ResearchPad - opinion-article https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome: advice in the times of COVID-19]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_9244 The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory disease in China at the end of 2019. It then spread with enormous rapidity and by mid-March 2020 was declared a world pandemic. Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome (GTS) is a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder with a worldwide prevalence of about 1% of the population. The clinical symptoms include multiple motor and one or more phonic (vocal) tics. Germane to this communication is that 85% of patients with GTS have associated psychiatric co-morbidities, many of which are being exacerbated in the current global health crisis. In addition, several symptoms of GTS may mimic COVID-19, such as a dry cough and sniffing (phonic tics), while other symptoms such as spitting, inappropriate touching of others and “non-obscene socially inappropriate symptoms” can potentially get patients with GTS into trouble with the law. We suggest that a clear explanation of the COVID-19 illness and GTS is important to enable colleagues of various specialities who tend to patients with GTS. It is important to acknowledge at the outset that the information available on the COVID-19 pandemic changes daily, including cases infected, deaths reported, and how various national health systems are planning and or coping or not. It is fair to say that having read the current medical and lay press we conclude that it is not easy to reassure our patients with absolute certainty. However, notwithstanding that, we hope our documentation is of some assistance.

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<![CDATA[Epidemic Surveillance of Covid-19: Considering Uncertainty and Under-Ascertainment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N54c27969-b75f-457d-afb8-b1df11381ef5 Epidemic surveillance is a fundamental part of public health practice. Addressing under-ascertainment of cases is relevant in most surveillance systems, especially in pandemics of new diseases with a large spectrum of clinical presentations as it may influence timings of policy implementation and public risk perception. From this perspective, this article presents and discusses early evidence on under-ascertainment of COVID-19 and its motifs, options for surveillance, and reflections around their importance to tailor public health measures. In the case of COVID-19, systematically addressing and estimating under-ascertainment of cases is essential to tailor timely public health measures, and communicating these findings is of the utmost importance for policy making and public perception.

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<![CDATA[Ecological restoration should be redefined for the twenty‐first century]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bff41add5eed0c484aa1988

Forty years ago, ecological restoration was conceptualized through a natural science lens. Today, ecological restoration has evolved into a social and scientific concept. The duality of ecological restoration is acknowledged in guidance documents on the subject but is not apparent in its definition. Current definitions reflect our views about what ecological restoration does but not why we do it. This viewpoint does not give appropriate credit to contributions from social sciences, nor does it provide compelling goals for people with different motivating rationales to engage in or support restoration. In this study, I give a concise history of the conceptualization and definition of ecological restoration, and I propose an alternative definition and corresponding viewpoint on restoration goal‐setting to meet twenty‐first century scientific and public inquiry.

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<![CDATA[Advocate cultivation of academic ethics: why is it necessary?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2528791b-2064-4eed-8157-57ae09c5e546

We teach and practice ethical behavior with all clinical and research activities. Notably, we are well educated to treat the subjects participating in research studies with high ethical standards. However, the ethics of interacting with colleagues, or with junior faculty members, are neither well defined nor taught. Dealing with junior faculty has parallels to dealing with vulnerable research subjects such as children, mentally or physically challenged groups, prison inmates or army recruits. Like any other vulnerable population, lower-ranking faculty members are often at the mercy of department chairs or other higher-ranked faculty members. Herein we present some potentially unethical or unfair examples related to academic research. Our goal is to educate the academic community of conceptual paths and to prevent similar untoward occurrences from happening in the future. Unethical behaviors related to sexual misconduct have already been described elsewhere and are not included in this manuscript.

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<![CDATA[Therapeutic strategies in an outbreak scenario to treat the novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nda522b30-e2e0-49a0-a4ba-049907d61124

