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NuCana Stops Patient Enrollment in Pancreatic Cancer Study

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 09:08

NuCana (NCNA) suspends patient enrollment in the phase III study on Acelarin, currently evaluated for treating patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, who were unfit for combination chemotherapy.


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AstraZeneca's Imfinzi Fails in Stage IV Lung Cancer Study

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 08:50

AstraZeneca's (AZN) Imfinzi fails to improve overall survival in a study for previously treated stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.


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Spacewalking astronauts add parking spot to space station

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 07:38

Spacewalking astronauts added another parking spot to the International Space Station on Wednesday. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan had to deal with multiple cables to install a docking port delivered by SpaceX last month. It will be used by SpaceX and Boeing once they start launching astronauts to the orbiting lab late this year or early next year.


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Tiny pellets called 'nurdles' are leeching into the ocean. A new Shell plant could produce 80 trillion of them a year.

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 07:04

Nurdles from a new Shell plant outside Pittsburgh can be used to make virgin-plastic items like phone cases or food packaging.


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The northernmost reaches of the Earth are on fire. Here's what this record-breaking hot summer looks like from space.

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 06:24

Climate change comes with a higher risk of wildfires. This summer, fires have ravaged the Arctic, and the flames can be seen from space.


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Igniting global outrage, Brazil's Bolsonaro baselessly blames NGOs for Amazon fires

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 06:05

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused non-governmental organizations of burning down the Amazon rainforest to hurt his government, as a growing global outcry against the wildfires raged through social media. Presented without evidence and disputed by environmental and climate experts, Bolsonaro's comments enraged critics and fanned a growing social media campaign over the dangers to the Amazon, one of the world's key bulwarks against climate change. #PrayforAmazonas was the world's top trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday, and millions of people took to Instagram and Facebook to share concerns over the future of the Amazon.


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Igniting global outrage, Brazil's Bolsonaro baselessly blames NGOs for Amazon fires

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 05:59

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused non-governmental organizations of burning down the Amazon rainforest to hurt his government, as a growing global outcry against the wildfires raged through social media. Presented without evidence and disputed by environmental and climate experts, Bolsonaro's comments enraged critics and fanned a growing social media campaign over the dangers to the Amazon, one of the world's key bulwarks against climate change. #PrayforAmazonas was the world's top trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday, and millions of people took to Instagram and Facebook to share concerns over the future of the Amazon.


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Five things to know about Greenland

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 04:24

US President Donald Trump has confirmed he is keen to buy Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory rich in natural resources and of increasing geopolitical relevance as the Arctic ice sheet melts. Here are five things to know about Greenland. The name "Greenland" is misleading as the two million square kilometre island, the world's largest island that is not a continent, has three quarters bordering the Arctic Ocean and is 85 percent covered in ice.


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Could Stem Cells Be the Key to Organ Regeneration?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 03:47

