September 18, 2018

University of British Columbia

Society has encouraged people to be more physically active, yet we are actually becoming less active. This new study offers a possible explanation: Our brains may be innately attracted to sedentary behavior. Electroencephalograms showed that test subjects had to summon extra brain resources when trying to avoid physical inactivity.


The researchers asked volunteers to react to simple stick drawings depicting scenes of physical inactivity and physical activity, and discovered that brain activity differed depending on the scene.
Credit: UBC Media Relations



If getting to the gym seems like a struggle, a University of British Columbia researcher wants you to know this: the struggle is real, and it’s happening inside your brain.

The brain is where Matthieu Boisgontier and his colleagues went looking for answers to what they call the “exercise paradox”: for decades, society has encouraged people to be more physically active, yet statistics show that despite our best intentions, we are actually becoming less active.

The research findings, published recently in Neuropsychologia, suggest that our brains may simply be wired to prefer lying on the couch.

“Conserving energy has been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners, and avoiding predators,” said Boisgontier, a postdoctoral researcher in UBC’s brain behaviour lab at the department of physical therapy, and senior author of the study. “The failure of public policies to counteract the pandemic of physical inactivity may be due to brain processes that have been developed and reinforced across evolution.”

For the study, the researchers recruited young adults, sat them in front of a computer, and gave them control of an on-screen avatar. They then flashed small images, one a time, that depicted either physical activity or physical inactivity. Subjects had to move the avatar as quickly as possible toward the pictures of physical activity and away from the pictures of physical inactivity — and then vice versa.

Meanwhile, electrodes recorded what was happening in their brains. Participants were generally faster at moving toward active pictures and away from lazy pictures, but brain-activity readouts called electroencephalograms showed that doing the latter required their brains to work harder.

“We knew from previous studies that people are faster at avoiding sedentary behaviours and moving toward active behaviours. The exciting novelty of our study is that it shows this faster avoidance of physical inactivity comes at a cost — and that is an increased involvement of brain resources,” Boisgontier said. “These results suggest that our brain is innately attracted to sedentary behaviours.”

The question now becomes whether people’s brains can be re-trained.

“Anything that happens automatically is difficult to inhibit, even if you want to, because you don’t know that it is happening. But knowing that it is happening is an important first step,” Boisgontier said.

Boisgontier is also affiliated with the University of Leuven (Belgium) and the Research Foundation — Flanders (FWO). He led this study with Boris Cheval of the University of Geneva, and their international team of researchers from the University of Oxford (Eda Tipura), the University of Geneva (Nicolas Burra, Jaromil Frossard, Dan Orsholits), and the Université Côte d’Azur (Rémi Radel).

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British ColumbiaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Boris Cheval, Eda Tipura, Nicolas Burra, Jaromil Frossard, Julien Chanal, Dan Orsholits, Rémi Radel, Matthieu P. Boisgontier. Avoiding sedentary behaviors requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: An EEG studyNeuropsychologia, 2018; 119: 68 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.029


Source: University of British Columbia. “Hardwired for laziness? Tests show the human brain must work hard to avoid sloth.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2018. <>.

September 18, 2018

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists have known for years that warming global climate is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice sheet in the world. A new study, however, shows that the rate of melting might be temporarily increased or decreased by two existing climate patterns: the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).


Scientists stand on the edge of a crevasse formed by meltwater flowing across the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet during a WHOI-led expedition in 2007.
Credit: Photo by Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution



Scientists have known for years that warming global climate is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice sheet in the world. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), however, shows that the rate of melting might be temporarily increased or decreased by two existing climate patterns: the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

Both patterns can have a major impact on regional climate. The NAO, which is measured as the atmospheric pressure difference between the Azores and Iceland, can affect the position and strength of the westerly storm track. The study found that when the NAO stays in its negative phase (meaning that air pressure is high over Greenland) it can trigger extreme ice melt in Greenland during the summer season. Likewise, the AMO, which alters sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic, can cause major melting events when it is in its warm phase, raising the temperature of the region as a whole.

