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Complex Insight  - Understanding our world
Latest news on complex systems in life sciences, engineering, education and government
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‘Robot scientist’ Eve could speed up search for new drugs

‘Robot scientist’ Eve could speed up search for new drugs | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Robot scientist Eve can perform a wide range of biological assays, screening at a moderately high throughput rate (credit: Kevin Williams et al./J. R. Soc.
Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
ComplexInsight's insight:
Though it will take time, the combination of automated biological assay screening with synthetic biology and goal driven targetting will be a key development in personalized medicine, targetted drug development and disease treatments in the  21st century.
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Battling the Zika virus, one old tyre at a time

Battling the Zika virus, one old tyre at a time | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
From Canada, the ovillanta is a clever — and highly effective — mosquito trap made from the pests' favourite breeding spot.
ComplexInsight's insight:
Dr. Gerardo Ulibarri, PhD, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry and eco-health at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, had a  brilliant insight recycling tyres to create an effective mosquito trap that may provide an easy to build and effective mosquito management solution. Made from recycled tyres the bottom half of the device gets filled with about 2 litres of water, topped with so-called “landing strips” – pieces of Pellon or germinating paper, for example – on which the female mosquitoes lay eggs. Mosquitoes weed moisture to hatchso the landing paper if white easily shows the eggs. About once per week the user empties the device destroy the eggs, pour the water back into the ovillanta (topping it off with fresh water) and install two new landing strips. “It’s important to recycle the water because after the eggs hatch, they release a pheromone into the water that tells other mosquitoes it’s a good, safe place to lay eggs,” says Ulibarri, who’s work is funded by Grand Challenges Canada. BBC article very worth reading
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Cellular traffic control system mapped for the first time

Cellular traffic control system mapped for the first time | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Cells regulate the uptake of nutrients and messenger cargos and their transport within the cell. This process is known as endocytosis and membrane traffic. Different cargos dock onto substrate specific receptors on the cell membrane. Special proteins such as kinases, GTPases and coats, activate specific entry routes and trigger the uptake of the receptors into the cell. For their uptake, the receptors and docked cargos become enclosed by the cell membrane. In the next steps, the membrane invaginates and becomes constricted. The resulting vesicle is guided via several distinct stations, cellular organelles, to its final destination in the cell.

 

For her study, Dr. Prisca Liberali, senior scientist in the team of Professor Lucas Pelkmans, sequentially switched off 1200 human genes. Using automated high-throughput light microscopy and computer vision, she could monitor and compare 13 distinct transport paths involving distinct receptors and cellular organelles. Precise quantifications of thousands of single cells identified the genes required for the different transport routes. Surprisingly, sets of transport routes are co-regulated and coordinated in specific ways by different programs of regulatory control.

 

Subsequently, Dr. Liberali calculated the hierarchical order within the genetic network and thereby identified the regulatory topology of cellular transport. "The transport into the cell and within the cells proceeds analogously to the cargo transport within a city" describes the scientist. "Like in a city, the traffic on the routes within a cell and their intersections is tightly regulated by traffic lights and signs to guide the cargo flow."

 

Thanks to this unique quantitative map, the fine regulatory details of transport paths and processes within a cells could be mapped for the first time. Particularly the genes that encode for these traffic lights and switches are often de-regulated in disease. With this map, it is now possible to predict how this leads to traffic jams in the cells, causing the disease phenotype. Alternatively, since many drugs have been developed to target these traffic lights and switches, the map can be used to come up with possible drug combinations to target unwanted traffic, such as viruses, to the waste disposal system of the cell.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Mapping the fine regulatory details of transport paths and processes within cells is key to understanding gene and protein functions, cancer, viral interactions and potential treatments.  Interesting read.

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Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Editor’s Picks — Medium

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Editor’s Picks — Medium | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A few years ago, I started looking online to fill in chapters of my family history that no one had ever spoken of.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Maryn McKenna has consistenly written about the threat of increasing antibiotic resistance for some time and her articles in Wired and other media are worth finding and reading. This is her long form essay on medium, it covers some of the same ground as her other articles it is still very much but its worth reading and reflecting on. 

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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 30, 2014 8:41 PM

It seems that we are about to get closer to death, as our antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and all other methods of cheating death, disease and crop failure fail.

