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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder with global impact, with the largest proportion of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that there are 46.8 million cases globally with approximately 10 million new cases each year or a new case occurring every 3 sec (Prince et al., 2015). For comparison there are 36.7 million HIV cases with an estimated 2 million new cases each year (WHO, 2017). The rise in dementia prevalence is largely due to population ageing, with the oldest being at highest risk. To date there are no diseases modifying medications for Alzheimer's disease or the other causes of dementia. Academics and research groups are increasingly focused on prevention or delay of dementia (Brayne and Miller, 2017) and a number of organizations now prioritize dementia, indicating a strong and coherent international effort to address this problem. Examples include the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has established a Global Dementia Observatory; the World Dementia Council; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the U.S. National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA); and the Global Council on Brain Health.
Treatment of medical patients with the inflammatory cytokine, interferon-α (IFN-α), is frequently associated with the development of clinical depressive symptomatology. Several important biological correlates of the effect of IFN-α on mood have been described, but the neuropsychological changes associated with IFN-α treatment are largely unexplored. The aim of the present preliminary study was to assess the effect of IFN-α on measures of emotional processing.
We measured changes in emotional processing over 6–8 weeks in 17 patients receiving IFN-α as part of their treatment for hepatitis C virus infection. Emotional processing tasks included those which have previously been shown to be sensitive to the effects of depression and antidepressant treatment, namely facial expression recognition, emotional categorisation and the dot probe attentional task.
Following IFN-α, patients were more accurate at detecting facial expressions of disgust; they also showed diminished attentional vigilance to happy faces. IFN-α produced the expected increases in scores on depression rating scales, but there was no correlation between these scores and the changes in emotional processing.
Our preliminary findings suggest that IFN-α treatment produces negative biases in emotional processing, and this effect is not simply a consequence of depression. It is possible that increased recognition of disgust may represent a neuropsychological marker of depressive disorders related to inflammation.
Recent studies have improved our understanding of nearshore marine ecosystems surrounding Ascension Island (central Atlantic Ocean), but little is known about Ascension's benthic environment beyond its shallow coastal waters. Here, we report the first detailed physical and biological examination of the seabed surrounding Ascension Island at 100–1000 m depth. Multibeam swath data were used to map fine scale bathymetry and derive seabed slope and rugosity indices for the entire area. Water temperature and salinity profiles were obtained from five Conductivity, Temperature, Depth (CTD) deployments, revealing a spatially consistent thermocline at 80 m depth. A camera lander (Shelf Underwater Camera System; SUCS) provided nearly 400 images from 21 sites (100 m transects) at depths of 110–1020 m, showing high variability in the structure of benthic habitats and biological communities. These surveys revealed a total of 95 faunal morphotypes (mean richness >14 per site), complemented by 213 voucher specimens constituting 60 morphotypes collected from seven targeted Agassiz trawl (AGT) deployments. While total faunal density (maximum >300 m−2 at 480 m depth) increased with rugosity, characteristic shifts in multivariate assemblage structure were driven by depth and substratum type. Shallow assemblages (~100 m) were dominated by black coral (Antipatharia sp.) on rocky substrata, cup corals (Caryophyllia sp.) and sea urchins (Cidaris sp.) were abundant on fine sediment at intermediate depths (250–500 m), and shrimps (Nematocarcinus spp.) were common at greater depths (>500 m). Other ubiquitous taxa included serpulid and sabellid polychaetes and brittle stars (Ophiocantha sp.). Cold-water corals (Lophelia cf. pertusa), indicative of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and representing substantial benthic carbon accumulation, occurred in particularly dense aggregations at <350 m but were encountered as deep as 1020 m. In addition to enhancing marine biodiversity records at this locality, this study provides critical baseline data to support the future management of Ascension's marine environment.
Capturing service users’ perspectives can highlight additional and different concerns to those of clinicians, but there are no up to date, self-report psychometrically sound measures of side effects of antipsychotic medications.
To develop a psychometrically sound measure to identify antipsychotic side effects important to service users, the Maudsley Side Effects (MSE) measure.
