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Introduction: Epidemiologic and modeling studies suggest that between 45 and 70% of individuals with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Canada remain undiagnosed. The Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) recommends one-time screening of baby boomers (1945-1975). Screening programs in the US have shown a very high prevalence of previously undiagnosed HCV among patients seen in the emergency department (ED). We sought to assess the feasibility of implementing a targeted birth-cohort HCV screening program in a Canadian ED setting. Methods: Patients born from 1945 to 1975 presenting to the ED of a downtown Toronto hospital were offered HCV testing. Patients with life-threatening conditions, unable to provide verbal consent in English or intoxication were excluded. Blood samples were collected by finger prick on Dried Blood Spot (DBS) collection cards and tested for anti-HCV antibody with reflex to HCV RNA. Patients with positive HCV RNA were referred to a liver specialist. Results: During a 27-month period (July 2017 - Sept 2019), 8363 patients in the birth cohort presented to the ED during daytime hours. 80% (6714) met eligibility criteria, and 48.4% (3247) were offered testing. Screening was performed by non-medical staff (mean 8/day, median spots on DBS 4). 345 (10.6%) had been previously tested, and 639 (19.7%) declined. 2136 (65.8%) patients underwent testing: median age 58.4 years (40-82), 1117 male (52.3%). Of these, 45 patients (2.1%; 95% CI 1.5%-2.7%) were anti-HCV positive: 32 (76.2%) were HCV RNA positive, 10 (23.8%) negative and 3 not done due to inadequate DBS sample. 26 patients (81.3%) were linked to care and 3 (9.4%) lost to follow-up. HCV prevalence in the ED was significantly higher than the general Canadian population (2.1% vs 0.7%; p < 0.0001) but much lower than reported rates in American EDs (2.1% vs 10.3%; p < 0.0001). Conclusion: Acceptance of HCV screening in the ED birth cohort was high and easily performed using DBS to ensure the majority of positive samples were tested for HCV RNA. Challenges included implementation that limited number of people tested, and linkage to care for HCV positive patients. HCV prevalence among this ED birth cohort was higher than the general population but lower than seen in the ED in the US. This may in part be due to exclusion of individuals with more severe medical issues, refusal by higher risk subgroups, or population and healthcare system differences between countries.
Around 30% of individuals with schizophrenia remain symptomatic and significantly impaired despite antipsychotic treatment and are considered to be treatment resistant. Clinicians are currently unable to predict which patients are at higher risk of treatment resistance.
To determine whether genetic liability for schizophrenia and/or clinical characteristics measurable at illness onset can prospectively indicate a higher risk of treatment-resistant psychosis (TRP).
In 1070 individuals with schizophrenia or related psychotic disorders, schizophrenia polygenic risk scores (PRS) and large copy number variations (CNVs) were assessed for enrichment in TRP. Regression and machine-learning approaches were used to investigate the association of phenotypes related to demographics, family history, premorbid factors and illness onset with TRP.
Younger age at onset (odds ratio 0.94, P = 7.79 × 10−13) and poor premorbid social adjustment (odds ratio 1.64, P = 2.41 × 10−4) increased risk of TRP in univariate regression analyses. These factors remained associated in multivariate regression analyses, which also found lower premorbid IQ (odds ratio 0.98, P = 7.76 × 10−3), younger father's age at birth (odds ratio 0.97, P = 0.015) and cannabis use (odds ratio 1.60, P = 0.025) increased the risk of TRP. Machine-learning approaches found age at onset to be the most important predictor and also identified premorbid IQ and poor social adjustment as predictors of TRP, mirroring findings from regression analyses. Genetic liability for schizophrenia was not associated with TRP.
People with an earlier age at onset of psychosis and poor premorbid functioning are more likely to be treatment resistant. The genetic architecture of susceptibility to schizophrenia may be distinct from that of treatment outcomes.
Interstage mortality causes are often unknown in infants with shunt-dependent univentricular defects. For 2 years, screening catheterisation was encouraged before neonatal discharge to determine if routine evaluation improved interstage outcomes.
Retrospective single-centre review of home monitoring programme from December, 2010 to June, 2012. Composite scores were created for physical examination/echocardiography risk factors; catheterisation risk factors; and interstage adverse events. Composite scores were compared between usual care and screening catheterisation groups. The ability of each risk factor composite to predict interstage adverse events, individually and in combination, was assessed with sensitivity, specificity, and receiver operating characteristic curves.