If global climate change continues at its current rate, the Greenland ice sheet may eventually melt entirely — but whether it meets this fate sooner rather than later could be determined by these two oscillations, says Caroline Ummenhofer, a climate scientist at WHOI and co-author on the study. Depending on how the AMO and NAO interact, excess melting could happen two decades earlier than expected, or two decades later this century.

“We know the Greenland ice sheet is melting in part because of warming climate, but that’s not a linear process,” Ummenhofer said. “There are periods where it will accelerate, and periods where it won’t.”

Scientists like Ummenhofer see a pressing need to understand out how natural variability can play a role in speeding up or slowing down the melting process. “The consequences go beyond just the Greenland Ice Sheet — predicting climate on the scale of the next few decades will also be useful for resource management, city planners and other people who will need to adapt to those changes,” she added.

Actually forecasting environmental conditions on a decadal scale isn’t easy. The NAO can switch between positive and negative phases over the course of a few weeks, but the AMO can take more than 50 years to go through a full cycle. Since scientists first started tracking climate in the late 19th century, only a handful of AMO cycles have been recorded, making it extremely difficult to identify reliable patterns. To complicate things even more, the WHOI scientists needed to tease out how much of the melting effect is caused by human-related climate change, and how much can be attributed to the AMO and NAO.

To do so, the team relied on data from the Community Earth System Model’s Large Ensemble, a massive set of climate model simulations at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. From that starting point, the researchers looked at 40 different iterations of the model covering 180 years over the 20th and 21st century, with each one using slightly different starting conditions.

Although the simulations all included identical human factors, such as the rise of greenhouse gases over two centuries, they used different conditions at the start — a particularly cold winter, for example, or a powerful Atlantic storm season — that led to distinct variability in the results.The team could then compare those results to each other and statistically remove the effects caused by climate change, letting them isolate the effects of the AMO and NAO.

“Using a large ensemble of model output gave more statistical robustness to our findings,” said Lily Hahn, the paper’s lead author. “It provided many more data points than a single model run or observations alone. That’s very helpful when you’re trying to investigate something as complex as atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. L. Hahn, C. C. Ummenhofer, Y.-O. Kwon. North Atlantic Natural Variability Modulates Emergence of Widespread Greenland Melt in a Warming ClimateGeophysical Research Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018GL079682

Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “Natural climate oscillations in north Atlantic linked to Greenland ice sheet melt.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2018. .

Neurology and Psychiatry Studies at Target Health


Fortunately, based on Sigmund Freud’s monumental and transformational insights into the human mind, followed by basic research in the workings of the brain, there is now major recognition of the Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano.” This phrase, only mentioned once by the poet Juvenal: “Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano,” is translated as “a man should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.”


Current and past programs at Target Health include: 1) Alzheimer’s disease; 2) ADHD, 3) Autism; 4) Bipolar disorder; 5) Epilepsy; 6) Multiple sclerosis; 7) Rete syndrome; 8) Schizophrenia; and 9) Tourette’s syndrome;.  To be noted, these studies are very difficult from the perspectives of study design, patient recruitment and retention, diagnosis, comorbidities, variable endpoints, etc.  In these studies, sometimes the “totality of the evidence“ may be more valuable than a single endpoint.


For more information about Target Health, contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel. 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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A calcium channel embedded in a cell membrane – Wikipedia Public Domain – This work is free and may be used by anyone for any purpose.



Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, present mainly in the bones and teeth. It is an essential dietary element required in optimal amounts for good bone health, efficient nerve and muscle function, and overall cardiovascular health. It makes up about three percent of the earth’s crust and is a basic component of most animals and plants. Our bones serve as a storage site for the body’s calcium, providing this mineral to the bloodstream for use by the heart and other organs. Eating a diet rich in calcium helps to restore it to the bones; supplements can help as well.


Calcium is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. It plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating blood clotting, and preventing cancers of the digestive tract. It is also associated with relieving mood swings, food cravings, and decreasing the pain, tenderness and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).


