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UC Riverside evolutionary biologist reveals why tall people are more prone to

first_img Source:https://www.ucr.edu/ Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Oct 26 2018For most cancers, risk increases dramatically with age. But what about the effect of having more cells in the body? Might taller people be more prone to cancer because they have more cells?Yes, according to Leonard Nunney, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Riverside, who examined data from four large-scale surveillance projects on 23 cancer categories. Each of these cancer studies established that tall individuals are at an increased risk of cancer, with overall risk increasing by about 10 percent per 10 centimeter (4 inch) increase in height.Other researchers have proposed that that factors acting early in life – nutrition, health, social conditions – independently influence height and cancer risk. But Nunney, a professor of biology, challenges this hypothesis.”I tested the alternative hypothesis that height increases cell number and that having more cells directly increases cancer risk,” he said. “The data strongly supported this simple hypothesis. For most cancers, the size of the height effect is predictable from the height-related increase in cell number.”Study results appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.When Nunney performed a comparison of the observed effect of height on the risk of specific cancers for both women and men, he found that the effect of being tall on the risk of thyroid and skin cancer was high in women; for men, skin cancer stood out.”Tall individuals are at increased risk of almost all cancers,” he said. “But skin cancers – such as melanoma – show an unexpectedly strong relationship to height. This may be because the hormone IGF-1 is at higher levels in taller adults.”IGF-1 is a growth factor that is particularly important in early development, Nunney explained, but IGF-1 has also been linked to a higher rate of cell division in tall adults.”If your cells divide more often, then that adds to your cancer risk,” he said. “If skin cells are dividing more rapidly in tall people due to high levels of IGF-1, then this could account for the increased risk for melanoma.”Related StoriesUsing machine learning algorithm to accurately diagnose breast cancerResearchers use AI to develop early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis systemNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerOf the 18 cancers scored in both sexes, Nunney found only four showed no significant increase with height in either sex: pancreas, esophagus, stomach, and mouth.”It is possible that these cancers are more strongly associated with environmental factors,” he said. “It is possible, too, that in these tissues cell numbers do not scale with body size – but this seems unlikely.”Nunney explained that two factors cause increased cancer risk: one is having more cells; the other is having more cell divisions.”If you double the cells, you double the cancer risk,” he said. “If you double the number of cell divisions, you more than double the cancer risk. Living a long time is the worst thing to do if you want to avoid cancer. But then what’s the alternative?”Men are taller than women on average, which may account for why men get more cancer than women.”About a third of this effect can be accounted for by men having more cells,” Nunney said. “But something else is going on to explain the rest.”Breeds of dogs also demonstrate cancer’s link to height, he added.”Smaller dogs get less cancer than bigger breeds of dogs.”Next, Nunney plans to explore how different cancers are being prevented in the body by looking at big long-lived animals.”If all else is equal, large, long-lived animals should experience higher incidence of cancer than small, short-lived animals,” he said. “After all, larger animals have more cells, more divisions, and more mutations. But they show no such tendency to be more cancer prone. This is called Peto’s paradox, and I argue it can be resolved through adaptive evolution, namely, that species subject to selection for larger body size and greater longevity evolve additional layers of cancer suppression. I’m interested in exploring how as a species gets bigger and lives longer, it evolves additional barriers to cancer.”last_img read more

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Experts develop a list of competencies in antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 12 2018Experts from across Europe have developed a set of competencies in antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship, using a structured consensus procedure. This ESCMID-led study has resulted in a list of competencies that represent the minimum standards that all independent prescribers of antimicrobials should reach to practice according to principles of responsible antibiotic use. The list of competencies is highly relevant for educators, regulators and professional bodies throughout Europe, as well as for individual prescribers.The competencies set comprises 35 competency points divided into three sections: Core concepts in microbiology, pathogenesis and diagnosing infections; Antimicrobial prescribing; and Antimicrobial stewardship.Related StoriesStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesFinger-prick blood test could help prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for patients with COPDInterdisciplinary approach reduces the use of broad spectrum antibiotics”Despite widespread agreement that we need to use antibiotics responsibly, until now, there has been no consensus on what the minimum standards for responsible use are according to which prescribers in Europe should practice”, explains Dr. Oliver Dyar, a researcher in public health at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, who led the study and is treasurer of the ESCMID Study Group for Antimicrobial StewardshiP (ESGAP).”We hope that this work will help guide those who train doctors, nurses and pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics, and at the same time support the regulators and professional societies that are responsible for setting and maintaining standards” Dr Oliver Dyar said, adding “These competencies could play an important role in harmonizing approaches in antimicrobial stewardship in Europe. We also believe that most of the competencies are relevant for prescribers in other contexts, and it is essential that on a global basis we invest in ways to improve on how we use antibiotics.”The study used a RAND-modified Delphi consensus procedure and involved 65 experts from 24 European countries, most of whom were infectious diseases specialists, clinical microbiologists, or pharmacists. This expert panel reviewed a draft set of competencies which was originally developed by a multidisciplinary panel in the UK, and had since been adapted to the broader European context through consultation with ESCMID Study Groups. Each competency point was assessed for relevance for all independent prescribers in Europe, and the expert panel was able to suggest additional competencies. After three assessment rounds and a face-to-face meeting, there was very high agreement (98%) with the final competencies set.Over the coming years ESCMID and ESGAP will support efforts to implement these ESCMID generic competencies in antimicrobial prescribing and stewardship. Source:https://www.escmid.org/fileadmin/src/media/PDFs/2News_Discussions/Press_activities/2018/Dyar_Press_release_09NOV2018.pdflast_img read more

