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The catastrophic declines of three species of ‘Critically Endangered’ Gyps vultures in South Asia were caused by unintentional poisoning by the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac. Despite a ban on its veterinary use in 2006 (India, Nepal, Pakistan) and 2010 (Bangladesh), residues of diclofenac have continued to be found in cattle carcasses and in dead wild vultures. Another NSAID, meloxicam, has been shown to be safe to vultures. From 2012 to 2018, we undertook covert surveys of pharmacies in India, Nepal and Bangladesh to investigate the availability and prevalence of NSAIDs for the treatment of livestock. The purpose of the study was to establish whether diclofenac continued to be sold for veterinary use, whether the availability of meloxicam had increased and to determine which other veterinary NSAIDs were available. The availability of diclofenac declined in all three countries, virtually disappearing from pharmacies in Nepal and Bangladesh, highlighting the advances made in these two countries to reduce this threat to vultures. In India, diclofenac still accounted for 10–46% of all NSAIDs offered for sale for livestock treatment in 2017, suggesting weak enforcement of existing regulations and a continued high risk to vultures. Availability of meloxicam increased in all countries and was the most common veterinary NSAID in Nepal (89.9% in 2017). Although the most widely available NSAID in India in 2017, meloxicam accounted for only 32% of products offered for sale. In Bangladesh, meloxicam was less commonly available than the vulture-toxic NSAID ketoprofen (28% and 66%, respectively, in 2018), despite the partial government ban on ketoprofen in 2016. Eleven different NSAIDs were recorded, several of which are known or suspected to be toxic to vultures. Conservation priorities should include awareness raising, stricter implementation of current bans, bans on other vulture-toxic veterinary NSAIDs, especially aceclofenac and nimesulide, and safety-testing of other NSAIDs on Gyps vultures to identify safe and toxic drugs.
Evidence from previous small trials has suggested the effectiveness of early social communication interventions for autism.
The Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT) investigated the efficacy of such an intervention in the largest psychosocial autism trial to date.
To provide a stringent test of a pre-school communication intervention for autism.
152 children with core autism aged 2 years - 4 years 11 months in a 3 site 2 arm single (assessor) blinded randomised controlled trial of the parent-mediated communication-focused intervention added to treatment as usual (TAU) against TAU alone. Primary outcome; severity of autism symptoms (modified social communication algorithm from Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic, ADOS-G). Secondary outcomes; blinded measures of parent-child interaction, child language, and adaptation in school.
At 13 month endpoint the treatment resulted in strong improvement in parental synchronous response to child (adjusted between-group effect size 1.22 (95% CI 0.85, 1.59) and child initiations with parent (ES 0.41 (0.08, 0.74) but small effect on autism symptomatology (ADOS-G, ES -0.24 (95% CI -0.59, 0.11) ns). Parents (not blind to allocation) reported strong treatment effects on child language and social adaptation but effects on blinded research assessed language and school adaptation were small.
Addition of the PACT intervention showed clear benefit in improving parent-child dyadic social communication but no substantive benefit over TAU in modifying objectively rated autism symptoms. This attenuation on generalisation from ‘proximal’ intervention effects to wider symptom change in other contexts remains a significant challenge for autism treatment and measurement methodology.
Populations of Critically Endangered White-rumped Gyps bengalensis and Slender-billed G. tenuirostris Vultures in Nepal declined rapidly during the 2000s, almost certainly because of the effects of the use in livestock of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, which is nephrotoxic to Gyps vultures. In 2006, veterinary use of diclofenac was banned in Nepal and this was followed by the gradual implementation, over most of the geographical range of the two vulture species in Nepal, of a Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) programme to advocate vulture conservation, raise awareness about diclofenac, provide vultures with NSAID-free food and encourage the veterinary use in livestock of a vulture-safe alternative NSAID (meloxicam). We report the results of long-term monitoring of vulture populations in Nepal before and after this programme was implemented, by means of road transects. Piecewise regression analysis of the count data indicated that a rapid decline of the White-rumped Vulture population from 2002 up to about 2013 gave way to a partial recovery between about 2013 and 2018. More limited data for the Slender-billed Vulture indicated that a rapid decline also gave way to partial recovery from about 2012 onwards. The rates at which populations were increasing in the 2010s exceeded the upper end of the range of increase rates expected in a closed population under optimal conditions. The possibility that immigration from India is contributing to the changes cannot be excluded. We present evidence from open and undercover pharmacy surveys that the VSZ programme had apparently become effective in reducing the availability of diclofenac in a large part of the range of these species in Nepal by about 2011. Hence, community-based advocacy and awareness-raising actions, and possibly also provisioning of safe food, may have made an important contribution to vulture conservation by augmenting the effects of changes in the regulation of toxic veterinary drugs.