Calcium deficiency symptoms (also known as hypocalcemia) range from minor – numbness or tingling of the 1) ___, muscle cramps, lethargy and poor appetite – to more severe, including mental confusion, skeletal malformations, dermatitis, and in infants, delayed development. Illnesses such as osteoporosis (brittle, thin, porous bones that easily break) and rickets are also associated with a deficiency. If vitamin D levels are optimal, most adults should be able to meet their daily calcium needs via a varied 2) ___ that includes a wide variety of calcium-rich foods. When individuals are unable to get enough calcium through a diet of calcium-rich foods, or for those who may need more than the recommended daily allowance, supplements can help. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends women supplement with 500 to 700 mg of calcium citrate in two divided doses taken with meals for a total of 1,000-1,200 mg a day from all sources (including diet); for men Dr. Andrew Weil recommends not using 3) ___ supplements at all (except on the advice of a physician), but instead getting 500-600 mg per day through diet. Dr. Weil suggests supplementing with calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed than other forms, taken with half the dosage amount of magnesium. For seniors, other physicians recommend higher levels of a supplement.


According to the NIH, the normal daily recommended intake for children is as follows: infants through three years of age is 400-800 mg; children between 4 and 10 years of age is 800 mg; adolescent males is 800-1,200 mg; and adolescent females is 800-1,200 mg daily. An abundant source of this mineral in the American diet is dairy products – two glasses of 4) ___ per day provide 1,000-1,200 mg. If you choose to get your calcium via dairy products – and this is not essential, as there are many other calcium-rich foods – make sure you use only hormone-free, organic dairy products to reduce your exposure to the antibiotics and hormones found in many dairy products. Non-dairy foods rich in calcium include: greens such as collards, mustard, kale, broccoli, bok choy; canned salmon (with 5) ___) and sardines; tofu that has been coagulated with a calcium compound; calcium-fortified soy milk, fruit juice and cereals; blackstrap molasses. Calcium supplements can be constipating, and should be balanced with magnesium. Excessive amounts in the 6) ___ may have negative effects, including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and increased urination. More serious complications include kidney toxicity, confusion, and irregular heart rhythm. Studies indicate that men who take too much may have an increased risk of prostate cancer, and should limit their dietary intake to 500-600 mg daily from all sources.


Vitamin D is key to absorbing and using calcium, so make sure to get adequate intake of vitamin D. Older people often are 7) ___ in vitamin D, and should have this checked at annual checkups. Do not use bone meal or dolomite as a source. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings that bone meal and dolomite could be dangerous because these products may contain 8) ___lead. It is especially important that pregnant women receive enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and that they continue to receive the right amount throughout pregnancy, as well as during breast feeding. Older people may need to take extra calcium or larger doses because they do not absorb it as well as younger people.


At 3%, calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the 9) ___ crust, and the third most abundant metal behind aluminum and iron. It is also the fourth most abundant element in the lunar highlands. Sedimentary calcium carbonate deposits pervade the Earth’s surface as fossilized remains of past marine life; they occur in two forms, the rhombohedral calcite (more common) and the orthorhombic aragonite (forming in more temperate seas). Minerals of the first type include limestone, dolomite, marble, chalk, and Iceland spar; aragonite beds make up the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and the Red Sea basins. Corals, sea shells, and pearls are mostly made up of calcium carbonate. Among the other important minerals of calcium are gypsum (CaSO4-2H2O), anhydrite (CaSO4), fluorite (CaF2), and apatite ([Ca5(PO4)3F]).


The major producer of calcium is 10) ___ (about 10,000 to 12,000 tons per year), Russia is next (about 6,000 to 8,000 tons per year), and the United States is the third largest producer, (about 2,000 to 4,000 tons per year). Canada and France are also among the minor producers. In 2005, about 24,000 tons of calcium were produced; about half of the world’s extracted calcium is used by the United States, with about 80% of the output used each year. In Russia and China, Davy’s method of electrolysis is still used, but is instead applied to molten calcium chloride. Since calcium is less reactive than strontium or barium, the oxide-nitride coating that results in air is stable and lathe machining and other standard metallurgical techniques are suitable for calcium. In the United States and Canada, calcium is instead produced by reducing lime with aluminum at high temperatures. Sources:;; Wikipedia;