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FDA approves antibacterial drug to treat travelers diarrhea

first_img Source:https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm626121.htm Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 17 2018The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Aemcolo (rifamycin), an antibacterial drug indicated for the treatment of adult patients with travelers’ diarrhea caused by noninvasive strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli), not complicated by fever or blood in the stool.”Travelers’ diarrhea affects millions of people each year and having treatment options for this condition can help reduce symptoms of the condition,” said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.Travelers’ diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness, affecting an estimated 10 to 40 percent of travelers worldwide each year. Travelers’ diarrhea is defined by having three or more unformed stools in 24 hours, in a person who is traveling. It is caused by a variety of pathogens, but most commonly bacteria found in food and water. The highest-risk destinations are in most of Asia as well as the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America.Related StoriesEbola spread to Uganda could threaten international healthMathematical model helps quantify metastatic cell behaviorComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchThe efficacy of Aemcolo was demonstrated in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in 264 adults with travelers’ diarrhea in Guatemala and Mexico. It showed that Aemcolo significantly reduced symptoms of travelers’ diarrhea compared to the placebo.The safety of Aemcolo, taken orally over three or four days, was evaluated in 619 adults with travelers’ diarrhea in two controlled clinical trials. The most common adverse reactions with Aemcolo were headache and constipation.Aemcolo was not shown to be effective in patients with diarrhea complicated by fever and/or bloody stool or diarrhea due to pathogens other than noninvasive strains of E. coli and is not recommended for use in such patients. Aemcolo should not be used in patients with a known hypersensitivity to rifamycin, any of the other rifamycin class antimicrobial agents (e.g. rifaximin), or any of the components in Aemcolo.The FDA granted Aemcolo a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) designation. QIDP designation is given to antibacterial and antifungal drug products that treat serious or life-threatening infections under the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) title of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act. As part of QIDP designation, the Aemcolo marketing application was granted Priority Review under which the FDA’s goal is to take action on an application within an expedited time frame.The FDA granted approval of Aemcolo to Cosmo Technologies, Ltd.last_img read more

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Podcast KHNs What the Health Is health spending the next big political

first_imgPlus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:Julie Rovner: NBC News.com’s “FDA Approves Drug for Dogs Scared by Noise,” by Maggie FoxMargot Sanger-Katz: The Washington Post’s “An Experiment Requiring Work for Food Stamps Is a Trump Administration Model,” by Amy GoldsteinRelated StoriesStudy estimates health care costs of uncontrolled asthma in the U.S. over next 20 yearsJohns Hopkins experts release digital health roadmapSupplements claiming to boost brain health are ‘too good to be true’, warn expertsJoanne Kenen: The Atlantic’s “The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day,” by Ed YongRebecca Adams: The New York Times’ “Why Hospitals Should Let You Sleep,” by Austin FraktAlso mentioned in this episode:The New York Times: “1,495 Americans Describe the Financial Reality of Being Really Sick,” by Margot Sanger KatzKaiser Health News: “No Cash, No Heart. Transplant Centers Require Proof of Payment,” by JoNel AlecciaCBS News: “High Cost Has Many Diabetics Cutting Back on Insulin,” by Serena GordonTo hear all our podcasts, click here.And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. The Trump administration outlined last week what type of waivers it is willing to consider for states’ ACA markets. Options include changes in who gets premium subsidies and how much they receive, and making short-term insurance plans that are not as comprehensive as current marketplace plans eligible for subsidies. Any changes are likely to end up in court, as have most of the revisions that the Trump administration has proposed. In Wisconsin and Michigan, Republican legislatures are seeking to restrict what the new Democratic governors can do to change GOP policies on Medicaid and challenges to the ACA. A recent study has highlighted that health problems can create financial hardships well beyond the illness. For example, loss of income from a debilitating illness can make paying other bills very difficult and sometimes other family members must give up their jobs to be caregivers. The Republican-led Congress was unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, but the Trump administration continues to implement elements of the failed GOP bill using executive authority. The latest change would make it easier for states to waive some major parts of the health law, including allowing subsidies for people to buy insurance plans that don’t meet all the law’s requirements.Meanwhile, in states that are transitioning from Republican governors to Democrats, GOP legislators are using lame-duck sessions to try to scale back executive power and lock in some key health changes, such as work requirements for Medicaid enrollees.And there is growing evidence that even with health insurance, patients who use significant amounts of medical care are increasingly unable to afford their share.This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call.Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast: Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 6 2018last_img read more

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Baculovirus virion completely eliminates liverstage parasites in mouse model

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 13 2018Currently, few antimalarial treatments exist that effectively kill liver-stage malaria parasites, which can lay dormant for months or years as in the case of Plasmodium vivax. Researchers from Kanazawa University have successfully demonstrated that administration of a baculovirus virion (BV) completely eliminates liver-stage parasites in a mouse model via BV-induced fast-acting innate immunity. Further development of BV-based drugs could lead to newer and more effective treatments for malaria.Malaria is caused by Plasmodium, a parasite spread by the Anopheles mosquito as it feasts on blood. The parasite is released into the bloodstream and travels to the liver to mature, before being released back into the bloodstream where it infects red blood cells. Symptoms normally appear a few days or weeks later, but in the case of P. vivax, the parasites can also lay dormant in the liver with disease recurring months or even years later (known as hypnozoites). P. vivax is the most widely distributed human malaria parasite in the world (a major health risk to 2.85 billion people worldwide). The active blood-borne form of P. vivax can be targeted with artemisinin, but only a single drug, primaquine, is available for the hypnozoites.However, primaquine is associated with a high risk of life-threatening hemolytic anemia in people with glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase enzyme deficiency. In addition, even effective doses can cause several side effects including nausea and vomiting. “Malarial infection affects a large number of individuals each year, many of whom are young children aged under five.” says first author Talha Bin Emran. “Current treatments can have serious side effects for some individuals, hence safer radical curative drugs that efficiently kill the hypnozoites are urgently needed.”Related StoriesStudy shows how the mosquito immune system combats malaria parasitesResearchers pinpoint treatment target for rare liver cancer in adolescents, young adultsMosquito surveillance in Madagascar reveals new insight into malaria transmissionUsing BV, the researchers conducted a series of experiments with a mouse model of malaria. They confirmed that intramuscular administration of BV not only provides complete protection against a subsequent sporozoite infection but also eliminates existing liver-stage parasites completely, which could prevent or reduce the severity and complications of the disease. The elimination of liver-stage parasites with BV was superior to that with primaquine. Additionally, they showed that the elimination effect occurred in a TLR9-independent manner. These effects were mainly mediated by a cytokine known as interferon alpha (IFN-α), which has previously been investigated as a treatment for several other diseases.Further work is needed to confirm the results in primates and eventually humans, but initial results suggest that there are several potential benefits of BV as a new non-hemolytic single-dose alternative to primaquine. “Currently P. vivax patients must receive several doses of antimalarials for treatment, therefore adding BV to existing drugs could reduce the risk of infection whilst receiving treatment.” study corresponding author Shigeto Yoshida says. “It could also provide protection against the disease in the liver. There are several challenges in the treatment of malaria, which we hope to overcome with our work.” These results demonstrate the potential to develop new malaria drugs that kill P. vivax hypnozoites over an extended period and with reduced side effects. Source:https://www.kanazawa-u.ac.jp/latest-research/62925last_img read more

