Red-hot Molynes tipped to oust JN Open League champions

first_imgTHE qualifiers for this Thursday’s semi-finals in the JN Open League netball competition will be known today, following today’s quarter-finals at the Leila Robinson Courts, starting at 6:45 p.m.Defending champions Mico ‘B’, who topped Group Two with 24 points from eight wins, will be aiming to move forward in a bid to retain their title as they go up against the very dangerous Molynes ‘A’, which topped Group Seven with maximum 21 points from their seven wins.This game is expected to be very close, but Molynes ‘A’, the team with the second-highest number of goals in the competition, is given the edge to topple the defending champions.It could go either way in the UWI Pelicans vs Jamalco encounter, as both teams were red hot in the preliminary stage of the competition and topped their groups quite easily. The Conrad Parkes-coached UWI Pelicans topped Group One with maximum 21 points from seven games, and with the likes of former national senior players Nadine Bryan and Thristina Harwood, along with former national Under-21 player Shameera Sterling in their line-up, they could go all the way.After being beaten in last year’s final by Mico ‘B’, the Winston Nevers-coached Jamalco are determined to go all the way this time around, and after topping Group Seven with maximum 21 points from seven games, they will be hoping that ace shooter Marsha Murphy-Dawkins continues her impressive form and steers them to the semi-final.MICO ‘A’Last year’s beaten semi-finalists, Mico ‘A’, who were upstaged by sister team Mico ‘B’, have been the best attacking and defensive team so far this season, and after dominating Group Six with maximum 24 points from eight games, they will be hoping to get the better of Group Three winners Cablepro in the other quarter-final.Despite their impressive record, the Mico team will enter today’s encounter without ace goalshooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who played her final game on Saturday against UTech Knights.Fowler-Reid left the island on Sunday for the ANZ Championship in New Zealand, but the Annette Daley-coached team still has national senior defender Vangelee Williams in their line-up.The consolation quarter-finals will also take place today, starting at 5:54 p.m. The games are: Speg A vs Waulgrovians B, Tivoli Gardens vs Skibo, Ravens A vs UTech Knights, and Molynes United B vs Molynes United C.last_img read more