ANSWERS: 1) fingers; 2) diet; 3) calcium; 4) milk; 5) bones; 6) blood; 7) deficient; 8) lead; 9) Earth’s; 10) China



One of the ‘Ain Ghazal Statues, made from lime plaster


Photo credit: By Smithsonian Institution –, Public Domain,


Calcium is a chemical element with symbol Ca and atomic number 20. An alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to its heavier homologs strontium and barium. It is the fifth most abundant element in Earth’s crust and the third most abundant metal, after iron and aluminum. The most common calcium compound on Earth is calcium carbonate, found in limestone and the fossilized remnants of early sea life; gypsum, anhydrite, fluorite, and apatite are also sources of calcium.


Calcium compounds were known for millennia, although their chemical makeup was not understood until the 17th century. Lime as a building material and as plaster for statues was used as far back as around 7000 BCE. The first dated lime kiln dates back to 2500 BCE and was found in Khafajah, Mesopotamia. At about the same time, dehydrated gypsum (CaSO4-2H2O) was being used in the Great Pyramid of Giza; this material would later be used for the plaster in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The ancient Romans used lime mortars made by heating limestone (CaCO3); the name “calcium“ itself derives from the Latin word calx “lime“ Vitruvius noted that the lime that resulted was lighter than the original limestone, attributing this to the boiling of the water; in 1755, Joseph Black proved that this was due to the loss of carbon dioxide, which as a gas had not been recognized by the ancient Romans. In 1787, Antoine Lavoisier suspected that lime might be an oxide of a fundamental chemical element. In his table of the elements, Lavoisier listed five “salifiable earths“ (i.e., ores that could be made to react with acids to produce salts (salis = salt, in Latin): chaux (calcium oxide), magnesie (magnesia, magnesium oxide), baryte (barium sulfate), alumine (alumina, aluminium oxide), and silice (silica, silicon dioxide). About these “elements“, Lavoisier speculated:


We are probably only acquainted as yet with a part of the metallic substances existing in nature, as all those which have a stronger affinity to oxygen than carbon possesses, are incapable of being reduced to a metallic state, and consequently, being only presented to our observation under the form of oxyds, are confounded with earths. It is extremely probable that barytes, which we have now arranged with earths, is in this situation; for in many experiments it exhibits properties nearly approaching those of metallic bodies. It is even possible that all the substances we call earths may be only metallic oxyds, irreducible by any known process.


Calcium, along with its congeners magnesium, strontium, and barium, was first isolated and named as an element, by Humphry Davy in 1808. Following the work of Jons Jakob Berzelius and Magnus Martin af Pontin on electrolysis, Davy isolated calcium and magnesium by putting a mixture of the respective metal oxides with mercury(II) oxide on a platinum plate which was used as the anode, the cathode being a platinum wire partially submerged into mercury. Electrolysis then gave calcium-mercury and magnesium-mercury amalgams, and distilling off the mercury gave the metal. However, pure calcium cannot be prepared in bulk by this method and a workable commercial process for its production was not found until over a century later.


Calcium compounds are widely used in many industries: in foods and pharmaceuticals for calcium supplementation, in the paper industry as bleaches, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in the manufacture of soaps. On the other hand, the metal in pure form has few applications due to its high reactivity; still, in small quantities it is often used as an alloying component in steelmaking, and sometimes, as a calcium-lead alloy, in making automotive batteries.


Calcium is the most abundant metal and the fifth-most abundant element in the human body. As electrolytes, calcium ions play a vital role in the physiological and biochemical processes of organisms and cells: in signal transduction pathways where they act as a second messenger; in neurotransmitter release from neurons; in contraction of all muscle cell types; as cofactors in many enzymes; and in fertilization. Calcium ions outside cells are important for maintaining the potential difference across excitable cell membranes as well as proper bone formation.