 

This is before we get into conversations about the looming international and intranational conflicts that are simmering beneath the surface.  At least these can be dealt with with sensible policy changes and changes in attitude, perspective and disposition, if not out right content in our leadership cadres.

 

But alas, I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future.

 

Time is ticking away.

 

And we too will go through an indiscriminate die off phase where friends and family will die off, along with enemies and pestilential people as well.

 

I'd like to think that we'd come off better than before.

 

But, that's the thing about these indiscriminate methods of killing large swaths of the population.  It very rarely yields anything other than what was already present.

 

At least wages should be better, due to the new shortage of laborers (assuming that robots haven't taken over our labor force in the meantime).

 

I'd like to think that our lot is constantly improving, even during these negative phases.

 

But, I know that it's not going to be easy, especially for most of our Western and American population who don't have experience handling these kinds of things.

 

Ah well.

 

Think about it.

 

 

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Multiple sclerosis link to food bug

Multiple sclerosis link to food bug | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A food poisoning bacterium may be implicated in MS, say US researchers.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Lab tests in mice by the team from Weill Cornell Medical College revealed a toxin made by a rare strain of Clostridium perfringens caused MS-like damage in the brain. And earlier work by the same team, published in PLoS ONE, identified the toxin-producing strain of C. perfringens in a young woman with MS. However experts urge caution, saying more work is needed to explore the link. Click on title or image to go the story.

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IBM Wants to Predict Heart Disease Through Big Data Analytics - CloudTimes

IBM Wants to Predict Heart Disease Through Big Data Analytics - CloudTimes | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
IBM Wants to Predict Heart Disease Through Big Data Analytics
CloudTimes
Ultimately, health care industries hope to advance a smarter approach to care for patients with heart failure.
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IBM uses Big Data to predict outbreaks of Dengue fever and Malaria - VentureBeat

IBM uses Big Data to predict outbreaks of Dengue fever and Malaria - VentureBeat | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
IBM uses Big Data to predict outbreaks of Dengue fever and Malaria
VentureBeat
IBM has teamed up with university researchers to use big data and analytics to predict the outbreak of deadly diseases such as Dengue fever and Malaria.
ComplexInsight's insight:

IBM's one of a numer of companies pioneering advanced analytics for healthcare and health policy that will hopefully help inform and result in better decision and policy making  stratergies in how we deal with infectious disease.

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Ekso bionic suit - Schön Klinik Bad Aibling, Germany

Ekso™ is a bionic suit, or exoskeleton, which enables individuals with lower extremity paralysis to stand up and walk over ground with a weight bearing, four...
ComplexInsight's insight:

  Ekso featured in this post, is one of a number of lower extremity paralysis exoskeleton support systems now emerging - others include ReWalk (USA), MIndWalker (Italy)  -that take advantage of new motor and control systems to build a new generation of mobility products. Video is worth watching.

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Antibiotic resistance: The last resort

Antibiotic resistance: The last resort | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Health officials are watching in horror as bacteria become resistant to powerful carbapenem antibiotics — one of the last drugs on the shelf.
ComplexInsight's insight:

As antibiotic resistance continues to evolve and spread - it continues to not get the attention and funding it needs. Research work is urgently needed in new treatments but also in how bacteria, evolve, transport and move in and around hospitals, how they communicate, and how to optimize standard infection-control practices.  Good article from Nature. scary reality.

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Cicada wings inspire new ideas for antibacterial products

Cicada wings inspire new ideas for antibacterial products | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Here’s another reason to love cicadas: A new study has found that tiny structures on cicada wings can kill bacteria through physical and not chemical means.

Via Sakis Koukouvis
ComplexInsight's insight:

If this pans out - it may indicate new directions in anti-bacterial research.

 

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Greg Wurn's curator insight, March 4, 2014 9:20 PM

Interesting, could lead to some very important discoveries in future

Corie Rosen's curator insight, February 29, 2016 8:58 PM

Antibiotic resistance is nothing new; it is a very real threat in the world today. Bacteria are mutating and resisting our best tools at a rate that modern scientists can't keep up with. They say you learn something new everyday, and this was something I had no idea about until now! I flocked to this article because it is definitely an interesting concept. What is even cooler is the fact that a cicada's wings are able to kill gram-negative bacteria (gram-positive aren't affected), such as E. coli, through physical means and not chemical. This means the bacteria are unlikely to become resistant to the affects! Just imagine the ways scientists can utilize this!

