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Integration of biomarker data with information on health and lifestyle provides a powerful tool to enhance the scientific value of health research. Existing health and demographic surveillance systems (HDSSs) present an opportunity to create novel biodata resources for this purpose, but data and biological sample collection often presents challenges. We outline some of the challenges in developing these resources and present the outcomes of a biomarker feasibility study embedded within the South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO) HDSS.
We assessed study-related records to determine the pace of data collection, response from potential participants, and feedback following data and sample collection. Overall and stratified measures of data and sample availability were summarised. Crude prevalence of key risk factors was examined.
Approximately half (49.5%) of invited individuals consented to participate in this study, for a final sample size of 203 (161 adults and 42 children). Women were more likely to consent to participate compared with men, whereas children, young adults and individuals of Malay ethnicity were less likely to consent compared with older individuals or those of any other ethnicity. At least one biological sample (blood from all participants – finger-prick and venous [for serum, plasma and whole blood samples], hair or urine for adults only) was successfully collected from all participants, with blood test data available from over 90% of individuals. Among adults, urine samples were most commonly collected (97.5%), followed by any blood samples (91.9%) and hair samples (83.2%). Cardiometabolic risk factor burden was high (prevalence of elevated HbA1c among adults: 23.8%; of elevated triglycerides among adults: 38.1%; of elevated total cholesterol among children: 19.5%).
In this study, we show that it is feasible to create biodata resources using existing HDSS frameworks, and identify a potentially high burden of cardiometabolic risk factors that requires further evaluation in this population.
Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) regimes for HIV are associated with raised levels of circulating triglycerides (TGs) in western populations. However, there are limited data on the impact of ART on cardiometabolic risk in sub-Saharan African (SSA) populations.
Pooled analyses of 14 studies comprising 21 023 individuals, on whom relevant cardiometabolic risk factors (including TG), HIV and ART status were assessed between 2003 and 2014, in SSA. The association between ART and raised TG (>2.3 mmol/L) was analysed using regression models.
Among 10 615 individuals, ART was associated with a two-fold higher probability of raised TG (RR 2.05, 95% CI 1.51–2.77, I2 = 45.2%). The associations between ART and raised blood pressure, glucose, HbA1c, and other lipids were inconsistent across studies.
Evidence from this study confirms the association of ART with raised TG in SSA populations. Given the possible causal effect of raised TG on cardiovascular disease (CVD), the evidence highlights the need for prospective studies to clarify the impact of long term ART on CVD outcomes in SSA.
Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infects 95% of the global population and is associated with up to 2% of cancers globally. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels to EBV have been shown to be heritable and associated with developing malignancies. We, therefore, performed a pilot genome-wide association analysis of anti-EBV IgG traits in an African population, using a combined approach including array genotyping, whole-genome sequencing and imputation to a panel with African sequence data. In 1562 Ugandans, we identify a variant in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQA1, rs9272371 (p = 2.6 × 10−17) associated with anti-EBV nuclear antigen-1 responses. Trans-ancestry meta-analysis and fine-mapping with European-ancestry individuals suggest the presence of distinct HLA class II variants driving associations in Uganda. In addition, we identify four putative, novel, very rare African-specific loci with preliminary evidence for association with anti-viral capsid antigen IgG responses which will require replication for validation. These findings reinforce the need for the expansion of such studies in African populations with relevant datasets to capture genetic diversity.
Shape of the carcass is considered important commercially and is usually assessed using a subjective score for conformation. Carcasses of higher conformation are perceived to have higher lean to bone (L:B) ratios and give joints of better shape at a weight, characterised as shorter and having a greater thickness of muscle. Some of these benefits have been shown, but so has a positive association between conformation and fatness. Purchas et al. (1991) proposed that muscularity indices could be used as an alternative to the conformation score. The objectives of this study were to investigate the relationships between muscularity, shape of joints and composition within breeds and the relationships between different muscularity indices. Knowledge of the latter relationships is important to determine how many indices are required to adequately describe carcass muscularity.
During 2000–07, five giant icebergs (B15A, B15J, B15K, C16 and C25) adrift in the southwestern Ross Sea, Antarctica, were instrumented with global positioning system (GPS) receivers and other instruments to monitor their behavior in the near-coastal environment. The measurements show that collision processes can strongly influence iceberg behavior and delay their progress in drifting to the open ocean. Collisions appear to have been a dominant control on the movement of B15A, the largest of the icebergs, during the 4-year period it gyrated within the limited confines of Ross Island, the fixed Ross Ice Shelf and grounded C16. Iceberg interactions in the near-coastal regime are largely driven by ocean tidal effects which determine the magnitude of forces generated during collision and break-up events. Estimates of forces derived from the observed drift trajectories during the iceberg-collisioninduced calving of iceberg C19 from the Ross Ice Shelf, during the iceberg-induced break-off of the tip of the Drygalski Ice Tongue and the break-up of B15A provide a crude estimate of the stress scale involved in iceberg calving. Considering the total area the vertical face of new rifts created in the calving or break-up process, and not accounting for local stress amplification near rift tips, this estimated stress scale is 104 Pa.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global public health threat. Emergence of AMR occurs naturally, but can also be selected for by antimicrobial exposure in clinical and veterinary medicine. Despite growing worldwide attention to AMR, there are substantial limitations in our understanding of the burden, distribution and determinants of AMR at the population level. We highlight the importance of population-based approaches to assess the association between antimicrobial use and AMR in humans and animals. Such approaches are needed to improve our understanding of the development and spread of AMR in order to inform strategies for the prevention, detection and management of AMR, and to support the sustainable use of antimicrobials in healthcare.