Calcium isotope fractionation during mineral formation has led to several applications of calcium isotopes. In particular, the 1997 observation by Skulan and DePaolo that calcium minerals are isotopically lighter than the solutions from which the minerals precipitate is the basis of analogous applications in medicine and in paleooceanography. In animals with skeletons mineralized with calcium, the calcium isotopic composition of soft tissues reflects the relative rate of formation and dissolution of skeletal mineral. In humans, changes in the calcium isotopic composition of urine have been shown to be related to changes in bone mineral balance. When the rate of bone formation exceeds the rate of bone resorption, the 44Ca/40Ca ratio in soft tissue rises and vice versa.


Because of this relationship, calcium isotopic measurements of urine or blood may be useful in the early detection of metabolic bone diseases like osteoporosis. A similar system exists in seawater, where 44Ca/40Ca tends to rise when the rate of removal of Ca2+ by mineral precipitation exceeds the input of new calcium into the ocean. In 1997 Skulan and DePaolo presented the first evidence of change in seawater 44Ca/40Ca over geologic time, along with a theoretical explanation of these changes. More recent papers have confirmed this observation, demonstrating that seawater Ca2+ concentration is not constant, and that the ocean is never in a “steady state“ with respect to calcium input and output. This has important climatological implications, as the marine calcium cycle is closely tied to the carbon cycle.


Many calcium compounds are used in food, as pharmaceuticals, and in medicine, among others. For example, calcium and phosphorus are supplemented in foods through the addition of calcium lactate, calcium diphosphate, and tricalcium phosphate. The last is also used as a polishing agent in toothpaste and in antacids. Calcium lactobionate is a white powder that is used as a suspending agent for pharmaceuticals. In baking, calcium monophosphate is used as a leavening agent. Calcium sulfite is used as a bleach in papermaking and as a disinfectant, calcium silicate is used as a reinforcing agent in rubber, and calcium acetate is a component of liming rosin and is used to make metallic soaps and synthetic resins.


Association of Gestational Diabetes With Maternal Disorders of Glucose Metabolism and Childhood Adiposity


Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood glucose is too high. Over time, having high glucose blood levels can cause health problems, such as heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease. An estimated 30.3 million people in the United States, or 9.4% of the population, have diabetes. About one in four people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease and an estimated 84.1 million Americans aged 18 years or older have prediabetes.


According to an article published in JAMA (11 September 2108), a follow-up study was performed to examine associations, 10 to 14 years’ postpartum, of gestational diabetes with maternal glucose metabolism and childhood adiposity. Study results were obtained from The Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) Study, which established associations of gestational diabetes with perinatal outcome. The current follow-up study (HAPO-FUS), evaluated the long-term outcomes (4,697 mothers and 4832 children; study visits occurred between February 13, 2013, and December 13, 2016). None of the women in HAPO-FUS were diagnosed with or treated for gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. HAPO recruited an international, racially and ethnically diverse group. Limitations of the data in HAPO include that body mass index was obtained during pregnancy, not before. As well, HAPO-FUS did not collect data on the women or children’s lifestyles to evaluate other factors that could contribute to obesity or type 2 diabetes. For the follow-up study, gestational diabetes was defined post hoc using criteria from the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups consisting of 1 or more of the following: 1) 75-g oral glucose tolerance test results (fasting plasma glucose =92 mg/dL; 2) 1-hour plasma glucose level =180 mg/dL; 3) 2-hour plasma glucose level =153 mg/dL).


The primary maternal outcome was a disorder of glucose metabolism (composite of type 2 diabetes or prediabetes). The primary outcome for children: being overweight or obese; secondary outcomes: obesity, body fat percentage, waist circumference, and sum of skinfolds (>85th percentile for latter 3 outcomes).


Results showed that for children born to mothers with elevated or normal glucose, no statistically significant difference between the two groups of children in terms of their combined overweight and obesity, the study’s primary outcome. However, when obesity was measured alone, children of mothers with elevated blood glucose were significantly more likely to be obese. For example, using BMI, 19% of children born to mothers with elevated blood glucose were obese, compared with 10% for children of mothers with normal glucose. The study also found the harms of even modestly elevated blood glucose for both mother and child extend more than a decade. Among women with elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, nearly 11% had type 2 diabetes at the follow-up study visit 10-14 years after childbirth, and about 42% had prediabetes. Of their counterparts who did not have elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, about 2% had type 2 diabetes and about 18% had prediabetes.