GettyBy Tobias Deuse, Professor of Surgery, University of California, San FranciscoMany of the most common diseases, like heart failure, liver failure, Type 1 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, occur when cells or whole organs fail to do their job. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it were possible to replace cells in these defunct organs? That is exactly what physician-scientists in the field of regenerative medicine are trying to do.I am a surgeon and stem cell scientist and am interested in regenerating failing organs with stem cells—because for many diseases we don’t have good treatment options yet.In a recent paper, my colleagues and I figured out why stem cells derived from a patient’s own tissue are sometimes rejected by their own immune systems. We also developed a solution that we think may solve the problem: stem cells that are stripped of their immune features and can’t trigger rejection.The search for the ideal starter cellA few years ago a breakthrough occurred that many scientists believed would help fast-track the goal of regenerating organs. That was the identification of proteins that turn on genes that allowed researchers to reprogram adult cells. These proteins transformed cells back into their embryonic-like stem cell state. This gives them the capacity to turn into almost any cell type—like liver or heart or any other cell of interest.These stem cells can theoretically be used as an inexhaustible source for cells. Scientists believed these cell products could be used to restore the functions of organs and treat diseases. However, regenerating cells and organs from a patient’s own cells and then returning them to that same patient turned out to be trickier than expected.Researchers are still debating what is the ideal starting cell type for regenerative medicine. The cells required for these therapies can be grown in bioreactors in the lab. But for cell therapies to succeed, the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is immune rejection.Like transplanted organs, transplanted cells are susceptible to attacks by the recipient’s immune system. Any cells generated from another individual have different proteins on their surface, called tissue antigens, that tag them as “foreign.”Once tagged, white blood cells, which defend the body against bacteria, viruses and foreign tissue, target these therapeutic cells for destruction. Physicians use high-dose immunosuppressive drugs to silence this immune response so that patients can tolerate a transplanted organ. But these drugs have significant side effects.To create cells for use in regenerative medicine, scientists envision large-scale collections of stem cells with diverse characteristics and specific tissue antigens. Then just as blood types can be matched, these cataloged stem cells could be matched to the recipient to avoid the patient’s immune system from rejecting these new cells.One day, hospitals may have enough cell lines to match patients with stem cells based on tissue types. Whether enough cell lines can be banked to serve the wider patient population and whether this strategy will prevent immune responses is yet to be seen.Hurdles for using a patient’s own stem cellsStem cells generated from a patient’s own cells—called autologous stem cells—are currently believed to be the most promising strategy for circumventing immune rejection. Autologous stem cells are generated directly from the patient seeking treatment and need to be differentiated into the cell type that needs to be replaced. Since the cells carry the same tissue antigens as the patient, they are tagged as “self,” and immunologists believe these cells are accepted by the immune system.However, this notion may not be correct. In a previous study, our lab had revealed that minor genetic mutations in the DNA carried by a special part of the cell’s DNA, the mitochondrial DNA, can trigger an immune response.Mitochondria are small structures inside cells that carry their own set of genes that are responsible for generating energy for the cell. Because every cell has many mitochondria, they carry many copies of the mitochondrial DNA. Spontaneous changes in mitochondrial genes, called mutations, alter the shape of the proteins they encode. These mutated proteins, which we call “neoantigens,” re-tag the cells as “foreign,” alert the immune system and target the stem cells for destruction.Cells that lack immune features may be the solutionOur latest study reveals that neoantigens can spontaneously occur in a patient’s own cells. This renders them susceptible to rejection when used as part of stem cell-based treatment. We showed in mice and humans that minor changes in the mitochondrial DNA can occur when the patient’s cells are being reprogrammed into stem cells so that they can produce different types of cells. This can also happen while the cells are multiplying in plates or bioreactors outside of the body, giving rise to neoantigens.The likelihood of neoantigens arising increases with the time it takes to manufacture a particular type of cell. If white blood cells recognize neoantigens after injecting the cells back into the animal or human, they may trigger a strong immune response leading to tissue rejection.Neoantigens can thus jeopardize the whole strategy of autologous cell transplantation. So to use this form of cell transplantation, it may be necessary to test all cell products for mutations in the mitochondrial DNA.To dodge the immune system and make regenerative stem cell therapies widely available to the general public, our lab aims to engineer stem cells lacking any immune features.Modern gene editing tools now allow us to make very specific edits and create engineered cell products without any tissue type tags. We recently published our early success with both edited mouse and human stem cells, which survived after transplantation into different mouse models with different tissue types. This was the first report of “universal cells” that completely circumvented rejection by a foreign immune system. We believe this concept could lead to the manufacturing of universal cell products for all patients and has the potential to transform health care.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


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Study This Picture Closely: Did This French Fighter Jet Kill a Drone in Battle?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 01:23