Science’s Got Troubles

first_imgNumerous news articles point to moral shortcomings in Big Science that threaten public trust.The US Constitution was a great idea. But John Adams once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (US Archives). Similarly, the “Scientific Method,” as it is popularly conceived, is a great idea with a long train of spectacular successes. But science is always mediated by fallible human beings. Misuse of scientific methods could produce fake science or even evil science.We have all heard how foreign countries have tried to manipulate elections with disinformation campaigns. Imagine what would happen to public trust in science if political entities, or even artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, became so clever with scientific disinformation that journal editors and reviewers could not tell the true from the false. An experiment like this was actually run recently. The Wall Street Journal tells how 3 researchers submitted 20 bogus papers to journals. Seven were accepted, and four were published – including one that quoted sections of Hitler’s Mein Kampf as supporting evidence.Despite the most rigorous safeguards, rules and regulations are only as good as those who follow them. Professors and grad students are busy, distracted by various temptations and motivations that can be less than noble (q.v. the IgNobel Prizes). For a dose of reality about how scientific sausage is made, look at some of the worries in Big Science going on right now, and pay attention to the implications in each proposal: science has been failing in many ways.Predatory publishers: the journals that churn out fake science (The Guardian). Pay a fee and pad your resume with all your published papers, good or bad. This is a worry about predatory journals with temptations of filthy lucre, showing that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, even in science. On the flip side, the article complains about how mainstream journals routinely deny publication to maverick ideas.Ghost authorship haunts industry-funded clinical trials (Nature). Big Science is haunted. “Drug companies make big contributions to analysis in the trials they fund but can fail to report their contributions,” Matthew Warren writes. There are even ghosts in the data. A large number of trials give funders access to the data and even the methods:About 21% of the academic authors indicated that a funder, or one of their contracted employees, had been involved in the design, analysis, or reporting of the research in a way that had not been declared in the paper. This “ghost authorship” could potentially be more widespread than this, write Rasmussen and her colleagues, as academic researchers who had a relatively small role in a study may not have been aware of the extent of industry involvement.Rasmussen says she was surprised by how common these undeclared contributions and associated issues were. “It’s incredibly inaccurately reported,” she says. “The roles of the funder were often downplayed or even omitted in the publications, funder employees rarely had first or last authorship despite having played a role in every single part of the trial.”No mixed motives in those papers. Money can buy politics; it can also buy science. And sometimes, people’s lives are at stake, trusting the results of a clinical trial that could have been manipulated to profit the funder. Science Daily posted a related story on this problem.How three research groups are tearing down the ivory tower (Nature). The subtitle points out another shortcoming in Big Science: overlooking indigenous people. “The people who should benefit from research are increasingly shaping how it’s done,” the authors say, complaining that “traditional research” has tended to be “myopic.”How leading experts can be fooled.What ‘data thugs’ really need (Nature). Keith Baggerly argues, “Science needs to develop ways and means to support the checking of data.” Retracted papers, lawsuits, halted clinical trials, sloppy research, faulty statistics, retaliation on whistleblowers – these are all addressed in Baggerly’s tour of the sausage factory. “Corrections are much rarer than they should be,” he worries. You can’t expect vigilantes to shore up science’s ideals of self-correction.Biased Estimates of Changes in Climate Extremes From Prescribed SST Simulations (Geophysical Research Letters). Lack of integrity is not the only potential source of fake science. Carelessness about bias can also do it. In this paper, researchers found that data on surface sea temperatures (SST) can be fraught with bad assumptions or bad methods. “Our results illustrate the importance of carefully considering experimental design when interpreting projections of extremes.” Note to world leaders: these are the climate scientists who inform politicians, telling them that “science says” we must take drastic measures or we will die (e.g., “Terrifying climate change warning: 12 years until we’re doomed,” Fox News). They’re also the ones telling politicians how to nudge skeptics into following the consensus without questions (“Confronting Climate Science in the Age of Denial,” PLoS Biology).Science’s credibility crisis: why it will get worse before it can get better  (The Conversation). Bad news: Science has a credibility crisis. Worse news: It will get worse before it gets better, argues Andrea Saltelli, because poor ethics invades modern science. Psychology and economics have taken embarrassing hits, but other branches of science cannot escape what Jerome Ravetz warned in a book in 1971, that science can become diseased without ethics. Social scientists, still smarting from the “science wars” of the 1970s, are reluctant to confront the problem, fearing their image (by popular opinion, “scientific realists” won the war).John Ioannidis has recently received prominence for producing statistics on the “science of science,” showing how widespread fake science has become, but he is optimistic that science’s reputation can be resuscitated. The author of this article, Andrea Saltelli from the University of Bergen, does not share his optimism.Here we clash with another of science’s contradictions: at this point in time, to study science as a scholar would mean to criticise its mainstream image and role. We do not see this happening any time soon. Because of the scars of “science wars” – whose spectre is periodically resuscitated – social scientists are wary of being seen as attacking science, or worse helping US President Donald Trump.Scientists overall wish to use their moral authority and association with Enlightenment values, as seen in the recent marches for science.If these contradictions are real, then we are condemned to see the present crisis becoming worse before it can become better.Austrian agency shows how to tackle scientific misconduct (Nature). This optimistic headline quickly informs the reader that Austria got worse before it got better: “A decade on from a major academic scandal, officials there have got their act together,” the editorial says. Of course, it will never happen again, will it? The Editors list four lessons learned from the scandal, and describes laws intended to prevent future scandals. But like Constitutions, laws are “made only for a moral and religious People.” They are “wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”There were so many recent articles on this subject, we will continue tomorrow.(Visited 424 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Gift of the Givers responds to Philippine disaster

