Microbes in space: concerns raised about bacteria in the ISS: Five strains of the bacterium Enterobacter recovered from areas on board the International Space Station (ISS) have been identified, with researchers urging further careful research to determine whether continuous exposure to microgravity could induce potentially dangerous mutations. In a paper published in the journal BMC Microbiology, a team led by Nitin Singh and Daniela Bezdan from the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, US, detail genomic analyses of Enterobacter gathered from the toilet and gym areas of the space station. Sequencing of the ISS samples revealed that all five strains belonged to a single species, E. bugandensis.
When Bezdan and colleagues ran the numbers on the space station microbes, however, they found that they were similar to only three – and rare ones, at that. They report similarities with strains found to date only once – one recovered from neonatal blood in a Tanzanian patient, another from a neonatal urine sample in the US, and the third from a 72-year-old woman with multiple health problems. In total, the researchers report, the eight strains thus “formed a unique ecotype”. The ISS strains all contained genes associated with drug-resistance. They did not, however, contain combinations associated with high infection rates … (Cosmos Magazine, Nov. 23, 2018)
Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has awarded RS. 3.07 crores as compensation to families of three men who died in motor accident (Advocate Ira Gupta): On 24.11.2018, a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) has awarded Rs 3.07 crore as compensation to families of three men who died in a road accident while travelling from Noida to Kotdwar in Uttarakhand. MACT Presiding Officer M K Nagpal awarded Rs 3,07,27,000 crore in total to the next kin of the three victims who were killed when their car collided with a tractor near Bijnaur in Uttar Pradesh nearly six years ago.
The tribunal held that the accident was a result of the “rash and negligent driving of the tractor” and directed the driver, owner and insurer – the Oriental Insurance Company Limited – of the offending vehicle to “jointly and severally” pay the compensation. It clubbed together the pleas moved by the kin of the three victims and awarded varying compensation amounts to the families based on the income of the deceased.
On Dec 29, 2012, Sandeep Balodi, Satish Kumar and Deepak Kainthola were travelling along with two others in a Maruti Swift from Noida to Kotdwar when their car collided with a tractor coming from the opposite direction. All five occupants suffered injuries and Balodi, Kumar & Kainthola were declared brought dead at the hospital.
The tribunal awarded Rs 10,83,000 to the aged parents of 25-year-old Balodi and 53,65,000 to the family of 30-year-old Kumar.
It awarded Rs 2,42,79,000 to the aged parents of Kainthola, a software engineer, who was 33-years-old when the accident took place.
NIH researchers discover neural code that predicts behaviour: Scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have found that neurons in the superior colliculus, an ancient midbrain structure found in all vertebrates, are key players in allowing us to detect visual objects and events. This structure doesn’t help us recognize what the specific object or event is; instead, it’s the part of the brain that decides something is there at all. By comparing brain activity recorded from the right and left superior colliculi at the same time, the researchers were able to predict whether an animal was seeing an event. The findings were published Nov. 26, 2018 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Perceiving objects in our environment requires not just the eyes, but also the brain’s ability to filter information, classify it, and then understand or decide that an object is actually there. Each step is handled by different parts of the brain, from the eye’s light-sensing retina to the visual cortex and the superior colliculus. For events or objects that are difficult to see (a gray chair in a dark room, for example), small changes in the amount of visual information available and recorded in the brain can be the difference between tripping over the chair or successfully avoiding it. This new study shows that this process – deciding that an object is present or that an event has occurred in the visual field – is handled by the superior colliculus.
“While we’ve known for a long time that the superior colliculus is involved in perception, we really wanted to know exactly how this part of the brain controls the perceptual choice, and find a way to describe that mechanism with a mathematical model,” said James Herman, Ph.D., lead author of the study.
“The superior colliculus plays a foundational role in our ability to process and detect events,” said Richard Krauzlis, Ph.D., principal investigator in the Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research at NEI and senior author of the study. “This new work not only shows that a specific population of neurons directly cause a behavior but also that a commonly used mathematical model can predict behavior based on these neurons.” … (NIH, Nov. 26, 2018)
The Chinese government has ordered an “immediate investigation” into the alleged delivery of the world’s first genetically edited babies, as experts worldwide voiced outrage at such use of the technology, reported CNN on Tuesday. The pushback comes amid claims made online by Chinese scientist He Jiankui that twin girls had been born with DNA altered to make them resistant to HIV, a groundbreaking move that is likely to spark significant ethical questions around gene editing and so-called designer babies. He, a professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, claims that his lab had been editing embryos’ genetic codes for seven couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization… (CNN)
US FDA approves an oncology drug that targets a key genetic driver of cancer, rather than a specific type of tumor. Vitrakvi (larotrectinib) has been accorded FDA approval as a treatment for adult and pediatric patients whose cancers have a specific genetic feature (biomarker). This is the second time the agency has approved a cancer treatment based on a common biomarker across different types of tumors rather than the location in the body where the tumor originated. The approval marks a new paradigm in the development of cancer drugs that are “tissue agnostic.”
UNAIDS is working to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 3, Target 3. It unites the efforts of: the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime(UNODC), UN Women, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank.
Video to watch: TEDx Video: Doctor-patient relationship www.youtube(dot)com/ watch?v=i9ml1vKK2DQ
Dr KK Aggarwal