To identify potential participants for clinical trials, electronic health records (EHRs) are searched at potential sites. As an alternative, we investigated using medical devices used for real-time diagnostic decisions for trial enrollment.
To project cohorts for a trial in acute coronary syndromes (ACS), we used electrocardiograph-based algorithms that identify ACS or ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) that prompt clinicians to offer patients trial enrollment. We searched six hospitals’ electrocardiograph systems for electrocardiograms (ECGs) meeting the planned trial’s enrollment criterion: ECGs with STEMI or > 75% probability of ACS by the acute cardiac ischemia time-insensitive predictive instrument (ACI-TIPI). We revised the ACI-TIPI regression to require only data directly from the electrocardiograph, the e-ACI-TIPI using the same data used for the original ACI-TIPI (development set n = 3,453; test set n = 2,315). We also tested both on data from emergency department electrocardiographs from across the US (n = 8,556). We then used ACI-TIPI and e-ACI-TIPI to identify potential cohorts for the ACS trial and compared performance to cohorts from EHR data at the hospitals.
Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve areas on the test set were excellent, 0.89 for ACI-TIPI and 0.84 for the e-ACI-TIPI, as was calibration. On the national electrocardiographic database, ROC areas were 0.78 and 0.69, respectively, and with very good calibration. When tested for detection of patients with > 75% ACS probability, both electrocardiograph-based methods identified eligible patients well, and better than did EHRs.
Using data from medical devices such as electrocardiographs may provide accurate projections of available cohorts for clinical trials.
Returning genomic research results to family members raises complex questions. Genomic research on life-limiting conditions such as cancer, and research involving storage and reanalysis of data and specimens long into the future, makes these questions pressing. This author group, funded by an NIH grant, published consensus recommendations presenting a framework. This follow-up paper offers concrete guidance and tools for implementation. The group collected and analyzed relevant documents and guidance, including tools from the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) Consortium. The authors then negotiated a consensus toolkit of processes and documents. That toolkit offers sample consent and notification documents plus decision flow-charts to address return of results to family of living and deceased participants, in adult and pediatric research. Core concerns are eliciting participant preferences on sharing results with family and on choice of a representative to make decisions about sharing after participant death.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
The Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST) is an 18000 m2 radio telescope located 40 km from Canberra, Australia. Its operating band (820–851 MHz) is partly allocated to telecommunications, making radio astronomy challenging. We describe how the deployment of new digital receivers, Field Programmable Gate Array-based filterbanks, and server-class computers equipped with 43 Graphics Processing Units, has transformed the telescope into a versatile new instrument (UTMOST) for studying the radio sky on millisecond timescales. UTMOST has 10 times the bandwidth and double the field of view compared to the MOST, and voltage record and playback capability has facilitated rapid implementaton of many new observing modes, most of which operate commensally. UTMOST can simultaneously excise interference, make maps, coherently dedisperse pulsars, and perform real-time searches of coherent fan-beams for dispersed single pulses. UTMOST operates as a robotic facility, deciding how to efficiently target pulsars and how long to stay on source via real-time pulsar folding, while searching for single pulse events. Regular timing of over 300 pulsars has yielded seven pulsar glitches and three Fast Radio Bursts during commissioning. UTMOST demonstrates that if sufficient signal processing is applied to voltage streams, innovative science remains possible even in hostile radio frequency environments.
The increased use of the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) to investigate cognitive dysfunctions in schizophrenia fostered interest in its sensitivity in the context of family studies. As various measures of the same cognitive domains may have different power to distinguish between unaffected relatives of patients and controls, the relative sensitivity of MCCB tests for relative–control differences has to be established. We compared MCCB scores of 852 outpatients with schizophrenia (SCZ) with those of 342 unaffected relatives (REL) and a normative Italian sample of 774 healthy subjects (HCS). We examined familial aggregation of cognitive impairment by investigating within-family prediction of MCCB scores based on probands’ scores.
Multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze group differences in adjusted MCCB scores. Weighted least-squares analysis was used to investigate whether probands’ MCCB scores predicted REL neurocognitive performance.