first_imgThe scale of destruction wrought by super-typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines will not be known any time soon, but South African non-governmental organisation (NGO) Gift of the Givers has begun plans to ship much-needed humanitarian supplies to the most affected areas. The NGO has made R2-million available immediately to buy essential supplies for victims in the most affected eastern part of the island chain.Gift of the Givers is responding to a call from the Filipino government for international assistance in the aftermath of the catastrophic natural disaster. Early estimates put the death toll at 20 000, but that is expected to rise, and say that the typhoon has left more than 500 000 people homeless and without access to clean water and food.The Filipino military has been evacuating citizens like this pregnant woman caught in the part of the destruction (Image: Government of the Philippines)Winds exceeding 320 km per hour and waves topping 7m made landfall on 8 November, wreaking destruction up to 3 km inland on the island archipelago. Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte, bore the brunt of ferocious winds where it is estimated that at least 10 000 people have been killed. It is small towns like Guiuan, where Haiyan first hit, destroying 80% of the village, which will receive assistance from Gift of the Givers.With a second typhoon expected to strike the Philippines later this week the NGO is in a race to get emergency food and medical supplies to desperate communities cut off from the outside world. Initial supplies will be shipped from the organisation’s warehouses in South Africa and Dubai, or be purchased on the ground in the Philippines.Included in the emergency food supplies is Sibusiso Ready Food, a protein-rich food supplement developed by the NGO. The high-energy soya and groundnut-based supplement was developed to provide energy-rich food to HIV and tuberculosis patients, and malnutrition sufferers. It has proven to be an effective remedy to food shortages in the aftermath of disasters such as Haiyan.A CALL FOR HELPAs it has before, the organisation has asked South Africans to donate money or goods for the humanitarian effort. The NGO needs to collect non-perishable food items, blankets, disposable nappies, sanitary pads and medical supplies.Once details of the devastation become clearer Gift of the Givers will dispatch search-and-rescue teams to the area to assist with clean-up and rescue operations. The organisation’s teams will include volunteer paramedics, primary health care personnel and medics with advanced life support skills. Teams such as these were among the first to respond to the destruction wrought by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and are operating in war-torn Syria.AFRICA’S LARGEST AID AGENCYGift of the Givers was honoured earlier this year with a two-part postage stamp by the South African Post OfficeBeginning in 1992 with an aid mission to conflict-ridden Bosnia, Gift of the Givers has grown into the largest Africa-based and founded aid organisation in the world. It has provided assistance in Niger; after the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, during the floods in Limpopo and Mozambique in 2010 and 2013, and is the only aid agency operating in Somalia.Labelled South African brand ambassadors, with a postage stamp celebrating its good works, the Gift of the Givers was founded by Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman after his Sufi spiritual advisor Muhammed Saffer-Effendi told him to start an NGO.Sooliman gave up a lucrative private medical practice to set up a humanitarian organisation that has disbursed more than R1-billion and has operations in more than 40 countries across the globe.Constantly networking or flying to asses needs in disaster areas Sooliman has said he has dispensed with the need to rest.“I can’t look away; there is far too much hardship and difficulty in the world. Helping other people is a way of saying to God ‘thank you’ that my family is safe.”First published on Media Club South Africa – Brand South Africa’s library of quality images and articles, available for freelast_img read more

