Poverty and Childhood Risk of Neurological Impairment


According to an article published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (16 December 2015), children from low income environments appear to have a higher risk of neurological impairment than those from more economically secure circumstances. This neurological impairment appears to be distinct from the risk of cognitive and emotional delays known to accompany early-life poverty. In most cases, the level of neurological impairment that was identified would not be apparent to a casual observer. That level could, however, increase, the risk for childhood learning difficulties, attention deficit disorders and psychological conditions such as anxiety disorders and schizophrenia.


The study analyzed data from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP) which enrolled pregnant women from 1959 through 1966, obtaining health information on more than 50,000 pregnancies and the children resulting from them. Children in the study received comprehensive neurological examinations at birth, 4 months, 1 year and 7 years of age. The physicians performing the examinations looked for obvious deformities, abnormalities in posture, motor skills, response to skin stimulation and muscle strength. The children also received evaluations of the autonomic nervous system — the part of the nervous system governing functions not under conscious control, such as breathing, heartbeat and digestion.


Based on interviews at the start of the study, the authors classified the parents into three groups: those having a low, medium, or high likelihood of socioeconomic disadvantage based on such factors as educational level, income relative to the U.S. poverty level, occupation, employment status, and whether there were two parents living in the home. Results showed that when the authors factored in the likelihood for pregnancy and birth complications, which were more common among women in poverty, little difference in neurological impairment at birth was observed between the children, despite their parents’ socioeconomic disadvantage. However, beginning at age 4 months, the chance of having a neurological abnormality was higher in the most disadvantaged children (12.8%), compared to the least disadvantaged (9.3%). By age 7, the likelihood of a neurological abnormality increased to 20.2% among the most disadvantaged, compared to 13.5% among the least disadvantaged. The greater frequency of pregnancy complications in the most disadvantaged group did not account for its higher percentage of neurological impairment.


Although there have been advances in the techniques used to diagnose neurological impairment in the years since the data were collected, the study authors said that the diagnostic approaches used in the study are still effective for detecting neurological problems. Studies indicate that people living in poverty are at higher risk for substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and child abuse, and the authors theorize that these factors could explain the higher rates of neurological impairment their study found for children raised in impoverished environments. The authors wrote that further research into how childhood poverty might contribute to neurological impairment could lead to ways to prevent neurological impairment from occurring. They added that the percentage of children living below the federal poverty threshold is higher today than it was when the CPP data were collected.


Does Happiness Itself Directly Affect Mortality? The Prospective UK Million Women Study


Poor health can cause unhappiness and poor health increases mortality. Previous reports of reduced mortality associated with happiness could be due to the increased mortality of people who are unhappy because of their poor health. Also, unhappiness might be associated with lifestyle factors that can affect mortality. As a result, a study, published online in The Lancet (9 December 2015), was performed to determine whether, after allowing for the poor health and lifestyle of people who are unhappy, did any robust evidence remain that happiness or related subjective measures of wellbeing directly reduced mortality.


The Million Women Study is a prospective study of UK women recruited between 1996 and 2001 and followed electronically for cause-specific mortality. Three years after recruitment, the baseline questionnaire for the present report asked women to self-rate their health, happiness, stress, feelings of control, and whether they felt relaxed. The main analyses were of mortality before Jan 1, 2012, from all causes, from ischemic heart disease, and from cancer in women who did not have heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive lung disease, or cancer at the time they answered this baseline questionnaire. The study used Cox regression, adjusted for baseline self-rated health and lifestyle factors, to calculate mortality rate ratios (RRs) comparing mortality in women who reported being unhappy (i.e., happy sometimes, rarely, or never) with those who reported being happy most of the time.


Results from the study showed that of the 719,671 women in the main analyses (median age 59 years), 39% (282,619) reported being happy most of the time, 44% (315,874) usually happy, and 17% (121,178) unhappy. During the 10 years of follow-up, 4% (31,531) of participants died. Self-rated poor health at baseline was strongly associated with unhappiness. But after adjustment for self-rated health, treatment for hypertension, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, or anxiety, and several sociodemographic and lifestyle factors (including smoking, deprivation, and body-mass index), unhappiness was not associated with mortality from all causes (adjusted RR for unhappy vs happy most of the time 0.98), from ischemic heart disease (0.97), or from cancer (0.98. Findings were similarly null for related measures such as stress or lack of control.


