December 21

Bulldogs complete 10-0 season; Cards and Spartans advance to playoffs

first_imgLos Molinos >> The Los Molinos Lady Bulldogs closed out a perfect season Thursday night with a straight set win over the Burney Raiders, 25-18, 25-12, 25-18.The Corning Lady Cardinals beat the Oroville Tigers in 4 sets to claim the No. 5 seed in the post season and the Red Bluff Lady Spartans fell on the road in Chico to the Pleasant Valley Vikings, but earn the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.Rachel Rogers was named player of the match for the Bulldogs with 13 kills, 5 aces, 2 blocks and 7 digs; …last_img read more

December 21

Giants Mailbag: Bumgarner extension concerns, Posey’s future

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO–The past was astounding, the present is alarming and the future is all that’s left to look forward to for Giants fans.After opening the decade with a glorious bang, the Giants are threatening to end it with a glum whimper as they’re poised to conclude their second consecutive sub-.500 season.What does the future of the franchise hold? Readers reached out to ask their most pressing questions and highlight the concerns looming over a team in the midst of its worst losing streak …last_img read more

December 19

Adaptive Radiation: A Darwinian Mechanism Inherits the Wind

first_imgAnother Darwinian assumption needs to be re-examined.  Adaptive radiation, the belief that a species isolated on an island will diverge into many species, has been hit by a hurricane.    Calsbeek and Smith, writing in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1, studied lizards on the Bahamas after Hurricane Floyd devastated the islands.  “Islands are considered to be natural laboratories in which to examine evolution because of the implicit assumption that limited gene flow allows tests of evolutionary processes in isolated replicates,” they begin:  “Here we show that this well-accepted idea requires re-examination.”  Why?  Gene flow is not limited after all.  Apparently, ocean currents and hurricanes are very successful at spreading the critters around from island to island (gene flow, this is called).  And high gene flow counteracts adaptive radiation by homogenizing the gene pool: “After severe storms, islands may be recolonized by over-water dispersal of lizards from neighbouring islands.  High levels of gene flow may homogenize genes responsible for divergence, and are widely viewed as a constraining force on evolution.”    These islands have been a textbook case for adaptive radiation theories, because the number of Anolis lizard species is high: up to 140 species.  The authors write, “The adaptive radiation of Caribbean anoles is believed to be driven by ecologically based natural selection arising from variation in habitat use.” Some of these lizards climb the broad trunks of trees and have long legs, whereas some perch on twigs, with short legs.  These microevolutionary changes appear to be adaptive, because they would seem to help the critters run faster after food or avoid prey, or keep their balance in their preferred habitat.     The scientists found that the gene flow correlated with prevailing ocean currents.  Moreover, the repopulation of the islands was very rapid: “Although no islands were reported to have received immigrants as a result of hurricane transport, subsequent recolonization of islands over the next 17 months was rapid and indicated over-water dispersal of adult lizards from neighbouring islands,“ they write with a bit of surprise.  Although they have found a constraint on adaptive radiation in this classic case, they are confident that island studies are good for evolutionary theory.  They conclude:Studies on islands have revealed many of the fundamental mechanisms of evolution, particularly the paramount influence of geographical isolation to diversification.  Here, we add an important caveat to these studies, showing that prevailing ocean currents may influence gene flow and adaptive divergence in a terrestrial vertebrate.  The adaptive radiation of anoles in the Caribbean is thought to have arisen by ecologically based natural selection related to habitat use.  However, the level of gene flow between populations will impose an upper limit on the ability of natural selection to drive adaptive divergence.  We have provided evidence that weather-related abiotic phenomena might have important effects on the evolution and adaptive radiation of lizard populations.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)1Ryan Calsbeek and Thomas B. Smith, “Ocean currents mediate evolution in island lizards,” Nature 426, 552 – 555 (04 December 2003); doi:10.1038/nature02143.You better believe it might have important effects on evolution.  It stops it.    First of all, notice that this is another tale about microevolution, so it doesn’t discriminate between creationists and evolutionists.  But is there anything in this story that props up Charlie?  Lizard populations in the Bahamas and surrounding islands were supposed to be a textbook case for adaptive radiation theory, and now look.  They found that the islands were rapidly repopulated – within months – after Hurricane Floyd swept through, with the same species that existed before.  But then, how can they rule out the possibility that some survived the storm?  Did they check under every rock and in the tops of every tree?  This looks like a bad science paper every way you cut it.  That’s why we call evolutionists lazy, and accuse them of appearing to do science while vacationing in the Bahamas.    Adaptive radiation is only supposed to work if the gene pool gets cut off from the surroundings.  They might be able to cling to that hope, but one of their best examples has just suffered “an important caveat” which, being interpreted, means, “Yeah, BUT…”  It’s the unwelcome lab assistant tapping the evolutionist lecturer on the arm during his praise-for-Darwin speech, whispering in his ear, “Professor, we found a flaw in your data….”  He stumbles for a moment, but continues unabated, “Moreover, ladies and gentlemen, evolution is a fact, supported by countless examples of thorough scientific research.”(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

