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Registry-based trials have emerged as a potentially cost-saving study methodology. Early estimates of cost savings, however, conflated the benefits associated with registry utilisation and those associated with other aspects of pragmatic trial designs, which might not all be as broadly applicable. In this study, we sought to build a practical tool that investigators could use across disciplines to estimate the ranges of potential cost differences associated with implementing registry-based trials versus standard clinical trials.
We built simulation Markov models to compare unique costs associated with data acquisition, cleaning, and linkage under a registry-based trial design versus a standard clinical trial. We conducted one-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, varying study characteristics over broad ranges, to determine thresholds at which investigators might optimally select each trial design.
Registry-based trials were more cost effective than standard clinical trials 98.6% of the time. Data-related cost savings ranged from $4300 to $600,000 with variation in study characteristics. Cost differences were most reactive to the number of patients in a study, the number of data elements per patient available in a registry, and the speed with which research coordinators could manually abstract data. Registry incorporation resulted in cost savings when as few as 3768 independent data elements were available and when manual data abstraction took as little as 3.4 seconds per data field.
Registries offer important resources for investigators. When available, their broad incorporation may help the scientific community reduce the costs of clinical investigation. We offer here a practical tool for investigators to assess potential costs savings.
A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.
Psychotic symptoms and psychotic disorders occur at increased rates in adults with intellectual disability, including borderline intellectual functioning, compared with the general population. Little is known about the development of such symptoms in this population.
To examine whether clinical factors predictive of psychotic disorder in a familial study of schizophrenia also apply to those with intellectual disability.
Adolescents with special educational needs (SEN) were assessed with the Structured Interview for Schizotypy (SIS) and Childhood Behavioural Checklist (CBCL). These scores were used to prospectively divide participants based on their anticipated risk for psychotic disorder. A subsample were reassessed three times over 6 years, using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).
The SEN group were more symptomatic than controls throughout (Cohen's d range for PANSS subscale scores: 0.54–1.4, all P < 0.007). Over 6 years of follow-up, those above the SIS and CBCL cut-off values at baseline were more likely than those below to display morbid positive psychotic symptoms (odds ratio, 3.5; 95% CI 1.3–9.0) and develop psychotic disorder (odds ratio, 11.4; 95% CI 2.6–50.1). Baseline SIS and CBCL cut-off values predicted psychotic disorder with sensitivity of 0.67, specificity of 0.85, positive predictive value of 0.26 and negative predictive value of 0.97.
Adolescents with SEN have increased psychotic and non-psychotic symptoms. The personality and behavioural features associated with later psychotic disorder in this group are similar to those in people with familial loading. Relatively simple screening measures may help identify those in this vulnerable group who do and do not require monitoring for psychotic symptoms.
Seven half-day regional listening sessions were held between December 2016 and April 2017 with groups of diverse stakeholders on the issues and potential solutions for herbicide-resistance management. The objective of the listening sessions was to connect with stakeholders and hear their challenges and recommendations for addressing herbicide resistance. The coordinating team hired Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC, to facilitate all the sessions. They and the coordinating team used in-person meetings, teleconferences, and email to communicate and coordinate the activities leading up to each regional listening session. The agenda was the same across all sessions and included small-group discussions followed by reporting to the full group for discussion. The planning process was the same across all the sessions, although the selection of venue, time of day, and stakeholder participants differed to accommodate the differences among regions. The listening-session format required a great deal of work and flexibility on the part of the coordinating team and regional coordinators. Overall, the participant evaluations from the sessions were positive, with participants expressing appreciation that they were asked for their thoughts on the subject of herbicide resistance. This paper details the methods and processes used to conduct these regional listening sessions and provides an assessment of the strengths and limitations of those processes.
Herbicide resistance is ‘wicked’ in nature; therefore, results of the many educational efforts to encourage diversification of weed control practices in the United States have been mixed. It is clear that we do not sufficiently understand the totality of the grassroots obstacles, concerns, challenges, and specific solutions needed for varied crop production systems. Weed management issues and solutions vary with such variables as management styles, regions, cropping systems, and available or affordable technologies. Therefore, to help the weed science community better understand the needs and ideas of those directly dealing with herbicide resistance, seven half-day regional listening sessions were held across the United States between December 2016 and April 2017 with groups of diverse stakeholders on the issues and potential solutions for herbicide resistance management. The major goals of the sessions were to gain an understanding of stakeholders and their goals and concerns related to herbicide resistance management, to become familiar with regional differences, and to identify decision maker needs to address herbicide resistance. The messages shared by listening-session participants could be summarized by six themes: we need new herbicides; there is no need for more regulation; there is a need for more education, especially for others who were not present; diversity is hard; the agricultural economy makes it difficult to make changes; and we are aware of herbicide resistance but are managing it. The authors concluded that more work is needed to bring a community-wide, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complexity of managing weeds within the context of the whole farm operation and for communicating the need to address herbicide resistance.
