Share on Twitter LinkedIn Share on Facebook The complexity of the human brain depends upon the many thousands of individual types of nerve cells it contains. Even the much simpler mouse brain probably contains 10,000 or more different neuronal cell types. Brandeis scientists Yasu Shima, Sacha Nelson and colleagues report in the journal eLife on a new approach for genetically identifying and manipulating these cell types.Cells in the brain have different functions and therefore express different genes. Important instructions for which genes to express, in which cell types, lie not only in the genes themselves, but in small pieces of DNA called enhancers found in the large spaces between genes.The Brandeis group has found a way to highjack these instructions to express other artificial genes in particular cell types in the mouse brain. Some of these artificially expressed genes (also called transgenes) simply make the cells fluorescent so they can be seen under the microscope. Pinterest Email Share Other transgenes are master regulators that can be used to turn on or off any other gene of interest. This will allow scientists to activate or deactivate the cells to see how they alter behavior, or to study the function of specific genes by altering them only in some cell types without altering them everywhere in the body.In addition to developing the approach, the Brandeis group created a resource of over 150 strains of mice in which different brain cell types can be studied.
An analysis of more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders has shown that nitrates–chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks–may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.The findings of the Johns Hopkins Medicine study, which was not designed to determine cause and effect, were published July 18 in Molecular Psychiatry. Specifically, it found that people hospitalized for an episode of mania had more than three times the odds of having ever eaten nitrate-cured meats than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.Experiments in rats by the same researchers showed mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates. Share on Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest While a number of genetic and other risk factors have been linked to the manic episodes that characterize bipolar disorder and may occur in other psychiatric conditions, those factors have been unable to explain the cause of these mental illnesses, and researchers are increasingly looking for environmental factors, such as diet, that may play a role.The researchers say that their new study adds to evidence that certain diets and potentially the amounts and types of bacteria in the gut may contribute to mania and other disorders that affect the brain.“Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania,” says lead author Robert Yolken, M.D., the Theodore and Vada Stanley Distinguished Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.Mania, a state of elevated mood, arousal and energy that lasts weeks to months, is generally seen in people with bipolar disorder, but can also occur in those with schizoaffective disorder. Manic states can lead to dangerous risk-taking behavior and can include delusional thinking, and most of those affected experience multiple hospitalizations in the course of their psychiatric illness.Bipolar disorder affects an estimated 1 to 3 percent of the population of the United States and costs an estimated $25 billion a year in direct health care costs, according to a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders.Yolken, trained as an infectious disease expert, was originally interested in whether exposure to infections such as viruses transmitted through food might be linked to any psychiatric conditions. Between 2007 and 2017, as part of an ongoing study, he and colleagues collected demographic, health and dietary data on 1,101 individuals aged 18 through 65 with and without psychiatric disorders. Approximately 55 percent of the participants were female and 55 percent were Caucasian, with 36 percent identifying as African-American.Those with psychiatric disorders were recruited from patients receiving care at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore. Individuals with no history of psychiatric disorders were recruited from posted announcements at local health care facilities and universities in the region.A study of their records between 2007 and 2017 showed that, unexpectedly, among people who had been hospitalized for mania, a history of eating cured meat before hospitalization were approximately 3.5 times higher than the group of people without a psychiatric disorder. Cured meats were not associated with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder in people not hospitalized for mania or in major depressive disorder. No other foods about which participants were queried had a significant association with any of the disorders, or with mania.