ResearchPad - life-sciences https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A biological control model to manage the vector and the infection of <i>Xylella fastidiosa</i> on olive trees]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11237 Xylella fastidiosa pauca ST53 is the bacterium responsible for the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome that has killed millions of olive trees in Southern Italy. A recent work demonstrates that a rational integration of vector and transmission control measures, into a strategy based on chemical and physical control means, can manage Xylella fastidiosa invasion and impact below an acceptable economic threshold. In the present study, we propose a biological alternative to the chemical control action, which involves the predetermined use of an available natural enemy of Philaenus spumarius, i.e., Zelus renardii, for adult vector population and infection biocontrol. The paper combines two different approaches: a laboratory experiment to test the predation dynamics of Zelus renardii on Philaenus spumarius and its attitude as candidate for an inundation strategy; a simulated experiment of inundation, to preliminary test the efficacy of such strategy, before eventually proceeding to an in-field experimentation. With this double-fold approach we show that an inundation strategy with Zelus renardii has the potential to furnish an efficient and “green” solution to Xylella fastidiosa invasion, with a reduction of the pathogen incidence below 10%. The biocontrol model presented here could be promising for containing the impact and spread of Xylella fastidiosa, after an in-field validation of the inundation technique. Saving the fruit orchard, the production and the industry in susceptible areas could thus become an attainable goal, within comfortable parameters for sustainability, environmental safety, and effective plant health protection in organic orchard management.

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<![CDATA[Placental transfer of Letermovir &amp; Maribavir in the <i>ex vivo</i> human cotyledon perfusion model. New perspectives for <i>in utero</i> treatment of congenital cytomegalovirus infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11236 Congenital cytomegalovirus infection can lead to severe sequelae. When fetal infection is confirmed, we hypothesize that fetal treatment could improve the outcome. Maternal oral administration of an effective drug crossing the placenta could allow fetal treatment. Letermovir (LMV) and Maribavir (MBV) are new CMV antivirals, and potential candidates for fetal treatment.MethodsThe objective was to investigate the placental transfer of LMV and MBV in the ex vivo method of the human perfused cotyledon. Term placentas were perfused, in an open-circuit model, with LMV or MBV at concentrations in the range of clinical peak plasma concentrations. Concentrations were measured using ultraperformance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Mean fetal transfer rate (FTR) (fetal (FC) /maternal concentration), clearance index (CLI), accumulation index (AI) (retention of each drug in the cotyledon tissue) were measured. Mean FC were compared with half maximal effective concentrations of the drugs (EC50(LMV) and EC50(MBV)).ResultsFor LMV, the mean FC was (± standard deviation) 1.1 ± 0.2 mg/L, 1,000-fold above the EC50(LMV). Mean FTR, CLI and AI were 9 ± 1%, 35 ± 6% and 4 ± 2% respectively. For MBV, the mean FC was 1.4 ± 0.2 mg/L, 28-fold above the EC50(MBV). Mean FTR, CLI and AI were 10 ± 1%, 50 ± 7% and 2 ± 1% respectively.ConclusionsDrugs’ concentrations in the fetal side should be in the range for in utero treatment of fetuses infected with CMV as the mean FC was superior to the EC50 for both molecules. ]]> <![CDATA[Adaptive genetic diversity and evidence of population genetic structure in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (<i>Xenospiza baileyi</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11235 The magnitude and distribution of genetic diversity through space and time can provide useful information relating to evolutionary potential and conservation status in threatened species. In assessing genetic diversity in species that are of conservation concern, several studies have focused on the use of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). TLRs are innate immune genes related to pathogen resistance, and polymorphisms may reflect not only levels of functional diversity, but may also be used to assess genetic diversity within and among populations. Here, we combined four potentially adaptive markers (TLRs) with one mitochondrial (COI) marker to evaluate genetic variation in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (Xenospiza baileyi). This species offers an ideal model to investigate population and evolutionary genetic processes that may be occurring in a habitat restricted endangered species with disjunct populations (Mexico City and Durango), the census sizes of which differ by an order of magnitude. TLRs diversity in the Sierra Madre Sparrow was relatively high, which was not expected given its two small, geographically isolated populations. Genetic diversity was different (but not significantly so) between the two populations, with less diversity seen in the smaller Durango population. Population genetic structure between populations was due to isolation and different selective forces acting on different TLRs; population structure was also evident in COI. Reduction of genetic diversity in COI was observed over 20 years in the Durango population, a result likely caused by habitat loss, a factor which may be the main cause of diversity decline generally. Our results provide information related to the ways in which adaptive variation can be altered by demographic changes due to human-mediated habitat alterations. Furthermore, our findings may help to guide conservation schemes for both populations and their restricted habitat.