The longstanding association between the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus and schizophrenia (SZ) risk has recently been accounted for, partially, by structural variation at the complement component 4 (C4) gene. This structural variation generates varying levels of C4 RNA expression, and genetic information from the MHC region can now be used to predict C4 RNA expression in the brain. Increased predicted C4A RNA expression is associated with the risk of SZ, and C4 is reported to influence synaptic pruning in animal models.
Based on our previous studies associating MHC SZ risk variants with poorer memory performance, we tested whether increased predicted C4A RNA expression was associated with reduced memory function in a large (n = 1238) dataset of psychosis cases and healthy participants, and with altered task-dependent cortical activation in a subset of these samples.
We observed that increased predicted C4A RNA expression predicted poorer performance on measures of memory recall (p = 0.016, corrected). Furthermore, in healthy participants, we found that increased predicted C4A RNA expression was associated with a pattern of reduced cortical activity in middle temporal cortex during a measure of visual processing (p < 0.05, corrected).
These data suggest that the effects of C4 on cognition were observable at both a cortical and behavioural level, and may represent one mechanism by which illness risk is mediated. As such, deficits in learning and memory may represent a therapeutic target for new molecular developments aimed at altering C4’s developmental role.
Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disorder, linked to several structural abnormalities of the brain. More specifically, previous findings have suggested that increased gyrification in frontal and temporal regions are implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.
The current study included participants at high familial risk of schizophrenia who remained well (n = 31), who developed sub-diagnostic symptoms (n = 28) and who developed schizophrenia (n = 9) as well as healthy controls (HC) (n = 16). We first tested whether individuals at high familial risk of schizophrenia carried an increased burden of trait-associated alleles using polygenic risk score analysis. We then assessed the extent to which polygenic risk was associated with gyral folding in the frontal and temporal lobes.
We found that individuals at high familial risk of schizophrenia who developed schizophrenia carried a significantly greater burden of risk-conferring variants for the disorder compared to those at high risk (HR) who developed sub-diagnostic symptoms or remained well and HC. Furthermore, within the HR cohort, there was a significant and positive association between schizophrenia polygenic risk score and bilateral frontal gyrification.
These results suggest that polygenic risk for schizophrenia impacts upon early neurodevelopment to confer greater gyral folding in adulthood and an increased risk of developing the disorder.
This paper reviews some of the research that has been carried out at the University of Liverpool where the Flight Science and Technology Research Group has developed its Heliflight-R full-motion research simulator to create a simulation environment for the launch and recovery of maritime helicopters to ships. HELIFLIGHT-R has been used to conduct flight trials to produce simulated Ship-Helicopter Operating Limits (SHOLs). This virtual engineering approach has led to a much greater understanding of how the dynamic interface between the ship and the helicopter contributes to the pilot's workload and the aircraft's handling qualities and will inform the conduct of future real-world SHOL trials. The paper also describes how modelling and simulation has been applied to the design of a ship's superstructure to improve the aerodynamic flow field in which the helicopter has to operate. The superstructure aerodynamics also affects the placement of the ship's anemometers and the dispersion of the ship's hot exhaust gases, both of which affect the operational envelope of the helicopter, and both of which can be investigated through simulation.
To achieve their conservation goals individuals, communities and organizations need to acquire a diversity of skills, knowledge and information (i.e. capacity). Despite current efforts to build and maintain appropriate levels of conservation capacity, it has been recognized that there will need to be a significant scaling-up of these activities in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because of the rapid increase in the number and extent of environmental problems in the region. We present a range of socio-economic contexts relevant to four key areas of African conservation capacity building: protected area management, community engagement, effective leadership, and professional e-learning. Under these core themes, 39 specific recommendations are presented. These were derived from multi-stakeholder workshop discussions at an international conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015. At the meeting 185 delegates (practitioners, scientists, community groups and government agencies) represented 105 organizations from 24 African nations and eight non-African nations. The 39 recommendations constituted six broad types of suggested action: (1) the development of new methods, (2) the provision of capacity building resources (e.g. information or data), (3) the communication of ideas or examples of successful initiatives, (4) the implementation of new research or gap analyses, (5) the establishment of new structures within and between organizations, and (6) the development of new partnerships. A number of cross-cutting issues also emerged from the discussions: the need for a greater sense of urgency in developing capacity building activities; the need to develop novel capacity building methodologies; and the need to move away from one-size-fits-all approaches.