South Africa’s musos dish on being a woman in music

first_imgIt’s tough being a woman in any industry; women are treated differently and some say they need to work twice as hard. Singers like Toya Delazy speak about the women who inspired them, and share their experiences in the music industry. Zanne Stapelberg says Sibongile Khumalo, a musician from Soweto inspired her to be versatile in her career. (Image: Supplied) • South African foodies cooking up a storm • For women, by women – Pink Taxi Egypt • Celebrating 60 years of the Women’s Charter • Maasai women lead solar revolution in Kenya • Powerful women shape Africa Melissa Javan Being a woman in the music industry is no different from being a woman in other industries, according to South African women in the field. Many of them agree it is challenging, and that men are treated differently, but that has not chased them from following their dreams of making it on stage.In years gone by, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Yvonne Chaka Chaka were among those who carried the torch for women in South Africa’s music industry. Now artists such as Karen Zoid, Lira, Zolani Mahola and Yolande Visser are making a name for themselves on the national and international music scene.For Zanne Stapelberg, a Cape Town-born classical singer and producer, your dreams will be achieved if you are passionate and work hard enough. In celebration of Women’s Month, Stapelberg and several other female artists spoke about who inspired them to follow music as a career, as well as what it was like to be a woman in the industry.Stapelberg became a member of the Cape Town Opera Studio in 2000. At the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2014, one critic lauded her as a “national treasure”. Her awards include the Kanna Award for Best Classical Production at the 2014 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, with the Odeion String Quartet.She was inspired by Sibongile Khumalo’s versatility, Stapelberg said. “She [Khumalo] is a formidable opera singer, but has also established herself as a remarkable jazz singer. She has shifted and redefined the boundaries of what it means to be a singer.”Inspired by this, Stapelberg had never been able to classify herself as an artist who sang just one genre. “[Khumalo] made it possible for me to believe that I could be more than just one thing.”This mother of three did not think of herself as a woman in the music industry, she admitted. “I think of myself as an artist. And being an artist is both extremely fulfilling and very difficult. I produce, write, teach and perform. I have managed to create a living for myself through freelance work.”Toya Delazy – named Latoya Nontokozo Buthelezi by her parents – said musicians such as Lebo Mathosa, Nhlanhla Ncinza of Mafikizolo and Fassie inspired her to pursue a career in music. Toya Delazy says she does not conform to the entertainment industry’s stereotypes and that has made her successful thus far. (Image: Facebook) Delazy was nominated for the Best Female Southern Africa award in the 2014 African Muzik Magazine Awards as well as for Music Video of the Year for Memoriam at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs). A year earlier, she won three SAMAs: Newcomer of the Year, Best Pop Album, and Best Producer.A singer, pianist, dancer and performer from KwaZulu-Natal, she said women had to work twice as hard as men in the industry. There were sectors, for example hip-hop, where women did not get much exposure. “When you look at the female emcees, no one is giving them [the] support that the males are getting. It’s hard work for a chick out there. I guess I stand tall, because we have accepted the challenge to prove the contrary,” Delazy said.She decided not to change herself to suit the industry’s stereotypes, she added. “The industry tends to take a sexual approach – entertainment wise – when it comes to women. I took us off the car bonnets and used the artistry to communicate my view on a better life filled with dreams, which eventually became reality.“I kept real to myself and owned my style. I didn’t compromise to fit into an industry that is created to entertain men.”Josie Field, a Johannesburg-born singer and songwriter, pointed to Claire Johnston and her band Mango Groove as her inspiration. “Growing up, I admired her voice, Mango Groove’s songs and sound. The band was amazing and their songs are world class. Josie Field says though women are always treated different to men in careers, the advice is to stay true to who you are. (Image: Facebook)“It was amazing to hear a South African woman and her band making world-class hit songs.”Over nine years in the business, Field has released four albums and received six SAMA nominations by 2012, including Best Female Artist. Her first album, Mercy, was released in 2006.She was not fazed by the fact that women were treated differently in any career field, she said. “It’s great being a female artist in this country. Musically there are always more men involved than women, but I love it.”About being treated differently as a woman – whether good or bad – her advice was: “It’s easy to handle. You just remain true to yourself and keep other people’s issues at arm’s length.”last_img read more