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Diets containing GM maize have no harmful effects on health or metabolism

Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 14 2018For six months, rats were fed a diet containing either GM maize (MON 810 or NK603) or non-GM maize, in varying concentrations. The researchers, using high-throughput biology techniques, did not identify any significant biological markers related to the transgenic maize diet. Neither did anatomic pathology examination reveal any alteration of the liver, kidneys or reproductive system of the rats fed diets containing these GMOs. This research, published on December 10, 2018 in Toxicological Sciences, does not reveal any harmful effects related to the consumption of these two types of GM maize in the rat even after lengthy periods of exposure.The researchers used two well-known types of GM maize: MON 810, which produces the protein Bt rendering it resistant to certain insects, and NK603 in which the modification of a gene renders it resistant to glyphosate. For 6 months, the rats were fed a diet containing either transgenic maize or non-GM control maize. This time period, which is double that of the test required by European regulations, is equivalent to one third of the average lifespan of rats.The objective of the researchers was to test for early biomarkers of biological function alterations in rats fed GM maize over periods of 3 and 6 months. For that, they used two ultra-sensitive high-throughput techniques: transcriptomics (gene expression) and metabolomics (study of the compounds derived from the body’s functioning). These techniques were used to identify and measure metabolites (amino acids, sugars and other small molecules) and to characterize the expression of messenger RNA and cellular microRNA. These methods are capable of detecting a broad spectrum of metabolic variations. The researchers identified markers able to differentiate the MON810 and NK603 diets. However, following the six-month period of the experiment, no significant differences were identified between the GM and non-GM diets, from the biological point of view.In addition, in the rats fed the GM diets, anatomic pathology techniques (macro- and microscopic study of the tissues to detect potential abnormalities) revealed no alteration of the organs, particularly the liver, kidneys and reproductive system.As such, the researchers did not detect any harmful effects of the MON810 and NK603 maize diets on the health and metabolism of the rodents, even after a lengthy exposure period.Related StoriesNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryALS mobility and survival could be improved by increasing glucoseHighlights and key takeaways from the 2019 Boston Bacterial Meeting (BBM)1 The GMO 90+ project In 2010, the French Ministry of Ecology launched the Risk’OGM program, in the context of the 2008 law on genetically modified organisms for the establishment of a new legal and regulatory framework based notably on the principle of a triple evaluation of the impact of GMOs – from the health, environmental and socioeconomic standpoints. To set this dynamic in motion and fulfil public authority requirements in terms of expertise, guidance and completed research on GMOs, two calls for research proposals were held, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. The GMO 90+ project was selected during the 2013 call for proposals, with the following scope: to test for biomarkers predictive of biological effects in the study of the subchronic toxicity (3 and 6 months) of GMOs in the rat. Driven by a consortium pooling the various scientific competences, the purpose of this research was to determine whether the feeding of rats with genetically-modified maize led to metabolic changes which could be linked to early effect biomarkers (measurable biological characteristic). The objective was to provide key data which could be used in risk evaluation processes. http://recherche-riskogm.fr/fr/page/gmo90plus2 List of project partners: 1-Toxalim (Research Centre in Food Toxicology), Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, INP-Purpan, UPS, Toulouse, France. 2-INSERM UMR-S1124, Toxicologie Pharmacologie et Signalisation cellulaire, Université Paris Descartes, USPC, Paris, France 3- Centre de Recherche sur l’Inflammation (CRI), INSERM UMRS 1149, Paris, France. 4- Laberca, ONIRIS, UMR INRA 1329, Nantes, France 5- Université de Rennes, Inserm, EHESP, Irset (Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail) – UMR_S 1085, Rennes, France. 6- Methodomics, France. 7- Institut de Mathématiques de Toulouse, UMR5219 – Université de Toulouse, CNRS – UPS IMT, Toulouse, France. 8- Anses, Maisons-Alfort, France. 9- Profilomic, Saclay/Gif sur Yvette, France 10- UMR1332 Biologie du Fruit et Pathologie, INRA, Université de Bordeaux, Villenave d’Ornon, France. 11- UR 1264, MycSA, INRA, Villenave d’Ornon, France. 12- Laboratoire Reproduction et Développement des Plantes, University Lyon, ENS de Lyon, UCB Lyon 1, CNRS, INRA, Lyon, France 13- CRO CitoxLAB, Evreux.Source: https://presse.inserm.fr/en/mon-810-and-nk603-gm-maize-no-effects-detected-on-rat-health-or-metabolism/33249/ read more