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<![CDATA[The emergence of social gaps in mental health: A longitudinal population study in Sweden, 1900-1959]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11234 During the recent decades, social inequalities in mental health have increased and are now one of the most persistent features of contemporary society. There is limited knowledge about when this pattern emerged or whether it has been a historically fixed feature. The objective of this study was to assess whether socioeconomic and gender gaps in mental health changed during the period 1900–1959 in Sweden. We used historical micro data which report all necessary information on individuals' demographic characteristics, occupational attainment and mental disorders (N = 2,450) in a Swedish population of 193,893. Changes over time was tested using multilevel Cox proportional hazard models. We tested how gender-specific risks of mental disorder changed and how gender-specific socioeconomic status was related to risks of mental disorder later in life. We found a reversal in gender gaps in mental health during the study period. Women had a lower risk than men in 1900 and higher risks in 1959. For men, we found a negative gradient in SES risks in 1900 and a positive gradient in 1959. For women, we found no clear SES gradient in the risk of mental disorder. These findings suggest that the contemporary patterns in socioeconomic and gender gaps in mental disorder emerged during the 1940s and 1950s and have since then persisted.

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<![CDATA[Administration of lower doses of radium-224 to ankylosing spondylitis patients results in no evidence of significant overall detriment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11232 The use of low doses of radium-224 (224Ra) chloride for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis was stopped following the discovery that patients treated with it had a higher than control incidence of leukaemia and other cancers. This was so even though the treatment resulted in decreased pain and increased mobility–both of which are associated with decreased mortality. It was decided to re-analyze the epidemiological data looking at all causes of death. The risk of leukaemia, solid cancer, death from non-cancer causes and from all causes in a study populations of men that received either the typical dose of 5.6 to 11.1 MBq of 224Ra, any dose of 224Ra or no radium were compared using the Cox proportional hazard model. For patients that received the typical dose of 224Ra agreed with the excess cancer was similar to that reported in previous studies. In contrast, these patients were less likely to die from non-cancer diseases and from all causes of death than the control patients. No excess mortality was also found in the population of all males that received the radionuclide. It is concluded that 224Ra treatment administered at low doses to patients with ankylosing spondylitis did not impact mortality from all causes. The study demonstrates the need to consider all causes of death and longevity when assessing health impacts following irradiation.

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<![CDATA[Chloroplast genomes of Rubiaceae: Comparative genomics and molecular phylogeny in subfamily Ixoroideae]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11231 In Rubiaceae phylogenetics, the number of markers often proved a limitation with authors failing to provide well-supported trees at tribal and generic levels. A robust phylogeny is a prerequisite to study the evolutionary patterns of traits at different taxonomic levels. Advances in next-generation sequencing technologies have revolutionized biology by providing, at reduced cost, huge amounts of data for an increased number of species. Due to their highly conserved structure, generally recombination-free, and mostly uniparental inheritance, chloroplast DNA sequences have long been used as choice markers for plant phylogeny reconstruction. The main objectives of this study are: 1) to gain insight in chloroplast genome evolution in the Rubiaceae (Ixoroideae) through efficient methodology for de novo assembly of plastid genomes; and, 2) to test the efficiency of mining SNPs in the nuclear genome of Ixoroideae based on the use of a coffee reference genome to produce well-supported nuclear trees. We assembled whole chloroplast genome sequences for 27 species of the Rubiaceae subfamily Ixoroideae using next-generation sequences. Analysis of the plastid genome structure reveals a relatively good conservation of gene content and order. Generally, low variation was observed between taxa in the boundary regions with the exception of the inverted repeat at both the large and short single copy junctions for some taxa. An average of 79% of the SNP determined in the Coffea genus are transferable to Ixoroideae, with variation ranging from 35% to 96%. In general, the plastid and the nuclear genome phylogenies are congruent with each other. They are well-resolved with well-supported branches. Generally, the tribes form well-identified clades but the tribe Sherbournieae is shown to be polyphyletic. The results are discussed relative to the methodology used and the chloroplast genome features in Rubiaceae and compared to previous Rubiaceae phylogenies.

