ResearchPad - equipment-preparation https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Mechanical characterization of PVA hydrogels’ rate-dependent response using multi-axial loading]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13820 The time-dependent properties of rubber-like synthesized and biological materials are crucial for their applications. Currently, this behavior is mainly measured using axial tensile test, compression test, or indentation. Limited studies performed on using multi-axial loading measurements of time-dependent material behavior exist in the literature. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the viscoelastic response of rubber-like materials under multi-axial loading using cavity expansion and relaxation tests. The tests were performed on PVA hydrogel specimens. Three hyperelasitc models and one term Prony series were used to characterize the viscoelastic response of the hydrogels. Finite element (FE) simulations were performed to verify the validity of the calibrated material coefficients by reproducing the experimental results. The excellent agreement between the experimental, analytical and numerical data proves the capability of the cavity expansion technique to measure the time-dependent behavior of viscoelastic materials.

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<![CDATA[Improved calibration estimators for the total cost of health programs and application to immunization in Brazil]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8977b1d5eed0c4847d3333

Multi-stage/level sampling designs have been widely used by survey statisticians as a means of obtaining reliable and efficient estimates at a reasonable implementation cost. This method has been particularly useful in National country-wide surveys to assess the costs of delivering public health programs, which are generally originated in different levels of service management and delivery. Unbiased and efficient estimates of costs are essential to adequately allocate resources and inform policy and planning. In recent years, the global health community has become increasingly interested in estimating the costs of immunization programs. In such programs, part of the cost correspond to vaccines and it is in most countries procured at the central level, while the rest of the costs are incurred in states, municipalities and health facilities, respectively. As such, total program cost is a result of adding these costs, and its variance should account for the relation between the totals at the different levels. An additional challenge is the missing information at the various levels. A variety of methods have been developed to compensate for this missing data. Weighting adjustments are often used to make the estimates consistent with readily-available information. For estimation of total program costs this implies adjusting the estimates at each level to comply with the characteristics of the country. In 2014, A National study to estimate the costs of the Brazilian National Immunization Program was initiated, requested by the Ministry of Health and with the support of international partners. We formulate a quick and useful way to compute the variance and deal with missing values at the various levels. Our approach involves calibrating the weights at each level using additional readily-available information such as the total number of doses administered. Taking the Brazilian immunization costing study as an example, this approach results in substantial gains in both efficiency and precision of the cost estimate.

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<![CDATA[Spores of puffball fungus Lycoperdon pyriforme as a reference standard of stable monodisperse aerosol for calibration of optical instruments]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b528ad5eed0c4842bcb24

Advanced air quality control requires real-time monitoring of particulate matter size and concentration, which can only be done using optical instruments. However, such techniques need regular calibration with reference samples. In this study, we suggest that puffball fungus (Lycoperdon pyriforme) spores can be utilized as a reference standard having a monodisperse size distribution. We compare the Lycoperdon pyriforme spores with the other commonly used reference samples, such as Al2O3 powder and polystyrene latex (PSL) microspheres. Here we demonstrate that the puffball spores do not coagulate and, thus, maintain the same particle size in the aerosol state for at least 15 minutes, which is enough for instrument calibration. Moreover, the puffball mushrooms can be stored for several years and no agglomeration of the spores occurs. They are also much cheaper than other calibration samples and no additional devices are needed for aerosol generation since the fungal fruiting body acts as an atomizer itself. The aforementioned features make the fungal spores a highly promising substance for calibration and validation of particle size analyzers, which outperforms the existing, artificially produced particles for aerosol sampling. Furthermore, the L. pyriforme spores are convenient for basic research and development of new optical measurement techniques, taking into account their uniform particle size and absent coagulation in the aerosol.