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Missing GP appointments is associated with early death

first_imgRelated StoriesParticipation in local food projects may have positive effect on healthGoing teetotal shown to improve women’s mental healthEffective stop smoking treatments less likely to be prescribed to people with mental health conditionsThese results emerged even after researchers controlled for a variety of other factors already known to affect attendance. Dr McQueenie said “Patients diagnosed with long-term mental health problems, who did die during the follow-up period, died prematurely, often from non-natural external factors such as suicide.Dr Ellis added “These results align with clinicians own observations. Specifically, patients with long-term mental health conditions are more likely to miss multiple appointments.”The researchers are now exploring how new interventions might improve attendance however, their research raises important questions when it comes to ensuring that mental health services remain easy to access and are readily available across the UK.Professor Wilson concluded “These findings are crucially important for GPs wishing to identify patients at high risk of premature death. For people with physical conditions missed appointments are a strong independent risk factor for dying in the near future. Among those without long-term physical conditions, the absolute risk is lower, but missing appointments is an even stronger risk marker for premature death from non-natural causes.”Source: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/ Patients with a greater number of long-term health conditions had an increased risk of missing general practice appointments. These same patients were also at substantially greater risk of death within the following year. Patients with long term physical conditions who missed two or more appointments per year had a threefold increase in all-cause mortality compared with those who missed no appointments. Patients with mental-health conditions only who missed more than two appointments per year had had an eight times greater risk of death during the follow-up period compared with those who missed no appointments. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jan 11 2019Missing GP appointments is associated with early death, and those with long-term mental health conditions are at particular risk.Dr Ross McQueenie led the study from the University of Glasgow along with colleagues from Lancaster University and the University of Aberdeen.In the largest study of its kind, the team examined over 500,000 patients’ appointment histories in Scotland, tracked for 3 years between 2013 and 2016.All data were provided on condition of patient and practice anonymity. Appointment information was then linked to patient medical histories and death records.The researchers found that:last_img read more

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New study aims to investigate lifestyle effects on cognitive function in older

first_img Source:https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2019/02/Can-Healthier-Habits-Help-Preserve-Mental-Skills Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 8 2019Wake Forest School of Medicine to coordinate nationwide study of lifestyle effects on cognitive function in older adultsResearchers in Finland recently found that lifestyle choices can help older adults stay mentally sharp.Now scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine hope to find confirmatory evidence this is indeed the case by coordinating a large, national clinical trial sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association through a $28 million grant.An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. There are approximately 50 million people worldwide with the disease – for which there is no known cure – and that total is expected to double every 20 years.”An urgent need exists to find effective approaches for Alzheimer’s that can arrest or reverse the disease at its earliest stages,” said Laura Baker, Ph.D., associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine and one of the principal investigators of the study.”Lifestyle interventions focused on combining healthy diet, physical activity and social and intellectual challenges represent a promising therapeutic strategy to protect brain health.”The Alzheimer’s Association U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is a $35 million project that will compare the effects of two different lifestyle interventions on brain health in older adults who may be at risk for memory loss in the future. U.S. POINTER is the first such study to be conducted in a large group of Americans across the United States.”We must evaluate all options to treat and prevent cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer. “Concrete answers could help prevent millions from dying with Alzheimer’s and alleviate the dramatic impact this disease has on families. The Alzheimer’s Association is proud to launch this clinical trial with our scientific partners.”Related StoriesNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskApproximately 2,000 volunteers at five U.S. sites will be enrolled and followed for two years in the study. The site led by Wake Forest School of Medicine already has begun enrolling participants. Other sites in California and Illinois will begin enrollment later this year. The remaining two sites will be added soon.People age 60 to 79 will be randomly assigned to one of two lifestyle interventions. Both groups will be encouraged to include more physical and cognitive activity and a healthier diet into their lives and will receive regular monitoring of blood pressure and other health measurements.Participants in one intervention group will design a lifestyle program that best fits their own needs and schedules. Participants in the other intervention group will follow a specific program that includes weekly healthy lifestyle activities.Baker is joined by three other principal investigators to help lead the trial: Mark Espeland, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest School of Medicine; Rachel Whitmer, Ph.D., professor at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine; and Miia Kivipelto, M.D., Ph.D., professor of clinical geriatric epidemiology and neurology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.Jeff Williamson, M.D., professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine, and Jo Cleveland, M.D., associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine, at Wake Forest School of Medicine, are overseeing the clinical trial in North Carolina.A previous study, the two-year Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (the FINGER trial), which was led by Kivipelto, highlighted the promise of lifestyle interventions in slowing cognitive decline and serves as the model for U.S. POINTER.”This growing coalition, assembled with leadership from the Alzheimer’s Association, demonstrates the strong global interest in collaborating to test whether lifestyle changes can protect brain health and prevent dementia for all people,” Baker said.last_img read more

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National Endowment for the Humanities funds new Hastings Center project on disability

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 16 2019People with disabilities are experts at navigating a world that is not built for them – often by turning to technologies such as voice recognition devices and cochlear implants. But which technologies, and under what circumstances, truly enhance a person’s ability to live the most meaningful, flourishing life? And, which technologies, and in what cases, have the opposite effect? A new Hastings Center project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will explore how technologies can be used to promote or thwart flourishing through conversations with people with disabilities.The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and Technology will convene a series of six public events in New York City during 2019 to 2021, featuring a range of writers, scholars, artists, and thought leaders with disabilities to engage in conversation about how they use and why they refuse technology in their work and lives. Each conversation will focus on an art form, such as a dance or documentary, that explores how technology promotes or thwarts their flourishing and feeling at home in the world.Erik Parens, a senior research scholar at The Hastings Center, is the director of the project. The codirector is Joel Michael Reynolds, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities at The Hastings Center. The chief project advisor is Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a professor of English and bioethics at Emory University and a Hastings Center Fellow. In the past, many bioethicists have worried that emerging technologies could have the effect of narrowing the range of what is considered acceptable, or ‘normal,’ for humans, and thus pose a special threat to people with disabilities. But emerging technologies also make it possible for some people with disabilities to flourish in ways they could not before. In this project we will consider how emerging technologies can pose a threat and an opportunity for all of us–those who currently have disabilities and those who, through aging if nothing else, will later in life.”Erik Parens From how we move and communicate to how we love and care, modern technology profoundly shapes nearly every facet of human life. While proponents of technological advancement are typically confident in its benefits, expert users are typically far more ambivalent. How, whether, and which types of technology help us live not just life, but a good life is a pressing and vital question both for every individual and for our society at large.This discussion series is unique in looking to expert users with disabilities to better understand the complex, thorny relationship between diverse human bodies and minds, technologies, and a life well lived. It will also serve to further bring the rich, decades-long body of work developed by disability studies scholars and disability activists into a public light. By creating a permanent set of online resources built around each event, these discussions will also be able to live on in community centers, public libraries, religious communities, corporate boardrooms, and educational settings throughout the U.S. and beyond.”Joel Michael Reynoldscenter_img Source:The Hastings Centerlast_img read more