An initial item bank was subjected to a Delphi exercise (n = 9) with psychiatrists and pharmacists, followed by service user focus groups and expert panels (n = 15) to determine item relevance and language. Feasibility and comprehensive psychometric properties were established in two samples (N43 and N50). We investigated whether we could predict the three most important side effects for individuals from their frequency, severity and life impact.
MSE is a 53-item measure with good reliability and validity. Poorer mental and physical health, but not psychotic symptoms, was related to side-effect burden. Seventy-nine percent of items were chosen as one of the three most important effects. Severity, impact and distress only predicted ‘putting on weight’ which was more distressing, more severe and had more life impact in those for whom it was most important.
MSE is a self-report questionnaire that identifies reliably the side-effect burden as experienced by patients. Identifying key side effects important to patients can act as a starting point for joint decision making on the type and the dose of medication.
Salmonella is a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness. We report the collaborative investigative efforts of US and Canadian public health officials during the 2013–2014 international outbreak of multiple Salmonella serotype infections linked to sprouted chia seed powder. The investigation included open-ended interviews of ill persons, traceback, product testing, facility inspections, and trace forward. Ninety-four persons infected with outbreak strains from 16 states and four provinces were identified; 21% were hospitalized and none died. Fifty-four (96%) of 56 persons who consumed chia seed powder, reported 13 different brands that traced back to a single Canadian firm, distributed by four US and eight Canadian companies. Laboratory testing yielded outbreak strains from leftover and intact product. Contaminated product was recalled. Although chia seed powder is a novel outbreak vehicle, sprouted seeds are recognized as an important cause of foodborne illness; firms should follow available guidance to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination during sprouting.
Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health. Resistance is largely driven by antibiotic usage, which in many cases is unnecessary and can be improved. The impact of decreasing overall antibiotic usage on resistance is unknown and difficult to assess using standard study designs. The objective of this study was to explore the potential impact of reducing antibiotic usage on the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs).
We used agent-based modeling to simulate interactions between patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) using model inputs informed by the literature. We modeled the effect of antibiotic usage as (1) a microbiome effect, for which antibiotic usage decreases competing bacteria and increases the MDRO transmission probability between patients and HCWs and (2) a mutation effect that designates a proportion of patients who receive antibiotics to subsequently develop a MDRO via genetic mutation.
Intensive care unit
Absolute reduction in overall antibiotic usage by experimental values of 10% and 25%
Reducing antibiotic usage absolutely by 10% (from 75% to 65%) and 25% (from 75% to 50%) reduced acquisition rates of high-prevalence MDROs by 11.2% (P<.001) and 28.3% (P<.001), respectively. We observed similar effect sizes for low-prevalence MDROs.
In a critical care setting, where up to 50% of antibiotic courses may be inappropriate, even a moderate reduction in antibiotic usage can reduce MDRO transmission.
Radio survey datasets comprise an increasing number of individual observations stored as sets of multidimensional data. In large survey projects, astronomers commonly face limitations regarding: 1) interactive visual analytics of sufficiently large subsets of data; 2) synchronous and asynchronous collaboration; and 3) documentation of the discovery workflow. To support collaborative data inquiry, we present encube, a large-scale comparative visual analytics framework. encube can utilise advanced visualization environments such as the CAVE2 (a hybrid 2D and 3D virtual reality environment powered with a 100 Tflop/s GPU-based supercomputer and 84 million pixels) for collaborative analysis of large subsets of data from radio surveys. It can also run on standard desktops, providing a capable visual analytics experience across the display ecology. encube is composed of four primary units enabling compute-intensive processing, advanced visualisation, dynamic interaction, parallel data query, along with data management. Its modularity will make it simple to incorporate astronomical analysis packages and Virtual Observatory capabilities developed within our community. We discuss how encube builds a bridge between high-end display systems (such as CAVE2) and the classical desktop, preserving all traces of the work completed on either platform – allowing the research process to continue wherever you are.