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<![CDATA[Purification of human butyrylcholinesterase from frozen Cohn fraction IV-4 by ion exchange and Hupresin affinity chromatography]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5afd5eed0c484ca75ae

Human butyrylcholinesterase (HuBChE) is being developed as a therapeutic for protection from the toxicity of nerve agents. An enriched source of HuBChE is Cohn fraction IV-4 from pooled human plasma. For the past 40 years, purification of HuBChE has included affinity chromatography on procainamide-Sepharose. The present report supports a new affinity sorbent, Hupresin, for purification of HuBChE from Cohn fraction IV-4. Nine batches of 70–80 kg frozen Cohn fraction were extracted with water, filtered, and chromatographed on 30 L of Q-Ceramic ion exchange sorbent at pH 4.5. The 4% pure Q-eluent was pumped onto 4.2 L Hupresin, where contaminants were washed off with 0.3 M NaCl in 20 mM sodium phosphate pH 8.0, before 99% pure HuBChE was eluted with 0.1 M tetramethylammonium bromide. The average yield was 1.5 g of HuBChE from 80 kg Cohn paste. Recovery of HuBChE was reduced by 90% when the paste was stored at -20°C for 1 year, and reduced 100% when stored at 4°C for 24h. No reduction in HuBChE recovery occurred when paste was stored at -80°C for 3 months or 3 years. Hupresin and procainamide-Sepharose were equally effective at purifying HuBChE from Cohn fraction. HuBChE in Cohn fraction required 1000-fold purification to attain 99% purity, but 15,000-fold purification when the starting material was plasma. HuBChE (P06276) purified from Cohn fraction was a 340 kDa tetramer of 4 identical N-glycated subunits, stable for years in solution or as a lyophilized product.

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<![CDATA[Assessment and verification of commercially available pressure cookers for laboratory sterilization]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1966d5d5eed0c484b53056

Laboratory science requires careful maintenance of sterile reagents and tools as well as the sterilization of waste prior to disposal. However, steam autoclaves typically used for this purpose may not be readily accessible to everyone in the scientific community, such as K-12 teachers, researchers in the field, students in under-funded laboratories, or persons in the developing world who lack funding and resources. This work examines the use of commercial electric pressure cookers as an alternative method for the sterilization of media, instruments, and waste. Four commonly available brands of pressure cooker were tested for their ability to sterilize microbiological media, a variety of metal instruments, and high-titer microbial cultures. All four pressure cookers were able to sterilize these starting materials as well as a range of microbial types, including Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, filamentous fungi, unicellular fungi, and mixed environmental samples. Only the Instant Pot, however, was able to sterilize autoclave tester ampoules of Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores. These results suggest that, depending on the nature of the work undertaken, store-bought pressure cookers can be an appropriate substitute for commercial autoclaves. Their adoption may also help increase the accessibility of science to a broader range of investigators.

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<![CDATA[Influenza Vaccine Manufacturing: Effect of Inactivation, Splitting and Site of Manufacturing. Comparison of Influenza Vaccine Production Processes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dafeab0ee8fa60bc590b

The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of different inactivation and splitting procedures on influenza vaccine product composition, stability and recovery to support transfer of process technology. Four split and two whole inactivated virus (WIV) influenza vaccine bulks were produced and compared with respect to release criteria, stability of the bulk and haemagglutinin recovery. One clarified harvest of influenza H3N2 A/Uruguay virus prepared on 25.000 fertilized eggs was divided equally over six downstream processes. The main unit operation for purification was sucrose gradient zonal ultracentrifugation. The inactivation of the virus was performed with either formaldehyde in phosphate buffer or with beta-propiolactone in citrate buffer. For splitting of the viral products in presence of Tween®, either Triton X-100 or di-ethyl-ether was used. Removal of ether was established by centrifugation and evaporation, whereas removal of Triton-X100 was performed by hydrophobic interaction chromatography. All products were sterile filtered and subjected to a 5 months real time stability study. In all processes, major product losses were measured after sterile filtration; with larger losses for split virus than for WIV. The beta-propiolactone inactivation on average resulted in higher recoveries compared to processes using formaldehyde inactivation. Especially ether split formaldehyde product showed low recovery and least stability over a period of five months.

