Gene Search

first_imgUniversity of Georgia food scientist Henk den Bakker is a member of an international team of researchers that has developed a way to quickly search massive amounts of DNA microbial data to identify specific genes, such as the genes responsible for drug-resistant bacteria.Using their combined knowledge of bacterial genetics and web search algorithms, the scientists built the Bitsliced Genomic Signature Index (BIGSI), a DNA search engine that serves a similar purpose as internet search engines like Google.Described in a paper published in the February 2019 issue of Nature Biotechnology, the search engine could enable researchers and public-health agencies to perform fast searches of genome sequencing data to monitor the spread of genes in microbial populations.This means scientists can now quickly identify how many strains of bacteria — among hundreds of thousands of bacterial genomes contained in databases — contain genes that, for example, make them harder to fight with traditional antibiotics.“A lot of labs are currently sequencing the DNA of microorganisms and they enter this data in international public databases, such as Genbank in the U.S. These data produced by these sequencers are not a single genome sequence, instead they consist of hundreds of thousands of little genomic sequences, which researchers have to piece together to study the genome and individual genes,” said den Bakker, a researcher in the UGA Center for Food Safety on the UGA Griffin campus. “There are currently hundreds of thousands of data points, each representing a microbial strain. Like Google, the Bitsliced Genomic Signature Index (BIGSI) can show us which other bacteria share certain genes.”For comparison, den Bakker recalled a time just a few years ago when he was part of a group of scientists working on strains of bacteria from France. It took a little less than a month to search through available data to find other strains in which this particular resistant gene could be found.“Now it only takes seconds using our ultra-fast system of bacterial and viral genomic data,” he said. “We can now look for microbial resistance quicker, and we can see which ones spread more quickly or are resistant to sanitizers or even resistant to colistin, which is kind of a last resort antibiotic medication.”With today’s technology, the amount of microbial DNA scientists sequence doubles every two years. Until now, there was no practical way to search this massive amount of data.BIGSI could prove extremely useful during outbreaks of foodborne illness. For example, it would be helpful during a food poisoning outbreak caused by a Salmonella strain containing a drug-resistance plasmid (a ‘hitchhiking’ DNA element that can spread drug resistance across different bacterial species). BIGSI would allow researchers to easily spot if and when the plasmid has been seen before.“This search engine complements other existing tools and offers a solution that can scale to the vast amounts of data we’re now generating,” said Phelim Bradley, leader of the project and a bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute. “This means that the search will continue to work as the amount of data keeps growing. In fact, this was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome. We were able to develop a search engine that can be used by anybody with an internet connection.”The full article on this project can be viewed at www.nature.com/articles/s41587-018-0010-1. For more information about the UGA Center for Food Safety, visit cfs.caes.uga.edu.last_img read more

adminJanuary 17, 2021fqqjgLeave a Comment

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ID theft hits all time high, consumers shift blame to institutions

first_img 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » The 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by San Francisco-based Javelin Strategy & Research, revealed identity fraud victims increased by 8% (rising to 16.7 million U.S. consumers) in the last year.The online survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers found despite industry efforts to prevent identity fraud, fraudsters effectively altered course to net 1.3 million more victims in 2017, with the amount stolen rising to $16.8 billion. The rising ID theft trend caused consumers to shift the perceived responsibility for preventing fraud from themselves to other entities, such as their financial institution or the companies storing their data.With the evolution to EMV cards and terminal, the types of identity fraud continued to swing away from brick-and-mortars to online opportunities.last_img read more

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HHS Secretary Azar says FDA will move ‘as quickly as possible’ to OK Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines

first_imgThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration will move “as quickly as possible” to clear Pfizer and Moderna‘s coronavirus vaccines for emergency use, the top official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Monday.HHS Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the “incredible” interim results from Moderna, which announced on Monday that its vaccine candidate is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19, paired with similar results from Pfizer last week make for a “historic day in public health.” Azar, who heads the federal agency that oversees the FDA, said the agency has dedicated teams working with both companies to “remove any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers” and are completing their authorization applications “as we speak.”- Advertisement – “We hope those applications from both Pfizer and Moderna will get in as quickly as possible,” Azar told CNBC. “We will independently call those balls and strikes on the data and evidence, but we’re going to do so as quickly as possible, consistent with just making sure the science, the evidence and the law support authorization.”The U.S. has already invested more than $2 billion in Moderna’s vaccine, which it developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. The program is led by several departments within the federal government to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines.In August, Moderna announced that it had reached a deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of its vaccine. The deal gives the federal government the option to purchase up to 400 million additional doses.- Advertisement – The U.S. also struck a near $2 billion deal with Pfizer in July for 100 million doses of its vaccine. Under the agreement, the U.S. can acquire 500 million additional doses.There should be roughly 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer produced by the end of this year, enough to inoculate about 20 million people since both vaccines require two shots, said Azar, who oversees OWS.The federal government also has supply agreements for Covid-19 vaccines from Johnson and Johnson; Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline; Novavax and AstraZeneca. The goal is to provide enough coronavirus vaccine doses to all Americans who want to be vaccinated against the disease by the second quarter of 2021 once all the drugs are authorized, Azar said.“The product will role off the production lines — tens and tens of millions of doses each month — and we’ll vaccinate as we get them and as they’re quality controlled and released,” he said. – Advertisement –center_img Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a news conference at the CDC Roybal Campus in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images – Advertisement –last_img read more

adminNovember 20, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Norwich Union forges link with Milner

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adminOctober 20, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Up to 30 percent of Jakarta’s restaurants could close down: PHRI

first_imgHe added that up to 20 to 30 percent of the 5,000 existing restaurants could close.“The most severe impact has been experienced by stand-alone restaurants,” he said.He predicted that the total losses suffered by restaurants during PSBB phase II could reach Rp 20 trillion.“One restaurant alone can suffer Rp 100 to 150 million in losses a month, excluding those operating in Jakarta’s satellite cities,” Emil said. Read also: Asymptomatic COVID-19 patients occupy 45 percent of self-isolation hotel beds in JakartaHe said the situation had forced restaurant owners to furlough daily wage workers, who number in the thousands.Restaurants that initially closed temporarily will have to close permanently in the next few months, Emil said.Therefore, he asked the city administration to allow dine-in services at restaurants that imposed strict health protocols.However, Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Agency tourism department head Bambang Ismadi said the agency had inspected 759 businesses as of Aug. 18 and punished 76 businesses for violating the protocols. He said the agency had requested that Jakarta’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) temporarily shut down 31 businesses for grave violations of restrictions and had collected Rp 2.75 billion (US$184,929) in fines from violations in the tourism sector. Tourism is among the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak as people avoid crowded areas and limit their activity to avoid catching the virus. The pandemic had wiped out around Rp 85 trillion from Indonesia’s tourism revenue as of July, according to data from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI). According to Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Agency data, more than 151,000 tourism workers in the capital had faced payroll cuts, furloughs and layoffs as of Aug. 19 due to the pandemic. In addition, around 1,900 creative economy workers have also been impacted by the outbreak. (iwa) #covid19taskforce #mothermessage #wearmask #keepyourdistance #washyourhand #socialdistance #avoidcrowd #usesoap Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.Topics : The Indonesia Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) predicts that up to 30 percent of restaurants will close down as a result of phase II of the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta.The PSBB phase II, which involves reimposing stricter social restrictions, including banning dine-in services at restaurants, has been in place from Sept. 14 until Oct. 11.“Currently, 50 percent of tenants in malls are restaurants. If people cannot dine-in at restaurants, they could slash 70 to 80 percent of their employees. There is this one restaurant that used to earn between Rp 12 million [US$814] and Rp 15 million a day, but now only earns Rp 500,000 a day now. So many think it’s better to just close down their businesses rather than ‘bleed to death’,” PHRI deputy head Emil Arifin said Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.last_img read more

adminOctober 19, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Freddie Ljungberg confirms Arsenal hierarchy want to keep him after Mikel Arteta’s arrival