According to the authors, while poor health can cause unhappiness in middle-aged women, .after allowing for this association and adjusting for potential confounders, happiness and related measures of wellbeing do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality.


FDA Launches precisionFDA to Harness the Power of Scientific Collaboration


The following was abstracted from FDA Voice (15 December 2015)


Imagine a world where doctors have at their fingertips the information that allows them to individualize a diagnosis, treatment or even a cure for a person based on their genes. That’s what President Obama envisioned when he announced his Precision Medicine Initiative earlier this year. On 15 December 2015, FDA’s precisionFDA web platform was launched to help achieve this goal.


precisionFDA is an online, cloud-based, portal that will allow scientists from industry, academia, government and other partners to come together to foster innovation and develop the science behind a method of “reading“ DNA known as next-generation sequencing (or NGS). Next Generation Sequencing allows scientists to compile a vast amount of data on a person’s exact order or sequence of DNA. Recognizing that each person’s DNA is slightly different, investigators can look for meaningful differences in DNA that can be used to suggest a person’s risk of disease, possible response to treatment and assess their current state of health. Ultimately, what is learned about these differences could be used to design a treatment tailored to a specific individual. The precisionFDA platform is a part of this larger effort and through its use FDA wants to help scientists work toward the most accurate and meaningful discoveries. precisionFDA users will have access to a number of important tools to help them do this. These tools include reference genomes, such as “Genome in the Bottle,“ a reference sample of DNA for validating human genome sequences developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Users will also be able to compare their results to previously validated reference results as well as share their results with other users, track changes and obtain feedback.


Through such collaboration FDA hopes to improve the quality and accuracy of genomic tests – work that will ultimately benefit patients. Over the coming months, FDA will engage users in improving the usability, openness and transparency of precisionFDA. One way FDA will achieve that is by placing the code for the precisionFDA portal on the world’s largest open source software repository, GitHub, so the community can further enhance precisionFDA’s features.


precisionFDA leverages FDA’s experience establishing openFDA, an online community that provides easy access to our public datasets. Since its launch in 2014, openFDA has already resulted in many novel ways to use, integrate and analyze FDA safety information. FDA states that it is confident that employing such a collaborative approach to DNA data will yield important advances in the understanding of this fast-growing scientific field, information that will ultimately be used to develop new diagnostics, treatments and even cures for patients.


Apple Clafloutis, Easy as Pie !


While baking, breathe in the warm apple scent wafting in your kitchen. Mmmm! This recipe does not disappoint. You can say “clafloutis“ or “claflouti.“ ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



Here’s a pear claflouti, I experimented with. Good, but we liked the apple better. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



Warm delicious apple claflouti! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



You won’t have much leftover, when you serve apple clafloutis. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1 teaspoon + butter as needed

1/2 cup almond flour, more for dusting pan

3 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute

Pinch salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup almond milk

3 cups of apples, sliced paper-thin (4-8 apples depending on their size, peeled, cored and sliced with a mandolin, very thinly.

Powdered sugar or sugar substitute

Pinches of cinnamon




Apples are still at their peak. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.





1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and core the apples. Then slice them, paper-thin on your mandolin until you get a total of 3 cups of sliced apples.




One by one, slice the peeled and cored apples, until you get a total of 3 cups. Always take care with the mandolin because it’s razor sharp. After I use it and wash it by hand under the faucet, I always put it back in its box, so no one will ever accidentally reach for it and get a bad cut. It’s worth taking care, since so many recipes are made easy by using this invaluable kitchen tool. No kitchen should be without it. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



1. Prepare a 10-inch round deep pie plate by smearing it with butter. Next, dust it with flour, rotating pan so flour sticks to all the butter.

2. Next, invert dish to get rid of excess flour.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Do this by hand, not in the electric mixer. Add granulated sugar and salt and whisk until combined. Add cream and milk and whisk until smooth. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir just to combine, not more. Don’t stir the flour too much.

4. Layer the apple slices in the pie plate. Over each layer, sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon. Don’t make stacks of the slices. Distribute the slices all over the bottom of the dish, as one over-lapping layer. Then do the next layer and so on, until there is a whole lot of apple slices. They should come almost to the top. The thinner the apple slices, the better the dessert will be.