“We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out,” says Yolken. “It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.”Nitrates have long been used as preservatives in cured meat products and have been previously linked to some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, so Yolken suspected they may also explain the link to mood states such as mania.The dietary survey did not ask about frequency or time frame of cured meat consumption, so the researchers couldn’t draw conclusions about exactly how much cured meat boosts one’s risk of mania, but Yolken hopes future studies will address this.To get at the roots of the association, Yolken collaborated with researchers studying the impact of nitrates on rats.Kellie Tamashiro, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and M.D./Ph.D. student Seva Khambadkone, both of Johns Hopkins, and others divided a group of otherwise healthy rats into two groups: one received normal rat chow, and the other received both normal chow and a piece of store-bought, nitrate-prepared beef jerky every other day. Within two weeks, the rats receiving the jerky showed irregular sleeping patterns and hyperactivity.Next, the team worked with a Baltimore-based beef jerky company to create a special nitrate-free dried beef. They repeated the experiment, this time giving some rats the store-bought, nitrate-prepared jerky and others the nitrate-free formulation. The animals that ate the nitrate-free meat behaved similarly to a control group, while the animals that consumed the nitrates once again showed sleep disturbances and hyperactivity similar to that seen in patients with mania–increased activity during normal sleep times and in new environments.The results were then replicated with a specially formulated rat chow that had either nitrate added directly to the chow, or no nitrate.Importantly, the amount of nitrate being consumed on a daily basis by the rats¾when scaled up to the size of a human–was equivalent to the amount a person might eat for a daily snack, such as one beef jerky stick or hot dog.“We tried to make sure the amount of nitrate used in the experiment was in the range of what people might reasonably be eating,” says Yolken.When the group analyzed the gut bacteria of the different groups of rats, they found that animals with nitrate in their diet had different patterns of bacteria living in their intestines than the other rats. Moreover, the animals had differences in several molecular pathways in the brain that have been previously implicated in bipolar disorder.While the team also cautions that it’s too early to take any clinical messages from the results, and occasional cured meat consumption is unlikely to spur a manic episode in most of the population, Yolken says the findings add to evidence of the multiple factors that contribute to mania and bipolar disorder.“It’s clear that mania is a complex neuropsychiatric state, and that both genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors are likely involved in the emergence and severity of bipolar disorder and associated manic episodes,” says Khambadkone. “Our results suggest that nitrated cured meat could be one environmental player in mediating mania.”Yolken’s group recently published results of a separate study showing that when people with bipolar disorder are given probiotics–which can change the composition of gut bacteria–after a manic episode, they are less likely to be rehospitalized in the following six months. “There’s growing evidence that germs in the intestines can influence the brain,” says Yolken. “And this work on nitrates opens the door for future studies on how that may be happening.” Share on Facebook Email Share
Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.
The Late Life Planning Portal (L2P2) from Decom North Sea on Vimeo. Decom North Sea (DNS), the representative body for the offshore decommissioning industry in the UK, has launched its Late Life Planning Portal, described as a “web-based decommissioning tool.”DNS said on Tuesday that the newly launched operational website, also known as L2P2, has been designed to support the North Sea oil and gas industry in the planning and execution of late life and decommissioning projects.The site is advertised as a single access point for knowledge sharing and cross-sector learning. DNS said that the L2P2 reflects its objective to bring regulators, operators, and supply chain together to create the co-operative environment required by the decommissioning industry.Roger Esson, chief executive of Decom North Sea, said: “Decommissioning is a long game, with over 40 years of decommissioning activity yet to take place and around 90% of North Sea assets yet to be decommissioned. For that to happen as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible in the long term, we need to make good decisions in the late life phase.“Taking that into account, it is easy to understand why Decom North Sea has developed a portal which provides the ultimate decommissioning toolkit: a repository for lessons learned, a forum for discussion and a gateway to contacts, analytics, and market intelligence.”DNS said that the portal has already been populated with ‘foundation tools’ and ‘lessons learned.’Pamela Ogilvie, Decom North Sea business manager and L2P2 project manager, said: “It is now up to industry to share the tools and processes that have materially added value to their decommissioning projects so that others can share the benefits.“Given the incredible level of genuine collaboration on this project to date, I am confident that L2P2 will be adopted as an industry standard information portal – we believe the potential is limitless.”
Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN
At this election we have a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow for the investment in building and infrastructure that our country needs. But if we leave the European Union and lose the benefits of freedom of movement, we risk squandering that opportunity.A Liberal Democrat government would invest big in infrastructure – £130bn of additional capital investment over a five-year parliament. That includes £10bn extra for hospital investment, £7bn more for school and college buildings, £10bn to support our ambitious social housebuilding plans and £5bn of initial capital for a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank – using public money to attract private investment for these priorities. We would work with housebuilders to create new garden cities in England, providing tens of thousands of high-quality, zero-carbon homesBritain is in the middle of a housing crisis. The National Housing Federation estimates there is a shortfall of nearly 4 million homes across England. Much of our housing stock is poor quality. We would act to tackle this, building 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensuring that overall housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year.By committing to this target, by giving more powers to local authorities, by creating a British housing bank and by buying the land we need to build homes on, we will unlock the potential for housebuilding in this country. Combating climate change would be at the heart of our investment plans, including an extra £15bn to improve the energy efficiency of our building stock over the parliament and a further £5bn to get our Green Investment Bank off the ground. All new houses would be built to zero-carbon standards by 2021. Our £10bn renewable power fund would leverage in over £100bn of extra private climate investment.Through our £50bn capital rebalancing fund we would address the historic investment disparities between our nations and regionsWe would work with housebuilders to create new garden cities in England, providing tens of thousands of high-quality, zero-carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport. We would make better use of brownfield sites, making more public sector land available and bringing more empty homes back into use. This would be a level of infrastructure investment not seen in a long time. And compared with Conservative plans, it amounts to an extra £6bn a year.How would we deliver this? How can we be confident the skilled workers will be there to deliver these ambitious projects?First, our plan is “back loaded” – so we would ramp up over five years. Second – and crucially, in contrast to the Conservatives and potentially Labour too – under the Liberal Democrats the UK would still be in the European Union. We would continue to enjoy the benefits of freedom of movement, ensuring we have access to skills in short supply in the UK. We would continue enjoying the benefits of cost-effective, frictionless trade. We would continue being able to access the resources of the European Investment Bank.The construction industry, more than perhaps any other sector, benefits from free movement of labour within the EU. Every week, projects large and small across the UK rely on skilled European workers, working side-by-side with their British counterparts. Under a hard Conservative Brexit, and apparently under a slightly softer Labour Brexit too, that freedom of movement would go; the pound would be likely to depreciate further, making the UK a less attractive place for foreign workers to come to. All combining to harm the ability of the construction sector to deliver on ambitious government infrastructure plans. Outside the EU, the Conservatives and Labour simply could not deliver their plans.Because we would stay in the EU, a Liberal Democrat government would not suffer the huge hit to our economy – 6.7% of GDP under the Conservative government’s own analysis – that Brexit would bring. We would use this additional revenue – a “remain bonus” we estimate at £50bn over a five-year parliament – to invest in education and skills, and to tackle inequality. We would address regional inequalities, too.Through our £50bn capital rebalancing fund we would address the historic investment disparities between our nations and regions. We would support regional growth, using public sector procurement and infrastructure investment to leverage private sector investment. We would increase regional investment in digital and physical infrastructure as an important economic stimulus. We would expand the British Business Bank, giving it a remit to help rebalance the UK economy geographically, tackling the shortage of equity capital for start-up and growing firms and providing long-term capital for medium-sized businesses.But we can only deliver on these ambitious proposals with a strong economy. If we leave the EU, damaging our economy, imposing barriers to trade and free movement, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot and risk failing the challenges in front of us, missing the opportunity to renew our national infrastructure.Tim Farron is Lib Dem spokesperson for housing, communities and local government and parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale>> Read: A letter to the construction industry from Labour>> Read: A letter to the construction industry from the Conservatives
Digital approaches to helping tenants deal with disrepair, assessing the risks of mergers and acquisitions, helping students with rental agreements and safeguarding the rights of homeless people were being developed by teams of lawyers and technologists in Manchester this weekend.The initiative is part of the Global Legal Hackathon, in which teams of lawyers and technologists set out to develop new digital ways of improving access to justice. Manchester’s event was hosted by the University of Manchester with the Co-op’s Federation digital and social community. Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds Sutherland and Freshfields entered teams. It is sponsored by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and St John’s Building Chambers.The winning team was Shedheads, from Eversheds Sutherland, with an app called SHED to help students and landlords with rental agreements. Judges were impressed by the ‘really nice user interface’ and the way the app leads users through the journey of arranging an accommodation contract.In the next stage of the global event, the winners take part in a second (virtual) round and then to a final in London.