first_img Comment Freddie Ljungberg confirms Arsenal hierarchy want to keep him after Mikel Arteta’s arrival Advertisement Mikel Arteta watched the Everton draw alongside Arsenal techincal director Edu (Picture: Getty Images)Ljungberg, who made 325 appearances for the Gunners from 1998-2007, had previously been assistant manager to Emery and was Under-23 boss before that.What his role will be under the Arteta regime is yet to confirmed, but he looks very unlikely to return as assistant, with Steve Round set to take that post.It was a dreadful contest at Goodison Park with almost no chances at either end, but Ljungberg was pleased with his team’s display.‘I was very happy,’ said the interim boss. ‘We had a very young side out there because I wanted energy and I wanted to give them chances. We dominated possession and chances, and you could see Everton getting tired and frustrated.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man City‘I thought we could have won the game with the chances we had. But I loved the spirit we saw and that’s what you need in the Premier League.‘I wanted to see people that would run and fight for the team. We can’t rely on our name – we have to fight and do the dirty things.’The Gunners are back in action on boxing day away to Bournemouth in the Premier League before hosting Chelsea three days later on Sunday 29 December and then facing Manchester United on New Year’s Day at the Emirates.MORE: Martin Keown suggests Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is faking an injuryMORE: Sam Allardyce reveals how Steve Round will assist Mikel Arteta at Arsenal Freddie Ljungberg still has a future at Arsenal (Picture: Getty Images)Freddie Ljungberg has confirmed Arsenal are keen to keep him on as part of the first team coaching staff, despite the appointment of Mikel Arteta as head coach.Ljungberg’s time as interim manager came to an end after a dour goalless draw with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.The 42-year-old took charge of six games after the dismissal of Unai Emery at the end of last month, but won just one, drawing three and losing twice.Arteta was announced as the new permanent manager at Arsenal on Friday, throwing Ljungberg’s future into doubt, but he has confirmed that the club want him to stay.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENT‘I’ve been told by the club that they want me to stay,’ Ljungberg told BT Sport after the stalemate on Merseyside. ‘I’ll have a meeting with Mikel tomorrow and hopefully it’s a good one.’ Advertisement Phil HaighSaturday 21 Dec 2019 3:13 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link686Shareslast_img read more

adminOctober 18, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Authority publishes six frameworks for holistic balance sheet

first_imgEIOPA said IORPs would have one year to secure funding to the required level, using financial assets to reach Level A, and using additional sponsor support should the requirement include SCR.Schemes with no hedge-able liabilities would have one year to transfer risks to an insurer or another IORP.EIOPA said even schemes with unlimited sponsor support would still have to reach Level-A funding using financial assets.It also stressed that IORPs would not be allowed to recognise pension protection schemes, or the ability to cut benefits in the case of a failed HBS.The second model proposed IORPs holding financial assets to cover Level-B best estimates, where schemes would be given an “extensive time period” to recover if assets fell below the threshold, and member states allowed to impose additional requirements.Level B refers to calculating liabilities on a near risk-free basis but accounting for the expected return on scheme assets.Similarly, the proposal sets out both a minimum Level-B funding level and this level plus additional SCR. However, both levels can be reached through the formalisation of a recovery agreement with the sponsor and the IORP, rather than using strict time periods.IORPs where sponsors bear risk would be required to hold SCR. However, the strength of the sponsor could reduce this to zero.Weaker sponsors may face SCR, although EIOPA said the impact would be limited where national regulators already imposed risk-based buffer requirements. The third HBS framework splits out the options based on pillars one and two of the IORP Directive.Pillar one looked at the certainty of schemes providing benefits, while pillar two looked more at IORPs’ expected response to future situations.For the pillar-one proposal, schemes would be required to hold SCR but with flexible recovery periods. The HBS for the pillar-two model would be more of a risk-management tool, rather than include capital requirements.However, in both pillar proposals, schemes could use sponsor support and pension protection schemes to reduce SCR or demonstrate suitability against future scenarios.The fourth framework mirrors that of the first. However, the HBS can include the reduction of benefits for retirees, as well as in the event of a sponsor default. It can also use sponsor support and backing from a pension protection scheme to reduce SCR.EIOPA said, in national systems where pension arrangements were completely specified, the security of the schemes would be enough to absorb SCR.It added that there could be upheaval where national arrangements were not completely specified, as well as where this led to IORPs lacking the assets or support to manage the HBS or stress tests.The fifth framework mirrors that of the third in using both pillars one and two of the IORP Directive.However, the pillar-one minimum capital requirement level does not follow the SCR, but rather dictates that schemes should hold financial assets to cover Level-A technical provisions.It also states that EU member states could impose additional buffer requirements and allow IORPs to negotiate recovery periods rather than set them out in legislation.The pillar-two option focuses on Level-A technical provisions and an SCR based on a risk margin.However, it allows the reduction of benefits and using sponsor support, as well as a pension protection scheme to prove sustainability.The pillar-one requirement, EIOPA said, would interfere with national systems by creating a harmonised approach. Pillar two would affect national systems with unsustainable pension promises and weak sponsor support.The sixth framework for the HBS suggests IORPs, under a pillar-one system, would be subjected to the valuation standards, minimum-funding requirements and recovery periods as set out in the current IORP Directive, but supplemented through national regulation.In the pillar-two system, IORPs would once again be required to assess the HBS and SCR as a risk-management tool.National regulators would have to force IORPs and sponsors with insufficient assets, sponsor support and pension protection schemes to cover SCR or reduce benefits to increase the certainty of meeting promises.EIOPA said pillar-one proposals would essentially leave the status quo among national markets.However, pillar two would see the HBS valued on a market-consistent basis and schemes accounting for a “comprehensive set of risks”.The proposals from EIOPA come as part of a 111-question consultation regarding the implementation of the HBS.An EIOPA spokesman said: “EIOPA is undertaking this work on its own initiative in its role as independent adviser to the European political institutions.“The consultation paper proposes improved definitions and methodologies to value the holistic balance sheet, covering areas such as the valuation of sponsor support, the benefit-reduction mechanisms and discretionary decision-making processes and the definition of contract boundaries.”The consultation runs until 13 January 2015.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to consultation paper The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has launched its consultation into the six proposed models for its holistic balance sheet (HBS).In addition to consulting on definitions behind pension promises, sponsor support and contract boundaries, EIOPA will look to the European industry to define how any HBS supervisory frameworks could work in practice.If the first proposal, EIOPA said schemes would be faced with two requirements – either full funding on a Level-A basis, or Level-A funding plus additional solvency capital requirements (SCR).Level-A technical provisions are calculated by discounting liabilities on a near risk-free basis.last_img read more