Paper-thin apple slices, are layered and overlapped, with each layer receiving a small sprinkling of cinnamon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



1. Pour the batter over the apple slices, to as close to the top of dish as you can, without the batter dripping over the side. There might be some leftover batter, depending on size of your dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until clafoutis is nicely browned on top and a knife inserted into it comes out clean. Sift some powdered sugar over it and serve warm or at room temperature. Clafoutis does not keep; serve within a couple of hours of making it.

2. Its delicious as is, however, some might like it with vanilla ice cream or cool whip or vanilla-flavored whipped cream.


This recipe is so easy to make, yet when served, looks very professional, as if a fantastic chef put it together. You can chose to keep it very low in fat and in calories, or not. I have experimented with getting this recipe just right, with apples and pears, and find that apples come out the best. Anyway, in the fall and early winter, apples are the most flavorful to use.


This recipe is a French countryside recipe that originally called for not-pitted cherries. However, the basic idea, is to enable the quick gathering of whatever fresh fruit you have growing on your property, slice the fruit, whip together an easy batter, pour over the fruit and bake, while you make the rest of the meal. No kneading, freezing and rolling of dough, which takes a lot more time.




Cool for a short time and then serve the clafoutis warm and plain or with your favorite topping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



We’re trying out a higher-end Napa cabernet, Merryvale, recommended by the ma?tre d’ of a very reliable restaurant. Not that we’re wine connoisseurs, by any means, but comparing this Napa “cab“ to others we like, we would stick to the others. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We had a busy hectic weekend, like most people at this time of year, lucky just to catch our breath and relax with a glass of wine at our favorite bistro.


This will be our last ON TARGET newsletter in 2015. 


We all share this chaotic planet, with seeming insurmountable problems.  If you despair that all is lost, think about the extraordinary talent of our young people, world-wide.  We leave you with videos of the unbelievably beautiful voices of two very young angelic singers.  With youthful talent like this, there is hope.


Wish for peace!



Nine year old Dutch opera singer, Amira Willighagen,  “O Mio Babbino Caro“, from, Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini


Eleven year old American, Jackie Evancho “Ombra Mai Fu“ Xerxes, by GF Handel



From Our Table to Yours!


Bon Appetit!


December 16, 2015

Lund University

Our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of “good bacteria” found in water pipes and purification plants, Swedish researchers have found. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that.



A glass of water contains millions of bacteria, say researchers.
Credit: © Andrey Kuzmin / Fotolia



Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have discovered that our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of “good bacteria” found in water pipes and purification plants. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that.

A glass of clean drinking water actually contains ten million bacteria! But that is as it should be — clean tap water always contains harmless bacteria. These bacteria and other microbes grow in the drinking water treatment plant and on the inside of our water pipes, which can be seen in the form of a thin, sticky coating — a so-called biofilm. All surfaces from the raw water intake to the tap are covered in this biofilm.

Findings by researchers in Applied Microbiology and Water Resources Engineering show that the diversity of species of bacteria in water pipes is huge, and that bacteria may play a larger role than previously thought. Among other things, the researchers suspect that a large part of water purification takes place in the pipes and not only in water purification plants.

“A previously completely unknown ecosystem has revealed itself to us. Formerly, you could hardly see any bacteria at all and now, thanks to techniques such as massive DNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we suddenly see eighty thousand bacteria per millilitre in drinking water,” says researcher Catherine Paul enthusiastically.

“From having been in the dark with a flashlight, we are now in a brightly lit room, but it is only one room. How many different rooms are in the house is also an interesting question!” she continues.

The work of doctoral student Katharina Lührig, who works together with Catherine, professors Peter Rådström and Kenneth Persson, and colleagues Björn Canbäck and Tomas Johansson has been published in Microbes and Environments.

The results have led to lively discussions within the industry about the role of biofilms in drinking water.

At least a couple of thousand different species live in the water pipes. According to the researchers there is a connection between the composition of bacteria and water quality.

“We suspect there are ‘good’ bacteria that help purify the water and keep it safe — similar to what happens in our bodies. Our intestines are full of bacteria, and most the time when we are healthy, they help us digest our food and fight illness, says Catherine Paul.