In vitro electrophysiology using microelectrode arrays (MEAs) plays an important role in understanding fundamental biologic processes, screening potential drugs and assessing the toxicity of chemicals. Low electrode impedance and ability to sustain viable cultures are the key technology requirements. We show that MEAs consisting of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) and coated with poly-L-lysine satisfy these requirements. Hippocampal cell cultures, maintained for 3–6 weeks on these MEAs, give high quality recordings of neural activity. This enables the observation of drug-induced activity changes, which paves the way for using these devices in in vitro drug screening and toxicology applications.
Low birth weight is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) hearts have fewer CMs in early postnatal life, which may impair postnatal cardiovascular function and hence, explain increased disease risk, but whether the cardiomyocyte deficit persists to adult life is unknown. We therefore studied the effects of experimentally induced placental restriction (PR) on cardiac outcomes in young adult sheep. Heart size, cardiomyocyte number, nuclearity and size were measured in control (n=5) and PR (n=5) male sheep at 1 year of age. PR lambs were 36% lighter at birth (P=0.007), had 38% faster neonatal relative growth rates (P=0.001) and had 21% lighter heart weights relative to body weight as adults (P=0.024) than control lambs. Cardiomyocyte number, nuclearity and size in the left ventricle did not differ between control and PR adults; hearts of both groups contained cardiomyocytes (CM) with between one and four nuclei. Overall, cardiomyocyte number in the adult left ventricle correlated positively with birth weight but not with adult weight. This study is the first to demonstrate that intrauterine growth directly influences the complement of CM in the adult heart. Cardiomyocyte size was not correlated with cardiomyocyte number or birth weight. Our results suggest that body weight at birth affects lifelong cardiac functional reserve. We hypothesise that decreased cardiomyocyte number of low birth weight individuals may impair their capacity to adapt to additional challenges such as obesity and ageing.
Valid consent for treatment or research participation requires that an individual has decision-making capacity (DMC), which is the ability to make a specific decision. There is evidence that the psychopathology of schizophrenia can compromise DMC. The objective of this review was to examine the presence or absence of DMC in schizophrenia and the socio-demographic/psychopathological factors associated.
We searched three databases Embase, Ovid MEDLINE(R), and PsycINFO for studies reporting data on the proportion of DMC for treatment and research (DMC-T and DMC-R), and/or socio-demographic/psychopathological associations with ability to make such decisions, in people with schizophrenia and related illnesses.
A total of 40 studies were identified. While high levels of heterogeneity limited direct comparison, meta-analysis of inpatient data showed that DMC-T was present in 48% of people. Insight was strongly associated with DMC-T. Neurocognitive deficits were strongly associated with lack of DMC-R and to a lesser extent DMC-T. With the exception of years of education, there was no evidence for an association with socio-demographic factors.
Insight and neurocognitive deficits are most closely associated with DMC in schizophrenia. The lack of an association with socio-demographic factors dispels common misperceptions regarding DMC and characteristics such as age. Although our results reveal a wide spectrum of DMC-T and DMC-R in schizophrenia, this could be partly due to the complexity of the DMC construct and the heterogeneity of existing studies. To facilitate systematic review research, there is a need for improvement within research study design and increased consistency of concepts and tools.
Centring on South Africa's Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, this book synthesizes a century of insights from the ecology and conservation management of one of Africa's oldest protected wildlife areas. The park provides important lessons for conservation management, as it has maintained conservation values rivalling those of much larger parks sometimes through, and sometimes despite, strong management interventions, including the rescue of the white rhino from extinction. In addition, the book highlights the ecological science produced in the park, much of which has become widely influential, including the megaherbivore concept, new functional approaches to understanding biomes, and new understandings about the role of consumers in shaping ecosystems. The volume is ideal for researchers and policymakers interested in the conservation of relatively small, isolated and protected areas.