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NIH Releases Protocol Template for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Involving Humans

NIH Funding Opportunities - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 00:05
Notice NOT-OD-19-092 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
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Scientists develop new weapons in the battle to defeat an ancient disease

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 00:00

It is a disease that has been with us since time immemorial but – despite the fact that is treatable, preventable and curable – tuberculosis is still the world’s biggest infectious killer, taking the lives of 1.6million people in 2017. Last year, world leaders met at the United Nations and made a series of ambitious pledges to wipe out the disease – including treating 40 million people and preventing 30 million new cases between 2018-2022. But none of these pledges will be met using existing tools, says Madhukar Pai, director of the International TB Centre at McGill University in Montreal. “We are using such antiquated tools in TB,” he says. “We are not going to eliminate the disease with a 100-year old microscopy test and vaccine.” Just two new TB drugs have been discovered in the last 50 years; the only vaccine – the 100-year-old BCG – is only partially effective; and the most widespread test for the disease is only half accurate. Neglect of the disease is partly down to the complicated nature of the bug. But the fact that it is concentrated in the least wealthy countries also explains why it’s been overlooked, according to Matteo Zignol, coordinator of the World Health Organization’s TB elimination research unit. “TB is a disease of the poor,” he says. Tuberculosis | The facts But after decades of inaction, renewed interest in tackling TB – mostly from a handful of public and philanthropic funders such as the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – is finally leading to advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. New and old drugs In a suburb of Madrid a team of 40 scientists in drug giant GSK’s TB laboratory run thousands of tests every month in the search for new treatments. However, making a breakthrough against one of the world’s most successful pathogens is not easy. Since work started at the site in 2001 just four TB compounds have shown enough promise to move towards clinical trials. Although much drug discovery focuses on developing new compounds, researchers also comb through the archives to find existing medicines that can be recycled for new uses. Among the drugs currently generating a buzz among the team is an old compound from the 1990s called sanfetrinem, a common antibiotic thought to be ineffective against TB. “We’ve discovered an improved [antibiotic] that we think has potential for TB,” says Rob Bates, chief scientist in GSK’s TB unit. “It’s resistant to the defence mechanisms of the TB mycobacterium.” TB incidence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia Although clinical trials are two years away, the scientists are hopeful that if tests go well sanfetrinem could be added to the arsenal. “We have a lot of hope on that one,” he says. David Barros-Aguirre, who heads up the unit, says that TB is concentrated in the most populous countries. “Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have almost 80 per cent of cases,” he says. “We need to tackle that.” In the last five years two new TB drugs – bedaquiline and delamanid, the first new treatments in 50 years – entered the market. Further new drugs are also on the horizon. Currently, patients with the most straightforward form of the disease take a combination of at least three drugs every day for six months. Treatment for multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) takes up to two years and patients have to endure months of painful daily injections and a toxic cocktail of around 14,000 pills. In a key breakthrough last year WHO recommended that new oral drugs such as bedaquiline should replace injections to treat MDR-TB. TB incidence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia “This is the richest pipeline we have ever had as a global community,” says Mel Spigelman, chief executive of non-profit drug developer the TB Alliance. He cautions however, that without more funding there’s a risk some of this promising work will falter. Despite the buzz over bedaquiline, Dr Zignol says that single drugs added to existing regimens are insufficient. “When it comes to drugs, although there are several compounds in the pipeline, the main issue is being able to put them together in a regimen," says Dr Zignol. “What we need is a shorter regimen composed of all new compounds that can be used safely throughout the world.”   While the prospect of curing all forms of TB with a two-month course of all new pills is at least a decade away, shorter regimens are already in sight with a recent study showing that MDR-TB could be treated in nine to 11 months. Inhalable vaccines Last year, GSK and non-profit Aeres unveiled the results of vaccine which showed that it prevents the development of active TB in half the people who receive it. “It’s the most exciting data I’ve seen in the past 20 years,” says Dr Zignol. If the vaccine’s efficacy is confirmed in further studies, he believes the vaccine could be available in as little as five years. “A vaccine with these characteristics is going to be the game changer for sure. There’s solid modelling work that shows that a vaccine will play the largest role in accelerating the fight against TB,” says Dr Zignol. Although many hopes are pinned on GSK’s vaccine researchers are also looking at more unusual inoculation methods. Professor Helen McShane, director of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, says that early data suggests that inhaled vaccines that target TB right where it hits – in the lungs – could be more effective than injectables. Global health - Global vaccine coverage “There’s some evidence that giving a vaccine by aerosol into the lungs is a better way to protect against TB than an injection,” she says. The work of Professor McShane’s team, which also includes looking at an inhaled version of the BCG, has attracted the interest of major funders such as the Wellcome Trust. Although research is at an early stage, aerosol vaccines have several advantages over needles. As well as costing less than injectables, they are easier to give in mass vaccination campaigns such as in schools.   Diagnostics  the weakest link According to Professor Pai, diagnostics are however, the weakest link in the TB chain. Most cases of TB in developing countries are diagnosed just by looking at a patient’s symptoms as accurate culture tests to determine the exact TB strain behind an infection are slow and expensive. More recent innovations such as GeneXpert, a test that quickly detects TB in sputum and identifies if the strain is resistant to the most common antibiotic, rifampin, are helping move diagnostics forward, says Professor Pai. It’s already being used in many countries. “GeneXpert has given the whole TB community a first glimpse of what a rapid highly accurate test can do for us,” he says. However, the machine requires laboratory equipment, which is sometimes beyond the reach of the poorest communities. “It’s not a simple point-of-care, device-free test,” says Professor Pai. “That’s been elusive for TB.” Genome sequencing - deciphering the genetic code of TB bacteria to identify mutations that make some strains resistant to certain drugs - is one avenue of hope. And it’s already being used in the UK. Spending on research needs to be about $2billion a year Credit: Richard Moran Photography The work, led by a consortium of researchers based at Oxford University, means scientists can now accurately detect resistance to the four first-choice drugs used to treat TB. “Genome sequencing doesn’t just tell you which drugs to avoid but potentially tells you which drugs to give,” says Tim Walker, a researcher at Oxford. At the moment, it takes two to three weeks to deliver a result but Dr Walker says that could eventually speed up to a day. Genome sequencing needs to be simplified before it can be rolled out in poorer countries but Dr Zignol believes it has potential. “Sequencing is becoming much more available and it’s going to be the gold standard for diagnosing drug-resistant TB in the near future,” he says. “The cost is still high but the field is moving fast and this technology is rapidly becoming more affordable.” Newsletter promotion - global health security - end of article But while science is increasingly generating hope for TB, innovation alone isn’t enough, says Dr Spigelman. “A vaccine, diagnosis, therapy - they are all within reach in terms of the science,” he says. “But in terms of resources we are only a fraction of what we need.” In 2017 $772 million was invested in TB research. This is more than ever before, but far short of the $2 billion a year the TB community estimates is needed to end the disease by 2030. “The progress that has been made in TB for the amount of investment there’s been has been phenomenal,” says Dr Spigelman. “But it’s still the proverbial drop in the bucket.” Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security