Although the research was conducted in southern Sweden, bacteria and biofilms are found all over the world, in plumbing, taps and water pipes. This knowledge will be very useful for countries when updating and improving their water pipe systems.

“The hope is that we eventually may be able to control the composition and quality of water in the water supply to steer the growth of ‘good’ bacteria that can help purify the water even more efficiently than today,” says Catherine Paul.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Lund University.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Katharina Lührig, Björn Canbäck, Catherine J. Paul, Tomas Johansson, Kenneth M. Persson, Peter Rådström. Bacterial Community Analysis of Drinking Water Biofilms in Southern Sweden. Microbes and environments, 2015; 30 (1): 99 DOI: 10.1264/jsme2.ME14123


Source: Lund University. “Our water pipes crawl with millions of bacteria.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151216082553.htm>.

December 16, 2015

University of Washington

A drug-like molecule can activate innate immunity and induce genes to control infection in a range of RNA viruses, including West Nile, dengue, hepatitis C, influenza A, respiratory syncytial, Nipah, Lassa and Ebola, according to new research.



A scientist’s illustration of immunology research at UW Medicine’s South Lake Union campus.
Credit: Dennis Wise



Research from UW Medicine and collaborators indicates that a drug-like molecule can activate innate immunity and induce genes to control infection in a range of RNA viruses, including West Nile, dengue, hepatitis C, influenza A, respiratory syncytial, Nipah, Lassa and Ebola.

The findings, published today in the Journal of Virology show promising evidence for creating a broad-spectrum antiviral.

“Our compound has an antiviral effect against all these viruses,” said Michael Gale Jr., University of Washington professor of immunology and director of the UW Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease. The finding emerged from research by his lab in concert with scientists at Kineta Inc. and the University of Texas at Galveston.

Gale said he thinks the findings are the first to show that innate immunity can be triggered through a molecule present in all our cells, known as RIG-I.

RIG-I is a cellular protein known as a pathogen recognition receptor. These receptors detect viral RNA and signal an innate immune response inside the cell that is essential for limiting and controlling viral infections. The signal induces the expression of many innate immune and antiviral genes and the production of antiviral gene products, pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and interferons.

“These products act in concert to suppress and control virus infection,” the researchers wrote.

Such activation of the innate immune response to control viral infection has been tested successfully in cells and in mice. Next steps would be to test dosing and stability in animal models and then in humans, a process that could take two to five years, Gale said.

Currently, there are no known broad-spectrum antiviral drugs and few therapeutic options against infection by RNA viruses. RNA viruses pose a significant public health problem worldwide because their high mutation rate allows them to escape the immune response. They are a frequent cause of emerging and re-emerging viral infections. West Nile virus infections, for example, started in the United States in 2000 and remerged in 2012. The World Health Organization reports 50 million to 100 million new cases of dengue fever yearly and 22,000 deaths caused by the related dengue virus. Dengue is now present in the southern U.S.

Hepatitis C, which is transmitted through the blood, infects upward of 4 million people each year; 150 million people are chronically infected and at risk for developing cirrhosis or liver cancer, according to the paper. Direct-acting antivirals can control hepatitis C and show promise of long-term cure, but viral mutation to drug resistance is a concern with prolonged use of these drugs. Also the drugs’ exorbitant costs make them unaffordable to many or most patients.

There is tremendous interest in triggering innate immunity, said Shawn Iadonato, chief scientific officer at Seattle biotech Kineta. Some viral infections, he pointed out, cannot be treated by traditional antivirals. Activating innate immunity also will make the viruses less likely to resist the drug actions because the therapy targets the cell, via gene action, rather than the virus itself.

“It’s routine for us to think of broad-spectrum antibiotics, but the equivalent for virology doesn’t exist,” Iadonato said.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original item was written by Bobbi Nodell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Sowmya Pattabhi, Courtney R. Wilkins, Ran Dong, Megan L. Knoll, Jeffrey Posakony, Shari Kaiser, Chad E. Mire, Myra L. Wang, Renee C. Ireton, Thomas W. Geisbert, Kristin M. Bedard, Shawn P. Iadonato, Yueh-Ming Loo, and Michael Gale Jr. Targeting innate immunity for antiviral therapy through small molecule agonists of the RLR pathway. J. Virol, 16 December 2015 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02202-15


Source: University of Washington. “Compound found to trigger innate immunity against viruses.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151216173809.htm>.