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A wakeup call on datacollecting smart beds and sleep apps

first_img This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)May 30 2019Your bed could be watching you.OK, so not with a camera.But if you have any of a variety of “smart beds,” mattress pads or sleep apps, it knows when you go to sleep. It knows when you toss and turn. It may even be able to tell when you’re having sex.Sleep Number, one company that makes beds that can track heart rate, respiration and movement, said it collects more than 8 billion biometric data points every night, gathered each second and sent via an app through the internet to the company’s servers.”This gives us the intelligence to be able to continue to feed our algorithms,” CEO Shelly Ibach told attendees at a Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego last month.Analyzing all that personal data, Ibach continued, not only helps consumers learn more about their health, but also aids the company’s efforts to make a better product.Still, consumer privacy advocates are increasingly raising concerns about the fate of personal health information — which is potentially valuable to companies that collect and sell it — gathered through a growing number of internet-connected devices.”We don’t know what happens to all that data,” said Burcu Kilic, director of the digital rights program at Public Citizen, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.The information “is also relevant and important to pharmaceutical companies and those that make hospital-related technology,” Kilic said.Nonetheless, consumers are flocking to mattresses and under-mattress sensors aimed at quantifying sleep as well as sleep-tracking devices; sleep apps are among the most popular downloads on Apple and Android smartphones.The Sleep Number bed is one of the most heavily marketed of such products, with press releases and ads often equating good sleep with a better life. Sales of the beds grew 6% from 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2018, company filings show. Early this year, the company signed a partnership with Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global, a corporate wellness firm she launched after leaving The Huffington Post in 2016. Last year, the bed maker began a multiyear partnership with the NFL, in which the company gives its Sleep Number beds to players.The company says it goes to great lengths to protect its customers’ data.”To be clear, Sleep Number does not share any Sleep IQ or biometric” data outside the company, Sleep Number spokeswoman Julie Elepano said in an email exchange.Still, that differs from the company’s privacy notice, which clearly states that personal information — potentially including biometric data — “may” be shared with marketing companies or business partners. They, in turn, could send out pitches for Sleep Number or offers to participate in partner product loyalty programs. The policy also says personal information could be given to partners for “research, analysis or administering surveys.”Finally, the privacy policy says Sleep Number can “exploit, share and use for any purpose” personal information with names or addresses withheld or stripped out, known as “de-identified” data.When asked about the seeming difference between what the privacy policy states and her comments, Elepano did not address that directly, but reiterated that the company does not share even de-identified biometric data.Details From DreamlandStarting with when you turn in and when you wake up — and many things in between — these beds know a lot.And because it’s a bed, there’s an inescapable salaciousness factor.”I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be possible to look at that data and say, ‘Oh, that looks like sex,'” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, talking about the whole range of sleep-tracking tools. “The raw data may not tell you that, but what they do is take the raw data and try to interpret it.”Smart beds and other types of sleep trackers have different sensors. Sleep Number beds have movement sensors, for instance, which can inflate, deflate or otherwise adjust the mattress for comfort.Some sleep apps and devices made by other firms even use microphones to track snoring.Late last year, there was a collective social media freakout when bloggers noticed a quirk in the Sleep Number bed privacy policy that seemed to indicate those beds had a microphone.But they don’t, the company was quick to note.Instead, Sleep Number beds gather data through tiny changes in the mattress’s air pressure, said Pete Bils, Sleep Number’s vice president of sleep science and research.That data — along with goals each consumer sets for sleep — go into creating what the firm calls a Sleep IQ Score, a term devised to assess how well a consumer slept and is used heavily in the company’s marketing. Over time, the score can show if a person is deviating from their averages.Related StoriesNovel bed system with VR brainwave-control for sleep blissI’m a CPAP dropout: Why many lose sleep over apnea treatmentSleep decline in one’s 50s, 60s increases risk of Alzheimer’s diseaseIf consumers don’t want to track what’s going on in bed, they can flip on a “privacy mode” setting, which halts transmission but also limits what a consumer can learn about their sleep patterns, which is presumably one reason they bought the bed in the first place.”The more you use the bed, the more it knows you,” said Bils.From what is spelled out in privacy policies for these beds and apps, it’s clear the data could be useful in other ways, too.For example, the French company Withings, which makes the Sleep under-mattress monitor that can track movement, heart rate, snoring and other factors, said it shares anonymous and aggregated data “with partners such as hospitals, researchers or companies, as well as to the public in blog posts and data studies.”According to the Sleep Number privacy policy, it collects personal information, which can include names and information about a consumer’s age, weight, height and gender. If a consumer creates a user profile on the bed’s app, that personal information is expanded to include specifics about movement, positions, respiration and heart rate.That is also true for children if parents create a user profile for them.The policy also notes that personal data might be stored indefinitely, even “after you cancel or deactivate” user accounts.It’s More Than Just ZzzzzThe privacy policies of many devices that track and transmit personal information allow for the sharing of data that has been stripped of personal identifiers.But privacy experts have shown it’s not terribly difficult to use or combine such information to “re-identify” people.”You are left with the impression that, ‘Don’t worry, no one will be able to point to you,’ but they don’t actually say that,” said Tien. “I don’t know how they actually could say that.”Unlike personal data collected in a doctor’s office or a sleep clinic, the information gathered by sleep trackers is not protected by federal privacy rules.Some sleep trackers or apps can connect with other “smart” devices in your home, such as a thermostat or coffee maker.Nifty, for sure, because as you wake up, your heater can kick on and the coffee maker can start doing its thing. But it also can mean those devices are sharing your information. Sleep Number said its beds can import information from other devices but does not share customer information with them.Still, the interconnectedness exposes more vulnerabilities.”We connect all these devices to each other,” noted Kilic at Public Citizen. “If hackers want to get into the system, [they] can easily do so and collect all this info from you: How do you use your bed? How often do you have sex? This is very sensitive information.”Privacy experts recommend encryption and the use of strong passwords and additional authentication whenever possible.The goal of the data gathering, Sleep Number and other companies say, is helping sleep-deprived Americans do a better job at, well, sleeping.But do consumers really need an app — or a bed that can cost thousands of dollars — to tell them how rested they feel in the morning?Such tools are “great because it makes people more aware of sleep, but it’s a slippery slope,” said Dr. Seema Khosla, a pulmonologist and medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep, a sleep study facility in Fargo. Khosla, who uses a few trackers herself, is also the lead author of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s position paper on sleep apps.One unexpected consequence: Consumers so attuned to their data may experience anxiety — and an inability to sleep.”We call it orthosomnia,” she said. “They get all this data and get upset about having a perfect number. We tell them to put it away for a couple of weeks.”last_img read more