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NASA scraps all-women spacewalk for lack of well-fitting suits

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:48

The US space agency NASA scrapped Monday a planned historic spacewalk by two women astronauts, citing a lack of available spacesuits that would fit them at the International Space Station. Christina Koch will now perform tasks in space Friday with fellow American Nick Hague -- instead of Anne McClain as originally planned. Had Koch and McClain done their spacewalk together, it would have been the first ever by two women astronauts.


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Stalled Aramco IPO sets back deal-making at U.S. subsidiary Motiva

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:33

Saudi Aramco's delayed initial public offering is sidelining grand North American expansion plans at its U.S. refining subsidiary Motiva Enterprises LLC, people familiar with the matter said, at a time when its rivals grew their market share. After dissolving a partnership with Royal Dutch Shell PLC two years ago, Motiva set out to rebuild and boost market share in the Americas. It evaluated deals for LyondellBasell Industries NV's Houston refinery, with the Caribbean government of Curacao, and considered expanding its sole U.S. oil refinery.


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OxyContin maker Purdue agrees to settle Oklahoma opioid case: source

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:28

The settlement with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter came just weeks before Purdue, owned by members of the wealthy Sackler family, was set to face the first trial to result from around 2,000 lawsuits nationally against opioid manufacturers. Hunter's 2017 lawsuit accuses Purdue, Johnson & Johnson & Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd of engaging in deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of addiction associated with opioid pain drugs while overstating their benefits.


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Investors Look Past Samsung's Rare Warning to Late 2019 Rebound

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 22:45

The world’s biggest chipmaker on Tuesday said first-quarter results will fall short of estimates as prices for memory chips and displays fell more than expected, just days ahead of releasing preliminary earnings. While Samsung’s disappointing outlook underscored a global economic slowdown and stagnant PC and smartphone markets, expectations are mounting that chip demand -- the main source of Samsung’s profits -- will bottom out soon. Samsung and competitors such as Micron Technology Inc. have said the current weakness is a low point for the memory industry and that, once the inventory has been worked through, demand and pricing will improve in the second half of 2019.