Largest ever comparative study solves missing water mystery

December 14, 2015

ESA/Hubble Information Centre

Astronomers have studied the atmospheres of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets in detail, the largest number of such planets ever studied. The team was able to discover why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected — a long-standing mystery.



This image shows an artist’s impression of the ten hot Jupiter exoplanets studied by David Sing and his colleagues. From top left to to lower left these planets are WASP-12b, WASP-6b, WASP-31b, WASP-39b, HD 189733b, HAT-P-12b, WASP-17b, WASP-19b, HAT-P-1b and HD 209458b.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA



Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to study the atmospheres of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets in detail, the largest number of such planets ever studied. The team was able to discover why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected — a long-standing mystery. The results are published in Nature.

To date, astronomers have discovered nearly 2000 planets orbiting other stars. Some of these planets are known as hot Jupiters, hot, gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. They orbit very close to their stars, making their surface hot, and the planets tricky to study in detail without being overwhelmed by bright starlight.

Due to this difficulty, Hubble has only explored a handful of hot Jupiters in the past, across a limited wavelength range. These initial studies have found several planets to hold less water than expected opo1436a , opo1354a .

Now, an international team of astronomers has tackled the problem by making the largest ever study of hot Jupiters, exploring and comparing ten such planets in a bid to understand their atmospheres [1]. Only three of these planetary atmospheres had previously been studied in detail; this new sample forms the largest ever spectroscopic catalogue of exoplanet atmospheres.

The team used multiple observations from both the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Using the power of both telescopes allowed the team to study the planets, which are of various masses, sizes, and temperatures, across an unprecedented range of wavelengths [2].

“I’m really excited to finally ‘see’ this wide group of planets together, as this is the first time we’ve had sufficient wavelength coverage to be able to compare multiple features from one planet to another,” says David Sing of the University of Exeter, UK, lead author of the new paper. “We found the planetary atmospheres to be much more diverse than we expected.”

All of the planets have a favourable orbit that brings them between their parent star and Earth. As the exoplanet passes in front of its host star, as seen from Earth, some of this starlight travels through the planet’s outer atmosphere. “The atmosphere leaves its unique fingerprint on the starlight, which we can study when the light reaches us,” explains co-author Hannah Wakeford, now at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA.

These fingerprints allowed the team to extract the signatures from various elements and molecules — including water — and to distinguish between cloudy and cloud-free exoplanets, a property that could explain the missing water mystery.

The team’s models revealed that, while apparently cloud-free exoplanets showed strong signs of water, the atmospheres of those hot Jupiters with faint water signals also contained clouds and haze — both of which are known to hide water from view. Mystery solved!

“The alternative to this is that planets form in an environment deprived of water — but this would require us to completely rethink our current theories of how planets are born,” explained co-author Jonathan Fortney of the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA. “Our results have ruled out the dry scenario, and strongly suggest that it’s simply clouds hiding the water from prying eyes.”

The study of exoplanetary atmospheres is currently in its infancy, with only a handful of observations taken so far. Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope , will open a new infrared window on the study of exoplanets and their atmospheres.


[1] To date, studies of exoplanet atmospheres have been dominated by a small number of well-studied planets. The team used Hubble and Spitzer observations of two such planets, HD 209458b heic0303, opo0707b and HD 189733b heic1312, heic0720a, and used Hubble to observe eight other exoplanets — WASP-6b, WASP-12b, WASP-17b, WASP-19b, WASP-31b, WASP-39b, HAT-P-1b, HAT-P-12b. These planets have a broad range of physical parameters.

[2] The observations spanned from the ultraviolet (0.3 micrometres) to the mid-infrared (4.5 micrometres).

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by ESA/Hubble Information Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. David K. Sing, Jonathan J. Fortney, Nikolay Nikolov, Hannah R. Wakeford, Tiffany kataria, Thomas M. Evans, Suzanne Aigrain, Gilda E. Ballester, Adam S. Burrows, drake Deming, Jean-michel désert, Neale P. Gibson, Gregory W. Henry, Catherine m. Huitson, Heather A. Knutson, Alain Lecavelier Des Etangs, Frederic Pont, Adam p. Showman, Alfred Vidal-madjar, Michael H. Williamson, Paul A. Wilson. A continuum from clear to cloudy hot – Jupiter exoplanets. Nature, 2015 DOI:10.1038/nature16068


Source: ESA/Hubble Information Centre. “Hubble reveals diversity of exoplanet atmosphere: Largest ever comparative study solves missing water mystery.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151214130524.htm>.

