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Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for the detection of foetal aneuploidy through analysis of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in maternal blood is offered routinely by many healthcare providers across the developed world. This testing has recently been recommended for evaluative implementation in the UK National Health Service (NHS) foetal anomaly screening pathway as a contingent screen following an increased risk of trisomy 21, 18 or 13. In preparation for delivering a national service, we have implemented cfDNA-based NIPT in our Regional Genetics Laboratory. Here, we describe our validation and verification processes and initial experiences of the technology prior to rollout of a national screening service.
Data are presented from more than 1000 patients (215 retrospective and 840 prospective) from ‘high- and low-risk pregnancies’ with outcome data following birth or confirmatory invasive prenatal sampling. NIPT was by the Illumina Verifi® test.
Our data confirm a high-fidelity service with a failure rate of ~0.24% and a high sensitivity and specificity for the detection of foetal trisomy 13, 18 and 21. Secondly, the data show that a significant proportion of patients continue their pregnancies without prenatal invasive testing or intervention after receiving a high-risk cfDNA-based result. A total of 46.5% of patients referred to date were referred for reasons other than high screen risk. Ten percent (76/840 clinical service referrals) of patients were referred with ultrasonographic finding of a foetal structural anomaly, and data analysis indicates high- and low-risk scan indications for NIPT.
NIPT can be successfully implemented into NHS regional genetics laboratories to provide high-quality services. NHS provision of NIPT in patients with high-risk screen results will allow for a reduction of invasive testing and partially improve equality of access to cfDNA-based NIPT in the pregnant population. Patients at low risk for a classic trisomy or with other clinical indications are likely to continue to access cfDNA-based NIPT as a private test.
We consider the spreading of a thin viscous droplet, injected through a finite region of a substrate, under the influence of surface tension. We neglect gravity and assume that there is a precursor layer covering the whole substrate and that the rate of injection is constant. We analyse the evolution of the film profile for early and late time, and obtain power-law dependencies for the maximum film thickness at the centre of the injection region and the position of an apparent contact line, which compare well with numerical solutions of the full problem. We relax the conditions on the injection rate to consider more general time-dependent and spatially varying forms. In the case of power-law injection of the form
, we observe a switch in the behaviour of the evolution of the film thickness for late time from increasing to decreasing at a critical value of
. We show that point-source injection can be treated as a limiting case of a finite-injection slot and the solutions exhibit identical behaviours for late time. Finally, we formulate the problem with thickness-dependent injection rate, discuss the behaviour of the maximum film thickness and the position of the apparent contact line and give power-law dependencies for these.
Adolescence is a critical time point in the lifecourse. LifeLab is an educational intervention engaging adolescents in understanding Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concepts and the impact of the early life environment on future health, benefitting both their long-term health and that of the next generation. We aimed to assess whether engaging adolescents with DOHaD concepts improves scientific literacy and whether engagement alone improves health behaviours.
Six schools were randomized, three to intervention and three to control. Outcome measures were changed in knowledge, and intended and actual behaviour in relation to diet and lifestyle. A total of 333 students completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. At 12 months, intervention students showed greater understanding of DOHaD concepts. No sustained changes in behaviours were identified.
Adolescents’ engagement with DOHaD concepts can be improved and maintained over 12 months. Such engagement does not itself translate into behaviour change. The intervention has consequently been revised to include additional components beyond engagement alone.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
During 1990 we surveyed the southern sky using a multi-beam receiver at frequencies of 4850 and 843 MHz. The half-power beamwidths were 4 and 25 arcmin respectively. The finished surveys cover the declination range between +10 and −90 degrees declination, essentially complete in right ascension, an area of 7.30 steradians. Preliminary analysis of the 4850 MHz data indicates that we will achieve a five sigma flux density limit of about 30 mJy. We estimate that we will find between 80 000 and 90 000 new sources above this limit. This is a revised version of the paper presented at the Regional Meeting by the first four authors; the surveys now have been completed.
