There is intense interest in studying the way information flows through the Twitter network and how this information can be used to measure and even predict public opinion or disease outbreaks. But all this work shares a common problem: the sheer volume of data that Twitter generates. It’s simply not possible to follow what everybody is doing all the time. New research suggests there’s a better way to track the spread of information on Twitter that is much more powerful.
Via @pathogenomenick @NAChristakis @James_H_Fowler
"Using Friends as Sensors to Detect Global-Scale Contagious Outbreaks"
The recent Cabinet ban on the importation of GM foods citing health risks was unfortunate.
It was clear proof that we are still sceptical about the role of science in economic growth.
I fully support the Cabinet’s concern on the rising cases of cancer. However, this should be investigated holistically without pointing fingers at GM foods.
It should be noted that genetic modification, which is the application of scientific knowledge to transfer beneficial genetic traits from one species to another to obtain desired results, is not alien science.
This technology was first accomplished in 1973 and soon found commercial applications in medicine.
In 1982 the Food and Drug Administration of the US approved the use of human insulin produced by a genetically engineered bacterium.
Genetically modified animal vaccine came next, followed by genetically modified agricultural crops, first approved for commercial use in 1996.
Approximately one-quarter of all the drugs coming into the market today are produced using GMOs and the boom in GM medical drugs is likely to continue.
No one has raised a voice against GM drugs even in cases where there is clear evidence, developed from clinical trials, of extreme side effects.
For example, zevalin, a popular GM drug for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, can cause severely reduced white blood cell count resulting in both gastrointestinal and respiratory complications.
This is a clear indication that the opposition meted on GMs foods is not all about the technology. We should not apply double standards.
The development of a GM crop normally requires at least 10 years, during which rigorous laboratory and field trials are done.
Feeding trials are then done with animals. The scientific methods used to develop GM products assure safety.
In fact, there are reports that in the case of maize, the consumer health risk is decreased when eating food from GM varieties.
Modern crop biotechnology has the potential to improve use of scarce land, improve crop yield, enhance nutritional value of some food crops and most importantly minimise the use of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides.
Yet, despite this immense potential, genetic modification is still widely misunderstood and is a victim of premeditated smear and scare campaigns.
As a country, we stand to gain a lot in terms of food productivity if we adopt GM technology, hence it is paramount that we make decisions based on proven facts; we should not reject this technology out of ignorance.
For the very first time researchers have streamed braille patterns directly into a blind patient's retina, allowing him to read four-letter words accurately and quickly with an ocular neuroprosthetic device.
Two recently published studies highlighted the costs of delivering vaccinations for human papillomavirus to primary school girls in Tanzania.
The studies both found that the cost of delivering the HPV vaccine to adolescent girls might be significantly higher than delivering vaccines to infants when the delivery schedule matches the established infant immunization schedule, MedicalXpress reports.
The first study, conducted by the World Health Organization, the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania and the London School of Hygiene, tested class-based and age-based vaccination in three districts in Tanzania. The study found that class-based delivery was generally cheaper at an estimated $9.76 per fully immunized girl and $1.3 million overall, excluding vaccine costs.
The second study, conducted by Raymond Hutubessy from the WHO and his colleagues, used the new Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control Costing tool during a five year planning period. The study estimated that the vaccine could be delivered at $12.40 for each fully immunized girl.
Jack Gilbert: “We're going to determine how good and bad bacteria co-exist in a hospital, and how the good can keep out the bad.” Gilbert and his team are going to collect microbial samples from surfaces and the air, from staff and patients for two years to better understand the factors that influence bacterial population development in healthcare environments. In stark contrast to current epidemiological studies that typically look at a few pathogens, they will track more than 100,000 different species.
A new vaccine strategy could make flu shots cheaper, safer, and easier to produce.
...scientists at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (Germany’s Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), and biotech company CureVac in Tübingen have ... designed a piece of mRNA encoding the hemagglutinin of the influenza strain H1N1. Cells use mRNA to shuttle the information contained in the genome from the nucleus into the periphery of the cell, where it is translated into a protein. By injecting synthetic mRNA into the skin of mice, the researchers coaxed the animals’ cells into producing the virus protein themselves. This elicited an immune response that later protected the animals from infection with otherwise lethal doses of influenza virus, the researchers reported online on 25 November in Nature Biotechnology.
Yessss....welll....ummmmm.... No, it wouldn't be cheaper: RNA is EXPENSIVE to make under any circumstances. And there is a published alternative that would probably be MUCH easier: encapsidating mRNA made in cells via an alphavirus vector, in Tobacco mosaic virus coat protein!
Virology. 2007 Feb 20;358(2):321-33. Epub 2006 Oct 2. Assembly of trans-encapsidated recombinant viral vectors engineered from Tobacco mosaic virus and Semliki Forest virus and their evaluation as immunogens. Smith ML, Corbo T, Bernales J, Lindbo JA, Pogue GP, Palmer KE, McCormick AA.
A dose of parasitic whipworms cured monkeys with chronic diarrhea, fixing immune systems gone haywire and offering a snapshot of the unexpected benefits worms -- which might someday be used as living vaccines -- offer to people.