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Bedfont named as Technology category finalist for 2019 National Family Business Awards

first_imgMay 31 2019Medical device manufacturer, Bedfont Scientific Ltd., reaches the Family Business Awards finals for the Technology category. Created in order for family-owned businesses to be recognized and celebrated for their extraordinary contribution to the economy, the National Family Business Awards chose local med-tech firm, Bedfont, as a Technology category finalist for the 2019 awards.Established in 1976, Bedfont specializes in the design and manufacture of innovative breath analysis medical devices. Its breath analyzers include carbon monoxide (CO) monitors such as the Smokerlyzer®, used for smoking cessation, and the ToxCO®, used by emergency services, to screen for CO poisoning. The NObreath® FeNO monitor provides accurate analysis of airway inflammation for the control of asthma, and the Gastrolyzer® range aids in the detection of gastrointestinal disorders and food intolerances. Quick and non-invasive, breath analysis is the new blood test.Amalia Brightley-Gillott, Managing Director of Family Business Place, who hosts the awards, says: Jason Smith, Managing Director, comments: Becoming a 2nd generation family business has reinforced our family values and enabled us to create a strong sense of identity and culture for the business as the Bedfont Family. Strong family values can prove instrumental in stabilizing the structure and dynamics within the business resulting in high employee sense of belonging and satisfaction thus increasing productivity, loyalty and profitability. Breath analysis for medical applications is a very niche technology and we are thrilled to be recognized for our contribution to healthcare, by being chosen as a finalist in the Family Business Awards for the Technology category.” Source:Bedfont Scientificcenter_img The winners will be announced at Wembley Stadium on 13th July in what’s set to be a spectacular 10th anniversary celebration of the awards. We’re over the moon to welcome Bedfont Scientific Ltd. as Finalists at this year’s awards. They’re an exceptional example of how family businesses are leading the way, continuing to innovate and thriving in today’s competitive, economically uncertain world.”last_img read more

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Posterior parietal cortex plays crucial role in making decisions research shows

first_imgAll the neuronal data we examined in our past experiments gave us the impression that this area of the brain was involved in processing the meaning of visual images during decision making. Now we find that indeed, when we temporarily shut the activity down in that part of the brain it really does affect the sensory parts of decisions.”David Freedman, PhD, professor of neuroscience, UChicago Freedman says the new study provides an opportunity for neuroscientists to rethink the brain mechanisms involved in decision-making, visual categorization, and sensory and motor processing. The work could also lead to a deeper understanding of how the brain interprets the things we see in order to make decisions. Understanding this process in detail will be critical for developing new treatments for brain-based diseases and disorders which affect decision making.”These results show that the brain’s parietal cortex is an important hub for guiding decisions, so now we’re even more motivated to move ahead and try to work out the details of neural circuits in this part of the brain that actually carry out these cognitive functions,” he said. Source:University of Chicago Medical Center Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 12 2019New research by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago shows that the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), an area of the brain often associated with planning movements and spatial awareness, also plays a crucial role in making decisions about images in the field of view.”Traditionally this part of the brain has been thought to be involved in controlling spatial attention and planning actions. There has been less attention paid to how much of a role this brain area plays in processing the visual stimuli themselves,” said David Freedman, PhD, professor of neuroscience at UChicago and the senior author of the study, published this week in Science. “Here we were able to show that it plays an important role in making sense of the things we see, perhaps even more so than its role in planning your next action or directing your attention.”Freedman and Yang Zhou, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher, trained monkeys to play a simple computer game in which they reported their decisions about different types of images displayed on a computer monitor by moving their eyes toward a designated target. For example, if the animals were shown a pattern of dots moving up and to the left, they were supposed to move their eyes toward a green spot. If the dots were moving to the opposite direction, they should move their eyes toward a red spot.For the new study, the researchers tested whether a specific region of the PPC called the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) was directly involved in guiding these decisions. They gave the animals a drug which temporarily halted neural activity in the LIP area, then they had the monkeys perform the same tasks. While the drug was active, the monkeys’ decisions about the visual patterns they viewed were impaired; once the drug wore off, their decisions returned to normal.The researchers also recorded activity in the same pool of neurons once the drug had worn off and found that activity in that area of the brain was indeed strongly correlated with the same kinds of decisions which had been impaired during the experiments.Deeper understanding of how the brain interprets things we seeRelated StoriesWearing a hearing aid may mitigate dementia riskNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingThe findings provide new context to help understand why a 2016 study by another group in Nature reported that deactivating parts of LIP seemed not to have any impact on decision making. That study only examined LIP’s role in motor planning-;such as the decision about whether to look leftwards or rightwards. In contrast, the current study shows that LIP is more involved in making sense of the visual images that the subjects are viewing, rather than deciding which actions they should take next.last_img read more