December 14, 2015

Louisiana State University

Paleoclimatologists have shed new light on how the tilt of the Earth affects the world’s heaviest rainbelt. They analyzed data from the past 282,000 years that shows, for the first time, a connection between the Earth’s tilt called obliquity that shifts every 41,000 years, and the movement of a low pressure band of clouds that is the Earth’s largest source of heat and moisture — the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ.



Earth’s tilt influences climate change.
Credit: © nikonomad / Fotolia



LSU paleoclimatologist Kristine DeLong contributed to an international research breakthrough that sheds new light on how the tilt of the Earth affects the world’s heaviest rainbelt. DeLong analyzed data from the past 282,000 years that shows, for the first time, a connection between the Earth’s tilt called obliquity that shifts every 41,000 years, and the movement of a low pressure band of clouds that is the Earth’s largest source of heat and moisture — the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ.

“I took the data and put it through a mathematical prism so I could look at the patterns and that’s where we see the obliquity cycle, that 41,000-year cycle. From that, we can go in and look at how it compares to other records,” said DeLong, who is an associate professor in the LSU Department Geography & Anthropology.

With research collaborators at the University of Science and Technology of China and National Taiwan University, DeLong looked at sediment cores from off the coast of Papua New Guinea and stalagtite samples from ancient caves in China. DeLong’s data analysis revealed obliquity in both the paleontological record and computer model data. This research was published in Nature Communications on Nov. 25.

The standard assumptions about how the variations in the Earth’s orbit influences changes in climate are called Milankovitch cycles. According to these principles, the Earth’s tilt influenced ice sheet formation during the Ice Ages, the slow wobble that occurs on a 23,000-year cycle as the Earth rotates around the sun called precession affects the Tropics and the shape of the Earth’s orbit that occurs on a 100,000-year cycle controls how much energy the Earth receives.

“This study was interesting in that when we started doing the spectral analysis, the 41,000-year tilt cycle started showing up in the Tropics. That’s not supposed to be there. That’s not what the textbooks tell us,” DeLong said.

This finding shows that the tilt of the Earth plays a much larger part in ITCZ migration than previously thought, which will enable climate scientists to better predict extreme weather events. Historically, the collapse of the Mayan civilization and several Chinese dynasties have been linked to persistent droughts associated with the ITCZ. This new information is critical to understanding global climate and sustainable human socioeconomic development, the researchers said.

Additionally, climate scientists have begun to recognize that rather than shifting north and south, the ITCZ expands and contracts, based on this information.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Louisiana State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yi Liu, Li Lo, Zhengguo Shi, Kuo-Yen Wei, Chien-Ju Chou, Yi-Chi Chen, Chih-Kai Chuang, Chung-Che Wu, Horng-Sheng Mii, Zicheng Peng, Hiroshi Amakawa, George S. Burr, Shih-Yu Lee, Kristine L. DeLong, Henry Elderfield, Chuan-Chou Shen. Obliquity pacing of the western Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone over the past 282,000 years. Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 10018 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10018



Source: Louisiana State University. “Earth’s tilt influences climate change.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2015. .

First FDA de novo 510(k) Clearance for Marketing of a Product That Used Target Health’s Web-based, eSource-Enabled EDC System


We want to congratulate our friends and colleagues at Dignitana for FDA Clearance for Marketing of DIGNICAP®, the first time ever scalp cooling system that can reduce or eliminate chemotherapy-induced hair loss (alopecia) in women with breast cancer. This most important device will improve the quality of life of women undergoing cancer chemotherapy. The clearance has hit the main press including CBS News, ABC News, the Washington Post and US News and World Report.


Not only did Target Health manage the entire program including all FDA interactions, the clinical program used for its pivotal trial, the Target e*Clinical Trial Ecosystem™, which includes our patented web-based eSource-enabled EDC system where direct data entry of patient data occurs at the time of the clinic visit with no need for paper records. With one log-in by the clinical site into our EDC system, Target e*CTR® (eClinical Trial Record System) creates a .pdf and .XML file of the eCRF data prior to the data entering any EDC database, thus the creation of a contemporaneous independent investigator original record, under exclusive control of the clinical site. Target Health and 3 major medical centers were inspected with no FDA findings related to Target Health’s approach to the paperless clinical trial.