Two Indian warships visit Egyptian port city

first_imgFrom Youssra El-SharkawyCairo, May 8 (PTI) Two Indian warships have engaged extensively in professional and social interactions with the Egyptian navy during their port call to Alexandria as part of Indian Navys overseas deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the west coast of Africa.INS Mumbai and INS Aditya, part of Indian Navys Western Naval Command based in Mumbai, arrived in the port city on May 5.Apart from professional interactions, the warships engaged in a number of sports and social engagements with the Egyptian navy, according to a statement by the Indian Embassy in Cairo.The statement said India and Egypt are two of the worlds most ancient civilisations with a rich history of close contact. Building upon the relations that have existed between the two countries, both nations have developed warm relations in several spheres, it said, adding that training cooperation between the two militaries “exist at the highest levels.”This visit would go a long way in enhancing co-operation and understanding between the two countries, it said.The statement cited training of Egyptian pilots by the Indian Air Force and a joint venture to manufacture the Helwan 300 fighter jets as “significant milestones” in bilateral defence cooperation.The setting up of the Indo-Egypt Joint Defence Committee in 2006 was another step in strengthening the ties between the two nations, it said.With the governments of both the countries keen on sustaining strong diplomatic ties, the visit of the Indian warships seeks to underscore Indias peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries and in particular to strengthen the ties between India and Egypt.advertisementOver the past decades, India has made substantial advances in designing and building warships indigenously and the visiting ships bear testimony to these capabilities, the statement added.The warships leave Alexandria today after a three-day visit. PTI YES ABHlast_img read more

Longstanding immunosuppressive drug reduces Zika birth defects in mice

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 7 2019In experiments with pregnant mice infected with the Zika virus, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report they have successfully used a long-standing immunosuppressive drug to diminish the rate of fetal deaths and birth defects in the mice’s offspring.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine, anakinra, once commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases in newborns and adults, has largely been replaced by more effective drugs. However, in the Zika-infected mouse experiments, the drug appears to interfere with inflammation in the pregnant animals’ placentas, the researchers say. There also is evidence the drug directly reduces inflammation in fetal brains.A report on the findings was published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights.”Until now, the focus of research has been on finding vaccines and antiviral drugs, but our study strongly suggests that the placental immune response should not be overlooked as a target for treatment,” says Irina Burd, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics and director of the Integrated Research Center for Fetal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Using an FDA-approved drug already shown to be safe in infants shortens the time that we may be able to quickly start clinical trials and get a potentially effective preventative measure approved and available to help decrease the harmful effects of Zika.”According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% of babies born in the U.S. to women with a Zika infection during pregnancy develop fetal brain birth defects that range from slow head growth to microcephaly, a condition marked by a very small head due to brain abnormalities. Zika can be spread by infected mosquitos or unprotected sex from an infected person, and is passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. Pregnant women with Zika are also at increased risk for miscarriage.In Burd’s earlier work in 2014 in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology with mouse models of newborn brain injury, she found that anakinra protected newborn mice from brain damage when the pregnant mothers were treated with inflammatory protein, notably interleukin-1beta.For this study, the researchers first wanted to see how Zika may affect the placenta in pregnant mice with the virus to try to figure out the cause behind the fetal deaths and birth defects. They compared pregnant mice infected with strains of Zika found in Nigeria, Puerto Rico and Brazil to pregnant mice not infected with the virus. They found that mice with Zika turned on the gene that makes the protein for interleukin-1beta at higher levels in the placenta compared to non-infected mice. They also found higher levels in the placenta of the interleukin-1beta protein.Because Zika causes early overproduction of interleukin-1beta, the researchers turned to the drug anakinra to test its potential for alleviating the damaging effects to fetal mice of mothers with Zika.Related StoriesExperts release scientific statement on predicting survival for cardiac arrest survivorsLoose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenationScientists unravel how DNA organizes and preserves genetic informationThe researchers injected mice placentas with either 10 milligrams per kilogram of anakinra or with fluid without the drug.After eight days of in utero exposure to the virus, 1.8% of the 322 mice infected with Zika but not given the drug had birth defects such as contracted limbs with tightened muscles, kinked tails, and fused fingers and toes. None of the mice given the drug showed signs of these birth defects.Comparable to the defects shown in the mice, human babies with microcephaly-caused defects may have limb contractures. The researchers say it is important to note that the defects noted in the mice may vary from humans because each species develops differently.The researchers also say that more fetal mice treated in utero with anakinra survived to full-term birth compared to untreated mice. In the pregnant mice with Zika, 39.2% of the mothers had fetal deaths. In mice with Zika given the drug in utero, 20.8% of the mothers had fetal deaths.Next, the researchers wanted see if the drug protected the brains of the mice born to mothers with Zika from inflammation. The researchers took mice immune system cells from the brain, called microglia, and infected them with Zika. After a day, microglia with Zika had made more cells, showing that the Zika was causing inflammation. They treated microglia infected with Zika with anakinra, and after 24 hours there were fewer microglia, suggesting that the drug protected the brain cells from inflammation.Five days after birth, the mice born treated with anakinra completed neurological and physical assessments that tested balance, movement, vision, depth perception and coordination. For example, in the coordination test, the mice were put on their backs and researchers measured how long it would take them to flip over. Mice given the drug flipped over to become upright about one second faster on average than mice without treatment, which the researchers say was significant for this kind of test. The researchers believe the drug was responsible for reversing the neurodevelopmental abnormalities that caused longer performance times.”Currently, there is no cure for Zika, but our study suggests that there may be FDA-approved medications like anakinra that have the potential to combat some of the worst effects of the virus,” says Sabra Klein, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “”Future studies are urgently needed to determine the possible benefits of such a drug in people,” says Burd. “More and more countries are affected by Zika. And it would be great for us to continue doing this research with the same rigor and funding so we can continue to fight this not only in the United States but, globally.” Source:Johns Hopkins Medicinelast_img read more