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Power grid fluctuations hidden in audio recordings proved a powerful tool for

The ‘electrical network frequency’ (ENF) of power grids is centered around 50 or 60 Hertz, and is picked up in audio recordings as a background hum. The ENF shifts up and down randomly, which provides each recording with a unique fingerprint that can be compared to the long-term records captured continuously and maintained at forensic labs.”The random fluctuations are consistent across different places within the same power grid,” explains team member Lilei Zheng. “As a consequence, recordings captured in different places at the same time will have ENF fingerprints showing the same fluctuations.”By visually inspecting the ENF, human investigators can reliably match recorded fluctuations to a time in the long-term records, but this is a laborious task best done by a computer. In response, the I2R team developed a similarity criterion called bitwise similarity (bSim) that mimics the way humans judge the similarity of two signals.The team tested bSim by using it to identify the timing of 187 audio recordings made around Singapore using various mobile phones.They found that bSim greatly outperformed previous similarity metrics, which were thrown into doubt by small deviations even when the general shapes of the signals were clearly similar. “bSim enables us to focus our attention on the overlapped parts instead of being drawn away by the deviated parts,” says Zheng.”The science behind ENF pattern matching has been proven to be reliable, like fingerprints and DNA,” says Thing. “It has been used in courts in various jurisdictions and the cases cut across many different crimes. We hope to extend our work from audio recordings to videos, which not only contain audio but may also enable us to ‘see’ the ENF through variations in lighting.””This innovative solution towards audio authenticity verification developed by I2R has already proven itself in actual use, and we are excited about the potential it holds,” says a representative of Singapore Police Force. Rare audio of indigenous languages saved by invention 100 years later Audio and video recordings are important sources of evidence in criminal investigations, especially as more electronic devices are in use now than ever before. However, for recordings to be admissible, investigators often need to determine the time they were made, which can be difficult. Now, a team led by Vrizlynn Thing at the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), in collaboration with the Singapore Police Force, has developed an impressive new system that reliably estimates the time of recordings by identifying small fluctuations in the frequency of the electrical power grid. Citation: Power grid fluctuations hidden in audio recordings proved a powerful tool for police forensics (2018, February 14) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-power-grid-fluctuations-hidden-audio.html Explore further More information: Lilei Zheng et al. Time-of-recording estimation for audio recordings, Digital Investigation (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.diin.2017.06.001 The I2R A*STAR team together with their collaborators from SPF. Credit: A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore read more

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Apple offers new wellness program for headquarters employees

Are you a doctor? Want to work with Apple employees? Here’s your shot. Explore further Citation: Apple offers new wellness program for headquarters employees (2018, February 28) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-apple-wellness-headquarters-employees.html Apple clinics for your health? It almost just happened ©2018 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Employees working at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters will soon benefit from a new “concierge-like healthcare experience,” more evidence of big companies leveraging healthcare to both lure talent and streamline a costly expense.A new company called AC Wellness on Monday began advertising jobs both on its website and on sites such as Glassdoor for positions that include care navigator, phlebotomist and acute care physician.A lead care navigator overseeing the care of Apple employees will make around $144,000 a year and is expected to “always appear polished and composed,” according to Glassdoor. “Personal hygiene must be impeccable,” the ad reads.Citing a launch date of 2018, AC Wellness describes itself as an “independent medical practice dedicated to delivering compassionate, effective healthcare to the Apple employee population.”Apple declined to comment. AC Wellness did not immediately respond to a request for comment.LinkedIn, Facebook and other tech companies feature on-site doctors for their employees, a perk that is in line with tech company benefits that often include chef-cooked meals, massage therapists and bowling alleys.More: 4 ways Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan deal could shake up health careMore: Walgreens and AmerisourceBergen deal talks have cooled as takeover looks unlikelyMore: Apple clinics for your health? It almost just happenedThe more than 10,000 employees who work at Apple’s old Infinity Loop campus in Cupertino, between San Francisco and San Jose, access medical assistance through Apple Wellness Centers. Some of the new AC Wellness jobs are for Apple Park, the company’s new spaceship-like offices which eventually will house most of the iPhone-maker’s workers.Apple currently provides medical services through Crossover Health; the company’s Wellness Center site asks for employees to input their Crossover Health ID. In October, CNBC reported that Apple had been in discussions to acquire Crossover Health, but the deal fell through.The new venture, first reported by CNBC, is part of a growing shakeup of the traditional healthcare provider system and one that seems designed to give particularly large employers more control over their healthcare costs.Health care spending was 17.9% of the U.S. economy in 2016, or about $10,348 per person, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.Amazon recently announced it was joining forces with Warren Buffett’s Bershire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase to reinvent the healthcare space.Although few details are available about how the trio might handle such a makeover, experts say that there are savings to be had in both streamlining prescriptions and investing more heavily on disease and injury prevention.At Apple’s recent shareholder meeting, CEO Tim Cook said the company could make a “significant contribution” in the healthcare space, one that perhaps eventually incorporates the Apple Watch’s ability to track basic fitness markers.Apple also is looking to use its iPhone Health app to better aggregate and streamline patient medical records, something that could come into play when employees use the in-house Wellness Center.Tech rivals such as Google, Microsoft and Samsung have similar ambitions to untangle a records thicket that frequently leaves patients frustrated. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