There were 27 usual care and 32 screening catheterisation patients. There were no significant differences between groups except rates of catheterisation before discharge (29.6 versus 100%, p < 0.001). Usual care patients who underwent catheterisation for clinical indications had higher intervention rates (37.5 versus 3.1%, p = 0.004). Physical examination/echocardiography risk factor frequency was similar, but usual care patients with catheterisation had a higher catheterisation risk factor frequency. Interstage adverse event frequency was similar (48.2 versus 53.1%, p = 0.7). For interstage adverse event prediction, sensitivity for the physical examination/echocardiography, catheterisation, and either risk factor composites was 53.3, 72, and 80%, respectively; specificity was 59, 60, and 48%. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.56, 0.66, and 0.64.
Screening catheterisation evaluation offered slightly increased sensitivity and specificity, but no difference in interstage adverse event frequency. Given this small advantage versus known risks, screening catheterisations are no longer encouraged.
We recently reported an association of offspring educational attainment with polygenic risk scores (PRS) computed on parent’s non-transmitted alleles for educational attainment using the second GWAS meta-analysis article on educational attainment published by the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium. Here we test the replication of these findings using a more powerful PRS from the third GWAS meta-analysis article by the Consortium. Each of the key findings of our previous paper is replicated using this improved PRS (N = 2335 adolescent twins and their genotyped parents). The association of children’s attainment with their own PRS increased substantially with the standardized effect size, moving from β = 0.134, 95% CI = 0.079, 0.188 for EA2, to β = 0.223, 95% CI = 0.169, 0.278, p < .001, for EA3. Parent’s PRS again predicted the socioeconomic status (SES) they provided to their offspring and increased from β = 0.201, 95% CI = 0.147, 0.256 to β = 0.286, 95% CI = 0.239, 0.333. Importantly, the PRS for alleles not transmitted to their offspring — therefore acting via the parenting environment — was increased in effect size from β = 0.058, 95% CI = 0.003, 0.114 to β = 0.067, 95% CI = 0.012, 0.122, p = .016. As previously found, this non-transmitted genetic effect was fully accounted for by parental SES. The findings reinforce the conclusion that genetic effects of parenting are substantial, explain approximately one-third the magnitude of an individual’s own genetic inheritance and are mediated by parental socioeconomic competence.
Recovery Colleges are opening internationally. The evaluation focus has been on outcomes for Recovery College students who use mental health services. However, benefits may also arise for: staff who attend or co-deliver courses; the mental health and social care service hosting the Recovery College; and wider society. A theory-based change model characterising how Recovery Colleges impact at these higher levels is needed for formal evaluation of their impact, and to inform future Recovery College development. The aim of this study was to develop a stratified theory identifying candidate mechanisms of action and outcomes (impact) for Recovery Colleges at staff, services and societal levels.
Inductive thematic analysis of 44 publications identified in a systematised review was supplemented by collaborative analysis involving a lived experience advisory panel to develop a preliminary theoretical framework. This was refined through semi-structured interviews with 33 Recovery College stakeholders (service user students, peer/non-peer trainers, managers, community partners, clinicians) in three sites in England.
Candidate mechanisms of action and outcomes were identified at staff, services and societal levels. At the staff level, experiencing new relationships may change attitudes and associated professional practice. Identified outcomes for staff included: experiencing and valuing co-production; changed perceptions of service users; and increased passion and job motivation. At the services level, Recovery Colleges often develop somewhat separately from their host system, reducing the reach of the college into the host organisation but allowing development of an alternative culture giving experiential learning opportunities to staff around co-production and the role of a peer workforce. At the societal level, partnering with community-based agencies gave other members of the public opportunities for learning alongside people with mental health problems and enabled community agencies to work with people they might not have otherwise. Recovery Colleges also gave opportunities to beneficially impact on community attitudes.
This study is the first to characterise the mechanisms of action and impact of Recovery Colleges on mental health staff, mental health and social care services, and wider society. The findings suggest that a certain distance is needed in the relationship between the Recovery College and its host organisation if a genuine cultural alternative is to be created. Different strategies are needed depending on what level of impact is intended, and this study can inform decision-making about mechanisms to prioritise. Future research into Recovery Colleges should include contextual evaluation of these higher level impacts, and investigate effectiveness and harms.