LGBT employees in federal workplaces report worse job experiences

first_imgFederal agencies set legal and cultural precedents for how diversity and inclusion are to be institutionalized in U.S. workplaces and, unlike in other employment sectors, LGBT employees are protected under anti-discrimination legislation.”Erin Cech, a faculty associate at U-M’s Institute for Social Research Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 16 2019Workplace inequality is visible when it involves gender and race, but less so with sexual identity and gender expression.Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in federal workplaces report worse job experiences than their colleagues, leading to higher intentions to leave their job, according to a new University of Michigan study.The research also shows that LGBT women and people of color consistently suffer more negative consequences–such as less respect and low job satisfaction–than do men and white LGBT workers.It’s important that workplace inequality among federal employees be addressed in organizations and through public policy, said the study’s authors Erin Cech, assistant professor of sociology, and William Rothwell, a doctoral candidate in the U-M Department of Sociology. The researchers documented LGBT workplace inequalities, noting where and for whom these inequalities are most prevalent. The sample included 330,000 employees (11,000 who identified as LGBT) in 28 federal agencies with LGBT-inclusive policies.Respondents participated in a survey, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that included questions about employee treatment, workplace fairness and job satisfaction.Compared to otherwise similar non-LGBT colleagues, LGBT employees report that their work success is fostered less often and feel less respected by their supervisors. In addition, the study found that they are less satisfied with their pay, less comfortable with whistleblowing, and feel less supported in their attempts to balance work and life responsibilities.Related StoriesOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTResearch on cannabis use in women limited, finds new studyRacial/ethnic minority LGBT respondents also report less job satisfaction than white LGBT employees, the researchers said.Not surprisingly, when people aren’t satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere, the study shows. These more negative workplace experiences help explain why LGBT workers are more likely than their non-LGBT colleagues to plan to seek work elsewhere in the next year.Cech said employers can do several things to address these inequities, such as creating LGBT employee resource groups or providing training to lessen biases that promote favoritism and unfair resource distribution. Of fundamental importance, she said, is the passage of basic nondiscrimination laws for LGBT-identifying workers at the national level–protections that nearly half of U.S. states still lack.Source:University of MichiganJournal reference:Cech, E.A. & Rothwell, W.R.(2019) LGBT Workplace Inequality in the Federal Workforce: Intersectional Processes, Organizational Contexts, and Turnover Considerations. ILR Review. read more