adminSeptember 29, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Germany’s lifeboat scheme ready to face new occupational liabilities

first_imgMoreover, the support for Pensionskassen promises is significantly lower because, unlike for example in the case of direct promises, the PSVaG only pays for the part of the pension benefit that has been cut and not for the full pension if an employer is insolvent, Brambach and Melchiors explained.The PSVaG, however, has not made its own calculation on the numbers of pensioners and employers that will fall under its protection in the future, they added. The full PSVaG protection will be granted to those entitled from 2022.The new regulation requires companies to contribute to the equalisation fund set up by the PSVaG of an amount calculated in 9‰ (promille), which takes into account the rate for 2021, set at 3‰ (promille), and an additional contribution of 1.5‰ (promille) for the years 2022-2025, as reported.In its reply, the government highlighted two mechanisms in the Betriebsrentengesetz – a law that protects Pensionskassen in case of an employer’s insolvency – that aim to reduce the contributions burden for the employers.On the one hand, contributions can be spread over five years; on the other the equalization fund, which is worth approximately €3.1bn, can be used.The legislator decided the amount of employers’ contribution to the PSVaG based on the assumption that risks related to pension promises defined through Pensionskassen are lower compared to other ways to run occupational pensions, the board members said.Therefore, the contribution into the PSVaG amounts on average to 20% of a normal contribution, they added.The PSVaG considers this rule, and the increase in contributions resulting from the new obligation, to be appropriate in view of liabilities.“The employer has one more good argument to make to the employees to support this form of retirement provision with a high level of security,” the board members concluded.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. The Pensions-Sicherungs-Verein VVaG (PSVaG), the mutual insurance association for German occupational pension schemes, will be able to secure employer-financed occupational pensions under new rules in the future if a company goes bankrupt, board members Marko Brambach and Hans Melchiors told IPE.The German government recently provided a snapshot of what the PSVaG will face under the new rules, which will be required to cover company pensions organised also through Pensionskassen.In a reply to a parliamentary inquiry of the right-wing party Alternative for Germany, AfD, the executive said the new form of insurance for company pensions is likely to affect three million pensioners and 20,000 employers, with a Pensionskassen total assets worth €111bn.“For direct promises, the risk for pensioners is qualitatively lower, because the PSVaG steps in only if the employer is insolvent and the Pensionskasse reduces its benefits,” the board members added.last_img read more