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SoftBank Vision Fund to Join $300 Million Round in Robot Startup

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 22:04

Cloudminds, which last raised money in 2017 at a $440 million valuation, aims to sell half a million of its robots this year to Chinese customers from banks and malls to hospitals, Chief Financial Officer Richard Tang said in an interview. The latest funds will bankroll, among other things, the expansion of a $20 million production line it’s building in Shanghai that should kick off output in June or July, he said during the Credit Suisse Asian Investment conference. Its signature machine is the XR1, which for nearly $50,000 comes equipped with voice, motion and vision as a platform that other developers can then write software to customize.


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Samsung Profit Warning Is Tech's Inverted Yield Curve

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 21:50

A downturn sparked by excess inventories and weakened demand, signs of which were evident back in August, could drag on longer than expected. Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday that first-quarter results will fall short of estimates. The rare profit warning came about a fortnight before the company was scheduled to give preliminary sales and operating figures.


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NASA scraps all-women space walk for lack of well-fitting suits

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 19:26

The US space agency NASA scrapped Monday a planned historic spacewalk by two women astronauts, citing a lack of available spacesuits that would fit them at the International Space Station. Christina Koch will now perform tasks in space Friday with fellow American Nick Hague -- instead of Anne McClain as originally planned. Had Koch and McClain done their spacewalk together, it would have been the first ever by two women astronauts.


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Nintendo Shares Climb After Report of Two New Switch Models

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:58

One of the models will have enhanced features to cater to avid gamers, while the other version is expected to be a cheaper alternative for casual players, the Journal reported, citing unidentified Nintendo parts suppliers and software developers. In January, Nintendo cut its forecast for Switch shipments to 17 million units in the fiscal year through March, down from an earlier projection of 20 million consoles.


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Nasa cancels all-female spacewalk, citing lack of suit in woman's size

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:45

Space agency blames shortage of outerwear after first-of-its-kind mission falls through Christina Koch was one of the astronauts due to take part. Only 11% of people who have been to space are women. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images Nasa’s plans for an all-female spacewalk have fallen through – at least in part because the agency doesn’t have enough spacesuits that fit the astronauts. Early this month, Nasa announced that Christina Koch and Anne McClain would take part in the first-of-its kind mission on 29 March, walking outside the international space station (ISS) to install new batteries. In the past, missions have been all-male or male-female. But in a press release on Monday, Nasa said its plans had changed, “in part” due to a shortage of outerwear. McClain had “learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso – essentially the shirt of the spacesuit – fits her best.” Only one such top can be made by Friday, the agency said, and it will go to Koch. When McClain took part in a spacewalk last week, she became the 13th woman to do so, Nasa says; Koch will be the 14th. McClain is now “tentatively scheduled” to perform her next one on 8 April. Some more shots of the #spacewalk on Friday – was privileged to work with my friend and colleague @NASA_Astronauts @AstroHague pic.twitter.com/KueUo7HXFm— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 25, 2019 McClain is sharing both ISS missions with men. The first woman to perform a spacewalk was the Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, 35 years ago. More than 500 people have been into space, but only 11% have been women, Reuters reported. But Koch and McClain were both part of Nasa’s 2013 class, which was half female. Fitting for spacesuits is a tricky business, according to Space.com, since microgravity makes you taller. McClain tweeted this month that she was 2in taller than when she launched.


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Big U-turn: Key melting Greenland glacier is growing again

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:31

WASHINGTON (AP) — A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds.


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NASA pulls all-female spacewalk due to suit fitting issues

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:10

You're just going to have to wait a little longer for an all-female spacewalk.NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were scheduled to walk together in the historic moment, but NASA has pulled the event due to suit availability on the International Space Station.SEE ALSO: NASA photos capture immense flooding of a vital U.S. Air Force baseFellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague completed the first of the series of spacewalks last Friday with McClain, who found out that a particular suit size fit her best. Unfortunately, there'll only be one suit available in this size -- and it also fits Koch.Because of that issue, mission managers decided Hague will be sent out instead of McClain, and will join Koch on the second spacewalk this Friday. "McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso -- essentially the shirt of the spacesuit -- fits her best," NASA said in a statement online. "Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, Mar. 29, Koch will wear it."On their spacewalk, Hague and Koch are tasked with replacing older, nickel-hydrogen batteries, with lithium-ion versions for one pair of the station's solar arrays. It's a continuation of the work performed on the first spacewalk, and the battery upgrades are set to be performed over the next couple of years.McClain's next spacewalk will instead take place on Apr. 8, where she'll be sent out with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.They'll lay out cables to provide power to a Canadian-built robotic arm, Canadarm2, as well as installing cables to help expand wireless communications outside of the ISS.Friday's spacewalk is expected to take 6.5 hours, and you can catch it live on NASA's website. WATCH: 20 incredible views of U.S. national parks from space - Space Is Weird