Scientists call on funders to improve universal access to scientific research

first_imgBecause preprint servers take care of dissemination, scientific journals don’t have to worry about that part and so have more freedom to experiment with how they do peer review.”Richard Sever from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Jun 6 2019Scientific research usually takes months to be published by academic journals, and once it is, many of the papers can only be read by scientists from wealthy institutes that subscribe to the journals. Over the years, there have been various attempts to make research more widely available, but most papers remain behind paywalls and scientists complain that the peer review process at journals now takes longer than ever.In a new article publishing June 4 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, Richard Sever and John Inglis from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Mike Eisen from UC Berkeley propose a new solution to these problems, which they call Plan U (for “universal”). They call on the organizations that fund research – government agencies such as NIH and charities like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – to require the scientists they support to post drafts of their papers on free websites called “preprint servers” before submitting them to academic journals. The value of this approach was demonstrated by arXiv (pronounced “archive”), a preprint server in the physical sciences that has been running for 28 years and hosts more than a million papers. bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), founded by Sever and Inglis in 2013, brought the culture to biology and is growing rapidly as more and more biologists realize the benefits of making their work available early.As well as making papers available sooner—and to everyone—Plan U should speed up research itself, because other experts can immediately begin building on the work. It should also stimulate evolution of the publication system. Servers reduce the barrier to entry for new initiatives, he added, since they no longer have to cover the costs of hosting the papers themselves.Source:PLOSJournal reference:Inglis, J. et al. (2019) Plan U: Universal access to scientific and medical research via funder preprint mandates. PLOS Biology. read more

Identifying subtype of colorectal cancer may help oncologists determine most effective treatment

first_imgThis study establishes the clinical utility of CMS in treating colorectal cancer. It also provides the basis for more research to uncover additional clinically significant predictive signatures within these subtypes that might better personalize patient care.”Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Keck School of Medicine of USC Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 12 2019Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., expected to cause about 51,000 deaths in 2019. But until now, it was unclear which drugs were most effective for which patients.Researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center found that identifying a metastatic colorectal cancer patient’s Consensus Molecular Subtype (CMS) could help oncologists determine the most effective course of treatment. CMS also had prognostic value, meaning each subgroup was indicative of a patient’s overall survival, regardless of therapy. The results are from the multi-center Phase III CALGB/SWOG 80405 trial and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.CMS categorizes colorectal cancer into four distinct, biologically characterized subgroups based on how mutations in the tumor behave. The subgroups were created using data from several research teams around the world that had previously analyzed tumors of colorectal cancer patients who were treated with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. Although CMS classification is not based on clinical outcomes, there seemed to be patterns in how different subtypes responded to treatment.”We wanted to understand the importance of CMS for patients with metastatic disease who are treated with the two most important first-line therapies,” says Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Oncology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and J. Terrence Lanni Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer Research at USC Norris. Lenz was the lead author on the study. “We anticipated that CMS had prognostic value, but we were impressed at how strongly CMS was associated with outcomes.”The study compared the efficacy of two different therapies (chemotherapy and cetuximab versus bevacizumab) on 581 metastatic colorectal cancer patients categorized by CMS. The data showed a strong association between a patient’s CMS subtype and both overall survival and progression-free survival. For example, patients in CMS2 had a median overall survival of 40 months compared to 15 months for patients in CMS1.CMS also was predictive of overall survival among patients on either treatment, with patients in certain subtypes faring better on one therapy over the other. Survival for CMS1 patients on bevacizumab was twice that of those on cetuximab, whereas survival for CMS2 patients on cetuximab was six months longer than for bevacizumab. Related StoriesLiving with advanced breast cancerUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerNew study to ease plight of patients with advanced cancerCurrently, it is not possible to order patient subtyping, though multiple efforts are underway to develop an assay approved for clinical use. Lenz estimates that this could happen in a matter of months. Until then, he and his colleagues continue to analyze data from more than 44,000 samples of blood, tissue and plasma in one of the largest, most comprehensive research efforts to characterize DNA, RNA and germline DNA in colon cancer. “This is only one study of many more to come that will help us understand this disease at the molecular level so we can provide better care for patients,” Lenz says.Source: University of Southern California – Health SciencesJournal reference: Lenz, H. et al. (2019) Impact of Consensus Molecular Subtype on Survival in Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: Results From CALGB/SWOG 80405 (Alliance). Journal of Clinical Oncology. .last_img read more