An interesting marking has been spotted on a French Air Force Rafale fighter indicating it has ‘killed’ an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).The picture was released by the French Ministry of Armed Forces on Aug. 1 and features the Rafale, with the UAV stenciled next to bomb markings symbolizing ground attack missions the fighter has performed. According to Jane’s, the photo appeared to be taken at Jordan’s Prince Hassan Air Base from where French aircraft support the mission against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.More info about the kill marking is provided by Air Forces Monthly which states that the aircraft featured in the shot is Rafale B 322 ‘4-HU’ and it has received markings to denote a ground kill of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the Middle East.More specifically the aircraft’s markings represent delivery of eight 500lb (227kg) GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs (LGBs), five AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) guided munitions and a drone.Noteworthy a crashed coalition UAV (which was apparently an MQ-9 Reaper based on the marking) was destroyed by the Rafale to avoid its wreckage falling into the hands of IS or other insurgent groups.While deployed in the Middle East, French Rafale ‘omnirole aircraft’ were engaged on a daily basis for the Coalition, in Iraq as in Syria for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Flying days and nights, Rafale’s pilots totally contributed to reduce the military IS potential and to support the ground troops against the terrorist group through oversight and information missions, but also with air strikes.This first appeared in Aviation Geek Club here.


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AstraZeneca's Imfinzi combination fails advanced lung cancer study

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Wed, 08/21/2019 - 00:35

The clinical trial, called NEPTUNE, was testing Imfinzi along with tremelimumab and comparing the combination to platinum-based chemotherapy to treat patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of the body. London-listed AstraZeneca said though the trial involved a wide range of patients, the primary group being tested had high levels of mutations in their DNA.


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Going 'nude': UK supermarkets test plastic-free zones

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 22:41

British supermarkets are starting to go "nude". Bowing to pressure from environmentally conscious consumers, big brand shops have begun taking steps to strip their shelves of plastic wrapping over concerns about saving the oceans from waste. Now retailers in Britain -- where even bunches of bananas are often sealed in plastic to keep them fresh and undamaged during long-distance shipping -- are gradually following suit.


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EPA-Funded Research: Climate Change Will Worsen Lung Disease for Americans

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 21:45

Air pollution, especially one type that is worsening with global warming, can accelerate lung disease as quickly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, new research released Tuesday shows.The study published on August 13 in the journal JAMA by researchers at the University of Washington, Columbia University, and the University at Buffalo, doubles down on the link between air pollutants and lung disease. It also emphasizes the connection between the lung ailment emphysema and pollution from ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog (not to be confused with the ozone layer).Air pollutants have long been associated with both cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Chronic lower respiratory disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and the third leading cause worldwide.But Tuesday’s study, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showed an increase in emphysema after exposure to pollutants like PM2.5 — fine particulate matter already linked to a staggering number of deaths — as well as black carbon.Most notable was the impact of ozone. While other air pollutants are largely decreasing nationwide, ozone is increasing — with severe public health ramifications.For years, scientists have linked worsening ozone pollution to climate change. Smog is created when pollutants react with each other in sunlight; warmer temperatures can cause air to stagnate, forcing people to breathe in the pollution. So, as ozone becomes more prevalent with climate change, its impact on lungs will become more widespread.The 18-year study tracked more than 7,000 people of various ethnicities and races between 2000 and 2018 across six major metropolitan areas. Researchers found that if an individual’s exposure to ozone pollution increased slightly (by 3 parts per billion) that was “significantly associated” with an increased risk of emphysema over a decade — the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes every day for 29 years.The World Health Organization recommends people not exceed exposure to ozone levels of 60 ppb over eight hours, and no more than 20 days in one year. The EPA’s 1971 recommendations put that level at 80 ppb.The urban areas included in the study are Chicago, Illinois; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; St. Paul, Minnesota; and New York, New York. The new study also found that ozone is increasing in these cities, a trend scientists attribute to climate change. Annual ozone averages in the places studied were between 10 and 25 ppb.“These findings matter since ground-level ozone levels are rising, and the amount of emphysema on CT scans predicts hospitalization from and deaths due to chronic lung disease,” said Dr. R. Graham Barr, a Columbia University professor and a senior author of the paper.While the EPA funded the study, the researchers’ findings are at odds with the government’s policies. President Donald Trump’s administration is weakening clean air regulations and seeking to relax air quality rules imposed on coal-fired power plants, for example, in addition to targeting vehicle emissions standards in states like California. Data shows that those standards have helped improve air quality.Trump and other top-level officials have also taken a skeptical stance on climate science, downplaying and questioning the threat of global warming. The study in JAMA highlights that both weakening air quality rules and ignoring climate change could have real long-term health consequences.In a statement, co-author Dr. R. Graham Barr cautioned that worsening ozone pollution could have dire health implications as the world warms.“As temperatures rise with climate change, ground-level ozone will continue to increase unless steps are taken to reduce this pollutant,” Barr said. “But it’s not clear what level of the air pollutants, if any, is safe for human health.”This article originally appeared on ThinkProgress on August 13, 2019.E.A. Crunden covers climate policy and environmental issues at ThinkProgress.Image: Reuters.