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Brain Circuits Identified for Reward-Seeking and Avoidance Behavior


Responding appropriately to aversive or rewarding stimuli is essential for survival. This requires fine-tuned regulation of brain systems that enable rapid responses to changes in the environment, such as those involved in sleep, wakefulness, stress, and reward-seeking. These same brain systems are often dysregulated in addiction and other psychiatric conditions. According to an article published in Nature Neuroscience (August 2018), previously unknown brain pathways have been identified in mice for reward-seeking and avoidance behavior. These results should have relevance for mental health and addiction research. These study results may help untangle multiple psychiatric conditions, including alcohol use disorder, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and depression in humans.


For the study, the authors looked at the extended amygdala, a brain region involved in fear, arousal, and emotional processing and which plays a significant role in drug and alcohol addiction.  They then focused on a part of this structure known as the bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST), which connects the extended amygdala to the hypothalamus, a brain region that regulates sleep, appetite, and body temperature. The hypothalamus is also thought to promote both negative and positive emotional states, and that a better understanding of how the BNST and hypothalamus work to coordinate emotion-related behavior could shed light on the emotional processes dysregulated in addiction.


To map the brain circuitry between the BNST and the hypothalamus, the authors exposed mice to rewarding and aversive stimuli, and then visualized and manipulated the activity of neurons using fiber optic techniques. The study identified two distinct subpopulations of neurons in the BNST that connect to separate populations of neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. These parallel circuits drove opposing emotional states: avoidance (aversion) and approach (preference). Different neurotransmitters were linked to aversion and preference within these neurocircuits – corticotropin releasing factor was involved in aversion, while cholecystokinin played a role in preference.


According to the authors, the discovery of the unique and opposing influences of these specific BNST to LH circuits may be broadly relevant to the fields of neuroscience and mental health, and that future studies of the BNST to LH pathways will inform the development of improved therapeutic approaches for psychiatric disorders.


Modernizing Human Gene Therapy Oversight


The following is abstracted from a report by Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health and Scott Gottlieb, MD, FDA Commissioner, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, (15 September 2018).


We are entering a new age of gene therapy, one in which years of painstaking research have begun to yield products that are delivering a meaningful benefit to human health. In the past year, three new gene therapy products have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat lymphoblastic leukemia, lymphoma, and vision loss, demonstrating just how far this field has come. Given the recent scientific and clinical breakthroughs in gene therapy, NIH and FDA are working together to ensure the federal framework for oversight keeps pace. With the evolution of the field of gene therapy, duplication in reviews and paperwork have sometimes occurred without a commensurate increase in protecting participant safety. For instance, both agencies require initial registration of a gene therapy protocol and updates as the trial proceeds, which is not required of any other field of clinical research.


Thus, NIH and FDA propose to streamline this oversight by eliminating unnecessary duplicative reporting requirements. NIH also intends to restore the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), which has long played a role in advising the NIH director on gene therapy, to its original vision by proposing it focus on the scientific, safety, and ethical issues associated with new and emerging biotechnologies. In this capacity, the RAC will maintain the same level of transparent discourse it has provided for more than four decades.


During the comment period and effective immediately, the NIH will no longer accept new human gene transfer protocols for the protocol registration process under the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines), or convene the RAC to review individual human gene transfer protocols. The NIH Office of Science Policy will also not accept annual reports, safety reports, amendments or other documentation for any previously registered human gene transfer protocols under the NIH Guidelines. The roles and responsibilities of Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs) at the local level will continue as described in the NIH Guidelines. These trials remain subject to FDA and other clinical trial regulations, and only after FDA, IBC, and other relevant approvals are in place can these protocols proceed. Hopefully, this interim step will ease some of the burden for research that already falls under FDA oversight as NIH considers the proposed changes outlined in the Federal Register.