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originating in Wuhan, China presents a potential respiratory viral pandemic to the world population. Current efforts are focused on containment and quarantine of infected individuals. Ultimately, the outbreak could be controlled with a protective vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. While vaccine research should be pursued intensely, there exists today no therapy to treat 2019-nCoV upon infection, despite an urgent need to find options to help these patients and preclude potential death. Herein, I review the potential options to treat 2019-nCoV in patients, with an emphasis on the necessity for speed and timeliness in developing new and effective therapies in this outbreak. I consider the options of drug repurposing, developing neutralizing monoclonal antibody therapy, and an oligonucleotide strategy targeting the viral RNA genome, emphasizing the promise and pitfalls of these approaches. Finally, I advocate for the fastest strategy to develop a treatment now, which could be resistant to any mutations the virus may have in the future. The proposal is a biologic that blocks 2019-nCoV entry using a soluble version of the viral receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), fused to an immunoglobulin Fc domain (ACE2-Fc), providing a neutralizing antibody with maximal breath to avoid any viral escape, while also helping to recruit the immune system to build lasting immunity. The ACE2-Fc therapy would also supplement decreased ACE2 levels in the lungs during infection, thereby directly treating acute respiratory distress pathophysiology as a third mechanism of action. The sequence of the ACE2-Fc protein is provided to investigators, allowing its possible use in recombinant protein expression systems to start producing drug today to treat patients under compassionate use, while formal clinical trials are later undertaken. Such a treatment could help infected patients before a protective vaccine is developed and widely available in the coming months to year(s).

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<![CDATA[Learning from cases: Analysis of two cases of craniopharyngioma from the 19th to the 21st centuries.]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Na89a23de-0831-48d4-9e69-91746597af31

This manuscript describes the study of two cases of craniopharyngioma, which have been examined repeatedly over three separate centuries. This includes analysis by Josef Engel in 1839, who sought to uncover the physiological role of the pituitary gland; Jacob Erdheim in 1904, who initially described the disease we now call craniopharyngioma, and recent high resolution MRI and micro-CT imaging and attempted DNA analyses of the tumours. The cases highlight how, rightly or wrongly, our interpretation of data is shaped by the technologies, methodologies and prevailing theories of a given time.

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<![CDATA[The why, when, and how of computing in biology classrooms]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2accbf10-272e-4799-ad22-037a198bc155

Many biologists are interested in teaching computing skills or using computing in the classroom, despite not being formally trained in these skills themselves. Thus biologists may find themselves researching how to teach these skills, and therefore many individuals are individually attempting to discover resources and methods to do so. Recent years have seen an expansion of new technologies to assist in delivering course content interactively. Educational research provides insights into how learners absorb and process information during interactive learning. In this review, we discuss the value of teaching foundational computing skills to biologists, and strategies and tools to do so. Additionally, we review the literature on teaching practices to support the development of these skills. We pay special attention to meeting the needs of diverse learners, and consider how different ways of delivering course content can be leveraged to provide a more inclusive classroom experience. Our goal is to enable biologists to teach computational skills and use computing in the classroom successfully.

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<![CDATA[Public health research needs for molecular epidemiology and to emphasize homeostasis – could the omnipotent endopeptidase inhibitor α-2-macroglobulin be a meaningful biomarker?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7b15a2e6-a91c-4ccf-82af-74556c296701

Public health authorities in low- and middle-income countries face dramatic challenges in handling rapidly increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), due to the epidemiological- and particularly nutritional transition. Among major reasons for the development of NCDs are smoking and alcohol, but overnutrition and obesity are also major threats to population health. Obesity is related to diabetes and cancer, but also has a genetic background. It is difficult to recommend a healthy nutrition. This is because of conflicting nutritional conceptions, and given the complexity of human metabolism understanding this topic can be difficult for the laymen.  Public health measures advocating physical activity and refraining from high intake of energy, sugar and soft drinks need to be enhanced by supporting the ‘intrinsic motivation’ to preserve a good health. The mission of public health should be to increase awareness about the complexity of human metabolism, and the involvement of genetic and epigenetics in health and diseases. To maintain homeostasis, means to keep an optimal relationship between catabolism and synthesis, seems to be of particular interest. Preconditions for this is, that public health institutions within the administration- and academic sector follow up developments in life science and molecular biology and conduct population-based research making use of molecular epidemiology, especially those related to key metabolic steps and maintenance of ‘homeostasis’, in balancing catabolism and anabolism. A prospective biomarker for this situation might be α-2-macroglobulin.

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<![CDATA[NGOs’ experiences of navigating the open access landscape]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nb7974709-a9af-42c4-9e51-ed1fe35a878e

Grant-led consortia working in the global development sector rely on the input of local and national non-government organisations in low- and middle-income countries. However, the open access mandates and mechanisms embedded within grants and promoted by funders and publishers are designed almost exclusively with large universities and research institutions in mind. Experiences from the consortium of health research non-government organisations comprising the Communicable Diseases Health Service Delivery research programme show that implementing open access mandates is not as simple or frictionless as it initially appears.