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Why do we screen for Down syndrome?

first_imgABC.net 12 August 2014The details of a surrogacy case involving an Australian couple commissioning a pregnancy in Thailand have created outrage in all sorts of quarters. But the father’s admission that he would have asked the surrogate mother to terminate her pregnancy if he’d known baby Gammy had Down syndrome didn’t cause indignation in anywhere the same scale.The notion of disability – and how we value or devalue people with it – makes many uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the screening most pregnant women choose to determine whether their child will have Down syndrome, and the terminations that result from it, are widely practised.Screening for abnormalitiesAt about 12 weeks gestation, a woman may elect to have a combined screening test involving an ultrasound and a blood test. The results from these investigations provide a probability of the foetus having one of a few chromosomal trisomy conditions.These conditions result from having three copies of a chromosome, rather than the usual two. They can be lethal in utero or lead to a very short life (such as with trisomy 18, known as Edwards syndrome and trisomy 13, known as Patau syndrome), or a spectrum of mild to significant intellectual disability, often presenting with cardiac problems (trisomy 21 – Down syndrome).Based on this probabilistic information, the woman can then decide whether she would like to obtain further, and likely more accurate, information.At the moment, this usually involves invasively obtaining a sample from the placenta or amniotic fluid. Some women decide to have this, some do not. And some will be informed that their foetus will be born with a chromosomal trisomy.Of these, most will terminate. We don’t know how many women do this in Australia as data is not kept in a consistent way between states. But in the United Kingdom, a 2009 paper gave the termination rate for detected cases of Down syndrome as 92 per cent.The ethical question is whether such screening, and ending those pregnancies where a condition is identified, is acceptable.Using knowledge wiselyStill, the acceptability of both the offer to screen for abnormalities in pregnancy, and the action taken on the basis of its results should not detract from several important considerations.First, women or couples must make a choice about screening and potential termination with access to full and balanced information. There’s some evidence to suggest women don’t always have enough knowledge to make an informed choice. It must also be made clear that undergoing any test is a choice, not an expectation.Second, women need to have time to think about their choices, which are often difficult and made under an inherent time pressure.Third, we must not use screening as an excuse for withdrawing practical or psychological support for people who choose to continue a pregnancy that will lead to the birth of a child with a genetic or congenital condition.Finally, we need to appreciate that although these decisions are made by women and couples based on their individual values, the social context in which they are made is also important. Conditions such as Down syndrome can lead to significant and profound problems, but they don’t always.We must talk about our attitudes to disability and how we make choices about it. And we should aim for a society that recognises and supports all forms of ability and encourages discussion about our choices.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-12/newson-why-do-we-screen-for-down-syndrome/5664466last_img read more

adminSeptember 27, 2020fqqjgLeave a Comment

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Jeffrey and Ramdhani secure badminton wins

first_imgTYRESE Jeffrey and Priyanna Ramdhani were both successful in their respective under-17 finals of the Guyana Badminton Association/Banks DIH Aqua Mist/Powerade 2017 Christmas championships which was played on Saturday at the National Gymnasium, Mandela Avenue.According to a release from the Association, Jeffrey defeated Akili Haynes: 14-21, 21-17, 21-14 to take the boys under-17 title, while Ramdhani beat Sache Parmanand in straight sets 21-3, 21-1.On the same day (Saturday), the association ran off the boys’ and girls’ under-11 and under competition. In the boys under-11 division, Jonathan Debidin defeated Avinash Ramnarine: 21-10, 21-7 to take the title, while Moshka Beharry defeated Gianna Ramnarine: 21-4, 21-3 to win the girls’ under-11 title.In the Boys’ singles under-15 final, Matthew Beharry defeated Vikash Mootoo: 21-10, 21-14 to win the title, while on the distaff side, Jayde DaSilva defeated Lesha Singh: 21-5, 21-8 to capture the title.The tournament culminated yesterday at the same venue with playoffs in the Open Men’s Singles Semi-Finals and finals as well as the ladies Open finals.The presentation of prizes to the respective winners was done at the end of the tournament.See results of those finals in tomorrow’s edition.last_img read more

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