Introduction: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has been suggested as an initial investigation in the management of renal colic. Our objectives were: 1) to determine the accuracy of POCUS for the diagnosis of nephrolithiasis, and 2) to assess its prognostic value in the management of renal colic (PROSPERO: 42016035331). Methods: An electronic database search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed was conducted utilizing subject headings, keywords, and synonyms that address our research question. Bibliographies of included studies and narrative reviews were manually examined. Studies of adult emergency department patients with renal colic symptoms were included. Any degree of hydronephrosis was considered a positive POCUS finding. Accepted criterion standards were CT evidence of renal stone or hydronephrosis, direct stone visualization, or surgical findings. Screening of abstracts, quality assessment with the QUADAS-2 instrument, and data extraction were performed by two reviewers, with discrepancies resolved by conference with a third reviewer.Test performance was assessed by pooled sensitivity and specificity, calculated likelihood ratios, and a summary receiver operator curve (SROC). The secondary outcome of prognostic value was reported as a narrative summary. Results: The electronic search yielded 627 unique titles. After relevance screening, 25 papers underwent full-text review, and 8 articles met all inclusion criteria. Of these, 5 high-quality studies (N=1773) were included in the meta-analysis for diagnostic accuracy, and three yielded data on prognostic value. The pooled results for sensitivity and specificity were 70.2% (95% CI=67.1% to 73.2%) and 75.4% (95% CI=72.5% to 78.2%), respectively. The calculated positive and negative likelihood ratios were 2.85 and 0.39. The SROC generated did not show evidence of a threshold effect.Three studies examining prognostic value noted a higher likelihood of a large stone or surgical intervention with positive POCUS findings. The largest randomized trial showed lower cumulative radiation exposure and no increase in adverse events in those who received POCUS investigation as the initial renal colic investigation. Conclusion: Point-of-care ultrasound is of modest accuracy for the diagnosis of nephrolithiasis. While positive POCUS findings are associated with larger stones and greater likelihood for intervention, the clinical importance of this is unclear.
With the changing distribution of infectious diseases, and an increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases, low- and middle-income countries, including those in Africa, will need to expand their health care capacities to effectively respond to these epidemiological transitions. The interrelated risk factors for chronic infectious and non-communicable diseases and the need for long-term disease management, argue for combined strategies to understand their underlying causes and to design strategies for effective prevention and long-term care. Through multidisciplinary research and implementation partnerships, we advocate an integrated approach for research and healthcare for chronic diseases in Africa.
Many adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remain undiagnosed. Specialist assessment clinics enable the detection of these cases, but such services are often overstretched. It has been proposed that unnecessary referrals to these services could be reduced by prioritizing individuals who score highly on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ), a self-report questionnaire measure of autistic traits. However, the ability of the AQ to predict who will go on to receive a diagnosis of ASD in adults is unclear.
We studied 476 adults, seen consecutively at a national ASD diagnostic referral service for suspected ASD. We tested AQ scores as predictors of ASD diagnosis made by expert clinicians according to International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 criteria, informed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic (ADOS-G) and Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) assessments.
Of the participants, 73% received a clinical diagnosis of ASD. Self-report AQ scores did not significantly predict receipt of a diagnosis. While AQ scores provided high sensitivity of 0.77 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.72–0.82] and positive predictive value of 0.76 (95% CI 0.70–0.80), the specificity of 0.29 (95% CI 0.20–0.38) and negative predictive value of 0.36 (95% CI 0.22–0.40) were low. Thus, 64% of those who scored below the AQ cut-off were ‘false negatives’ who did in fact have ASD. Co-morbidity data revealed that generalized anxiety disorder may ‘mimic’ ASD and inflate AQ scores, leading to false positives.
The AQ's utility for screening referrals was limited in this sample. Recommendations supporting the AQ's role in the assessment of adult ASD, e.g. UK NICE guidelines, may need to be reconsidered.
This paper briefly describes the principle of operation and science goals of the AMANDA high energy neutrino telescope located at the South Pole, Antarctica. Results from an earlier phase of the telescope, called AMANDA-BIO, demonstrate both reliable operation and the broad astrophysical reach of this device, which includes searches for a variety of sources of ultrahigh energy neutrinos: generic point sources, Gamma-Ray Bursts and diffuse sources. The predicted sensitivity and angular resolution of the telescope were confirmed by studies of atmospheric muon and neutrino backgrounds. We also report on the status of the analysis from AMANDA-II, a larger version with far greater capabilities. At this stage of analysis, details of the ice properties and other systematic uncertainties of the AMANDA-II telescope are under study, but we have made progress toward critical science objectives. In particular, we present the first preliminary flux limits from AMANDA-II on the search for continuous emission from astrophysical point sources, and report on the search for correlated neutrino emission from Gamma Ray Bursts detected by BATSE before decommissioning in May 2000. During the next two years, we expect to exploit the full potential of AMANDA-II with the installation of a new data acquisition system that records full waveforms from the in-ice optical sensors.