Improving neurocognitive outcomes following treatment for brain metastases have become increasingly important. We propose that a brief telephone-based neurocognitive assessment may improve follow-up cognitive assessments in this palliative population. Aim: To prospectively assess the feasibility and reliability of a telephone based brief neurocognitive assessment compared to the same tests delivered face-to-face. Methods: Brain metastases patients to be treated with whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) were assessed using a brief validated neurocognitive battery at baseline, at 1 month and 3 months following WBRT (in person and over the phone). The primary outcome was feasibility and inter-procedural (in person versus telephone) reliability. The secondary objective was to evaluate the change in neurocognitive function before and after WBRT. Results: Out of 39 patients enrolled, 82% of patients completed the baseline in-person and telephone neurocognitive assessments. However, at 1 month, only 41% of enrolled patients completed the in-person and telephone cognitive assessments and at 3 months, only 10% of patients completed them. Results pertaining to reliability and change in neurocognitive function will be updated. Conclusion: The pre-defined definition of feasibility (at least 80% completion for face to face and telephone neurocognitive assessments) was met at baseline. However, a large proportion of participants did not complete either telephone or in person neurocognitive follow-up at 1 month and at 3 months post-WBRT. Attrition remained a challenge for neurocognitive testing in this population even when a telephone-based brief assessment was used.
Little is known about customer purchases of foods and beverages from small and non-traditional food retailers (i.e. corner stores, gas-marts, dollar stores and pharmacies). The present study aimed to: (i) describe customer characteristics, shopping frequency and reasons for shopping at small and non-traditional food retailers; and (ii) describe food/beverage purchases and their nutritional quality, including differences across store type.
Data were collected through customer intercept interviews. Nutritional quality of food/beverage purchases was analysed; a Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) score for purchases was created by aggregating participant purchases at each store.
Small and non-traditional food stores that were not WIC-authorized in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, USA.
Customers (n 661) from 105 food retailers.
Among participants, 29 % shopped at the store at least once daily; an additional 44 % shopped there at least once weekly. Most participants (74 %) cited convenient location as the primary draw to the store. Customers purchased a median of 2262 kJ (540 kcal), which varied by store type (P=0·04). The amount of added sugar far surpassed national dietary recommendations. At dollar stores, participants purchased a median of 5302 kJ (1266 kcal) for a median value of $US 2·89. Sugar-sweetened beverages were the most common purchase. The mean HEI-2010 score across all stores was 36·4.
Small and non-traditional food stores contribute to the urban food environment. Given the poor nutritional quality of purchases, findings support the need for interventions that address customer decision making in these stores.
A variety of substructures have been identified within the tidal debris around interacting galaxies. These structures range in scale from Globular Clusters to the so-called “Tidal Dwarf Galaxies”. We review observations of such objects, with particular emphasis on what can be inferred from dynamical mass estimates. We then present the results of a dynamical analysis of structures which develop within the tidal tails of a large-N numerical simulation (N~1 million). We find that under the best conditions, “observations” of this system recover the true mass of the bound substructures to within a factor of two. Poor spatial and velocity resolution (coarser than the true half-light radii and velocity dispersions) and more inclined viewing geometries lead the dynamical masses to be over-estimated by factors of ten or more. A combination of poor resolution and edge-on viewing geometries lead to the most dramatic discrepancies, with dynamical masses over-estimated by factors of up to 1000. Furthermore, projection effects can lead to apparent concentrations of material at the ends of tidal tails that is in reality spread over very large distances, with mass scales well beyond that of any truly bound regions. Since many of the well studied tidal dwarf candidates are found within edge-on tails, we conclude that their mass and extent may have been greatly over-estimated.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a Square Kilometre Array Precursor. The telescope is located at the Murchison Radio–astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The MWA consists of 4 096 dipoles arranged into 128 dual polarisation aperture arrays forming a connected element interferometer that cross-correlates signals from all 256 inputs. A hybrid approach to the correlation task is employed, with some processing stages being performed by bespoke hardware, based on Field Programmable Gate Arrays, and others by Graphics Processing Units housed in general purpose rack mounted servers. The correlation capability required is approximately 8 tera floating point operations per second. The MWA has commenced operations and the correlator is generating 8.3 TB day−1 of correlation products, that are subsequently transferred 700 km from the MRO to Perth (WA) in real-time for storage and offline processing. In this paper, we outline the correlator design, signal path, and processing elements and present the data format for the internal and external interfaces.
The Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz (MALT90) survey aims to characterise the physical and chemical evolution of high-mass star-forming clumps. Exploiting the unique broad frequency range and on-the-fly mapping capabilities of the Australia Telescope National Facility Mopra 22 m single-dish telescope1, MALT90 has obtained 3′ × 3′ maps towards ~2 000 dense molecular clumps identified in the ATLASGAL 870 μm Galactic plane survey. The clumps were selected to host the early stages of high-mass star formation and to span the complete range in their evolutionary states (from prestellar, to protostellar, and on to
regions and photodissociation regions). Because MALT90 mapped 16 lines simultaneously with excellent spatial (38 arcsec) and spectral (0.11 km s−1) resolution, the data reveal a wealth of information about the clumps’ morphologies, chemistry, and kinematics. In this paper we outline the survey strategy, observing mode, data reduction procedure, and highlight some early science results. All MALT90 raw and processed data products are available to the community. With its unprecedented large sample of clumps, MALT90 is the largest survey of its type ever conducted and an excellent resource for identifying interesting candidates for high-resolution studies with ALMA.
It is uncertain whether antipsychotic long-acting injection (LAI) medication in schizophrenia is associated with better clinical outcomes than oral preparations.
To examine the impact of prior treatment delivery route on treatment outcomes and whether any differences are moderated by adherence.
Analysis of data from two pragmatic 1-year clinical trials in which patients with schizophrenia were randomised to either an oral first-generation antipsychotic (FGA), or a non-clozapine second-generation antipsychotic (SGA, CUtLASS 1 study), or a non-clozapine SGA or clozapine (CUtLASS 2 study).
Across both trials, 43% (n = 155) of participants were prescribed an FGA-LAI before randomisation. At 1-year follow-up they showed less improvement in quality of life, symptoms and global functioning than those randomised from oral medication. This difference was confined to patients rated as less than consistently adherent pre-randomisation. The relatively poor improvement in the patients prescribed an LAI pre-randomisation was ameliorated if they had been randomised to clozapine rather than another SGA. There was no advantage to being randomly assigned from an LAI at baseline to a non-clozapine oral SGA rather than an oral FGA.
A switch at randomisation from an LAI to an oral antipsychotic was associated with poorer clinical and functional outcomes at 1-year follow-up compared with switching from one oral antipsychotic to another. This effect appears to be moderated by adherence, and may not extend to switching to clozapine. This has implications for clinical trial design: the drug from which a participant is randomised may have a greater effect than the drug to which they are randomised.
The development of depressive symptomatology is a recognized complication of treatment with the cytokine interferon-α (IFN-α) and has been seen as supporting inflammatory theories of the pathophysiology of major depression. Major depression has been associated with changes in glutamatergic activity and recent formulations of IFN-induced depression have implicated neurotoxic influences that could also lead to changes in glutamate function. The present study used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure glutamate and its major metabolite glutamine in patients with hepatitis C who received treatment with pegylated IFN-α and ribavirin.
MRS measurements of glutamate and glutamine were taken from a 25 × 20 × 20 mm voxel including the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex in 12 patients before and after 4–6 weeks of treatment with IFN.
IFN treatment led to an increase in cortical levels of glutamine (p = 0.02) and a significant elevation in the ratio of glutamine to glutamate (p < 0.01). Furthermore, changes in glutamine level correlated significantly with ratings of depression and anxiety at the time of the second scan.
We conclude that treatment with IFN-α is associated with MRS-visible changes in glutamatergic metabolism. However, the changes seen differ from those reported in major depression, which suggests that the pathophysiology of IFN-induced depression may be distinct from that of major depression more generally.