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Has LIGO detected its first smash-up of black hole and neutron star? Stay tuned

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:27

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO,  has detected mergers of black holes, and even a couple of neutron star smash-ups. But it hasn't yet confirmed the signature of a black hole gobbling a neutron star. That could soon change. Over the past week, physicists have been buzzing over an Aug. 14 detection made by the twin LIGO detectors in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., as well as by the European Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy. Those L-shaped facilities monitor ever-so-slight fluctuations in laser beams to look for wobbles in spacetime caused by passing gravitational waves. The types of waves… Read More


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'Otterly adorable'?: Demand for cute selfies puts animals at risk

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 18:50

Social media users are fuelling a burgeoning appetite for acquiring wild otters and other endangered animals as pets, conservationists say, warning the trend could push species towards extinction. Popular Instagrammers posting selfies with their pet otter may simply be seeking to warm the hearts of their sometimes hundreds of thousands of followers, but animal protection groups say the trend is posing an existential threat to the silky mammal. "The illegal trade in otters has suddenly increased exponentially," Nicole Duplaix, who co-chairs the Otter Specialist Group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, told AFP.


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Stem Cells Could Regenerate Organs – But Only If the Body Won’t Reject Them

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 18:15

Many of the most common diseases, like heart failure, liver failure, Type 1 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, occur when cells or whole organs fail to do their job. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it were possible to replace cells in these defunct organs? That is exactly what physician-scientists in the field of regenerative medicine are trying to do.I am a surgeon and stem cell scientist and am interested in regenerating failing organs with stem cells – because for many diseases we don’t have good treatment options yet.In a recent paper, my colleagues and I figured out why stem cells derived from a patient’s own tissue are sometimes rejected by their own immune systems. We also developed a solution that we think may solve the problem: stem cells that are stripped of their immune features and can’t trigger rejection.The Search for the Ideal Starter CellA few years ago a breakthrough occurred that many scientists believed would help fast-track the goal of regenerating organs. That was the identification of proteins that turn on genes that allowed researchers to reprogram adult cells. These proteins transformed cells back into their embryonic-like stem cell state. This gives them the capacity to turn into almost any cell type – like liver or heart or any other cell of interest.These stem cells can theoretically be used as an inexhaustible source for cells. Scientists believed these cell products could be used to restore the functions of organs and treat diseases. However, regenerating cells and organs from a patient’s own cells and then returning them to that same patient turned out to be trickier than expected.Researchers are still debating what is the ideal starting cell type for regenerative medicine. The cells required for these therapies can be grown in bioreactors in the lab. But for cell therapies to succeed, the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is immune rejection.Like transplanted organs, transplanted cells are susceptible to attacks by the recipient’s immune system. Any cells generated from another individual have different proteins on their surface, called tissue antigens, that tag them as “foreign.”Once tagged, white blood cells, which defend the body against bacteria, viruses and foreign tissue, target these therapeutic cells for destruction. Physicians use high-dose immunosuppressive drugs to silence this immune response so that patients can tolerate a transplanted organ. But these drugs have significant side effects.To create cells for use in regenerative medicine, scientists envision large-scale collections of stem cells with diverse characteristics and specific tissue antigens. Then just as blood types can be matched, these cataloged stem cells could be matched to the recipient to avoid the patient’s immune system from rejecting these new cells.One day, hospitals may have enough cell lines to match patients with stem cells based on tissue types. Whether enough cell lines can be banked to serve the wider patient population and whether this strategy will prevent immune responses is yet to be seen.Adult cells are removed from patients, transformed into so-called induced pluripotent stem cells and then, using various chemicals, the cells are made to differentiate into different tissue types. Ideally these are then transplanted into the same patient to fix their damaged tissues. metamorworks/Shutterstock.comHurdles for Using a Patient’s Own Stem CellsStem cells generated from a patient’s own cells – called autologous stem cells – are currently believed to be the most promising strategy for circumventing immune rejection. Autologous stem cells are generated directly from the patient seeking