We are in an era of exceptional opportunities for biomedical research made possible by unprecedented advances in biotechnology. Genome editing, synthetic biology, and innovative neurotechnologies are just a few of the advances that show promise in providing medical breakthroughs. NIH and FDA are optimistic, yet cautious, as both agencies consider their promise and implications. I want to express deep appreciation to the RAC for their efforts over many years to advance gene therapy so that patients’ hopes can materialize into treatments.


Kale/Mushroom Patties with Avocado & Cilantro Topping

Delicious, filling, healthy. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Beautiful presentation with the avocado/cilantro topping. At a dinner party, Friday night, many delectable original recipes were served. This was one of them. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


These kale/mushroom patties were one of Alex Hays’ favorite things to eat when he visited us in Manhattan. At any meal, he loved them. Rushing out for an appointment, he would grab one from the fridge and eat it en route.



1 cup quinoa

3 boxes cremini mushrooms (or mixed), cleaned, chopped

2 cups chicken stock or broth

4 eggs, whisked

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

3 spring onions, peeled, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced, not squeezed

Pinch Kosher or sea salt

1 bunch fresh kale, rinsed, chopped, steamed

1 cup Panko crumbs

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Topping: avocado, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, juice of 1 garlic clove



Rinse 2 cups of quinoa thoroughly and place the grains in a medium sauce pan with 4 cups of chicken stock or broth. Allow quinoa to soak for 15 minutes. Then, with the lid on the pan, bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is tender and has absorbed the liquid – about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temp.


Quinoa is smaller and healthier than rice. In this photo, I’ve boiled it for 20 minutes, so it’s absorbed all the liquid. Now it’s cooling. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


While the quinoa is cooking, rinse kale, tear into small piece and steam it until it’s wilted and reduced in volume.


Steam the pieces of fresh kale until they wilt and look like this. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Sautee the chopped mushrooms in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and chicken broth or stock.


Sautee the mushrooms. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, eggs, Parmesan, spring onions, garlic, salt, steamed kale, and Panko crumbs. Let everything sit for a few minutes to absorb the liquid. You want the batter to be moist, but not runny. Form patties and get your skillet ready for cooking.


Here, I’ve mixed in all the ingredients except for the wilted kale, which will come next. BTW, feel free to use your hands for mixing something like this. Hands, spoons, it really doesn’t matter; just a personal choice. I figure I’m gonna use my hands to make the patties anyway, so-o why not use them to mix. Just don’t use electric beaters, because you want a certain amount of texture in these burgers.

©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Here’s what the mixture looks like after adding the steamed kale, and mixing it together.


Make the patties, (by hand of course). ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Cooking the patties – add more extra virgin olive oil to the pan, if you think you need it. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Heat 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook up to 6 patties at a time but don’t overcrowd the pan. Better to cook three or four at a time if you don’t have a large skillet. Cover the pan and let the patties cook for 7-10 minutes until the under-sides are a deep rich brown. Flip and cook the other side for another 7-10 minutes until both sides are nice and brown. Let patties rest on a cooling rack while you finish the next batch.


The patties were just flipped. The kitchen smells wonderful. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


BTW, never use anything but extra virgin olive oil. If the label just says, “olive oil“ or “virgin olive oil“ skip it. These words refer to the purity or lack there-of, of the oil. The FDA now regulates olive oil, so extra virgin is referring to the absence of saturated oils that may be added to plain olive oil. We’re using olive oil not just for the flavor, but for the health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is the only one to buy. I also read about scandals connected with olive oil, so now I only buy, if it’s from California or Chile.


Just out of the pan; warm, moist but not oily, ready to serve with the avocado/cilantro topping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


If you find you have more than you can eat at one sitting, you can freeze these patties, and take them out next week for another freshly cooked meal.


Make the topping 

Now, quickly, cut up one or two ripe avocados. You can cut them as small cubes, or you can mash the avocado, along with the other ingredients and serve the topping like that. We like both versions of the topping.

In a medium size bowl that you’ll also use for serving, add ? cup fresh cilantro, well-chopped, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 garlic clove. Stir these ingredients well. Add the pieces of avocado and stir slowly, to cover all the pieces of avocado. Serve right away, with the kale/mushroom patties.