 

This article, while not a scientific report, references the study done by scientists and provides links to it, therefore making the article a reliable source of information.

Janice Edgerly-Rooks's curator insight, September 12, 2016 9:36 PM
One wonders why bacteria would make a difference to a cicada's wings. They live underground as immatures which makes me think that antibacterial properties might derive from that part of their life cycle. But they don't have wings, so this is curious indeed.
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Data visualisation aims to change view of global health

Data visualisation aims to change view of global health | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
By creating a new and innovative way to look at massive amounts of patient data, one man hopes he can change the way public health crises are managed.
ComplexInsight's insight:

By creating new and innovative visual displays out of oceans of data, Christopher Murray hopes his tool can change this situation for the better. Called GBD Compare, users can rapidly determine which diseases are most harmful to children in Africa, or view how the developing and developed worlds compare in terms of heart disease, all with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The data viz tool processes data is implemented using D3.js and uses data  from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, which compiles statistics, charts and graphs on causes of death and disease. “The thing that’s really neat about the visualisations is they allow people to see the problem in context – in the context of all the other problems, how it’s changing over time, how it compares to other countries,” says Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation (IMHE), based in Seattle. GBD is an important project and the new visualization tools are effective and easy to use. Click on the image or title to learn more.

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Origin and diversity of novel avian influenza A H7N9 viruses causing human infection: phylogenetic, structural, and coalescent analyses : The Lancet

BackgroundOn March 30, 2013, a novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus that infects human beings was identified. This virus had been detected in six provinces and municipal cities in China as of April 18, 2013. We correlated genomic sequences from avian influenza viruses with ecological information and did phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential origins of the virus and possible routes of reassortment events.MethodsWe downloaded H7N9 virus genome sequences from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database and public sequences used from the Influenza Virus Resource. We constructed phylogenetic trees and did 1000 bootstrap replicates for each tree. Two rounds of phylogenetic analyses were done. We used at least 100 closely related sequences for each gene to infer the overall topology, removed suspicious sequences from the trees, and focused on the closest clades to the novel H7N9 viruses. We compared our tree topologies with those from a bayesian evolutionary analysis by sampling trees (BEAST) analysis. We used the bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo method to jointly estimate phylogenies, divergence times, and other evolutionary parameters for all eight gene fragments. We used sequence alignment and homology-modelling methods to study specific mutations regarding phenotypes, specifically addressing the human receptor binding properties.FindingsThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus originated from multiple reassortment events. The HA gene might have originated from avian influenza viruses of duck origin, and the NA gene might have transferred from migratory birds infected with avian influenza viruses along the east Asian flyway. The six internal genes of this virus probably originated from two different groups of H9N2 avian influenza viruses, which were isolated from chickens. Detailed analyses also showed that ducks and chickens probably acted as the intermediate hosts leading to the emergence of this virulent H7N9 virus. Genotypic and potential phenotypic differences imply that the isolates causing this outbreak form two separate subclades.InterpretationThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus might have evolved from at least four origins. Diversity among isolates implies that the H7N9 virus has evolved into at least two different lineages. Unknown intermediate hosts involved might be implicated, extensive global surveillance is needed, and domestic-poultry-to-person transmission should be closely watched in the future.FundingChina Ministry of Science and Technology Project 973, National Natural Science Foundation of China, China Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Via burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Firstly sidestepping the important findings for H7N9 virus, this paper illustrates the importance of rgorous methodology and  key research methods for understanding disease evolution and contagence pathways. the paper details  correlated genomic sequences and ecological information using phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential originsand  possible routes of reassortment events in H7N9 virus.  As for the findings - novel avian influenza viruses are a major concern for world wide public health - the research work in this paper raises the need for understanding intermediate hosts, viral evolution pathways and domestic poultry wild animation contact on a global scale for future health policy. Worth reading.