An NDA with 7 studies using the same paperless approach was submitted in November, and a study integrating EDC with the electronic medical record will begin in Q2 2016. Two pivotal trials in neurology are underway as well as phase 2 studies.


It is time for the industry to leave the paper world and adopt 21st Century paperless solutions. Please contact us to do a study. Once you do it, you won’t want to turn back as the rewards are so great.


ON TARGET is the newsletter of Target Health Inc., a NYC – based, full – service, contract research organization (eCRO), providing strategic planning, regulatory affairs, clinical research, data management, biostatistics, medical writing and software services to the pharmaceutical and device industries, including the paperless clinical trial.


For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212 – 681 – 2100 ext. 104). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel or Ms. Joyce Hays. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.


Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target

Jules Mitchel, Editor



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Alopecia, Wikipedia


Alopecia areata (AA), also known as spot baldness, is an autoimmune disease in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the 1) __ due to the body’s failure to recognize its own body cells and destroys its own tissue as if it were an invader. Often it causes bald spots on the scalp, especially in the first stages. In 1-2% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or to the entire epidermis (alopecia universalis). Conditions resembling AA, and having a similar cause, occur also in other species.


Traditional chemotherapeutic agents are cytotoxic, that is to say they act by killing 2) ___ that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of most cancer cells. This means that chemotherapy also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract, and hair follicles. This results in the most common side-effects of 3) ___: myelosuppression (decreased production of blood cells, hence also immunosuppression), mucositis (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract), and alopecia (hair loss). Hair usually starts to regrow a few weeks after the last treatment, and can sometimes change color, texture, thickness and style. Sometimes hair has a tendency to curl after regrowth, resulting in “chemo curls.“ Severe hair loss occurs most often with drugs such as doxorubicin, daunorubicin, paclitaxel, docetaxel, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide and etoposide. Permanent thinning or hair loss can result from some standard chemotherapy regimens.


Chemotherapy induced hair loss occurs by a non-androgenic mechanism, and can manifest as alopecia totalis, telogen effluvium, or less often alopecia areata. It is usually associated with systemic treatment due to the high mitotic rate of hair follicles, and more reversible than androgenic hair loss,although permanent cases can occur. Chemotherapy induces hair loss in women more often than 4) ___.


Scalp cooling offers a means of preventing both permanent and temporary hair loss. Fortunately, FDA has cleared for marketing the DIGNICAP®, the first time ever scalp cooling system that can reduce or eliminate chemotherapy-induced hair loss in women with breast cancer. This most important device will improve the quality of life of women undergoing cancer chemotherapy.




DigniCap Cooling and Control Unit


Commonly, alopecia areata involves hair loss in one or more round spots on the scalp.


Hair may also be lost more diffusely over the whole scalp, in which case the condition is called diffuse alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata monolocularis describes baldness in only one spot. It may occur anywhere on the head.

Alopecia areata multilocularis refers to multiple areas of hair loss.

Ophiasis refers to hair loss in the shape of a wave at the circumference of the head.

The disease may be limited only to the beard, in which case it is called alopecia areata barbae.

If the patient loses all the hair on the scalp, the disease is then called alopecia totalis.

If all body hair, including pubic hair, is lost, the diagnosis then becomes alopecia universalis.


Alopecia areata totalis and universalis are rare.




Alopecia areata, Wikipedia


Typical first symptoms of AA are small bald patches. The underlying skin is unscarred and looks superficially normal. These patches can take many shapes, but are most usually round or oval. AA most often affects the scalp and beard, but may occur on any hair-bearing part of the body. Different skin areas can exhibit hair 5) ___ and regrowth at the same time. The disease may also go into remission for a time, or may be permanent. It is common in children. In alopecia:


The area of hair loss may tingle or be painful.

The hair tends to fall out over a short period of time, with the loss commonly occurring more on one side of the scalp than the other.

Exclamation point hairs, narrower along the length of the strand closer to the base, producing a characteristic “exclamation point“ appearance, are often present.