Early nutrition is critical for later health and sustainable development. We determined potential effectiveness of the Kenyan Community Health Strategy in promoting exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) in urban poor settings in Nairobi, Kenya. We used a quasi-experimental study design, based on three studies [Pre-intervention (2007–2011; n=5824), Intervention (2012–2015; n=1110) and Comparison (2012–2014; n=487)], which followed mother–child pairs longitudinally to establish EBF rates from 0 to 6 months. The Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) study was a cluster randomized trial; the control arm (MIYCN-Control) received standard care involving community health workers (CHWs) visits for counselling on antenatal and postnatal care. The intervention arm (MIYCN-Intervention) received standard care and regular MIYCN counselling by trained CHWs. Both groups received MIYCN information materials. We tested differences in EBF rates from 0 to 6 months among four study groups (Pre-intervention, MIYCN-Intervention, MIYCN-Control and Comparison) using a χ2 test and logistic regression. At 6 months, the prevalence of EBF was 2% in the Pre-intervention group compared with 55% in the MIYCN-Intervention group, 55% in the MIYCN-Control group and 3% in the Comparison group (P<0.05). After adjusting for baseline characteristics, the odds ratio for EBF from birth to 6 months was 66.9 (95% CI 45.4–96.4), 84.3 (95% CI 40.7–174.6) and 3.9 (95% CI 1.8–8.4) for the MIYCN-Intervention, MIYCN-Control and Comparison group, respectively, compared with the Pre-intervention group. There is potential effectiveness of the Kenya national Community Health Strategy in promoting EBF in urban poor settings where health care access is limited.
It is well known that web-based interventions can be effective treatments for depression. However, dropout rates in web-based interventions are typically high, especially in self-guided web-based interventions. Rigorous empirical evidence regarding factors influencing dropout in self-guided web-based interventions is lacking due to small study sample sizes. In this paper we examined predictors of dropout in an individual patient data meta-analysis to gain a better understanding of who may benefit from these interventions.
A comprehensive literature search for all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotherapy for adults with depression from 2006 to January 2013 was conducted. Next, we approached authors to collect the primary data of the selected studies. Predictors of dropout, such as socio-demographic, clinical, and intervention characteristics were examined.
Data from 2705 participants across ten RCTs of self-guided web-based interventions for depression were analysed. The multivariate analysis indicated that male gender [relative risk (RR) 1.08], lower educational level (primary education, RR 1.26) and co-morbid anxiety symptoms (RR 1.18) significantly increased the risk of dropping out, while for every additional 4 years of age, the risk of dropping out significantly decreased (RR 0.94).
Dropout can be predicted by several variables and is not randomly distributed. This knowledge may inform tailoring of online self-help interventions to prevent dropout in identified groups at risk.
This paper describes the system architecture of a newly constructed radio telescope – the Boolardy engineering test array, which is a prototype of the Australian square kilometre array pathfinder telescope. Phased array feed technology is used to form multiple simultaneous beams per antenna, providing astronomers with unprecedented survey speed. The test array described here is a six-antenna interferometer, fitted with prototype signal processing hardware capable of forming at least nine dual-polarisation beams simultaneously, allowing several square degrees to be imaged in a single pointed observation. The main purpose of the test array is to develop beamforming and wide-field calibration methods for use with the full telescope, but it will also be capable of limited early science demonstrations.
Nitrification inhibitors are used in agriculture for the purpose of decreasing nitrogen (N) losses, by limiting the microbially mediated oxidation of ammonium (NH4+) to nitrate (NO3−). Successful inhibition of nitrification has been shown in numerous studies, but the extent to which inhibitors affect other N transformations in soil is largely unknown. In the present study, cattle slurry was applied to microcosms of three different grassland soils, with or without the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD). A solution containing NH4+ and NO3−, labelled with 15N either on the NH4+ or the NO3− part, was mixed with the slurry before application. Gross N transformation rates were estimated using a 15N tracing model. In all three soils, DCD significantly inhibited gross autotrophic nitrification, by 79–90%. Gross mineralization of recalcitrant organic N increased significantly with DCD addition in two soils, whereas gross heterotrophic nitrification from the same pool decreased with DCD addition in two soils. Fungal to bacterial ratios were not significantly affected by DCD addition. Total gross mineralization and immobilization increased significantly across the three soils when DCD was used, which suggests that DCD can cause non-target effects on soil N mineralization–immobilization turnover.
Scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM), when applied to biological samples has the potential to resolve the longitudinal acoustic wave speed and hence stiffness of discrete tissue components. The heterogeneity of biological materials combined with the action of cryosectioning and rehydrating can, however, create variations in section topography. Here, we set out to determine how variations in specimen thickness influence apparent acoustic wave speed measurements
Cryosections (5μm nominal thickness) of human skin biopsies were adhered to glass slides before washing and rehydrating in water. Multiple regions (200x200 μm; n = 3) were imaged by SAM to generate acoustic wave speed maps. Subsequently co-localised 30x30 μm sub-regions were imaged by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in fluid. The images were then registered using Image J. Each pixel was allocated both a height and wave speed value before their relationship was then plotted on a scattergram. The mean section thickness measured by AFM was 3.48 ± 1.12 (SD) μm. Regional height variations influenced apparent wave speed measurements. A 3.5 μm height difference was associated with a 400 ms-1 increase in wave speed. In the present study we show that local variations in specimen thickness influence apparent wave speed. We also show that a true measure of wave speed can be calculated if the thickness of the specimen is known at each sampling point.