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<![CDATA[A Simple and Rapid Method for Preparing a Cell-Free Bacterial Lysate for Protein Synthesis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf1ab0ee8fa60bc15fe

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) systems are important laboratory tools that are used for various synthetic biology applications. Here, we present a simple and inexpensive laboratory-scale method for preparing a CFPS system from E. coli. The procedure uses basic lab equipment, a minimal set of reagents, and requires less than one hour to process the bacterial cell mass into a functional S30-T7 extract. BL21(DE3) and MRE600 E. coli strains were used to prepare the S30-T7 extract. The CFPS system was used to produce a set of fluorescent and therapeutic proteins of different molecular weights (up to 66 kDa). This system was able to produce 40–150 μg-protein/ml, with variations depending on the plasmid type, expressed protein and E. coli strain. Interestingly, the BL21-based CFPS exhibited stability and increased activity at 40 and 45°C. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most rapid and affordable lab-scale protocol for preparing a cell-free protein synthesis system, with high thermal stability and efficacy in producing therapeutic proteins.

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<![CDATA[Optimization and evaluation of astragalus polysaccharide injectable thermoresponsive in-situ gels]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdc195

The objective of this study was to develop an injectable in situ forming gel system based on Poloxamer for sustained release of Astragalus polysaccharide (APS), thus achieved once or twice administration instead of frequent dosing during long-term treatment. The optimal formulation is 10 g APS, 18 g poloxamer 407, 2 g poloxamer 188, 0.15 g CMC-Na, 0.85 g sodium chloride in 100 ml gel in situ which had a preferable sol-gel transition temperature(T sol-gel) (34.1 ± 0.4°C), and good stability. In vitro release studies, all formulations containing polymer additives had prolonged release time and decreased initial burst to some extent. The optimal formulation containing 0.15% CMC-Na showed a best sustained release profile for about 132 h with the lowest initial burst in vitro about 16.30% in 12 h). In vivo, Male BALB/c mice (18–20 g) were administrated with APS in-situ gel just once, the values of immune organ indices, spleen lymphocyte proliferation, and serum IgM, IgG, IL-2 and IL-6 had significant increase, which was consistent with the mice given daily APS injections (7 times), while the above indices were increased more significantly in which administrated with APS in-situ gel twice. Based on these results, it can be concluded that the Poloxamer depot is a promising carrier for the sustained release of APS with an ideal release behavior.

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<![CDATA[Suburothelial Bladder Contraction Detection with Implanted Pressure Sensor]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db05ab0ee8fa60bc8386

Aims

Managing bladder pressure in patients with neurogenic bladders is needed to improve rehabilitation options, avoid upper tract damage, incontinence, and their associated co-morbidities and mortality. Current methods of determining bladder contractions are not amenable to chronic or ambulatory settings. In this study we evaluated detection of bladder contractions using a novel piezoelectric catheter-free pressure sensor placed in a suburothelial bladder location in animals.

Methods

Wired prototypes of the pressure monitor were implanted into 2 nonsurvival (feline and canine) and one 13-day survival (canine) animal. Vesical pressures were obtained from the device in both suburothelial and intraluminal locations and simultaneously from a pressure sensing catheter in the bladder. Intravesical pressure was monitored in the survival animal over 10 days from the suburothelial location and necropsy was performed to assess migration and erosion.

Results

In the nonsurvival animals, the average correlation between device and reference catheter data was high during both electrically stimulated bladder contractions and manual compressions (r = 0.93±0.03, r = 0.89±0.03). Measured pressures correlated strongly (r = 0.98±0.02) when the device was placed in the bladder lumen. The survival animal initially recorded physiologic data, but later this deteriorated. However, endstage intraluminal device recordings correlated (r = 0.85±0.13) with the pressure catheter. Significant erosion of the implant through the detrusor was found.

Conclusions

This study confirms correlation between suburothelial pressure readings and intravesical bladder pressures. Due to device erosion during ambulatory studies, a wireless implant is recommended for clinical rehabilitation applications.

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<![CDATA[The Cultivation of Arabidopsis for Experimental Research Using Commercially Available Peat-Based and Peat-Free Growing Media]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db17ab0ee8fa60bcd561