December 19

TB vaccine in SA clinical trial

first_imgA doctor examining chest X-rays at aTB clinic in Cape Town. (Image: USDepartment of State official blog) Educational poster for TB, publishedby TB Care in Cape Town.(Image: World Lung Foundation) A rural health clinic, where patients aretreated for, among others, TB. (Image:Damien Schumann, World Lung Foundation)Janine ErasmusSouth Africa is the setting for a phase II clinical trial of an advanced new tuberculosis vaccine. The trial is to be conducted by the non-profit Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its local partner is the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (Satvi), based at Cape Town University. Satvi is the largest dedicated TB vaccine research group in Africa.Currently there is only one TB vaccine available worldwide – the Bacille Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine, developed back in 1921. This is the drug administered to infants at birth. With TB evolving in recent years into drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant strains, the almost century-old BCG is no longer as effective as it once was.According to Aeras, the BCG vaccine provides protection against severe forms of infant TB but cannot be relied upon for the adult form of the disease. Since TB is most prevalent in adults it is imperative that a vaccine be developed that is effective in combating all strains of TB, including drug-resistant versions. BCG is the most widely-administered vaccine in the world, says Aeras, but still the TB burden is increasing.According to Tony Hawkridge of Satvi, BCG is also dangerous for those suffering from Aids, and may also be unsafe for HIV-positive patients. This is because BCG is a live vaccine that may further compromise an already-weakened immune system.However, the new vaccine works alongside BCG and is intended to enhance the body’s immune response, which will have already been activated by the administration of BCG. It does this by using a protein from the pathogen, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium, to boost production of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that defends the body against infection.Collaborative effortAeras is also working with the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium in development of the new vaccine. This is a collaborative effort between researchers at Oxford University and US-based Emergent BioSolutions, a pharmaceutical company that specialises in the development of vaccines against killer diseases such as anthrax, botulism, tuberculosis, typhoid, and hepatitis B.The new vaccine, known as MVA85A/AERAS-485, was developed by Wellcome Trust senior research fellow Dr Helen McShane and her team at Oxford’s Jenner Institute. McShane commented that this is the first experimental TB vaccine to advance to phase II of a clinical trial in more than 80 years.“It’s the first of new-generation TB vaccines to go into this kind of study looking at efficacy in infants,” she said. “It’s enormously exciting, and I sincerely hope we will see some efficacy.”The cost of the study is estimated at US$14-million (R124-million) and will be carried by Aeras and the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based charity that funds biomedical research around the world. Previous trial phases have already been carried out South Africa and the Gambia, with promising results.The trial, which involves some 2 750 South African children, will be based at the Brewelskloof TB Hospital in Worcester, Western Cape. Researchers are currently in the process of selecting the participating infants. All children will already have received BCG at birth, as is the standard practice, and at 18 weeks half of them will get MVA85A while the other half will be given a placebo.According to McShane, the team is hoping for at least a 60% reduction in the incidence of pulmonary TB among children who receive the vaccine, compared with children who get the placebo. She added that initial results may be available as early as 2011 or 2012.“There is still a long road ahead,” remarked Aeras CEO Jerald Sadoff, “but this marks an important milestone toward the goal of a more effective TB vaccine.”“We believe this is the most exciting advance in the field of TB vaccines for over 80 years,” said McShane. “We have shown that this vaccine is safe and stimulates strong immune responses. This trial will hopefully show that the vaccine can protect people from getting TB and enable the global community to begin to control this devastating disease.”Global scourgeThe World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that about one third of the planet’s entire population is infected with TB. Despite the fact that TB is treatable and curable, of these roughly 2-billion people about 1.8-million succumb to the disease every year. A large number of them are children.TB is also a major killer of people with HIV and Aids, according to the WHO. There are about 33-million people living with HIV, of whom about a third are also infected with TB. Because their immune systems are weakened by the primary infection, around 90% of these people die within two to three months of contracting TB – unless they are treated.The incidence of TB is widespread in South Africa, and each year another 250 000 new cases are recorded in the country. According to Satvi, South Africa carries the seventh highest TB burden of all countries. Approximately 80 people die of the disease in South Africa every day, a figure that has been accelerated by the concurrent HIV epidemic.With 25% of all cases but only 10% of the population, the Western Cape is the hardest-hit by TB, which is one of the reasons the trial is taking place in that province.Between 15% and 20% of TB cases in South Africa are children. These young patients have contracted TB only recently, which demonstrates that current TB control measures are not doing what they should.Extensive testingNo medicine can be released for public consumption without undergoing extensive clinical trials, which are conducted on human subjects over a period of time. A clinical trial can only be started once sufficient preliminary information has been collected on the non-clinical properties of the medication or device, and permission has been obtained from the health authority in the country where it is to take place.There are several phases to a clinical trial, which can take years to complete.The pre-trial phase involves in vivo and in vitro testing to gather initial data on efficacy, toxicity and the body’s interaction with the drug. Only once all this data has been evaluated is the decision made on whether or not the product merits further testing.Phase 0 involves a trial with very small doses on just a few subjects to gather data on the interaction between the body and the drug or device.Phase I involves administration of the device or drug to a slightly larger group of patients. If the product is a drug, subjects are given a range of doses so that the most effective therapeutic dose can be established, although this is still a lesser dose than that which causes adverse effects in animals. Patients are typically healthy volunteers.Phase II extends phase one, with a bigger group of patients or volunteers. This is the make-or-break stage for a drug, as it often happens that during this period patients will show negative side effects, or the drug or device will not work as well as hoped.If, during the initial phases, a product proves itself to be effective and safe, it will pass into phase III, which is considered the definitive assessment phase of the safety and effectiveness of a drug or device. Subject groups of up to 3 000 are involved. This is usually the longest and most expensive phase of testing and having successfully proven itself, sometimes in more than one phase III trial, the drug or device is submitted for regulatory approval. Once approval has been obtained, the manufacturer may begin to market the product.Phase IV sees continuing monitoring of the product and ongoing technical support once the product is on the market.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at [email protected] articlesSaving more lives from TB, fasterSA, US join to fight tuberculosisTB diagnosis breakthroughUseful linksAeras Global TB World Health Organisation – TBBill & Melinda Gates FoundationWellcome TrustOxford-Emergent Tuberculosis ConsortiumEmergent BioSolutionsOxford UniversityJenner Institute – OxfordThe International Clinical Trials Registry Platformlast_img read more