treatment and need to be differentiated into the cell type that needs to be replaced. Since the cells carry the same tissue antigens as the patient, they are tagged as “self,” and immunologists believe these cells are accepted by the immune system.However, this notion may not be correct. In a previous study, our lab had revealed that minor genetic mutations in the DNA carried by a special part of the cell’s DNA, the mitochondrial DNA, can trigger an immune response.Mitochondria are small structures inside cells that carry their own set of genes that are responsible for generating energy for the cell. Because every cell has many mitochondria, they carry many copies of the mitochondrial DNA. Spontaneous changes in mitochondrial genes, called mutations, alter the shape of the proteins they encode. These mutated proteins, which we call “neoantigens,” re-tag the cells as “foreign,” alert the immune system and target the stem cells for destruction.Cells That Lack Immune Features May Be the SolutionOur latest study reveals that neoantigens can spontaneously occur in a patient’s own cells. This renders them susceptible to rejection when used as part of stem cell-based treatment. We showed in mice and humans that minor changes in the mitochondrial DNA can occur when the patient’s cells are being reprogrammed into stem cells so that they can produce different types of cells. This can also happen while the cells are multiplying in plates or bioreactors outside of the body, giving rise to neoantigens.The likelihood of neoantigens arising increases with the time it takes to manufacture a particular type of cell. If white blood cells recognize neoantigens after injecting the cells back into the animal or human, they may trigger a strong immune response leading to tissue rejection.Neoantigens can thus jeopardize the whole strategy of autologous cell transplantation. So to use this form of cell transplantation, it may be necessary to test all cell products for mutations in the mitochondrial DNA.To dodge the immune system and make regenerative stem cell therapies widely available to the general public, our lab aims to engineer stem cells lacking any immune features.Modern gene editing tools now allow us to make very specific edits and create engineered cell products without any tissue type tags. We recently published our early success with both edited mouse and human stem cells, which survived after transplantation into different mouse models with different tissue types. This was the first report of “universal cells” that completely circumvented rejection by a foreign immune system. We believe this concept could lead to the manufacturing of universal cell products for all patients and has the potential to transform health care.This story first ran in The Conversation on August 19.Image: Reuters


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Pressure mounting on EU to end ivory trade

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 18:06

Amid growing calls for an outright ban, the European Union is coming under increasing pressure to help protect African elephants by ending the trade of ivory within its borders. Poaching has decimated the world elephant population, which slumped in Africa from several million at the turn of the 19th Century to around 400,000 in 2015. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which campaigns against the ivory trade, says that from 2007-2014, 144,000 elephants were killed across Africa -- the equivalent of one death every 15 minutes.


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China hopes U.S. will come back to the table at Chile climate talks

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:52

China hopes to welcome the United States "back to the negotiating table" to discuss global efforts to limit climate change at a United Nations summit to be hosted by Chile in December, its top climate change envoy said on Tuesday. Trump has signalled his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord and been dismissive of regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions.


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China hopes U.S. will come back to the table at Chile climate talks

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:47

China hopes to welcome the United States 'back to the negotiating table' to discuss global efforts to limit climate change at a United Nations summit to be hosted by Chile in December, its top climate change envoy said on Tuesday. Trump has signaled his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord and been dismissive of regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions.


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Plague-infected prairie dogs thwart Phish concert-goers camping plans

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:44

The jam-band Phish announced Tuesday that plague-infected -- yes, that plague -- prairie dog colonies had forced the cancellation of overnight camping and vending for its annual concert series near Denver. The band will still play over the Labor Day holiday weekend but said in a statement that health officials overseeing Colorado's Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge urged precautionary measures like restricting parking and camping to prevent potential spread of the disease. "We recognize the tremendous inconvenience this may cause for those who had planned on camping," said Phish, a rock band known for its improvisation and hardcore fan base.


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