Experimental research involving Arabidopsis thaliana often involves the quantification of phenotypic traits during cultivation on compost or other growing media. Many commercially-available growing media contain peat, but peat extraction is not sustainable due to its very slow rate of formation. Moreover, peat extraction reduces peatland biodiversity and releases stored carbon and methane into the atmosphere. Here, we compared the experimental performance of Arabidopsis on peat-based and several types of commercially-available peat-free growing media (variously formed from coir, composted bark, wood-fibre, and domestic compost), to provide guidance for reducing peat use in plant sciences research with Arabidopsis. Arabidopsis biomass accumulation and seed yield were reduced by cultivation on several types of peat-free growing media. Arabidopsis performed extremely poorly on coir alone, presumably because this medium was completely nitrate-free. Some peat-free growing media were more susceptible to fungal contamination. We found that autoclaving of control (peat-based) growing media had no effect upon any physiological parameters that we examined, compared with non-autoclaved control growing media, under our experimental conditions. Overall, we conclude that Arabidopsis performs best when cultivated on peat-based growing media because seed yield was almost always reduced when peat-free media were used. This may be because standard laboratory protocols and growth conditions for Arabidopsis are optimized for peat-based media. However, during the vegetative growth phase several phenotypic traits were comparable between plants cultivated on peat-based and some peat-free media, suggesting that under certain circumstances peat-free media can be suitable for phenotypic analysis of Arabidopsis.

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<![CDATA[The Prison Economy of Needles and Syringes: What Opportunities Exist for Blood Borne Virus Risk Reduction When Prices Are so High?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3dab0ee8fa60b8888f

Aim

A formal Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) is not provided in Australian prisons. Injecting equipment circulates in prisons as part of an informal and illegal economy. This paper examined how this economy generates blood-borne virus (BBV) risk and risk mitigation opportunities for inmates.

Method

The HITS-p cohort recruited New South Wales inmates who had reported ever injecting drugs and who had a negative HCV serological test within 12 months prior to enrolment. For this study, qualitative interviews were conducted with 30 participants enrolled in HITS-p. Participants included 10 women and were incarcerated in 12 prisons.

Results

A needle/syringe was nominated as being typically priced in the ‘inside’ prison economy at $100-$150, with a range of $50-$350. Purchase or hire of equipment was paid for in cash (including transactions that occurred outside prison) and in exchange for drugs and other commodities. A range of other resources was required to enable successful needle/syringe economies, especially relationships with visitors and other prisoners, and violence to ensure payment of debts. Strategies to mitigate BBV risk included retaining one needle/syringe for personal use while hiring out others, keeping drug use (and ownership of equipment) “quiet”, stealing used equipment from the prison health clinic, and manufacture of syringes from other items available in the prison.

Conclusions

The provision of prison NSP would disrupt the inside economies built around contraband needles/syringes, as well as minimise BBV risk. However, any model of prison NSP should be interrogated for any unanticipated markets that could be generated as a result of its regulatory practices.

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<![CDATA[Hard Surface Biocontrol in Hospitals Using Microbial-Based Cleaning Products]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daecab0ee8fa60bbf9cc

Background

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are one of the most frequent complications occurring in healthcare facilities. Contaminated environmental surfaces provide an important potential source for transmission of many healthcare-associated pathogens, thus indicating the need for new and sustainable strategies.

Aim

This study aims to evaluate the effect of a novel cleaning procedure based on the mechanism of biocontrol, on the presence and survival of several microorganisms responsible for HAIs (i.e. coliforms, Staphyloccus aureus, Clostridium difficile, and Candida albicans) on hard surfaces in a hospital setting.

Methods

The effect of microbial cleaning, containing spores of food grade Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus and Bacillus megaterium, in comparison with conventional cleaning protocols, was evaluated for 24 weeks in three independent hospitals (one in Belgium and two in Italy) and approximately 20000 microbial surface samples were collected.

Results

Microbial cleaning, as part of the daily cleaning protocol, resulted in a reduction of HAI-related pathogens by 50 to 89%. This effect was achieved after 3–4 weeks and the reduction in the pathogen load was stable over time. Moreover, by using microbial or conventional cleaning alternatively, we found that this effect was directly related to the new procedure, as indicated by the raise in CFU/m2 when microbial cleaning was replaced by the conventional procedure. Although many questions remain regarding the actual mechanisms involved, this study demonstrates that microbial cleaning is a more effective and sustainable alternative to chemical cleaning and non-specific disinfection in healthcare facilities.