November 18

Applying IoT technology to safety: Avalanche warnings

first_img Continue Reading Previous A new computing architecture for Big Data and AI applicationsNext Keeping tabs on atmospheric electrical phenomenon The automatization of the seismic sensors is thus a key point for the success of this type of solution; an interesting example of such a kind of neural network of smart sensors realized by means of the electronics technology, is represented by a work entitled “Wireless Sensor Networking in the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing Era”, which has been presented at the EUROSENSORS 2014. It was created by two technical authors belonging to the Department of Information engineering, University of Brescia, Italy:“WSNs are now widely diffused in many civilian application scenarios, including home and building automation, health monitoring, environment and habitat monitoring, traffic control, and many others.   Leave a Reply Cancel reply You must Register or Login to post a comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInMoreRedditTumblrPinterestWhatsAppSkypePocketTelegram Every year many natural events like snow avalanches put all people who are living in mountain localities at risk. This includes tourists and winter sports enthusiasts: What would happen if an automatic test mountain station could detect the presence of avalanches and advise and warn the people present in the area under test in real time? Such a system may save many lives by sending the alarm signal automatically by means of a WSN (wireless sensors network) realized by means of the IoT (Internet of Things), in this emerging field of electronics technology.A first step in this direction has been taken by the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, (see Figure 1):“Snow avalanches are a major natural hazard in mountainous areas in winter. Since most recreationists and many public authorities rely on avalanche bulletins for their decision making, the ability to appropriately predict the avalanche danger accurately is of paramount importance. Avalanche forecasters greatly rely on avalanche activity data to determine the avalanche hazard since recent avalanche occurrences provide unambiguous information on snow cover instability. Avalanche activity is usually estimated based on visual observations, which are incomplete and impossible at night or when visibility is limited. This often leads to uncertainties in the number and exact timing of avalanches….With the automatic avalanche detection method we can determine exactly when an avalanche released. However, information of the location of the avalanche is also of interest since avalanche danger depends on aspect and elevation. Such information would therefore be very important for avalanche forecasters. To determine the location of the avalanche, we use an array of 7 seismic sensors deployed in a circle. We can then use existing signal processing techniques, which are widely used by seismologist, to estimate the location of the avalanche. However, since signals produced by avalanches are very different compared to earthquakes, standard methods have to be improved to properly localize avalanches.” (Source: slf.ch)Figure 1 The Recording station to predict and reveal snow avalanche at the Dischma Valley in Switzerland (Source: slf.ch)The Recording station to predict and reveal snow avalanche at the Dischma Valley in Switzerland (Source: slf.ch) last_img read more