The structure of the magistracy is to be overhauled to bring it into line with the rest of the judiciary, the Gazette has learned.Work to develop a framework for a single bench for the magistracy is one of several aims contained in the ‘A Strategy for the Magistracy 2019-2022’ document. The strategy, drawn up by the Magistrates Leadership Executive, was endorsed by the lord chief justice in December but has not been made publicly available.Duncan Webster, national leadership magistrate, told the Gazette that the government has made clear its intention to abolish local justice areas and create a single bench. The 2017 Prisons and Courts Bill would have resulted in the organisation and leadership of the magistracy being dealt with through a system of circuits – as with the rest of the judiciary. However, the bill was lost when the 2017 general election was called.Webster said the current organisational structure of 73 local justice areas has no strategic design and is out of kilter with other judicially recognised areas that have been subject to reform.Instead, the initiation and listing of cases could be sensibly organised across a wider geographical area to facilitate improved access to justice, he said. Legislation relating to the payment and enforcement of fines is ‘generally regarded as anachronistic’. Leadership and management arrangements for the magistracy require local organisation.Webster said: ‘There is a tension between having large [Local Justice Areas] where the business of the magistrates’ courts can be sensibly organised across a logical geographical unit, and having a bench of hundreds of magistrates who may not feel the same “local” affinity. LJAs are no longer synonymous with access to local justice.’The Magistrates’ Association said it would consider any proposal for a single justice area on its merits ‘but as yet we do not believe that the case has been made for such a significant and potentially destabilising change’.Penelope Gibbs, a former magistrate, said: ‘The magistracy faces huge problems in recruitment and training. We need to tackle those problems innovatively rather than remove a crucial structure of local justice, which allows magistrates a measure of democratic self-governance.’
PLANS TO invest up to 900bn baht in rail projects over the next five years were announced by Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on August 28. Following a meeting to consider national energy strategy, he said better rail transport would cut car use, saving the country an estimated 2500bn baht in fuel costs over the next decade. Thaksin envisages that 500bn baht will be spent on urban projects around Bangkok. The other 400bn will go on upgrading and double-tracking 3000 route-km of SRT’s trunk lines from the capital to Chiang Mai, Narathiwat, Rayong, Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani. He hopes that the works can be completed by 2007.Urban rail projects include extending the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit line by 8·9 km from On Nut to Samring and the Silom line by 6·8 km to Phetkasem Road in Thon Buri. The underground metro now nearing completion would be extended from Bang Sue to Phra Nangklao in the northwest and from Hua Lampong westwards to Tha Phra, with a new line linking Huay Kwang and Min Buri. The disused piers for the proposed Hopewell scheme would be used to elevate SRT tracks in Bangkok and eliminate level crossing conflicts.Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit confirmed on August 30 that the Office of Transport & Traffic Policy had been instructed to review existing plans for the different schemes, and to discuss with the Ministry of Finance and National Economic & Social Development Board ways to speed up their implementation. SRT Governor Chisanti Dhanasobhon said top priority for the double-tracking programme would be the busy freight line from Chachoengsao to Si Racha and the port of Laem Chabang. This work is costed at around 5bn baht. Meanwhile, the railway is seeking approval to buy 38 new diesel locos over the next three years at a cost of 3·8bn baht.
SBB is to test concrete sleepers with a rubber base as it undertakes track renewals between Pratteln and Kaiseraugst. The trial of the sleepers is taking place alongside routine track replacement on the line, with 130 m of rubber-based concrete sleepers due to be laid. SBB hopes that the sleepers, which can be laid conventionally by track machines, will dramatically reduce noise and vibration. The tracklaying was due to have been completed last month, and SBB will assess the results of the sleeper trial in the summer of 2007. SBB is investing around SFr700 000 in the project.SBB, Switzerland