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<![CDATA[An intrinsically disordered proteins community for ELIXIR]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N3e0dcdb9-f33d-4bab-a191-a6ddffb92d79

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) are now recognised as major determinants in cellular regulation. This white paper presents a roadmap for future e-infrastructure developments in the field of IDP research within the ELIXIR framework. The goal of these developments is to drive the creation of high-quality tools and resources to support the identification, analysis and functional characterisation of IDPs. The roadmap is the result of a workshop titled “An intrinsically disordered protein user community proposal for ELIXIR” held at the University of Padua. The workshop, and further consultation with the members of the wider IDP community, identified the key priority areas for the roadmap including the development of standards for data annotation, storage and dissemination; integration of IDP data into the ELIXIR Core Data Resources; and the creation of benchmarking criteria for IDP-related software. Here, we discuss these areas of priority, how they can be implemented in cooperation with the ELIXIR platforms, and their connections to existing ELIXIR Communities and international consortia. The article provides a preliminary blueprint for an IDP Community in ELIXIR and is an appeal to identify and involve new stakeholders.

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<![CDATA[Quantitative SPECT: the time is now]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ca25a8bd5eed0c4846d1758

Background

Quantification is one of the key benefits of nuclear medicine imaging. Recently, driven by the demand for post radionuclide therapy imaging, quantitative SPECT has moved from relative and semiquantitative measures to absolute quantification in terms of activity concentration, and yet further to normalised uptake using the standard uptake value (SUV). This expansion of quantitative SPECT has the potential to be a useful tool in the nuclear medicine armoury, but key factors must be addressed before it can meet its full potential.

Discussion

Quantitative SPECT should address an unmet clinical need and give metrics that are clinically meaningful. Using the technique in a similar manner to PET with longitudinal assessments of disease in terms of SUV is one example that meets these criteria. Having metrics that are evaluated to ensure that they are correct, that are optimised to maximise their sensitivity, and that are transferrable to allow multi-centre learning and applicability to all users of the technology are other areas of quantitative SPECT that need to be addressed and that have specific challenges associated with them. Finally, ensuring quantitative SPECT is cost-effective in times when healthcare budgets are being squeezed is also very important.

Conclusion

Quantitative SPECT offers the possibility to continue and expand the potential of quantitative nuclear medicine applications. The time is now to ensure that our community works together to make this potential a reality.

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<![CDATA[Silicon Valley new focus on brain computer interface: hype or hope for new applications?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c605bcdd5eed0c4847ce9bf

In the last year there has been increasing interest and investment into developing devices to interact with the central nervous system, in particular developing a robust brain-computer interface (BCI). In this article, we review the most recent research advances and the current host of engineering and neurological challenges that must be overcome for clinical application. In particular, space limitations, isolation of targeted structures, replacement of probes following failure, delivery of nanomaterials and processing and understanding recorded data. Neural engineering has developed greatly over the past half-century, which has allowed for the development of better neural recording techniques and clinical translation of neural interfaces. Implementation of general purpose BCIs face a number of constraints arising from engineering, computational, ethical and neuroscientific factors that still have to be addressed. Electronics have become orders of magnitude smaller and computationally faster than neurons, however there is much work to be done in decoding the neural circuits. New interest and funding from the non-medical community may be a welcome catalyst for focused research and development; playing an important role in future advancements in the neuroscience community.

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<![CDATA[The Congress Impact Factor: A proposal from board members of the World Society of Emergency Surgeons.it (WSES) and Academy of Emergency Medicine and Care (AcEMC)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c150babd5eed0c4840ada45

Many scientific congresses and conferences are held every year around the world. The aim of the World Society of Emergency Surgeons.it (WSES) and Academy of Emergency Medicine and Care (AcEMC) was to develop a simple mathematical parameter as an indicator of academic quality and scientific validity of a congress. In this opinion article, a new metric, the Congress Impact Factor (IFc), is proposed taking into consideration the widely used Impact Factor as an indicator of journals’ prestige and using H-index analysis.

The IFc is derived from the mathematical ratio between the mean H-index of invited lecturers normalized for lecture topic and number of lectures in the conference. In case of multiple sessions, the mean of all IFc is calculated along with its standard deviation.  We conclude that the IFc can be a useful measure for evaluating and comparing congress prestige, and may also represent a potentially useful parameter for improving academic curriculum and helping participants to choose the more prestigious meetings for their education.