A survey of the Milky Way disk and the Magellanic System at the wavelengths of the 21-cm atomic hydrogen (H i) line and three 18-cm lines of the OH molecule will be carried out with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. The survey will study the distribution of H i emission and absorption with unprecedented angular and velocity resolution, as well as molecular line thermal emission, absorption, and maser lines. The area to be covered includes the Galactic plane (|b| < 10°) at all declinations south of δ = +40°, spanning longitudes 167° through 360°to 79° at b = 0°, plus the entire area of the Magellanic Stream and Clouds, a total of 13 020 deg2. The brightness temperature sensitivity will be very good, typically σT≃ 1 K at resolution 30 arcsec and 1 km s−1. The survey has a wide spectrum of scientific goals, from studies of galaxy evolution to star formation, with particular contributions to understanding stellar wind kinematics, the thermal phases of the interstellar medium, the interaction between gas in the disk and halo, and the dynamical and thermal states of gas at various positions along the Magellanic Stream.
Antimicrobial drug shortages continue to increase, with few new therapeutic options available. Nationally, proposals have been offered to alleviate drug shortages; however, these recommendations are unlikely to effect change in the near future. Thus, antimicrobial stewardship leaders in acute care hospitals must develop a prospective management strategy to lessen the impact of these shortages on patient care. Herein, we describe several resources available to aid professionals in antimicrobial stewardship and healthcare epidemiology to manage drug shortages. An effective approach should include prospectively tracking shortages and maximizing inventory by appropriately managing usage. Several tenets should underpin this management. Alternative agents should be rationally chosen before the inventory of the primary agent has reached zero, ethical considerations should be taken into account, and timely notification and communication with key stakeholders should occur throughout the prescribing and dispensing process.
Plague is thought to have killed millions during three catastrophic pandemics. Primary pneumonic plague, the most severe form of the disease, is transmissible from person-to-person and has the potential for propagating epidemics. Efforts to quantify its transmission potential have relied on published data from large outbreaks, an approach that artificially inflates the basic reproductive number (R0) and skews the distribution of individual infectiousness. Using data for all primary pneumonic plague cases reported in the USA from 1900 to 2009, we determined that the majority of cases will fail to transmit, even in the absence of antimicrobial treatment or prophylaxis. Nevertheless, potential for sustained outbreaks still exists due to superspreading events. These findings challenge current concepts regarding primary pneumonic plague transmission.
Research was conducted in 2007 and 2008 to evaluate weed-control options in an imazethapyr-resistant rice production system. Raised beds were formed, and imidazolinone-resistant hybrid rice ‘CL 730’ was drill-seeded on beds. Five herbicide programs applied up to the four- to six-leaf stage of rice were evaluated with and without additional “as-needed” herbicide at later stages. All the herbicide combinations and as-needed herbicides tested in this research were labeled for rice, and only minor transient injury (< 5%) was initially observed. Weeds emerged throughout the growing season, and as-needed herbicides were applied after the four- to six-leaf stage of rice to control these late-emerging weeds and weeds not effectively controlled with earlier applications, primarily Palmer amaranth. Most of the Palmer amaranth at this site was insensitive to imazethapyr (possibly acetolactate synthase resistant). Therefore, application of as-needed herbicides with different modes of action, such as 2,4-D, were used to improve Palmer amaranth control. Rice yields were often numerically higher in plots that received additional herbicide after the six-leaf stage of rice, but yields were not significantly improved.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.
To investigate the changes in community responsiveness during the pre-community-outbreak phase of the H1N1 epidemic in Hong Kong, a pooled sample of 999 adults was interviewed in three surveys (S1, S2, S3) from 7 May to 6 June 2009. Over time, fewer people felt confident in staying free from H1N1 infection in the following year (S1, 63·3%; S3, 46%; P<0·001). The level of distress due to H1N1 remained modest throughout the study period. People's confidence in the government's ability to control a large-scale H1N1 outbreak declined slightly at the third survey (S1, 80·5%; S3, 73·8%; P=0·025). Across the three surveys, respondents remained vigilant with frequent adoption of preventive measures (e.g. wearing face masks in public areas when suffering from influenza-like symptoms and frequent hand-washing). The public was generally supportive of the Hong Kong government although misconceptions regarding the disease were common. Provision of evidence-based public-health education is still warranted as the disease outbreak unfolds.