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<![CDATA[Extending thermotolerance to tomato seedlings by inoculation with SA1 isolate of <i>Bacillus cereus</i> and comparison with exogenous humic acid application]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11229 Heat stress is one of the major abiotic stresses that impair plant growth and crop productivity. Plant growth-promoting endophytic bacteria (PGPEB) and humic acid (HA) are used as bio-stimulants and ecofriendly approaches to improve agriculture crop production and counteract the negative effects of heat stress. Current study aimed to analyze the effect of thermotolerant SA1 an isolate of Bacillus cereus and HA on tomato seedlings. The results showed that combine application of SA1+HA significantly improved the biomass and chlorophyll fluorescence of tomato plants under normal and heat stress conditions. Heat stress increased abscisic acid (ABA) and reduced salicylic acid (SA) content; however, combined application of SA1+HA markedly reduced ABA and increased SA. Antioxidant enzymes activities revealed that SA1 and HA treated plants exhibited increased levels of ascorbate peroxidase (APX), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and reduced glutathione (GSH). In addition, heat stress markedly reduced the amino acid contents; however, the amino acids were increased with co-application of SA1+HA. Similarly, inductively-coupled plasma mass-spectrometry results showed that plants treated with SA1+HA exhibited significantly higher iron (Fe+), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K+) uptake during heat stress. Heat stress increased the relative expression of SlWRKY33b and autophagy-related (SlATG5) genes, whereas co-application of SA1+HA augmented the heat stress response and reduced SlWRKY33b and SlATG5 expression. The heat stress-responsive transcription factor (SlHsfA1a) and high-affinity potassium transporter (SlHKT1) were upregulated in SA1+HA-treated plants. In conclusion, current findings suggest that co-application with SA1+HA can be used for the mitigation of heat stress damage in tomato plants and can be commercialized as a biofertilizer.

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<![CDATA[A modified arginine-depleting enzyme NEI-01 inhibits growth of pancreatic cancer cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11227 Arginine deprivation cancer therapy targets certain types of malignancies with positive result in many studies and clinical trials. NEI-01 was designed as a novel arginine-depleting enzyme comprising an albumin binding domain capable of binding to human serum albumin to lengthen its half-life. In the present work, NEI-01 is shown to bind to serum albumin from various species, including mice, rat and human. Single intraperitoneal administration of NEI-01 to mice reduced plasma arginine to undetectable level for at least 9 days. Treatment of NEI-01 specifically inhibited cell viability of MIA PaCa-2 and PANC-1 cancer cell lines, which were ASS1 negative. Using a human pancreatic mouse xenograft model, NEI-01 treatment significantly reduced tumor volume and weight. Our data provides proof of principle for a cancer treatment strategy using NEI-01.

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<![CDATA[A model for the assessment of bluetongue virus serotype 1 persistence in Spain]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11225 Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an arbovirus of ruminants that has been circulating in Europe continuously for more than two decades and has become endemic in some countries such as Spain. Spain is ideal for BTV epidemiological studies since BTV outbreaks from different sources and serotypes have occurred continuously there since 2000; BTV-1 has been reported there from 2007 to 2017. Here we develop a model for BTV-1 endemic scenario to estimate the risk of an area becoming endemic, as well as to identify the most influential factors for BTV-1 persistence. We created abundance maps at 1-km2 spatial resolution for the main vectors in Spain, Culicoides imicola and Obsoletus and Pulicaris complexes, by combining environmental satellite data with occurrence models and a random forest machine learning algorithm. The endemic model included vector abundance and host-related variables (farm density). The three most relevant variables in the endemic model were the abundance of C. imicola and Obsoletus complex and density of goat farms (AUC 0.86); this model suggests that BTV-1 is more likely to become endemic in central and southwestern regions of Spain. It only requires host- and vector-related variables to identify areas at greater risk of becoming endemic for bluetongue. Our results highlight the importance of suitable Culicoides spp. prediction maps for bluetongue epidemiological studies and decision-making about control and eradication measures.