Conclusions

This study indicates microbial cleaning as an effective strategy in continuously lowering the number of HAI-related microorganisms on surfaces. The first indications on the actual level of HAIs in the trial hospitals monitored on a continuous basis are very promising, and may pave the way for a novel and cost-effective strategy to counteract or (bio)control healthcare-associated pathogens.

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<![CDATA[Potential of Environmental DNA to Evaluate Northern Pike (Esox lucius) Eradication Efforts: An Experimental Test and Case Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daecab0ee8fa60bbf643

Determining the success of invasive species eradication efforts is challenging because populations at very low abundance are difficult to detect. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling has recently emerged as a powerful tool for detecting rare aquatic animals; however, detectable fragments of DNA can persist over time despite absence of the targeted taxa and can therefore complicate eDNA sampling after an eradication event. This complication is a large concern for fish eradication efforts in lakes since killed fish can sink to the bottom and slowly decay. DNA released from these carcasses may remain detectable for long periods. Here, we evaluated the efficacy of eDNA sampling to detect invasive Northern pike (Esox lucius) following piscicide eradication efforts in southcentral Alaskan lakes. We used field observations and experiments to test the sensitivity of our Northern pike eDNA assay and to evaluate the persistence of detectable DNA emitted from Northern pike carcasses. We then used eDNA sampling and traditional sampling (i.e., gillnets) to test for presence of Northern pike in four lakes subjected to a piscicide-treatment designed to eradicate this species. We found that our assay could detect an abundant, free-roaming population of Northern pike and could also detect low-densities of Northern pike held in cages. For these caged Northern pike, probability of detection decreased with distance from the cage. We then stocked three lakes with Northern pike carcasses and collected eDNA samples 7, 35 and 70 days post-stocking. We detected DNA at 7 and 35 days, but not at 70 days. Finally, we collected eDNA samples ~ 230 days after four lakes were subjected to piscicide-treatments and detected Northern pike DNA in 3 of 179 samples, with a single detection at each of three lakes, though we did not catch any Northern pike in gillnets. Taken together, we found that eDNA can help to inform eradication efforts if used in conjunction with multiple lines of inquiry and sampling is delayed long enough to allow full degradation of DNA in the water.

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<![CDATA[A Method and On-Line Tool for Maximum Likelihood Calibration of Immunoblots and Other Measurements That Are Quantified in Batches]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9deab0ee8fa60b687d1

Experimental measurements require calibration to transform measured signals into physically meaningful values. The conventional approach has two steps: the experimenter deduces a conversion function using measurements on standards and then calibrates (or normalizes) measurements on unknown samples with this function. The deduction of the conversion function from only the standard measurements causes the results to be quite sensitive to experimental noise. It also implies that any data collected without reliable standards must be discarded. Here we show that a “1-step calibration method” reduces these problems for the common situation in which samples are measured in batches, where a batch could be an immunoblot (Western blot), an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), a sequence of spectra, or a microarray, provided that some sample measurements are replicated across multiple batches. The 1-step method computes all calibration results iteratively from all measurements. It returns the most probable values for the sample compositions under the assumptions of a statistical model, making them the maximum likelihood predictors. It is less sensitive to measurement error on standards and enables use of some batches that do not include standards. In direct comparison of both real and simulated immunoblot data, the 1-step method consistently exhibited smaller errors than the conventional “2-step” method. These results suggest that the 1-step method is likely to be most useful for cases where experimenters want to analyze existing data that are missing some standard measurements and where experimenters want to extract the best results possible from their data. Open source software for both methods is available for download or on-line use.

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<![CDATA[Activation and inactivation of Bacillus pumilus spores by kiloelectron volt X-ray irradiation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf737