Research on environmental and genetic pathways to complex traits such as educational attainment (EA) is confounded by uncertainty over whether correlations reflect effects of transmitted parental genes, causal family environments, or some, possibly interactive, mixture of both. Thus, an aggregate of thousands of alleles associated with EA (a polygenic risk score; PRS) may tap parental behaviors and home environments promoting EA in the offspring. New methods for unpicking and determining these causal pathways are required. Here, we utilize the fact that parents pass, at random, 50% of their genome to a given offspring to create independent scores for the transmitted alleles (conventional EA PRS) and a parental score based on alleles not transmitted to the offspring (EA VP_PRS). The formal effect of non-transmitted alleles on offspring attainment was tested in 2,333 genotyped twins for whom high-quality measures of EA, assessed at age 17 years, were available, and whose parents were also genotyped. Four key findings were observed. First, the EA PRS and EA VP_PRS were empirically independent, validating the virtual-parent design. Second, in this family-based design, children's own EA PRS significantly predicted their EA (β = 0.15), ruling out stratification confounds as a cause of the association of attainment with the EA PRS. Third, parental EA PRS predicted the SES environment parents provided to offspring (β = 0.20), and parental SES and offspring EA were significantly associated (β = 0.33). This would suggest that the EA PRS is at least as strongly linked to social competence as it is to EA, leading to higher attained SES in parents and, therefore, a higher experienced SES for children. In a full structural equation model taking account of family genetic relatedness across multiple siblings the non-transmitted allele effects were estimated at similar values; but, in this more complex model, confidence intervals included zero. A test using the forthcoming EA3 PRS may clarify this outcome. The virtual-parent method may be applied to clarify causality in other phenotypes where observational evidence suggests parenting may moderate expression of other outcomes, for instance in psychiatry.
A suite of woody plants inhabiting the seasonally dry tropics flower while leafless during the dry season, raising intriguing questions about the role of moisture limitation in shaping their phenology. Brachychiton megaphyllus is one such species, a shrub of open forests and savannas in northern Australia. We documented leaf and reproductive phenology of 14 shrubs, and irrigated a further 15, to determine if soil moisture affected leafiness and reproductive activity. Brachychiton megaphyllus showed first flower buds shortly after the cessation of wet-season rains, and budded and flowered throughout the dry season. In some plants, leaf flush occurred prior to the first rains. Rates of fruit set and maturity were very low. Irrigation did not significantly influence leaf shoot or subsequent canopy development. Contrary to expectation, irrigation decreased the production of buds and flowers though it had no impact on the production of fruit, a response for which we suggest a number of hypotheses. Phenological responses to irrigation may have been limited because B. megaphyllus responds primarily to cues other than soil moisture and is buffered against seasonal drought by a large tap root. This suggests mechanisms by which flowering while leafless may occur in a range of species.
Patients with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives exhibit both abnormally diminished and increased neural activation during cognitive tasks. In particular, excessive task-related activity is often observed when tasks are easy, suggesting that inefficient cerebral recruitment may be a marker of vulnerability for schizophrenia. This hypothesis might best be tested using a very easy task, thus avoiding confounding by individual differences in task difficulty.
Eighteen people with schizophrenia, 18 unaffected full siblings of patients with schizophrenia and 26 healthy controls performed an easy auditory target-detection task in a 3-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Groups were matched for accuracy on the task. Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses to non-target stimuli in participants with vulnerability for schizophrenia (siblings and patients) were compared with those of healthy controls, and those of patients with those of unaffected siblings. BOLD responses to targets were compared with baseline, across groups.
Subjects with vulnerability for schizophrenia showed significant hyperactivation to non-targets in brain areas activated by targets in all groups, in addition to reduced deactivation to non-targets in areas suppressed by targets in all groups. Siblings showed greater activation than patients to non-targets in the medial frontal cortex. Patients exhibited significantly longer reaction times (RTs) than unaffected siblings and healthy controls.
Inefficient cerebral recruitment is a vulnerability marker for schizophrenia, marked by reduced suppression of brain areas normally deactivated in response to task stimuli, and increased activation of areas normally activated in response to task stimuli. Moreover, siblings show additional activation in the medial frontal cortex that may be protective.
Three-dimensional (3D) battery architectures have emerged as a new direction for powering microelectromechanical systems and other small autonomous devices. Although there are few examples to date of fully functioning 3D batteries, these power sources have the potential to achieve high power density and high energy density in a small footprint. This overview highlights the various architectures proposed for 3D batteries, the advances made in the fabrication of components designed for these devices, and the remaining technical challenges. Efforts directed at establishing design rules for 3D architectures and modeling are providing insight concerning the energy density and current uniformity achievable with these architectures. The significant progress made on the fabrication of electrodes and electrolytes designed for 3D batteries is an indication that a number of these battery architectures will be successfully demonstrated within the next few years.
A set of 10 SNPs associated with reading ability in 7-year-olds was reported based on initial pooled analyses of 100K SNP chip data, with follow-up testing stages using pooling and individual testing. Here we examine this association in an adolescent population sample of Australian twins and siblings (N = 1177) aged 12 to 25 years. One (rs1842129) of the 10 SNPs approached significance (P = .05) but no support was found for the remaining 9 SNPs or the SNP set itself. Results indicate that these SNPs are not associated with reading ability in an Australian population. The results are interpreted as supporting use of much larger SNP sets in common disorders where effects are small.