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<![CDATA[The Language of Innovation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_10245 Predicting innovation is a peculiar problem in data science. Following its definition, an innovation is always a never-seen-before event, leaving no room for traditional supervised learning approaches. Here we propose a strategy to address the problem in the context of innovative patents, by defining innovations as never-seen-before associations of technologies and exploiting self-supervised learning techniques. We think of technological codes present in patents as a vocabulary and the whole technological corpus as written in a specific, evolving language. We leverage such structure with techniques borrowed from Natural Language Processing by embedding technologies in a high dimensional euclidean space where relative positions are representative of learned semantics. Proximity in this space is an effective predictor of specific innovation events, that outperforms a wide range of standard link-prediction metrics. The success of patented innovations follows a complex dynamics characterized by different patterns which we analyze in details with specific examples. The methods proposed in this paper provide a completely new way of understanding and forecasting innovation, by tackling it from a revealing perspective and opening interesting scenarios for a number of applications and further analytic approaches.

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<![CDATA[Thalamic, cortical, and amygdala involvement in the processing of a natural sound cue of danger]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7872 When others stop and silence ensues, animals respond as if threatened. This study highlights the brain areas involved in listening to the dangerous silence.

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<![CDATA[Using case-level context to classify cancer pathology reports]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7869 Individual electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical reports are often part of a larger sequence—for example, a single patient may generate multiple reports over the trajectory of a disease. In applications such as cancer pathology reports, it is necessary not only to extract information from individual reports, but also to capture aggregate information regarding the entire cancer case based off case-level context from all reports in the sequence. In this paper, we introduce a simple modular add-on for capturing case-level context that is designed to be compatible with most existing deep learning architectures for text classification on individual reports. We test our approach on a corpus of 431,433 cancer pathology reports, and we show that incorporating case-level context significantly boosts classification accuracy across six classification tasks—site, subsite, laterality, histology, behavior, and grade. We expect that with minimal modifications, our add-on can be applied towards a wide range of other clinical text-based tasks.

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<![CDATA[Breeding practices and trait preferences of smallholder farmers for indigenous sheep in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia: Inputs to design a breeding program]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7865 The aim of this study was to identify breeding practices and trait preferences for indigenous sheep in three districts (Estie, Farta and Lay Gayient) located in the northwest highlands of Ethiopia. Questionnaire survey and choice experiment methods were used to collect data from 370 smallholder farmers. Respondents were selected randomly among smallholder farmers who own sheep in the aforementioned districts. A generalized multinomial logit model was employed to examine preferences for sheep attributes, while descriptive statistics and index values were computed to describe sheep breeding practices. Having the highest index value of 0.36, income generation was ranked as the primary reason for keeping sheep, followed by meat and manure sources. The average flock size per smallholder farmer was 10.21 sheep. The majority of the smallholder farmers (91%) have the experience of selecting breeding rams and ewes within their own flock using diverse criteria. Given the highest index value of 0.34, body size was ranked as a primary ram and ewe selection criteria, followed by coat color. Furthermore, choice modeling results revealed that tail type, body size, coat color, growth rate, horn and ear size have shown significant influences on smallholder farmers’ preference for breeding rams (P<0.01). The part-worth utility coefficients were positive for all ram attributes except ear size. For breeding ewes, mothering ability, coat color, body size, lambing interval, growth rate, tail type and litter size have shown significant effects on choice preferences of smallholder farmers (P<0.05). Moreover, significant scale heterogeneity was observed among respondents for ewe attributes (P<0.001). Overall, the results implied that sheep breeding objectives suitable for the northwest highlands of the country can be derived from traits such as linear body measurement, weight and survival at different ages, and lambing intervals. However, selection decisions at the smallholder level should not only be based on estimated breeding values of traits included in the breeding objective but instead, incorporate ways to address farmers’ preference for qualitative traits.

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<![CDATA[Substantial improvement of tetraene macrolide production in <i>Streptomyces diastatochromogenes</i> by cumulative drug resistance mutations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7861 Tetraene macrolides remain one of the most reliable fungicidal agents as resistance of fungal pathogens to these antibiotics is relatively rare. The modes of action and biosynthesis of polyene macrolides had been the focus of research over the past few years. However, few studies have been carried out on the overproduction of polyene macrolides. In the present study, cumulative drug-resistance mutation was used to obtain a quintuple mutant G5-59 with huge tetraene macrolide overproduction from the starting strain Streptomyces diastatochromogenes 1628. Through DNA sequence analysis, the mutation points in the genes of rsmG, rpsL and rpoB were identified. Additionally, the growth characteristic and expression level of tetrRI gene (belonging to the large ATP binding regulator of LuxR family) involved in the biosynthesis of tetraene macrolides were analyzed. As examined with 5L fermentor, the quintuple mutant G5-59 grew very well and the maximum productivity of tetramycin A, tetramycin P and tetrin B was as high as 1735, 2811 and 1500 mg/L, which was 8.7-, 16- and 25-fold higher than that of the wild-type strain 1628, respectively. The quintuple mutant G5-59 could be useful for further improvement of tetraene macrolides production at industrial level.