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Apple's Shift From Gadgets to Services Tests Investor Patience

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:07

Apple unveiled four new digital services at a star-studded event in Silicon Valley on Monday. An original video streaming service and a gaming subscription will launch in the fall and Apple didn’t say how much they will cost. A news subscription service lacked several major newspapers and those that did sign up are potentially withholding some content.


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GPs fuelling Britain's poor cancer survival rates by failing to refer patients to specialists, Imperial study finds

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:05

GPs are fuelling Britain's poor cancer survival rates, with significantly better results seen in countries which allow patients to access hospitals directly, a study suggests. Researchers said the NHS system of “gatekeeping” - meaning that patients have to see a family doctor before being allowed to undergo tests or get a specialist assessment - was also linked with lower satisfaction among patients. The study by Imperial College London analysed 21 studies comparing different healthcare systems in both the US and 19 European countries. It found “significantly lower” cancer survival rates under systems which insist that a patient must be referred by a GP for hospital care, with one study finding a difference of 11 per cent in one-year survival. Britain is lagging behind most developed nations in cancer survival, despite recent improvements in early diagnosis of breast cancer. Researchers also found that systems operating “gatekeeper” methods saw up to one third more visits to GPs than those who allowed patients to access hospitals directly. The study found lower expenditure and lower healthcare use, in systems which do not allow direct access, as well as better quality of care for some conditions. Health officials have promised that by next year, patients with suspected cancer should get a diagnosis or all-clear within a month, following the rollout of “rapid diagnostic and assessment centres”. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “While it’s clear to see why UK GPs are often called the ‘gatekeepers of the NHS’, we will always put the needs of the individual patient first  and refer anyone who we think might need secondary care intervention. However, this research also highlights a chronic lack of access to diagnostic tests in primary care, which can have a huge bearing on referral rates for conditions such as cancer.” Jodie Moffat from Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s understandable why there’s ongoing concern about patients not seeing specialists fast enough. This paper raises an important topic but the circumstances in the UK have changed since some of the research cited was published.”


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Total Drills in World's Fastest Ocean Current in Africa Oil Search

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:01

The Brulpadda find, with reserves estimated at about 1 billion barrels of oil, is located in deep waters around 175 kilometers from South Africa’s coastline. It could be enough to supply South Africa’s refineries for almost four years and be a major boost for the country’s struggling economy. Total says it’s found solutions to the problems, but not every explorer has the financial resources or harsh-environment experience of the French oil major.


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Trump Campaign to Restrict Huawei Runs Into Global Opposition

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:00

Nations accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product are either embracing Huawei or appear unlikely to restrict the vendor. China’s President Xi Jinping, on a European tour this week, is expected to lobby further against bans in talks with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It sent its point man on cyber security, Joshua Steinman, to Berlin last week.


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Record Carbon Emissions Seen as Energy Use Grew Most in Decade

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:00

The report also indicated the strength of the global economic expansion last year, with gains in electricity consumption and more notably in the U.S. “We have seen spectacular growth of the economy in the U.S.,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the Paris-based institution advising nations on energy policy.


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What a Secret: The U.S. Used Super Fast Mach 3 Drones to Spy on China's Nuclear Weapons

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 17:00

Between 1969 and 1971, the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office deployed super-fast spy drones over China in an abortive attempt to spy on Beijing's nuclear program.


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Key U.S. lawmaker objects to Trump 'Space Force' plan

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Mon, 03/25/2019 - 16:53

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee strongly criticized President Donald Trump's plans for a new "Space Force" on Monday, setting the stage for a battle over one of Trump's favorite initiatives. Trump signed a directive in February to start the process of creating a new branch of the military dedicated to handling threats in space, which has become an applause line at the Republican president's campaign rallies. Proponents of Trump's plan have said it would make the Pentagon more efficient and lead to real reform of a national security area where the United States faces threats from Russia and China.


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