In this study, we investigated the inactivation efficacy of endospore-forming bacteria, Bacillus pumilus, irradiated by low-energy X-rays of different beam qualities. The different low-energy X-rays studied had cut-off energies of 50, 100 and 150 keV. Bacillus pumilus spores (in biological indicator strips) were irradiated at step doses between 6.5 to 390 Gy. The resulting bacteria populations were then quantified by a pour plate method. Results showed that X-rays of lower energies were more effective in inactivating bacterial spores. In addition, an increment in bacterial population was observed at doses below 13Gy. We attributed this increase to a radiation-induced activation of bacterial spores. Four kinetic models were then evaluated for their prediction of bacterial spore behavior under irradiation. This included: (i) first-order kinetics model; (ii) Shull model; (iii) Sapru model; and (iv) probabilistic model. From R2 and AIC analyses, we noted that the probabilistic model performed the best, followed by the Sapru model. We highlighted that for simplicity in curve fitting the Sapru model should be used instead of the probabilistic model. A 12-log reduction in bacterial population (corresponding to a sterility assurance level of 10−6 as required in the sterilization of medical devices) was computed to be achievable at doses of 1000, 1600 and 2300 Gy for the three different X-ray cut-off energies respectively. These doses are an order in magnitude lesser than that required in gamma irradiation. This highlights the applicability of cheaper and safer table-top X-ray sources for sterilization application.

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<![CDATA[Persistence of Low Pathogenic Influenza A Virus in Water: A Systematic Review and Quantitative Meta-Analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da71ab0ee8fa60b95017

Avian influenza viruses are able to persist in the environment, in-between the transmission of the virus among its natural hosts. Quantifying the environmental factors that affect the persistence of avian influenza virus is important for influencing our ability to predict future outbreaks and target surveillance and control methods. We conducted a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis of the environmental factors that affect the decay of low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) in water. Abiotic factors affecting the persistence of LPAIV have been investigated for nearly 40 years, yet published data was produced by only 26 quantitative studies. These studies have been conducted by a small number of principal authors (n = 17) and have investigated a narrow range of environmental conditions, all of which were based in laboratories with limited reflection of natural conditions. The use of quantitative meta-analytic techniques provided the opportunity to assess persistence across a greater range of conditions than each individual study can achieve, through the estimation of mean effect-sizes and relationships among multiple variables. Temperature was the most influential variable, for both the strength and magnitude of the effect-size. Moderator variables explained a large proportion of the heterogeneity among effect-sizes. Salinity and pH were important factors, although future work is required to broaden the range of abiotic factors examined, as well as including further diurnal variation and greater environmental realism generally. We were unable to extract a quantitative effect-size estimate for approximately half (50.4%) of the reported experimental outcomes and we strongly recommend a minimum set of quantitative reporting to be included in all studies, which will allow robust assimilation and analysis of future findings. In addition we suggest possible means of increasing the applicability of future studies to the natural environment, and evaluating the biological content of natural waterbodies.

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<![CDATA[Assessment of laboratory and daily energy expenditure estimates from consumer multi-sensor physical activity monitors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbd65

Wearable physical activity monitors are growing in popularity and provide the opportunity for large numbers of the public to self-monitor physical activity behaviours. The latest generation of these devices feature multiple sensors, ostensibly similar or even superior to advanced research instruments. However, little is known about the accuracy of their energy expenditure estimates. Here, we assessed their performance against criterion measurements in both controlled laboratory conditions (simulated activities of daily living and structured exercise) and over a 24 hour period in free-living conditions. Thirty men (n = 15) and women (n = 15) wore three multi-sensor consumer monitors (Microsoft Band, Apple Watch and Fitbit Charge HR), an accelerometry-only device as a comparison (Jawbone UP24) and validated research-grade multi-sensor devices (BodyMedia Core and individually calibrated Actiheart). During discrete laboratory activities when compared against indirect calorimetry, the Apple Watch performed similarly to criterion measures. The Fitbit Charge HR was less consistent at measurement of discrete activities, but produced similar free-living estimates to the Apple Watch. Both these devices underestimated free-living energy expenditure (-394 kcal/d and -405 kcal/d, respectively; P<0.01). The multi-sensor Microsoft Band and accelerometry-only Jawbone UP24 devices underestimated most laboratory activities and substantially underestimated free-living expenditure (-1128 kcal/d and -998 kcal/d, respectively; P<0.01). None of the consumer devices were deemed equivalent to the reference method for daily energy expenditure. For all devices, there was a tendency for negative bias with greater daily energy expenditure. No consumer monitors performed as well as the research-grade devices although in some (but not all) cases, estimates were close to criterion measurements. Thus, whilst industry-led innovation has improved the accuracy of consumer monitors, these devices are not yet equivalent to the best research-grade devices or indeed equivalent to each other. We propose independent quality standards and/or accuracy ratings for consumer devices are required.