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<![CDATA[Sustainability management of short-lived freshwater fish in human-altered ecosystems should focus on adult survival]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7859 Fish populations globally are susceptible to endangerment through exploitation and habitat loss. We present theoretical simulations to explore how reduced adult survival (age truncation) might affect short-lived freshwater fish species in human-altered contemporary environments. Our simulations evaluate two hypothetical "average fish" and five example fish species of age 1 or age 2 maturity. From a population equilibrium baseline representing a natural, unaltered environment we impose systematic reductions in adult survival and quantify how age truncation affects the causes of variation in population growth rate. We estimate the relative contributions to population growth rate arising from simulated temporal variation in age-specific vital rates and population structure. At equilibrium and irrespective of example species, population structure (first adult age class) and survival probability of the first two adult age classes are the most important determinants of population growth. As adult survival decreases, the first reproductive age class becomes increasingly important to variation in population growth. All simulated examples show the same general pattern of change with age truncation as known for exploited, longer-lived fish species in marine and freshwater environments. This implies age truncation is a general potential concern for fish biodiversity across life history strategies and ecosystems. Managers of short-lived, freshwater fishes in contemporary environments often focus on supporting reproduction to ensure population persistence. However, a strong focus on water management to support reproduction may reduce adult survival. Sustainability management needs a focus on mitigating adult mortality in human-altered ecosystems. A watershed spatial extent embracing land and water uses may be necessary to identify and mitigate causes of age truncation in freshwater species. Achieving higher adult survival will require paradigm transformations in society and government about water management priorities.

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<![CDATA[Modeling competitive evolution of multiple languages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7854 Increasing evidence demonstrates that in many places language coexistence has become ubiquitous and essential for supporting language and cultural diversity and associated with its financial and economic benefits. The competitive evolution among multiple languages determines the evolution outcome, either coexistence, or decline, or extinction. Here, we extend the Abrams-Strogatz model of language competition to multiple languages and then validate it by analyzing the behavioral transitions of language usage over the recent several decades in Singapore and Hong Kong. In each case, we estimate from data the model parameters that measure each language utility for its speakers and the strength of two biases, the majority preference for their language, and the minority aversion to it. The values of these two biases decide which language is the fastest growing in the competition and what would be the stable state of the system. We also study the system convergence time to stable states and discover the existence of tipping points with multiple attractors. Moreover, the critical slowdown of convergence to the stable fractions of language users appears near and peaks at the tipping points, signaling when the system approaches them. Our analysis furthers our understanding of evolution of various languages and the role of tipping points in behavioral transitions. These insights may help to protect languages from extinction and retain the language and cultural diversity.

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<![CDATA[Brazilian vegetarians diet quality markers and comparison with the general population: A nationwide cross-sectional study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7851 Vegetarianism is an increasingly common practice worldwide. Despite good evidence from other countries regarding vegetarians’ diet quality, data from the Brazilian population is still scarce.ObjectiveTo characterize the vegetarian Brazilian population and evaluate their diet quality compared to the general Brazilian population.MethodsWe performed a nationwide cross-sectional study using an online self-administered questionnaire, previously validated for the Brazilian population, to evaluate diet quality markers of vegetarians. The invitation to participate in the survey was spread nationwide, aimed at vegetarian communities. Individuals who considered themselves vegetarians and were at least 18 years old were eligible to participate. The results on regular intake and intake adequacy were compared among vegetarians and between genders using the Pearson’s chi-square test. The body mass index (BMI) were analyzed by the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) followed by Tukey post-hoc test. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test verified normality. All analyses considered bilateral hypotheses and a significance level of 5% (p <0.05).ResultsBrazilian vegetarians presented better diet quality markers, such as higher regular weekly intake and adequate daily intake of fruits and vegetables, and lower regular intake of soft drinks when compared to the general Brazilian population. Vegetarians also presented a proportionally higher consumption of natural foods and lower consumption of processed foods. Among vegetarians, a higher proportion of vegans showed positive results regarding diet markers analysis, when compared to vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians.ConclusionsVegetarians showed better results of diet adequacy when compared to the general population in Brazil, and vegans fared better when compared with other vegetarians. Despite the good results found, a large proportion of the participants still did not achieve the fruits and vegetables daily intake, according to the World Health Organization recommendations. ]]> <![CDATA[Methamphetamine administration increases hepatic CYP1A2 but not CYP3A activity in female guinea pigs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7848 Methamphetamine use has increased over the past decade and the first use of methamphetamine is most often when women are of reproductive age. Methamphetamine accumulates in the liver; however, little is known about the effect of methamphetamine use on hepatic drug metabolism. Methamphetamine was administered on 3 occassions to female Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs of reproductive age, mimicking recreational drug use. Low doses of test drugs caffeine and midazolam were administered after the third dose of methamphetamine to assess the functional activity of cytochrome P450 1A2 and 3A, respectively. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify the mRNA expression of factors involved in glucocorticoid signalling, inflammation, oxidative stress and drug transporters. This study showed that methamphetamine administration decreased hepatic CYP1A2 mRNA expression, but increased CYP1A2 enzyme activity. Methamphetamine had no effect on CYP3A enzyme activity. In addition, we found that methamphetamine may also result in changes in glucocorticoid bioavailability, as we found a decrease in 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 mRNA expression, which converts inactive cortisone into active cortisol. This study has shown that methamphetamine administration has the potential to alter drug metabolism via the CYP1A2 metabolic pathway in female guinea pigs. This may have clinical implications for drug dosing in female methamphetamine users of reproductive age.