What’s great about my recipe is that it works for dinner, lunch, breakfast, snacks and brunch.  Last night we served the kale patties at a dinner party. Today, we’re having them for brunch, with a poached egg on top. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Unbelievably delicious for brunch. The combo of the kale/mushroom patty and the avocado and the poached egg is the perfect weekend meal. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This chilled Pouilly-Fuisse was perfect with the kale/mushroom patties. This Louis Jadot wine is always reliable for lovely flavor. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Have a great week everyone!

Bon Appetit!

September 11, 2018

Yale University

A research team has revealed how cells in different parts of the human airway vary in their response to the common cold virus. Their finding could help solve the mystery of why some people exposed to the cold virus get ill while others don’t, said the researchers.


New research could help solve the mystery of why some people exposed to the cold virus get ill while others don’t.
Credit: © Nichizhenova Elena / Fotolia



A Yale research team has revealed how cells in different parts of the human airway vary in their response to the common cold virus. Their finding, published in Cell Reports, could help solve the mystery of why some people exposed to the cold virus get ill while others don’t, said the researchers.

Rhinovirus is a leading cause of the common cold, asthma attacks, and other respiratory illnesses. When the cold virus enters the nose, cells that line the airways, known as epithelial cells, respond and often clear the virus before it can replicate and trigger symptoms. But in other cases, individuals exposed to the virus get either mildly or seriously ill. A team of researchers, led by Ellen Foxman, set out to determine why.

The research team used epithelial cells from healthy human donors. The cells were derived from either the nasal passages or the lungs. They exposed both cell types, maintained under the same conditions in cell culture, to rhinovirus. To their surprise, the researchers observed a more robust antiviral response in nasal cells.

To investigate further, the researchers triggered the virus surveillance pathway — known as the RIG-I pathway — in both nasal and lung cells. They found that both cell types generated an antiviral response and a defense response against oxidative stress, a form of cell damage induced by viruses and other inhaled irritants such as cigarette smoke or tree pollen. In nasal cells, the antiviral response was stronger, but in bronchial cells, defense against oxidative stress was more pronounced.

In additional experiments, the research team found evidence for a tradeoff: The defense response against oxidative stress shut off antiviral defenses. To probe this further, the team exposed nasal cells to oxidative stress in the form of cigarette smoke, and then to the cold virus, and found that the nasal cells were more susceptible to the virus. “They survive the cigarette smoke but can’t fight the virus as well,” Foxman said. “And the virus grows better.”

This finding points to a delicate balance between the body’s different defense mechanisms, Foxman said. “Your airway lining protects against viruses but also other harmful substances that enter airways. The airway does pretty well if it encounters one stressor at a time. But when there are two different stressors, there’s a tradeoff,” Foxman explained. “What we found is that when your airway is trying to deal with another stress type, it can adapt but the cost is susceptibility to rhinovirus infection.”

The study, she said, shows a mechanistic link between environmental exposures and susceptibility to the common cold, and also may explain why smokers tend to be more susceptible to rhinovirus infection. The researchers hope the finding will lead to the discovery of new strategies to combat respiratory viruses, which cause an estimated 500 million colds and 2 million hospitalizations in the United States per year.

Other Yale authors are Valia T. Mihaylova, Yong Kong, Olga Fedorova, Lokesh Sharma, Charles S. Dela Cruz, Anna Marie Pyle, and Akiko Iwasaki.

This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A.M.P. has a patent pending for RIG-I stimulation agent SLR-14.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Yale University. Original written by Ziba Kashef. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Valia T. Mihaylova, Yong Kong, Olga Fedorova, Lokesh Sharma, Charles S. Dela Cruz, Anna Marie Pyle, Akiko Iwasaki, Ellen F. Foxman. Regional Differences in Airway Epithelial Cells Reveal Tradeoff between Defense against Oxidative Stress and Defense against RhinovirusCell Reports, September 11, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.033


Source: Yale University. “Fighting the cold virus and other threats, body makes trade-off, says study.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2018. <>.

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