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<![CDATA[Surveying Europe’s Only Cave-Dwelling Chordate Species (Proteus anguinus) Using Environmental DNA]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdc9de

In surveillance of subterranean fauna, especially in the case of rare or elusive aquatic species, traditional techniques used for epigean species are often not feasible. We developed a non-invasive survey method based on environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of the red-listed cave-dwelling amphibian, Proteus anguinus, in the caves of the Dinaric Karst. We tested the method in fifteen caves in Croatia, from which the species was previously recorded or expected to occur. We successfully confirmed the presence of P. anguinus from ten caves and detected the species for the first time in five others. Using a hierarchical occupancy model we compared the availability and detection probability of eDNA of two water sampling methods, filtration and precipitation. The statistical analysis showed that both availability and detection probability depended on the method and estimates for both probabilities were higher using filter samples than for precipitation samples. Combining reliable field and laboratory methods with robust statistical modeling will give the best estimates of species occurrence.

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<![CDATA[Development of Cheaper Embryo Vitrification Device Using the Minimum Volume Method]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f6ab0ee8fa60b704b6

This study was designed to compare the efficiency of the Cryotop and Calibrated plastic inoculation loop (CPIL) devices for vitrification of rabbit embryos on in vitro development and implantation rate, offspring rate at birth and embryonic and fetal losses. CPIL is a simple tool used mainly by microbiologists to retrieve an inoculum from a culture of microorganisms. In experiment 1, embryos were vitrified using a Cryotop device and a CPIL device. There were no significant differences in hatched/hatching blastocyst stage rates after 48 h of culture among the vitrified groups (62±4.7% and 62±4.9%, respectively); however, the rates were significantly lower (P<0.05) than those of the fresh group (95±3.4%). In experiment 2, vitrified embryos were transferred using laparoscopic technique. The number of implanted embryos was estimated by laparoscopy as number of implantation sites at day 14 of gestation. At birth, total offspring were recorded. Embryonic and fetal losses were calculated as the difference between implanted embryos and embryos transferred and total born at birth and implanted embryos, respectively. The rate of implantation and development to term was similar between both vitrification devices (56±7.2% and 50±6.8% for implantation rate and 40±7.1% and 35±6.5% for offspring rate at birth); but significantly lower than in the fresh group (78±6.6% for implantation rate and 70±7.2% for offspring rate at birth, P<0.05). Likewise, embryonic losses were similar between both vitrification devices (44±7.2% and 50±6.8%), but significantly higher than in the fresh group (23±6.6%, P < 0.05). However, fetal losses were similar between groups (10±4.4%, 15±4.8% and 8±4.2%, for vitrified, Cryotop or CPIL and fresh, respectively). These results indicate that the CPIL device is as effective as the Cryotop device for vitrification of rabbit embryos, but at a cost of €0.05 per device.

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<![CDATA[A Shipping Container-Based Sterile Processing Unit for Low Resources Settings]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da2dab0ee8fa60b830ba

Deficiencies in the sterile processing of medical instruments contribute to poor outcomes for patients, such as surgical site infections, longer hospital stays, and deaths. In low resources settings, such as some rural and semi-rural areas and secondary and tertiary cities of developing countries, deficiencies in sterile processing are accentuated due to the lack of access to sterilization equipment, improperly maintained and malfunctioning equipment, lack of power to operate equipment, poor protocols, and inadequate quality control over inventory. Inspired by our sterile processing fieldwork at a district hospital in Sierra Leone in 2013, we built an autonomous, shipping-container-based sterile processing unit to address these deficiencies. The sterile processing unit, dubbed “the sterile box,” is a full suite capable of handling instruments from the moment they leave the operating room to the point they are sterile and ready to be reused for the next surgery. The sterile processing unit is self-sufficient in power and water and features an intake for contaminated instruments, decontamination, sterilization via non-electric steam sterilizers, and secure inventory storage. To validate efficacy, we ran tests of decontamination and sterilization performance. Results of 61 trials validate convincingly that our sterile processing unit achieves satisfactory outcomes for decontamination and sterilization and as such holds promise to support healthcare facilities in low resources settings.

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