SCZ were significantly impaired on all MCCB domains. REL had intermediate scores between SCZ and HCS, showing a similar pattern of impairment, except for social cognition. Proband's scores significantly predicted REL MCCB scores on all domains except for visual learning.
In a large sample of stable patients with schizophrenia, living in the community, and in their unaffected relatives, MCCB demonstrated sensitivity to cognitive deficits in both groups. Our findings of significant within-family prediction of MCCB scores might reflect disease-related genetic or environmental factors.
We present the results from the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA) observations of the ground- and excited-state OH masers at high resolutions towards the massive star-forming region G351.417+0.645 in 2012. We obtain the most accurate spatial gradient of magnetic fields at ground state transitions and verify the reliability of magnetic field strengths measured from previous lower resolution observations. In comparison with previous LBA observations in 2001 at 6.0 GHz, we identified several matched Zeeman pairs. We found that the OH maser features have no significant change of magnetic field strengths and directions with small internal proper motions, implying quite stable physical conditions. Additionally, we found that 1665- and 6035-MHz OH maser features reveal the same trend of reversal of magnetic fields. Moreover, we also analyzed the physical conditions at different locations from the coincidence of different OH maser transitions based on current OH maser models.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated risk for metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, the direction of this association is not yet established, as most prior studies employed cross-sectional designs. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate bidirectional associations between PTSD and MetS using a longitudinal design.
A total of 1355 male and female veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan underwent PTSD diagnostic assessments and their biometric profiles pertaining to MetS were extracted from the electronic medical record at two time points (spanning ~2.5 years, n = 971 at time 2).
The prevalence of MetS among veterans with PTSD was just under 40% at both time points and was significantly greater than that for veterans without PTSD; the prevalence of MetS among those with PTSD was also elevated relative to age-matched population estimates. Cross-lagged panel models revealed that PTSD severity predicted subsequent increases in MetS severity (β = 0.08, p = 0.002), after controlling for initial MetS severity, but MetS did not predict later PTSD symptoms. Logistic regression results suggested that for every 10 PTSD symptoms endorsed at time 1, the odds of a subsequent MetS diagnosis increased by 56%.
Results highlight the substantial cardiometabolic concerns of young veterans with PTSD and raise the possibility that PTSD may predispose individuals to accelerated aging, in part, manifested clinically as MetS. This demonstrates the need to identify those with PTSD at greatest risk for MetS and to develop interventions that improve both conditions.
Impairments in key neuropsychological domains (e.g. working memory, attention) and social cognitive deficits have been implicated as intermediate (endo) phenotypes for bipolar disorder (BD), and should therefore be evident in unaffected relatives.
Neurocognitive and social cognitive ability was examined in 99 young people (age range 16–30 years) with a biological parent or sibling diagnosed with the disorder [thus deemed to be at risk (AR) of developing BD], compared with 78 healthy control (HC) subjects, and 52 people with a confirmed diagnosis of BD.
Only verbal intelligence and affective response inhibition were significantly impaired in AR relative to HC participants; the BD participants showed significant deficits in attention tasks compared with HCs. Neither AR nor BD patients showed impairments in general intellectual ability, working memory, visuospatial or language ability, relative to HC participants. Analysis of BD-I and BD-II cases separately revealed deficits in attention and immediate memory in BD-I patients (only), relative to HCs. Only the BD (but not AR) participants showed impaired emotion recognition, relative to HCs.
Selective cognitive deficits in the capacity to inhibit negative affective information, and general verbal ability may be intermediate markers of risk for BD; however, the extent and severity of impairment in this sample was less pronounced than has been reported in previous studies of older family members and BD cases. These findings highlight distinctions in the cognitive profiles of AR and BD participants, and provide limited support for progressive cognitive decline in association with illness development in BD.
The debate about how to manage individual research results and incidental findings in genetic and genomic research has focused primarily on what information, if any, to offer back to research participants. However, increasing controversy surrounds the question of whether researchers have any responsibility to offer a participant’s results (defined here to include both individual research results and incidental findings) to the participant’s relatives, including after the participant’s death. This question arises in multiple contexts, including when researchers discover a result with potentially important health implications for genetic relatives, when a participant’s relatives ask a researcher whether any research results about the participant have implications for their own health or reproductive planning, when a participant’s relative asks whether any of the participant’s results have implications for a child’s health, and when the participant is deceased and the participant’s relatives seek information about the participant’s genetic results in order to address their own health or reproductive concerns.