We present multi-instrument observations of AR 8048, made between June 3 and June 5 1997 as part of SoHO JOP033. This active region (AR) has a sigmoid-like global shape and undergoes transient brightenings through which the stored energy is released.
Using a magneto-hydrostatic model, we compute coronal magnetic field. The large-scale magnetic lines confirm the sigmoidal characteristics of the AR. The field lines most closely matching the hotter SoHO/CDS loops extend along the quasi-separatrix-Iayers (QSLs) of the coronal field. Transition region (TR) brightenings observed with SoHO/CDS can be associated with both QSL intersections with the photosphere, and places where separatrices corresponding to bald patches (BPs, sites where field lines are tangent to the photosphere) lie at the photospheric plane. There are suggestions that the element abundances measured in the TR may depend on the type of topological structure present. TR brightenings associated with QSLs have coronal abundances, while those associated with BP separatrices have abundances closer to photospheric values.
The burden and aetiology of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and its microvascular complications may be influenced by varying behavioural and lifestyle environments as well as by genetic susceptibility. These aspects of the epidemiology of T2D have not been reliably clarified in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), highlighting the need for context-specific epidemiological studies with the statistical resolution to inform potential preventative and therapeutic strategies. Therefore, as part of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative, we designed a multi-site study comprising case collections and population-based surveys at 11 sites in eight countries across SSA. The goal is to recruit up to 6000 T2D participants and 6000 control participants. We will collect questionnaire data, biophysical measurements and biological samples for chronic disease traits, risk factors and genetic data on all study participants. Through integrating epidemiological and genomic techniques, the study provides a framework for assessing the burden, spectrum and environmental and genetic risk factors for T2D and its complications across SSA. With established mechanisms for fieldwork, data and sample collection and management, data-sharing and consent for re-approaching participants, the study will be a resource for future research studies, including longitudinal studies, prospective case ascertainment of incident disease and interventional studies.
The Durban Diabetes Study (DDS) is a population-based cross-sectional survey of an urban black population in the eThekwini Municipality (city of Durban) in South Africa. The survey combines health, lifestyle and socioeconomic questionnaire data with standardised biophysical measurements, biomarkers for non-communicable and infectious diseases, and genetic data. Data collection for the study is currently underway and the target sample size is 10 000 participants. The DDS has an established infrastructure for survey fieldwork, data collection and management, sample processing and storage, managed data sharing and consent for re-approaching participants, which can be utilised for further research studies. As such, the DDS represents a rich platform for investigating the distribution, interrelation and aetiology of chronic diseases and their risk factors, which is critical for developing health care policies for disease management and prevention. For data access enquiries please contact the African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research (APCDR) at firstname.lastname@example.org or the corresponding author.
Consumer health organisations (CHOs) are non-profit or voluntary sector organisations that promote and represent the interests of patients and carers affected by particular conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine, among patients with chronic disease, what differentiates those who contact CHOs from those who do not and what stops people from making contact.
CHOs can enhance people’s capacity to manage chronic disease by providing information, education and psychosocial support, but are under-utilised. Little is known about barriers to access.
Data were from a baseline telephone survey conducted as part of a randomised trial of an intervention to improve access to CHOs. Participants constituted a consecutive sample of 276 adults with diagnosed chronic disease recruited via 18 general practitioners in Brisbane, Australia. Quantitative survey items examined participants’ use and perceptions of CHOs and a single open-ended question explored barriers to CHO use. Multiple logistic regression and thematic analysis were used.
Overall, 39% of participants had ever contacted a CHO for their health and 28% had contacted a CHO specifically focussed on their diagnosed chronic condition. Diabetes, poorer self-reported physical health and greater health system contact were significantly associated with CHO contact. The view that ‘my doctor does it all’ was prevalent and, together with a belief that their health problems were ‘not serious enough’, was the primary reason patients did not make contact.
Attitudinal and system-related barriers limit use of CHOs by those for whom they are designed. Developing referral pathways to CHOs and promoting awareness about what they offer is needed to improve access.
Before the space era, Mars was thought to be like the earth; after Mariner 4, Mars seemed to be like the moon; Mariners 6 and 7 have shown Mars to have its own distinctive features, unknown elsewhere within the solar system.
The successful flyby of Mariner 4 past Mars in July 1965 opened a new era in the close-range study of planetary surfaces with imaging techniques. In spite of the limited return of data, Mariner 4 established the basic workability of one such technique, which involved use of a vidicon image tube, on-board digitization of the video signal, storage of the data on magnetic tape, transmission to the earth at reduced bit rate by way of a directional antenna, and reconstruction into a picture under computer control. Even though the Mariner 4 pictures covered only about 1% of Mars's area, they contributed significantly to our knowledge of that planet's surface and history [1, 2, 15, 17].