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<![CDATA[Towards universal coverage for nutrition services in children under five years—A descriptive analysis of the capacity of level one hospitals to provide nutrition services in five provinces of Zambia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7846 Malnutrition continues to be a major public health challenge in Zambia. To effectively address this, health systems must be well strengthened to deliver an effective continuum of care. This paper examines health systems issues and services in relation to nutritional support to children under five years, in order to identify gaps and propose interventions towards universal coverage of essential nutrition services.MethodsThis analysis utilized data from a cross sectional mixed-methods study on factors associated with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in under-five children to assess health facility nutrition services on offer at select level-one hospitals in five out of ten provinces in Zambia. Stata version 13 was used for analysis. We conducted univariate analysis to assess nutrition services offered, functionality of equipment and tools, availability of human resource and human resource development, and availability of drugs used for assessment and management of nutrition-related health outcomes.ResultsWe found large variations in the level of nutrition services on offer across districts and provinces. Eighty-eight percent of all the hospitals sampled provided group nutrition counseling and 92% of the hospitals in our sample offered individual nutrition counseling to their clients. Overall, the existence of referral and counter-referral systems between the Community Based Volunteers and hospitals were the lowest among all services assessed at 48% and 58% respectively. We also found inadequate numbers of human resource across all cadres with an exception of nutritionists as recommended by the Ministry of Health.ConclusionsThis study has revealed a number of gaps in the health system and health service delivery that requires to be addressed; most notably, a lack of tools, policies and guidelines, drugs and health specialists to help care for malnourished infants and children. Our findings also reveal inadequate referral systems between the community and health facilities in the management of severe acute malnutrition. Achieving universal coverage for nutrition services in Zambia will require a lot more attention to the health systems issues found in this study. ]]> <![CDATA[Active Notch signaling is required for arm regeneration in a brittle star]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7845 Cell signaling pathways play key roles in coordinating cellular events in development. The Notch signaling pathway is highly conserved across all multicellular animals and is known to coordinate a multitude of diverse cellular events, including proliferation, differentiation, fate specification, and cell death. Specific functions of the pathway are, however, highly context-dependent and are not well characterized in post-traumatic regeneration. Here, we use a small-molecule inhibitor of the pathway (DAPT) to demonstrate that Notch signaling is required for proper arm regeneration in the brittle star Ophioderma brevispina, a highly regenerative member of the phylum Echinodermata. We also employ a transcriptome-wide gene expression analysis (RNA-seq) to characterize the downstream genes controlled by the Notch pathway in the brittle star regeneration. We demonstrate that arm regeneration involves an extensive cross-talk between the Notch pathway and other cell signaling pathways. In the regrowing arm, Notch regulates the composition of the extracellular matrix, cell migration, proliferation, and apoptosis, as well as components of the innate immune response. We also show for the first time that Notch signaling regulates the activity of several transposable elements. Our data also suggests that one of the possible mechanisms through which Notch sustains its activity in the regenerating tissues is via suppression of Neuralized1.

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