When healthy 6) ___ is pulled out, at most a few should come out, and ripped hair should not be distributed evenly across the tugged portion of the scalp. In cases of AA, hair will tend to pull out more easily along the edge of the patch where the follicles are already being attacked by the body’s immune system than away from the patch where they are still healthy. In alopecia, nails may also have pitting or trachyonychia.


AA is usually diagnosed based on clinical features. Trichoscopy may aid differential diagnosis. In AA, trichoscopy shows regularly distributed “yellow dots“ (hyperkeratotic plugs), small exclamation-mark hairs, and “black dots“ (destroyed hairs in the hair follicle opening). A biopsy is rarely needed in AA. Histologic findings include peribulbar lymphocytic infiltrate (“swarm of bees“). Occasionally, in inactive AA, no inflammatory infiltrates are found. Other helpful findings include pigment incontinence in the hair bulb and follicular stelae, and a shift in the anagen-to-telogen ratio towards telogen. AA is not contagious. It occurs more frequently in people who have affected family members, suggesting 7) ___ may be a factor. Strong evidence of genetic association with increased risk for AA was found by studying families with two or more affected members. This study identified at least four regions in the genome that are likely to contain these genes. In addition, it is slightly more likely to occur in people who have relatives with autoimmune diseases.


AA is thought to be a systemic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own anagen hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair 8) ___. For example, T cell lymphocytes cluster around affected follicles, causing inflammation and subsequent hair loss. A few cases of babies being born with congenital AA have been reported, but these are not cases of autoimmune disease, because an infant is born without a definitely developed immune system.


Endogenous retinoids metabolic defect is a key part of the pathogenesis of the AA. In 2010, a genome-wide association study was completed that identified 129 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that were associated with AA. The genes that were identified include regulatory T cells, cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4, interleukin-2, interleukin-2 receptor A, Eos, cytomegalovirus UL16-binding protein, and the human leukocyte antigen region. The study also identified two genes, PRDX5 and STX17, that are expressed in the hair follicle. Iron may play a role in some cases of hair loss.


In cases of severe hair loss, limited success has been shown from treating AA with the corticosteroids clobetasol or fluocinonide, corticosteroid injections, or cream. The cream however is not as effective and it takes longer in order to see results. Steroid injections are commonly used in sites where the areas of hair loss on the head are small or especially where eyebrow hair has been lost. Whether they are effective is uncertain. Some other medications used are minoxidil, Elocon (mometasone) ointment (steroid cream), irritants (anthralin or topical coal tar), and topical immunotherapy cyclosporin, sometimes in different combinations. Topical corticosteroids frequently fail to enter the skin deeply enough to affect the hair bulbs, which are the treatment target, and small lesions typically also regrow spontaneously. Oral corticosteroids decrease the hair loss, but only for the period during which they are taken, and these drugs have serious adverse side effects.


Effects of AA are mainly 9) ___ (loss of self-image due to hair loss). Loss of hair also means the scalp burns more easily in the sun. Patients may also have aberrant nail formation because keratin forms both hair and nails. Hair may grow back and then fall out again later. This may not indicate a recurrence of the condition, however, but rather a natural cycle of growth-and-shedding from a relatively synchronized start; such a pattern will fade over time. Episodes of AA before puberty predispose one to chronic recurrence of the condition. Alopecia can certainly be the cause of psychological stress. Because hair loss can lead to significant appearance changes, individuals may experience social phobia, anxiety, and depression.


AA affects 0.1%-0.2% of humans, occurring in both males and females and occurs in people who are apparently healthy and have no skin disorder. Initial presentation most commonly occurs in the late teenage years, early childhood, or young adulthood, but can happen with people of all ages. Patients also tend to have a slightly higher incidence of conditions related to the 10) ___ system: asthma, allergies, atopic dermal ailments, and hypothyroidism.


A number of medications are under trial. Abatacept (Orencia), which is FDA-approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and triamcinolone acetonide, which although already used for the treatment of alopecia areata, has never been rigorously tested. These studies will also test the immunological changes associated with the drug.


ANSWERS: 1) scalp; 2) cells; 3) chemotherapy; 4) men; 5) loss; 6) hair; 7) heredity; 8) growth; 9) psychological; 10) immune


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