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Embraer shares dive after Bolsonaro voices wariness at Boeing venture

first_img © 2019 AFP Shares in Brazilian planemaker Embraer plunged nearly five percent Friday after new President Jair Bolsonaro voiced wariness about a $5.2-billion tie-up it is planning with US giant Boeing. Explore further “This merger would be very good but we can’t, as is set out in the last proposal, allow everything to be handed over to the other side in five years’ time,” he said. “That’s the worry: this is our heritage.”He added: “We know of the need for this merger, for its (Embraer’s) competitiveness, so it doesn’t disappear over time.”Bolsonaro, who took office this week, made the comments as he visited an air force base.The remarks immediately weighed on Embraer shares, making it the biggest loser on Sao Paulo’s stock market.Embraer is the third-largest aircraft manufacturer in the world. It was privatized in 1994, but the Brazilian government retains a “golden share” with veto power over strategic decisions.Under the planned tie-up, announced last year and scheduled to be finalized at the end of this year, Boeing would take an 80 percent stake in Embraer’s commercial business, thus allowing it to offer planes with capacity of up to 150 seats—a market in which Boeing currently does not compete. A Brazilian judge last month twice issued injunctions against the deal, but both times was overruled by a higher court.Although Bolsonaro won election on promises of liberalizing Brazil’s economy, including through privatizations and foreign investment to cut public debt, he is also against core Brazilian state assets falling into foreign hands. President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil expresses worry about a $5.2 billion tie-up between Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer and US giant Boeingcenter_img Brazil court overrules injunction on Boeing-Embraer tie-up Citation: Embraer shares dive after Bolsonaro voices wariness at Boeing venture (2019, January 5) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-embraer-bolsonaro-voices-wariness-boeing.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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A cookbook for vehicle manufacturers Getting automated parts to talk to each

first_img Explore further The technologies being trialled will cover a wide range of situations from overtaking on motorways to driving through urban intersections. Long journeys are also planned to see how people are able to transition back to driving after a long time in automated driving mode.”We really want to understand if the way we have designed our systems is the way drivers expect them to behave,” said Etemad.The team will also be investigating other aspects of automated driving such as the effect on traffic flow and CO2 emissions. Self-driving features are likely to make driving more efficient due to connectivity between vehicles and infrastructure, for example, although research so far has shown mixed results due to other contributing factors such as more people choosing to drive.The first automated functions, which should be available in the next year, are likely to be for motorway driving, according to Etemad. Parking functions are likely to come to market next followed by automated urban driving, which is much more complex due to additional elements such as pedestrians and cyclists moving around.”There will be a good contribution from the project with results about long-term automated driving and a general understanding of people and functions that will impact how these systems are developed,” said Etemad.Automated functions are of interest for trucks too, where networked vehicles driving in a convoy could help save fuel, cut down on driving time or help with traffic flow. Truck platooning involves several trucks linking up through a wireless connection when they are close by so that they can share information and use automated functions to drive together as one. But so far, the concept has mostly been demonstrated in trucks of the same brand and in very few cases, with two brands.”Each automotive manufacturer tries it out and develops the technique within their own factory,” said Dr. Marika Hoedemaeker, a senior project manager at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) in Helmond.Truck platooningHoedemaeker and her project partners are now trying to break new ground by developing truck platooning that works across different brands as part of a project called ENSEMBLE. “Now we’re going to show that we can do this together with all the European truck manufacturers,” said Dr. Hoedemaeker.The first phase, which the team has just completed, involved coming up with specifications that need to be implemented by all manufacturers. For example, braking and speed keeping will be automated whereas steering won’t be.They’ve also come up with guidelines for how a convoy will respond when it enters a zone with a new speed limit or passes a toll gate, for example. “It’s not only communicating with the platoon but also with the outside world,” she said.The team is also keen to gauge the impact that a platoon will have on traffic. They would like to calculate its effect on traffic flow and whether it would in fact reduce congestion on the roads. Driving simulators will also be used to see how other drivers react when they encounter an automated truck convoy. “Will it change their traffic behaviour or will they never drive in the right lane anymore? There are lots of questions around this other traffic behaviour as well,” said Dr. Hoedemaeker.Once specifications have been implemented in the trucks, they will start to test platoons on dedicated grounds then on public roads. Since trucks cross borders quite often, they will have to respect laws in different countries which vary across EU member states. The minimum following distance between vehicles, for example, differs from country to country.In a final showcase event in May 2021, trucks from seven different brands, such as Daimler and Volvo, will drive together in one or more convoys across national borders, most likely to a key goods transport destination such as a large European port.Following this deployment on European roads, Hoedemaeker expects the first generation platooning trucks to start being manufactured and sold a year after the project ends in 2021.Since platoons are being developed worldwide, the standards created during the project could also be adopted more widely.”I think there is potential that the rest of the world could say they (Europe) already thought about the standards so we can use these and not do the whole thing over again,” she said. Citation: A ‘cookbook’ for vehicle manufacturers: Getting automated parts to talk to each other (2019, March 28) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-cookbook-vehicle-automated.html Automated, networked truck convoys could save fuel and cut down on driving time. Image credit – MAN Truck & Bus Automation will increasingly allow vehicles to take over certain aspects of driving. However automated functions are still being fine-tuned, for example, to ensure smooth transitions when switching between the human driver and driverless mode.Standards also need to be set across different car manufacturers, which is one of the goals of a project called L3Pilot. Although each brand can maintain some unique features, automated functions that help with navigating traffic jams, parking and motorway and urban driving must be programmed to do the same thing.”It’s like if you rent a car today, your expectation is that it has a gear shift, it has pedals, it has a steering wheel and so on,” said project coordinator Aria Etemad from Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg, Germany. “The approaches and the interfaces to the human driver are the same.”To get the same functions from different brands to operate in an identical way, the team is creating a code of practice. This will result in a checklist for developers to run through when creating a self-driving function. “It’s like a cookbook for how to design and develop automated driving functions,” said Etemad.So far, the project team, which includes representatives from 13 vehicle manufacturers, has been conducting initial tests to make sure their company’s technology works. Cars are equipped with several sensors as well as cameras and computers which need to be properly calibrated to deal with real-world traffic.The next step is to test the automated functions on public roads to ensure that the vehicles are ready. The tests will begin this month. Volunteer drivers will be chosen from diverse backgrounds, including different ages and genders. “We plan, all in all, to have 1,000 drivers using 100 vehicles in 10 different countries,” Etemad said.Transition Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine Semi-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads in Europe next year with truck convoys following a few years later. But before different brands can share the roads, vehicle manufacturers need to agree on standards for automated functions. Self-drive trucks ‘future of Europe’s busy highways’ This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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