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<![CDATA[Ten considerations for open peer review]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0c3909d5eed0c4848a265b

Open peer review (OPR), as with other elements of open science and open research, is on the rise. It aims to bring greater transparency and participation to formal and informal peer review processes. But what is meant by `open peer review', and what advantages and disadvantages does it have over standard forms of review? How do authors or reviewers approach OPR? And what pitfalls and opportunities should you look out for? Here, we propose ten considerations for OPR, drawing on discussions with authors, reviewers, editors, publishers and librarians, and provide a pragmatic, hands-on introduction to these issues. We cover basic principles and summarise best practices, indicating how to use OPR to achieve best value and mutual benefits for all stakeholders and the wider research community.

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<![CDATA[The challenges of designing a benchmark strategy for bioinformatics pipelines in the identification of antimicrobial resistance determinants using next generation sequencing technologies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c070a77d5eed0c484c9f067

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies are expected to play a crucial role in the surveillance of infectious diseases, with their unprecedented capabilities for the characterisation of genetic information underlying the virulence and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) properties of microorganisms.  In the implementation of any novel technology for regulatory purposes, important considerations such as harmonisation, validation and quality assurance need to be addressed.  NGS technologies pose unique challenges in these regards, in part due to their reliance on bioinformatics for the processing and proper interpretation of the data produced.  Well-designed benchmark resources are thus needed to evaluate, validate and ensure continued quality control over the bioinformatics component of the process.  This concept was explored as part of a workshop on "Next-generation sequencing technologies and antimicrobial resistance" held October 4-5 2017.   Challenges involved in the development of such a benchmark resource, with a specific focus on identifying the molecular determinants of AMR, were identified. For each of the challenges, sets of unsolved questions that will need to be tackled for them to be properly addressed were compiled. These take into consideration the requirement for monitoring of AMR bacteria in humans, animals, food and the environment, which is aligned with the principles of a “One Health” approach.

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<![CDATA[Rival perspectives in health technology assessment and other economic evaluations for investing in global and national health. Who decides? Who pays?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c02f1edd5eed0c4844a16e7

There seems to be a general agreement amongst practitioners of economic evaluations, including Health Technology Assessment, that the explicit statement of a perspective is a necessary element in designing and reporting research. Moreover, there seems also to be a general presumption that the ideal perspective is “societal”. In this paper we endorse the first principle but dissent from the second. A review of recommended perspectives is presented. The societal perspective is frequently not the one recommended. The societal perspective is shown to be less comprehensive than is commonly supposed, is inappropriate in many contexts and, in any case, is in general not a perspective to be determined independently of the context of a decision problem. Moreover, the selection of a perspective, societal or otherwise, is not the prerogative of analysts.

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<![CDATA[The convergent epidemiology of tuberculosis and human cytomegalovirus infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b59b625463d7e79e6a10045

Although several factors are known to increase the risk of tuberculosis, the occurrence of tuberculosis disease in an infected individual is difficult to predict. We hypothesize that active human cytomegalovirus infection due to recent infection, reinfection or reactivation plays an epidemiologically relevant role in the aetiology of tuberculosis by precipitating the progression from latent tuberculosis infection to disease. The most compelling support for this hypothesis comes from the striking similarity in age-sex distribution between the two infections, important because the age-sex pattern of tuberculosis disease progression has not been convincingly explained. Cytomegalovirus infection and tuberculosis have other overlapping risk factors, including poor socio-economic status, solid organ transplantation and, possibly, sexual contact and whole blood transfusion. Although each of these overlaps could be explained by shared underlying risk factors, none of the epidemiological observations refute the hypothesis. If this interaction would play an epidemiologically important role, important opportunities would arise for novel approaches to controlling tuberculosis.

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<![CDATA[The unity and the stability of human behavior. An interdisciplinary approach to habits between philosophy and neuroscience]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f0ab0ee8fa60b6e17a ]]> <![CDATA[Proposal for Describing Procedures to Correct Varicocele. A New Terminology]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da7eab0ee8fa60b9998f ]]> <![CDATA[A theory of power laws in human reaction times: insights from an information-processing approach]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da15ab0ee8fa60b7acc7 ]]>