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Scientists make 'lab-grown' kidney

Scientists make 'lab-grown' kidney | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A kidney "grown" in the laboratory has been transplanted into animals where it started to produce urine, US scientists say.
ComplexInsight's insight:

While a long time away, developments such as this hold out long term promise of a revolution for organ transplants in the future, potentially removing the need for immunosuppressants and increasing the number of available organs for those waiting for treatment. Click on the image or title to learn more.

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MIT Engineers Developed a Super Strong Artificial Skin

MIT Engineers Developed a Super Strong Artificial Skin | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Engineers from MIT have developed a substance that could be used as an artificial skin, long-lasting contact lens, drug-delivering bandage, and more.
Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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Quantitative Temporal Viromics: An Approach to Investigate Host-Pathogen Interaction: Cell

Quantitative Temporal Viromics: An Approach to Investigate Host-Pathogen Interaction: Cell | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

A systematic quantitative analysis of temporal changes in host and viral proteins throughout the course of a productive infection could provide dynamic insights into virus-host interaction. We developed a proteomic technique called “quantitative temporal viromics” (QTV), which employs multiplexed tandem-mass-tag-based mass spectrometry. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is not only an important pathogen but a paradigm of viral immune evasion. QTV detailed how HCMV orchestrates the expression of >8,000 cellular proteins, including 1,200 cell-surface proteins to manipulate signaling pathways and counterintrinsic, innate, and adaptive immune defenses. QTV predicted natural killer and T cell ligands, as well as 29 viral proteins present at the cell surface, potential therapeutic targets. Temporal profiles of >80% of HCMV canonical genes and 14 noncanonical HCMV open reading frames were defined. QTV is a powerful method that can yield important insights into viral infection and is applicable to any virus with a robust in vitro model.


Via burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Understanding protein change during virus-host interaction offers opportunities for new diagnostics, treatments and clear understanding of how specific viruses interact and manipulate signalling pathways and immune defenses. QTV offers a lot of promise for researchers and practitioners.

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The Gigaom interview: Why synthetic biology and the Netflix model are the future of medicine

The Gigaom interview: Why synthetic biology and the Netflix model are the future of medicine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Life is a programming language, and molecular biologist Andrew Hessel thinks that it will be increasingly available to anyone interested in designing with the building blocks of life.
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Good article on Autodesk's Project Cyborg and update from some of the research coming out of Autodesk's Bio/Nano research group.

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FANTOM

FANTOM | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
ComplexInsight's insight:

In our bodies every cell contains the same genetic code, however the active or expressed genes determine cell function.  Which genes are expressed is controlled by tiny bits of the genome called promoters and enhancers and different cell types are determined by different combinations of promoters and enhancers. Now an international consortium of researchers known as FANTOM, led by the RIKEN institute in Japan have created the  clearest map yet of how genes control cells to make our bodies function. The map is already challenging ideas about what our genes do and how they interact and may accelerate the development of gene-based therapies. The team examined more than 800 human tissue samples, covering nearly all cell types, and  found 44,000 enhancers and 180,000 promoters that control gene expression.

 

 

 

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Report calls on NHS to consistently use simulation software ahead of big decisions

Report calls on NHS to consistently use simulation software ahead of big decisions | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The NHS could be run more effectively if senior decision makers used simulation software to test the outcome of different approaches before rolling them out, according to a report out today.

Via Eugene Ch'ng
ComplexInsight's insight:

As someone who believes most many of societies bigger decisions would benefit from better simulations - the report makes for an interesting read. Simulation is going to grow in importance in many areas - as data analytics enable us to consider impact landscapes. Using large scale data analysis to drive simulations we can begin to use simulation as a means of possibility search (something engineering routinely does now) on a broader canvas.

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Study: Some Americans Will Pay Just $34 Per Year Under Obamacare

Study: Some Americans Will Pay Just $34 Per Year Under Obamacare | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Obamacare will dramatically reduce the cost of health care for some of the poorest Americans, a new study finds.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Its not often that we get to model, assess and evaluate the outcome of major insurance system changes. With the advent of affordable care act - the United States is providing such an opportunity. Rand Corporaton released figures based on their cost modeling of the Affordable Care Act that indicate out-of-pocket health care costs will drop from $1,463 to just $34 per year in 2016 for the approximately11.5 million amercans who get insurance via the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. President Obama's health care reform law will also reduce the likelihood that this group will face catastrophic medical costs -- defined as 10 percent of income -- by 40 percent, according to the study. As the law comes into effect it will be interesting to assess the efficacy of these studies and contrast them with data provided by those who oppose the affordable care act and hopefully in doing so - step closer to better healthcare and economic policy informed by data.

