaiyan says, noting that more research is needed in this area.

Another key finding is that metastatic tumors exhibited one of two mutually exclusive signatures. One version was highly proliferative, meaning it multiplied aggressively. In the other version, cells lost their differentiation, a state called epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

“Not all metastases are the same. Different pathways are driving them to be quite different — highly proliferative versus those that are differentiating more. This mutually exclusive aspect was a striking finding that could guide us in developing new types of therapies,” Chinnaiyan says.

Inherited mutations uncovered

Another striking finding was that 12 percent of the metastatic cancer patients harbored an inherited mutation. This is roughly quadruple what might be expected among all cancer patients. These mutations were identified by comparing the tumor DNA to the normal DNA.

About three-quarters of these mutations were related to the process of DNA repair, which several existing therapies are designed to target.

“There is a high percentage of inherited mutations in metastatic cancer. Once these mutations are identified, it’s possible others in the family may also carry that gene and be at higher risk of cancer,” Chinnaiyan says.

Family members might seek genetic counseling or additional screening, if appropriate. Patients in Mi-ONCOSEQ received genetic counseling, which was also extended to their families in cases of inherited mutation.

The researchers are currently analyzing patient outcomes from this initial group. Preliminary data presented earlier this year at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting suggested that three-quarters of patients whose tumors were sequenced had an “actionable mutation,” meaning treatments exist to target that specific aberration. In total, nearly 2,300 patients have enrolled in Mi-ONCOSEQ to date.

Nanoparticle-Based Method Shows Promise In DNA Vaccine Delivery

Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a novel method for delivering therapeutic molecules into cells. The method harnesses gold nanoparticles that are electrically activated, causing them to oscillate and bore holes in cells’ outer membranes and allowing key molecules — such as DNA, RNA, and proteins — to gain entry. Unlike other approaches, the nanoparticles are not tethered to their biological cargo, a refinement that can boost therapeutic potency and effectiveness.

The research team, led by Hadi Shafiee, PhD, assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, together with first author Mohamed Shehata Draz, PhD, evaluated the technique’s ability to deliver a DNA vaccine — specifically, one against the hepatitis C virus (HCV) — into mice. They found that it induced a strong immune response, reflected by high levels of anti-HCV antibodies and immune cells that secrete specific inflammatory hormones. Importantly, Shafiee and his colleagues detected no signs of toxicity in the mice throughout the study period, which lasted nearly 3 months.

“Our concept is unique,” says Draz. “Both the electric field parameters and the nanoparticle properties can be augmented to perform other important functions, such as precisely removing cells or blood clots.”

There is growing interest in DNA vaccines. First, they offer a potential alternative to conventional vaccines, which are sometimes constructed using weakened microbes — either whole or specific parts. These foreign substances can pose risks to patients, which could potentially be minimized if DNA — now readily synthesized in the laboratory — is used instead. DNA vaccines also show promise as a tool for taming cancer growth.

Although Draz, Shafiee, and their colleagues began by applying their novel nanoparticle method to DNA vaccines, they underscore its wide-ranging applications.

“One of the really exciting aspects of this new method is that it enables drug delivery into tissues or cells in a universal way,” says Shafiee. “We are eager to explore its use for other important biological molecules, including RNA.”