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Farsnews

Farsnews | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Key features of Alzheimer's, which affects about 5 million Americans, are wholesale loss of synapses -- contact points via which nerve cells relay signals to one another -- and a parallel deterioration in brain function, notably in the ability to remember. Now research by Carla Shatz, PhD, professor of neurobiology and of biology and senior author of a study that will be published Sept. 20 in Science,,  suggests that Alzheimer's disease starts to manifest long before plaque formation becomes evident

 

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Threat Report 2013 | Antimicrobial Resistance | CDC

Threat Report 2013 | Antimicrobial Resistance | CDC | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

This report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013gives a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

ComplexInsight's insight:

For those tracking public healthcare issues or modeling disease the new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States from CDC makes chilling reading. The CDC report is the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major antibiotic resistant organisms.  The report is also the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how  imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread. For each organism, the report explains why it is a public health threat, where the trends are headed, what actions the CDC is taking, and what it is important for health care institutions, patients and their families, and states and local authorities to do to help. It also makes explicit where the trend of increasing and more common resistance is taking the country, outlining the risks to people taking chemotherapy for cancer, undergoing surgery, taking dialysis, receiving transplants, and undergoing treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

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Michael Totten's comment, September 23, 2013 12:29 AM
One thing we all should be doing is avoid using any of the anti-microbial soaps that now found around every faucet. The triclosan in the soap kills off all the benign bacterial, creating a vacuum for the more virulent bacteria to thrive. It's a commercial gimmick that should be resisted and reversed. See the medical advice posted at Alliance for Prudent use of Antibiotics, http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/ and particularly the White Paper on Triclosan, http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/consumers/personal_home_21_4240495089.pdf
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These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack - Wired Science

These Bacteria Are Wired to Hunt Like a Tiny Wolf Pack - Wired Science | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

You wouldn’t know it, but there is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria

ComplexInsight's insight:

Good artile explainging recent findings in bacterial communication research. Understanding how bacteria communicate and organise will be key to next generation treatments rather than relying only on discovered antibiotics.

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Bird Flu: H7N9 Infection Risk Mapped

Bird Flu: H7N9 Infection Risk Mapped | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

There have been 131 cases of infection confirmed cases of H7N9 in mainland China with 39  deaths. A lack of information about the virus and its mode of transmission  led to public concerns that H7N9 could be a pandemic waiting to happen.A map of avian influenza (H7N9) risk is now available. The map is comprised of bird migration patterns, and adding in estimations of poultry production and consumption, which are used to infer future risk and to advise on ways to prevent infection.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Professor Jiming Liu who led the study explained, "By basing our model on wild bird migration and distribution of potentially infected poultry we are able to produce a time line of the estimated risk of human infection with H7N9. The preliminary results of our study made a prediction of bird flu risk which could explain the pattern of the most recent cases. By extending the model we will be able to predict future infection risks across central and western China, which will aid in surveillance and control of H7N9 infections. Since the effect of poultry-to-poultry infection is not really understood it may become necessary to regulate the activity of poultry markets. To learn more click on the image or title.

 

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PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean

PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
PLOS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.

Via Ed Rybicki
ComplexInsight's insight:

The oceans role as a viral and microbiological ecosystem is not well understood these findings are an important step in beginning to address that. Interesting paper. Click on image or title to learn more. 

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Will 'big data' prevent disease?

Will 'big data' prevent disease? | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
How the blistering pace of technological change could have a profound impact on healthcare.
ComplexInsight's insight:

The combination of sensors and automated tests in areas of genetics and proteomics enable collection of largescale comprehensive health data for the first time. That data will generate insights into human biology, our bacterial biome and how our health systems work. Advances in large scale data processing, correlation and machine learning will help over the next decade to  radically change our understanding of human biology. As data is collected and in silico experimentation mapped to invitrio understanding data will change our  healthcare systems over the next 30 years.  This BBC article gives a good insight into how and why this is starting to happen now.

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